News Scan for Dec 29, 2015

Guinea Ebola-free
H5N6 case in China

WHO declares end of Ebola transmission in Guinea

Forty-two days (two incubation periods) after its last Ebola patient tested negative for the virus, Guinea has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO), leaving only Liberia to achieve that status in the outbreak region of West Africa, the WHO said in a news release.

Ebola transmission was declared over in Sierra Leone on Nov 7. Liberia is poised to reach that status on Jan 14. Ironically, Liberia was the first to achieve Ebola-status, but twice now it has had to reset the timer after flare-ups of the disease. It was most recently declared free of Ebola on Sep 3, but cases in November ended that status.

Guinea now enters a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance. Its original chain of transmission began 2 years ago and later spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, triggering the outbreak and a global public health emergency. In addition to the original transmission chain, Guinea has had 10 flare-ups from March to November of this year.

"The coming months will be absolutely critical," said Bruce Aylward, MD, MPH, WHO special representative of the director-general for Ebola response. "This is the period when the countries need to be sure that they are fully prepared to prevent, detect and respond to any new cases."
Dec 29 WHO news release


China reports critical case of H5N6 avian flu

Chinese health officials have confirmed a case of H5N6 avian flu near Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) said today. It is China's—and the world's—fifth human case caused by the strain.

A 26-year-old woman in Bao'an district in Shenzhen has contracted the disease and is hospitalized in critical condition, the CHP said. Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, lies adjacent to Hong Kong.

A DH spokesman said, "Locally, we will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments. . . . All boundary control points have implemented disease prevention and control measures."

H5N6 was detected for the first time in a person in China in May 2014, and since then numerous H5N6 outbreaks in poultry have been recorded in China, Vietnam, and Laos. The most recent H5N6 case in China was reported in July.

On Dec 26 the CHP confirmed a death in a man who was infected with the more common H7N9 strain.
Dec 29 CHP statement
July 13 CIDRAP News scan on previous case

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