News Scan for Apr 25, 2016

Global malaria successes
Chikungunya spike
Yellow fever in Peru, China
Tanzania cholera

WHO salutes recent malaria successes on World Malaria Day

Global public health initiatives have cut malaria cases 37% and malaria deaths 60% since 2000 and led to other notable progress against the mosquito-borne disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in a new report and press release to commemorate World Malaria Day.

A year ago, the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolved to eliminate malaria from at least 35 countries by 2030, and the WHO said today that 8 countries reported no cases of the disease in 2014: Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, and United Arab Emirates. Also, the WHO European Region recently reported no locally transmitted cases for the first time, down from 90,000 infections in 1995.

As well, an additional 8 countries tallied fewer than 100 indigenous malaria cases in 2014, with 12 nations reporting between 100 and 1,000 indigenous cases.

The WHA's 2015 goals call for the elimination of local transmission of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020. The WHO estimates that 21 countries are in a position to achieve this goal, including 6 countries in the African Region, where the burden of the disease is heaviest.

Since 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally, and overall incidence of the disease has dropped 37%, the WHO. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under 5 years. Sub-Saharan Africa recorded 88% of global malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths last year.

The WHO also noted the heavy burden that the disease still causes. About 3.2 billion people remain at risk of malaria worldwide, and last year 214 million new cases were reported in 95 countries, including 438,000 deaths.
Apr 25 WHO news release
Apr 25 WHO
malaria fact sheet


PAHO notes more than 10,000 new chikungunya cases in the Americas

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 10,662 new cases of chikungunya in the Americas, bringing the 2016 outbreak total to 54,286 confirmed and suspected cases.

The previous update included 2,508 new cases. The total since 2013 has now reached 1,933,832 cases.

According to the Apr 22 report, Brazil—which has reported an explosion of cases in recent months of Zika, another mosquito-borne disease—accounted for almost all the new cases. It reported 10,111 new chikungunya cases from just 1 week in late February and early March and now has 13,676 cases this year. Even though Brazil is still well behind in reporting cases, it has now passed Colombia as the hardest-hit nation in 2016. Colombia, in fact, adjusted its numbers downward by 200 cases, to 11,843.

Other countries reporting new cases were Guatemala, with 229 new infections and 1,550 total, and El Salvador, which had 127 new cases and 4,389 for the year. Many countries, however, have not reported new numbers for many weeks.

PAHO did report did not report any new chikungunya-related deaths for the year, leaving that number at two. The outbreak was first reported in December 2013 on St. Martin in the Caribbean with the first recorded cases of the disease in the Americas.
Apr 22 PAHO update


Peru reports 25 yellow fever infections; China notes 2 new imported cases

Peru became the first country in the Americas with confirmed cases of yellow fever, with 25 cases, PAHO said late last week, while the WHO noted 2 new cases in China.

The 25 new cases is more than the nation's 2014 and 2015 total combined, PAHO said. Because of the outbreak, the agency on Apr 22 told countries in the region to vigilantly conduct surveillance and diagnose cases so that outbreaks can be prevented, treated, and tracked.

PAHO does not recommend any travel restrictions; rather, it emphasizes the need for vaccination coverage. However, the agency said that global yellow fever vaccine supplies are insufficient in light of growing outbreaks in Africa. Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda have all reported extensive outbreaks this year.

Kenya has had 2 exported cases, according to PAHO, and China has recently updated its total cases to 11, according to an Apr 22 WHO news release. Both countries traced the origins back to unvaccinated travelers in Angola, which has the largest outbreak. Since December 2015, 1,908 suspected cases have been reported there, with a fatality rate of 13%. To combat the outbreak, officials plan to vaccinate almost 2.15 million people in targeted areas.

In response to the yellow fever cases, China has worked to get its citizens in Angola vaccinated, increased surveillance and communication surrounding yellow fever, and taken other steps, according to the WHO. Because the current climate in China is unfavourable to the mosquito disease vector, the agency said the risk of local transmission is low.
Apr 22 PAHO alert
Apr 22 WHO news release


Tanzania cholera outbreak tops 24,000 cases

An outbreak of cholera in Tanzania has grown to 24,108 cholera cases and 378 deaths, the WHO said on Apr 22.

Although the frequency and intensity of the cases have fluctuated since the outbreak started last year, countries neighboring Tanzania have also experienced outbreaks, the WHO said. Zanzibar, for instance, has reported 3,057 cases, including 51 deaths. WHO cites unclean water and unsanitary latrines as two factors of the disease's spread, adding that because Tanzania has international seaports and airports, cholera could spread well past its borders.

To contain the outbreak, health officials have focused on communicating healthy habits, establishing water safety, monitoring for the disease, and treating patients, the WHO said. A national cholera task force made up of members such as the country's ministry of health, the WHO, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is overseeing the response.
Apr 22 WHO news release

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