News Scan for Jun 12, 2015

MERS in Saudi Arabia
Meningitis B vaccine recommendation
Meningitis in Niger
Neglected diseases in Africa
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Saudi Arabia reports fatal MERS case in Hofuf

Saudi Arabia today reported one new MERS-CoV case, involving a 77-year-old man who died from from his infection, the country's Ministry of Health (MOH) said today in a statement.

The man is from Hofuf and appears to be part of a cluster of cases in that area, many of which have been linked to a number of hospital-related infections, with others part of a family cluster. The man wasn't a healthcare worker but had contact with a confirmed or suspected case either in the community or hospital setting, the MOH said in a statement.

It said the new fatal case raises Saudi Arabia's total from MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) to 1,030 cases, 453 of them fatal. So far 568 people have recovered, 8 are still being treated, and 1 is in home isolation.
Jun 12 MOH statement

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday provided more details on eight cases reported from Saudi Arabia between Jun 5 and Jun 8, all but one of them from Hofuf.

Six of the patients were admitted to a hospital that has been experiencing a known MERS outbreak, but it's not clear if all of them were exposed at the facility. Two appear to be hospital employees, a 29-year-old man who got sick after he provided care to an earlier confirmed case-patient and a 41-year-old man who worked as a security guard and also had contact with an already confirmed patient.

One of the patients hospitalized in Hofuf is a 55-year-old foreigner from Asfan who has a history of frequent contact with camels and sheep and also drank raw milk. The only patient without a Hofuf connection is a 58-year-old foreign man from Riyadh, and officials so far haven't determined how he was exposed to the virus.

Among the eight patients, ages range from 29 to 72 years old. All but one are male. Illness onsets range from May 20 to Jun 2. Four are in critical condition, and four are listed as stable.

The WHO said so far it has been notified of 1,277 MERS-CoV cases, which includes 449 deaths.
Jun 11 WHO statement


Risk groups recommended for meningitis B vaccine

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today fleshed out more details about its advisory committee's February recommendation that certain high-risk groups receive the meningococcal B vaccine. It detailed the recommendation of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortailty Weekly Report (MMWR).

Two meningoccal B vaccines were approved in recent months—Wyeth's Trumenba last October and Novartis's Bexsero in January. Current quadrivalent vaccines for meningococcal disease in the United States don't include the B serotype, which has been responsible for small college outbreaks and been implicated in an increasing proportion of meningococcal illnesses in the United States.

After reviewing the findings of its working group, ACIP recommended that certain people age 10 or older receive the vaccine, including those with persistent complement component deficiencies, anatomical or functional asplenia, microbiologists exposed to Neisseria meningitidis, and people thought to be at risk during meningitis B outbreaks.

Trumenba is given in a three-dose series, and Bexsero is given as a two-dose series. ACIP recommended that the same product be used for all of the doses and can be given at the same time as the quadrivalent vaccine, but at a different anatomic site, if possible.

Currently, ACIP's recommendation doesn't broaden use in college students, military recruits, or adolescents, but the panel will consider the issue on the first day of its next meeting, on Jun 24.
Jun 12 MMWR report
ACIP agenda for Jun 24-25 meeting
Feb 26 CIDRAP News scan "ACIP recommends meningitis B vaccine for high-risk groups"


WHO says meningitis epidemic in Niger is fading

The meningitis epidemic in Niger, which peaked in early May, has now dropped significantly in all parts of the country, with no cases in the capital in the past week, the WHO's Regional Office for Africa said today.

As of yesterday, Niger's Ministry of Public Health put the count of suspected cases at 8,341 since the beginning of the year, with 557 deaths.

The epidemic was worrisome because it hit an urban area with more than 1 million people, causing many cases and posing a risk of rapid spread, the WHO said, adding, "Despite the improved situation, vigilance is necessary because the risk of transmission remains high."

The WHO reported that the lack of any cases in the past week in Niamey, the capital, has prompted the closure of two support centers.

Despite a worldwide shortage of meningitis vaccines, the WHO and its partners have helped Niger to mobilize more than 1.3 million doses of vaccine through the International Coordinating Group Meningitis Vaccine (ICG), the agency said.

A large consignment of drugs for meningitis was also provided to the country, the WHO said, adding that more than 7,500 patients have been treated and recovered from the disease during the epidemic.
Jun 12 WHO Africa statement
Related Jun 2
CIDRAP News item


World Bank funds effort to combat malaria, neglected diseases in Africa

The World Bank announced yesterday it has approved $121 million to support the Sahel Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Project in an African region hard hit by these diseases.

The project will be implemented in three countries initially—Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger—in the Sahel region, which borders the south of the Sahara Desert across the continent. The project will benefit an estimated 3.7 million people, the World Bank said in a news release.

The burden of illness from neglected diseases is especially high in the Sahel, and four of the most debilitating tropical diseases are strongly associated with the region's climate, the World Bank said. An estimated 88% of trachoma cases in Africa are in the Sahel, as are 59% of lymphatic filariasis cases, 50% of schistosomiasis cases, and 49% of onchocerciasis cases.

"By supporting regional collective actions, this project will enhance disease control strategies to eliminate and reduce the spread of malaria and neglected tropical disease along international borders in endemic areas, helping to boost livelihoods for the millions of families in Africa's Sahel region," said Colin Bruce, World Bank regional director.

The Project will focus on scaling up disease control interventions at the community level in cross-border areas in the three countries, but other Sahel nations may join during project implementation.
Jun 11 World Bank news release

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