News Scan for Jul 29, 2015

Saudi MERS update
More amoeba-infested water
Targeting P vivax malaria
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Saudis report new MERS case; WHO gives details on 8 others

Saudi Arabia reported another new MERS-CoV case in Riyadh today, while the World Health Organization (WHO) supplied details on eight other recent cases, including two possible chains of transmission involving at least five of the patients.

The latest case involves a 67-year-old Saudi man in Riyadh who is in critical condition, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH). He is not a healthcare worker, and authorities are investigating whether he had contact with any other MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patients.

The MOH also reported the recovery of a 40-year-old Saudi man in Riyadh. With the latest developments, the ministry's MERS count stands at 1,057 cases and 467 deaths, with 7 patients still being treated.

The eight other recent cases described by the WHO include six in Riyadh, one in Raniah, and one in Hofuf. Four of the patients are in stable condition, three are critical, and one, a 52-year-old woman from Riyadh, died Jul 22.

The deceased woman was a family member of another patient, a 56-year-old Riyadh man who has a history of frequent contact with camels and drinking their raw milk, the WHO reported. He has been hospitalized since Jul 15 and is in critical condition.

Two other patients are listed by the WHO as contacts of a third, a 32-year-old non-Saudi man from Riyadh who was hospitalized Jul 19 and is in critical condition. Authorities are checking into his exposure history.

The two patients who were exposed to the 32-year-old are a 30-year-old Saudi man and a 28-year-old non-Saudi man, both from Riyadh and both in stable condition, the WHO said. Despite their contact with the 32-year-old, authorities are looking into whether they had other exposures.

Another patient is a 93-year-old man from Hofuf who owns a camel farm but has no history of contact with camels or drinking raw camel milk, the WHO reported. He has been hospitalized since Jul 12 and is in stable condition.

One other patient in the report also had been near camel farms, a 60-year-old woman from Raniah who got sick on Jul 12 and has been hospitalized since Jul 19 in stable condition. Though she lives in an area with several camel farms, the woman didn't have contact with them or consumer raw camel products. Authorities are looking into her exposure to other known risk factors.

The WHO's official MERS tally has reached 1,382 confirmed cases, with at least 493 deaths.
Jul 29 MOH notice
Jul 29 WHO update


Louisiana reports another water system contains Naegleria fowleri

Drinking water in another parish (county) in Louisiana has been determined to harbor Naegleria fowleri amoeba, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) said yesterday.

Last week N fowleri was detected in St. Bernard Parish, and the new finding involves the water system of a utility district in Ascension Parish that serves about 1,800 residents. As with the positive test in St. Bernard Parish—in a water system that serves 44,000 residents—officials will conduct a 60-day "chlorine burn" to eradicate the pathogen, which can infect the brain and cause death.

"Tap water from the Ascension Consolidated Utility District 1 is safe for residents to drink, but the Department urges residents to avoid getting water in their noses," the LDHH said in a news release. N fowleri occurs naturally in freshwater, the agency added.

The amoeba causes fewer than 10 US deaths annually, the LDHH said. Three occurred in Louisiana in the past several years.

N fowleri was also identified in the St. Bernard water system in the summer of 2013, and follow-up tests in February 2014 confirmed its absence. The LDHH tests public drinking water systems every summer for the amoeba when temperatures rise.
Jul 28 LDHH news release
Jul 24 CIDRAP News scan on previous detection


WHO calls for efforts to combat P vivax malaria

The WHO's South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) today called for bolstering malaria control efforts by targeting the Plasmodium vivax strain of malaria parasite, believed to be less fatal than P falciparum but now causing substantial disease.

"Our efforts so far focused on the most deadly P falciparum malaria. We need to now broaden our strategy to include targeted interventions for P vivax malaria, which is contributing to a large proportion of global malaria burden, mainly in the WHO South-East Asia Region," Poonam Khetrapal Singh, PhD, regional director, said at a global malaria meeting in New Delhi, according to a WHO SEARO press release.

Of the 18.9 million P vivax malaria cases reported in 2012, nearly 13 million were in SEARO nations, mainly India, the agency said.

The WHO estimates that P vivax malaria could be responsible for up to 15% of malaria deaths outside of Africa, according to a "Technical Brief on Control and Elimination of P. vivax malaria," presented at the meeting. The brief details ways to overcome challenges unique to P vivax malaria.

Redoubled efforts should address technical challenges such as multidrug resistance, vector resistance to insecticides, outdoor transmission, and unique needs related to relapses of P vivax malaria, the regional office said.
Jul 29 WHO SEARO press release

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