News Scan for Aug 13, 2015

MERS in Saudi Arabia
Cholera in Hispaniola
Salmonella from pig roasts
Measles in DRC

One more MERS case reported from Riyadh hot spot

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported one new MERS-CoV case, in yet another person from Riyadh who might be part of an ongoing hospital-linked outbreak.

The patient is an 81-year-old Saudi woman who is hospitalized in crucial condition, according to an MOH statement today. Health officials are still reviewing exposure she may have had to a suspected or confirmed case in the community or the healthcare setting.

Her illness edges the country's total from MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) to 1,087, including 474 fatal cases. Twenty-two people are still in treatment and three are in home isolation. So far 588 patients have recovered from the disease.
Aug 13 Saudi MOH update

Cholera totals rise in Haiti, Dominican Republic

The number of cholera cases in Haiti and the Dominican Republic this year are still running higher than at this time last year, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in an update yesterday. Disease activity is quiet elsewhere in the Americas region, with only one case linked to Cuban travel that was reported in January by Canada and no cases reported so far by Mexico.

Haiti has reported 20,043 cases from January through Jul 25, including 15,921 hospitalizations and 171 deaths, according to PAHO. Disease levels are higher so far than the same time last year, and for some weeks, the number of cases is higher than 2012, the year that followed the country's massive outbreak in the wake of its 2010 earthquake disaster.

So far this year the Dominican Republic has reported 344 suspected cases, along with 11 deaths. PAHO said the rate is double than recorded for the same period in 2014 and that transmission is related to cholera trends reported from Haiti.
Aug 12 PAHO update


44 more Salmonella cases in Washington, slaughterhouse recalls pork

Note: This item was updated after its initial posting to add information on the meat recall.

A slaughterhouse linked with an outbreak of Salmonella in Washington that, according to Washington's State Department of Health (WSDH) now numbers 134 illnesses in 10 counties, has issued a recall of more than 116,000 pounds of "Whole Hogs for Barbeque," according to an announcement today from the US Department of Health's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The company, Kapowsin Meats in Graham, Wash., was implicated last week when the outbreak strain was found in samples collected at the plant.

Many of the people who became ill with Salmonella consumed meat from whole roasted pigs at events and restaurants.

Guidance for safe cooking of whole roasted pigs and cleaning surfaces that have been exposed to raw pork have been issued by the WSDH. FSIS and Kapowsin Meats have concern that some contaminated product could remain in consumers' freezers.

The WSDH outbreak update, released yesterday, increases the case number by 44 since its last update Jul 31. More than half (63%) of the total cases occurred in King County, where Seattle is located.
Aug 12 WSDH news release
Aug 13 FSIS recall notice


UN reports measles outbreak in DRC

An outbreak of measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has infected 20,000 people and killed 315, according to a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report noted yesterday by Reuters.

The outbreak is occurring in Katanga province, located in the southeastern part of DRC, which is also home to Africa's largest copper and cobalt mines. Measles cases are likely being underreported owing to lack of access to the many remote areas in the province.

OCHA will need $2.4 million to organize vaccination programs and provide treatment for infected people, says the report. Measles, characterized by an itchy rash, can lead to serious complications like pneumonia and encephalitis.

The current outbreak is the DRC's worst since 2010-11, when 77,000 people became ill with the virus and 1,085 died. OCHA says worldwide progress toward measles eradication is slowing because of weakening vaccination coverage.
Aug 12 Reuters report


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