News Scan for Jun 29, 2015

New Saudi MERS cases
More chikungunya in the Americas
BSE in Ireland
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Saudi Arabia reports 2 new MERS cases in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported one MERS-CoV case both yesterday and today in Riyadh, a break from dozens of cases in recent weeks in the city of Hofuf.

The case of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) reported yesterday involves a 40-year-old Saudi man, and the one today involves a 65-year-old Saudi woman. Neither is a health worker, both are listed in critical condition, and neither had recent contact with a MERS case, the MOH said.

Since the beginning of the month, 21 of 27 confirmed MERS cases in Saudi Arabia have been in Hofuf, which lies in the northeastern part of the country. Officials have reported healthcare and family clusters in the region.

The 2 new cases in Riyadh lift the outbreak total in Saudi Arabia to 1,041 cases, including 460 deaths, the MOH said.
Jun 28 MOH update
Jun 29 MOH update


PAHO notes 11,000 new chikungunya cases in the Americas

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 11,084 new chikungunya cases, bringing the epidemic total in the Americas to 1,536,520 cases.

As has been the case for weeks, the increase has been largely fueled by surges in Colombia, which reported 9,999 new cases, for a total of 273,784. Another notable aspect of the outbreak is that many countries have not reported data for weeks, which held true once again in last week's report.

Last week PAHO reported a similar rate of increase: 24,163 new cases over a span of 2 weeks. The agency reported a much higher 37,358-case increase the week before that. The total so far this year is 399,573 cases.

The epidemic began in December 2013 with the first locally acquired chikungunya case ever reported in the Americas, on St. Martin in the Caribbean.
Jun 26 PAHO update


Ireland reports BSE case in 5-year-old cow

Irish authorities recently reported a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") in a 5½ year-old cow in County Louth, on the country's east coast.

The farmer reported that the cow had fallen on Jun 6 and couldn't get up, after showing nervousness, unusual excitability, and reduced milk production several weeks earlier, according to a report that Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The farmer had the cow euthanized, and a preliminary BSE test was positive on Jun 9.

The finding was fully confirmed on Jun 25 by Ireland's National Reference Laboratory and the European Union Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, United Kingdom. "All the samples had an identical molecular pattern indicating classical BSE," the report stated.

The cow, of the Rotbunt breed, was born in January 2010 and spent its entire life on the same farm. In a hunt for cows that might have been exposed to the same feed as the infected one, officials identified and tested, after slaughter, 63 animals that were born in the same herd in 2009, 2010, and 2011; all tested negative. Also, four offspring of the sick cow were found and determined to be free of the disease.

A report on the DAFM Web site says the cow came from a dairy herd that had been assembled in 2002 after the previous herd was destroyed because of a BSE diagnosis. Such an occurrence is uncommon but has happened on 10 farms in Ireland and has been reported in other countries as well, it said.

Officials said the sick cow's carcass was destroyed and no part of it entered the food or feed chain.

DAFM information shows that BSE was first identified in Ireland in 1989, and cases peaked at 450 around 1995. Since then the numbers have dropped steadily, with 3 cases in 2012 and 1 in 2013 (a number for 2014 was not listed).
Jun 26 OIE report
Jun 25 report on DAFM site
DAFM general information on BSE in Ireland

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