NEWS SCAN: Fatal hantavirus infections, West Nile in Louisiana, Russian anthrax outbreak, circumcision statement

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Aug 28, 2012

Second Yosemite visitor dies from hantavirus infection
A second person who visited California's Yosemite National Park in June died of a hantavirus infection, according to a statement yesterday from the National Park Service (NPS). Officials said a third related case had already been confirmed and a fourth case is suspected. The park commissioner is contacting visitors who stayed at the Signature Tent Cabins in the park's Curry Village from the middle of June through the end of August. That amounts to 1,700 people, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The park is warning occupants about the recent cases and advising them to seek prompt medical treatment if they experience any hantavirus symptoms. Don Neubacher, the park's superintendent, said in the NPS statement that because people don't get sick until 1 to 6 weeks after exposure to the virus, the park is warning people who stayed in Curry Village since June to be aware of the symptoms. The park set up a nonemergency phone line to field questions and has stepped up rodent trapping and rodent proofing of buildings. Earlier this month the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in two Californians, one of whom died, and reminded residents to take precautions against the disease, which is spread by rodents and their droppings, urine, or saliva. Is said since 1993 when the disease was first detected in California, 60 cases have been reported, and about a third of HPS cases have been fatal.
Aug 27 NPS press release
Aug 28 AP story
Aug 16 CDPH statement

Louisiana West Nile cases could approach record
Louisiana's cases of West Nile virus (WNV) infection reached 145 last week, the highest in a decade, according to statement from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH). So far, Louisiana has recorded 78 cases of neuroinvasive disease and 9 deaths from WNV. Jimmy Guidry, MD, state health officer, said in the statement that surveillance suggests the virus has been found in mosquitoes in every part of the state, and people, especially seniors and those with weakened immune systems, should take steps to reduce the risk of being bitten. The LDHH said the state's record year for WNV cases was 2002, when the disease was first detected in the state and 328 cases and 24 deaths were reported.
Aug 24 LDHH statement

Anthrax outbreak strikes two Russian villages
Fourteen people from two neighboring Russian villages in Western Siberia's Altai territory have been hospitalized in an anthrax outbreak, including three with confirmed Bacillus anthracis infections and five showing symptoms of the disease, Interfax, a nongovernmental news agency based in Russia, said today. The patients are from Marushka and Druzhba villages. One death has been reported. A spokesman from a local health department told Interfax that a vaccination campaign will be launched today with 130 doses of anthrax vaccine that have been delivered from Tomsk and another 200 doses sent by Omsk. A meeting with local residents is scheduled for Marushka village to explain the next steps they should take, and officials have met in an emergency session to decide on the next response measures. Authorities have declared a state of emergency and have quarantined the Tselinny district. Residents have been prohibited from taking meat or dairy products out of the district.
Aug 28 Interfax report

Pediatrics group endorses circumcision to prevent disease
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in a reversal from its 1999 recommendations, has endorsed male circumcision as a procedure to prevent infectious diseases, the group said in a statement in Pediatrics yesterday. The AAP's Task Force on Circumcision wrote, "Systematic evaluation of English-language peer-reviewed literature from 1995 through 2010 indicates that preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure. Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections." It added, "Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns." The task force said the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed the AAP statement.
Aug 27 AAP statement

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