Saudi Arabia reports MERS case in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia today reported a new MERS-CoV case after a 5-day lull, and a new study shows effectiveness of a monoclonal antibody treatment in monkeys.
The new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves 43-year-old foreign man in Riyadh who is not a healthcare worker, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported. He is in stable condition, and probable sources of infection are under investigation.
The country had reported 5 cases in under a week before going 5 days without a case till today. The new case brings the country's total to 1,289, of which 551 proved fatal, the MOH said.
In the monoclonal antibody study, US researchers, including those from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), used the treatment on three rhesus monkeys before MERS-CoV infection and compared them to six monkeys that were experimentally infected with MERS-CoV in various ways and three monkeys that received an HIV antibody treatment as a control group.
CDC releases alert on seasonal flu, warns of severe cases
The CDC today issued a Health Alert Network (HAN) advisory that warns of severe flu cases and recommends how to prevent unnecessary outbreaks.
Although the pneumonia and influenza mortality rate of week 3 (ending Jan 23, as the CDC noted on Jan 30) was below the epidemic thresholds in both the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System and the NCHS Mortality Surveillance System, the rate of flu reports is increasing, particularly those caused by 2009 H1N1.
According to the CDC, 2009 H1N1, which is now a seasonal strain, has caused severe respiratory illness leading to hospitalization and some fatalities in patients.
The f CDC recommends that anyone 6 months or older should still receive the flu vaccine as soon as possible for protection yet this season. All US flu vaccines protect against H1N1, H3N2, and influenza B viruses.
In addition, antiviral drugs are strongly recommended for high-risk patients, such as those who are hospitalized, under the age of 2, over the age of 65, and have other factors that put them at risk, the agency said. Antiviral treatment should also be given to high-risk patients even if they are just suspected of having influenza, preferably within 48 hours of symptom onset, the CDC added.
The advisory also cautions clinicians that rapid influenza diagnostic tests may yield false-negatives, so antiviral therapy should not be withheld based on results from these tests.
This is the first time since December 2014 that the CDC has issued a HAN over flu. At that point a drifted H3N2 strain was circulating and was eventually associated with decreased vaccine effectiveness and a more severe flu season.
Feb 1 CDC HAN Advisory
Jan 30 CDC Weekly FluView report
Oxfam analysis finds gaps in Ebola fund transparency
Of the almost $6 billion pledged toward Ebola relief efforts in West Africa, at least $1.9 billion never materialized, but information for the remaining $3.9 billion is scarce, the humanitarian group Oxfam reported on Jan 30.
Aboubacry Tall, Oxfam's regional director for West Africa, said, "We know that $1.9 billion of the promised funds have not even been committed to a specific country but we can't say for sure how much of the remaining committed money has been effectively delivered.
"A lack of transparency throughout the whole process, from donors to implementing organizations to programs on the ground means we're finding it hard to understand which donors have given what money, to whom and for what purpose."
Tall added, "In order for the countries to quickly build the health systems they require, governments and communities need to know what aid they are getting, when it is coming, where it is going and they need to have a say in how it is used. We urge donors to 'put their money where their mouths are' and demonstrate what transparency really means by, at a minimum, publishing information in accordance with International Aid Transparency Initiative standards."
Oxfam also strongly recommended that the three hardest-hit countries—Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea—should empower local communities to take a leading role in healthcare and public health.
Jan 30 Oxfam press release