News Scan for Aug 15, 2016

Yellow Fever in DRC, Congo
UK viral meningitis decline

Suspected yellow fever in Brazzaville prompts call for public health emergency

Infectious disease doctor Daniel Lucey, MD, MPH, penned an open letter to Director-General Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, of the World Health Organization (WHO), suggesting that the WHO reconsider declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) over yellow fever cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the possibilities of an outbreak in the Republic of the Congo. The letter was posted on ProMED Mail, and written after Lucey returned from a recent trip to the DRC. ProMED Mail is the online reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. Lucey, an infectious disease specialist, is a senior scholar with Georgetown University's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

Lucey requested Chan reconvene the WHO Emergency Committee on Yellow Fever that first met on May 19 to discuss the implications of fractional vaccine dosing, which is set to begin on Aug 17 in Kinshasa, DRC. Fractional dosing is meant to stretch the current supply of yellow fever vaccine and would confer immunity for 1 year.

Kinshasa, and its 11 million inhabitants, has been a focal point of concern ever since a yellow fever outbreak began last January in Luanda, Angola. As of Aug 8 the DRC had reported 2,269 cases, 74 of them confirmed, to the WHO.

Lucey also said there's growing concern over an uptick of yellow fever cases in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo which is near Kinshasa. Currently, there are no plans for a vaccine campaign in Brazzaville, but as of Aug 3 there were 193 suspected cases of yellow fever in that city. This is the first report of yellow fever in Brazzaville.
Aug 12 ProMED Mail post


UK viral meningitis cases drop after introduction of MMR vaccine

The Lancet recently published a study showing how pediatric hospital admissions in British children for viral meningitis dropped significantly after the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was introduced in 1988.

The authors of the study looked at 50 years of admissions records to analyze rates of viral meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is well-controlled with childhood immunizations, but this is the first study to track viral meningitis trends in the UK.

Between 1968 and 1985, viral meningitis admissions rates varied annually, with a mean of 13.5 admissions per 100,000 children (15 years-old or younger) each year. But between 1989 and 2011, that rate dropped to 5.2 per 100,000 children per year, a decrease linked to children ages 1 to 14 years old.

The authors said the National Health Service's introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1988 effectively stopped mumps-related meningitis transmission. More sensitive testing was also credited with case reduction.
Aug 12 Lancet Infect Dis abstract

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