Study finds evidence of dengue infections in Houston area
Texas researchers have found evidence of 47 cases of dengue infection after testing 3,768 clinical specimens from Houston-area patients suspected of having a mosquito-borne viral disease from 2003 through 2005, according to their findings published yesterday in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.
They analyzed the 2,138 cerebrospinal fluid and 1,630 serum samples to determine whether dengue was present in the area. The team identified 47 immunoglobulin M–positive dengue cases, including two that were positive in sera for viral RNA from dengue serotype 2.
Of the 47 possible cases, the investigators were able to obtain chart data for 42. Of these 42 patients, 57% were diagnosed as having meningitis, encephalitis, or both, and 43% met the clinical case definition for dengue fever.
Most of the patients reported no travel outside the area before their illnesses. Two of the 47 cases proved fatal, including one that involved "illness compatible with dengue shock syndrome."
The researchers said their findings indicate local transmission of the virus: "The epidemic curve suggests an outbreak occurred in 2003 with continued low-level transmission in 2004 and 2005."
They conclude, "These findings heighten the need for dengue surveillance in the southern United States."
Oct 9 Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis abstract
KSU holds livestock-outbreak response exercise
Kansas State University (KSU)—the future site of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, which will work on the world's most dangerous pathogens—is holding an exercise to test its response to a virus outbreak in livestock, according to a story yesterday in the Tonganoxie, Kan.–based Basehor Sentinel.
The exercise, which started yesterday and continues today, has been 2 years in planning but is proceeding without involvement of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) because of the federal government shutdown, the story said. Other exercise participants are simulating the role of the USDA.
The scenario involves a possible animal case of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in a nearby state. Although FMD doesn't infect humans, public information must be part of the response, said Sandra Johnson, emergency management coordinator for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
The exercise is being conducted at KSU's Biosecurity Research Institute and involves more than 200 people, the story said.
Oct 9 Basehor Sentinel story