News Scan for Jan 27, 2017

Yellow fever spike in Brazil
2017 priority diseases
MERS case in health worker
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More than 100 new cases of yellow fever reported in Brazil

Yesterday Brazil's health ministry reported 129 new suspected cases of yellow fever this week, with two more states, Goias and Matto Grosso do Sul, reporting infections. The country now has 550 suspected or confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

The vast majority of cases, 502, have been in Minas Gerais state. Espirito Santo has 33 cases, while a smattering of illnesses have been documented in Bahia, San Paulo, Goias, and Matto Grosso do Sul.

As of yesterday, 72 cases have been confirmed as yellow fever, 23 were not confirmed, and 455 are under investigation. Since the first of the year, 105 people have died, 90 in Minas Gerais.

Earlier this week, Brazil's health ministry said that it would make 11.5 million yellow fever vaccines available this year. Usually, only 1 million doses are used in the country in a year.  In 2016, Brazil helped respond to a vaccine shortage crisis by supplying yellow fever vaccines to Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a yellow fever epidemic.

Four nature reserves, Pedra Azul, Forno Grande, Mata das Flores, and Cachoeira da Fumaca, were also closed this week to limit the spread of the disease.
Jan 26 Brazilian health ministry statement


Lassa fever, MERS, Zika make the WHO's top-priority disease list

Coronaviruses, such as MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and hemorrhagic fevers such as Lassa and Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) top the list of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) priority disease list for 2017.

The list was crafted earlier this week after an informal meeting held with consultants for the WHO's blueprint for research and development arm in Geneva.

In addition to the diseases mentioned, the WHO singled out filoviral diseases (Ebola and Marburg), Nipah, Rift Valley fever, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, and Zika as being the top threats in 2017.

The list adds to the previous list, compiled in 2015, which included CCHF, Ebola and Marburg, MERS, SARS, Lassa, Nipah, and Rift Valley fever.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, which publishes CIDRAP News, said leaving out influenza was a major mistake on the WHO's part.

"It perpetuates the myth that we're ready for a worldwide flu outbreak," said Osterholm. "We're not."
Jan 26 WHO list of pathogens
Jan 26 WHO R&D
Dec 11, 2015, CIDRAP News Scan on WHO priority list


New MERS case confirmed in Saudi healthcare worker

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) said today that a healthcare worker in Jeddah has been diagnosed as having MERS-CoV.

The 30-year-old Saudi man is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV. The MOH said he is a healthcare worker who contracted the disease in a healthcare setting. In the first week of this month, the MOH reported a small healthcare outbreak in Buraydah.

The new case raises Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV total to 1,547 infections, including 641 deaths. Ten people are still in treatment or monitoring.
Jan 27 MOH report

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