NEWS SCAN: Tracking Olympic outbreaks, more Salmonella cases, H5N1 death

HealthMap crowd-sources possible Olympic outbreaks
Major international gatherings such as the 2010 Winter Olympics, where people from around the globe mingle before returning home, can also serve as breeding and distribution sites for infectious diseases. HealthMap, an online disease-alert service created at Harvard Medical School and supported by funding from Google, has launched a crowd-sourced project to identify sources of potential disease outbreaks at the Olympics before the diseases arrive. The service has identified 25 cities around the world from which the majority of visitors to the Olympics are expected to travel, and noted them on an interactive map that links to recent news reports of infectious-disease outbreaks nearby. To augment the effort, HealthMap is asking visitors and subscribers to send reports of any new or notable outbreaks that might impinge on Olympic travel. The service takes reports by voicemail, email, SMS, Twitter, and online form.
Feb 12 HealthMap Olympics project

Salmonella cases rise as Vietnam defends exported pepper
The case count in the nationwide outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo linked to Italian cured meats has expanded to 225 people in 44 states and Washington, DC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced. Investigation teams have also found 5 people infected with a different strain, Salmonella Senftenberg; the same strain has been found in retail food samples. Those cases were not included in the Montevideo investigation case-count. Simultaneously, producers and distributors of Vietnamese black pepper, which has been cited as a potential source of the Salmonella, denied that their products were to blame, saying the fault must lie elsewhere in the manufacturing process.
Feb 11 CDC update
Feb 11 story

Indonesia records 135th avian-flu death
A 25-year-old woman is Indonesia’s latest fatality from H5N1 avian flu, according to an Associated Press report confirmed by the World Health Organization. The woman from the West Java town of Bekasi is believed to have had direct contact with poultry. Indonesia is the country most affected by bird flu, with 163 known infections and 135 deaths since 2005 out of 476 cases and 283 deaths worldwide. According to AP, a 3-year-old boy in Jakarta has also been diagnosed with H5N1 recently, but has recovered.

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