News Scan for Sep 02, 2015

More H5N1 in Vietnam
Polio cases in Ukraine
Illinois Legionnaires' outbreak
World Hepatitis Summit

Vietnam reports H5N1 outbreak in 1,000-bird village flock

After reporting an H5N1 avian flu outbreak in poultry 2 days ago, Vietnam reported another one yesterday, this one affecting a village flock in Ninh Thuan province in the southern part of the country, according to a report filed by animal health authorities with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The disease struck a village flock of 1,000 birds beginning on Aug 29, sickening 220 birds and killing 20. The surviving birds were culled to contain the outbreak.

Officials announced control of poultry movement, disinfection, surveillance, and other outbreak response steps. The country has reported numerous H5N1 outbreaks since December.
Sep 1 OIE report


WHO confirms 2 polio cases in Ukraine

Two polio cases involving circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) have been confirmed in Ukraine, which has low vaccination coverage, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday in a press release.

The cases involved onset of paralysis on Jun 30 and Jul 7. Both patients are from the country's Zakarpatskaya oblast (region) in southwestern Ukraine, which borders Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland. The patients are 4 years and 10 months old.

Ukraine is at particular risk of cVDPV because of inadequate vaccination coverage. In 2014 only 50% of its children were fully immunized against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, the WHO said.

National health officials are planning an urgent outbreak response. Such an effort would require at least three large-scale supplemental vaccination campaigns involving oral polio vaccine within 2 weeks, as spelled out by the World Health Assembly this May, the WHO said. Two million children younger than 5 years would be targeted.

"Circulating VDPVs are rare but well-documented strains of poliovirus that can emerge in some populations which are inadequately immunized," the WHO said in the release. "A robust outbreak response can rapidly stop such events. Given substantial vaccination coverage gaps across the country and subnational surveillance deficits, the risk of further spread of this strain within the country is deemed to be high."

The agency said the risk of international spread of the disease from Ukraine is low but noted the proximity of the four other countries to the outbreak region. "The emergence of cVDPV strains underscores the importance of maintaining high levels of routine vaccination coverage," the WHO said.
Sep 1 WHO press release


Seven dead in Illinois veterans home Legionella outbreak

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a veterans home in Illinois has sickened 39 and killed 7 of them, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said yesterday in a news release.

The outbreak involves residents at the Illinois Veterans' Home-Quincy in Adams County. The seven residents who died all had underlying medical conditions, the IDPH said. Their average age was 86, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.

"We continue to work diligently with our public health and Veterans' Affairs partners to get immediate medical care to residents or staff at the Home who are experiencing respiratory illness," said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD, in the IDPH release. "Unfortunately, we expect to see additional cases and possibly additional deaths because the incubation period for Legionnaires' disease can be up to 2 weeks, and because patients with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of more severe illness."

The IDPH requested aid from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Aug 30, and the next day four CDC specialists arrived at the home to work with state investigators.

Most Legionnaires' disease cases can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as hot water tanks and cooling towers. People contract the disease by inhaling contaminated water vapor and cannot pass the disease to others.
Sep 1 IDPH news release
Sep 2 AP


First World Hepatitis Summit to develop strategies, goals

The WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance convened the first World Hepatitis Summit today in hopes of raising awareness of the disease and eventually eliminating it, the WHO said in a news release today.

Experts from 60 nations are meeting in Glasgow for 3 days in what the WHO calls the first high-level global meeting focused on hepatitis.

"We know how to prevent viral hepatitis, we have a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B, and we now have medicines that can cure people with hepatitis C and control hepatitis B infection," said Gottfried Hirnschall, MD, director of the WHO's global hepatitis program. "Yet access to diagnosis and treatment is still lacking or inaccessible in many parts of the world. This summit is a wake-up call to build momentum to prevent, diagnose, treat—and eventually eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health problem."

The aim of the summit, which is designed to become an annual event, is to help countries with prevention and treatment measures. Attendees plan to declare that the elimination of viral hepatitis is possible and will urge governments to work with WHO to define and agree on global targets for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. In addition, the WHO is launching a manual at the summit for developing and assessing national plans.

Policymakers and other attendees will also discuss a draft of the WHO's Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which sets targets for 2030, including a 90% reduction in cases, a 65% drop in deaths, and an 80% treatment goal for people who have chronic hepatitis B and C.

About 400 million people globally live with viral hepatitis, the WHO said, and the disease kills an estimated 1.45 million people a year, making it a leading cause of death. Most people with chronic viral hepatitis are unaware of their infections.
Sep 2 WHO news release

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