MERS sickens 2 more in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new cases of MERS-CoV today, one in Dumah Al Jandal and the other in Hail, both in the north-central part of the country.
A 40-year-old Saudi woman from Dumah Al Jandal is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). Her infection is listed as "primary," which means it's unlikely she contracted the virus from another person. Her illness does not appear to be related to a recent hospital outbreak in the same city.
A 46-year-old man from Hail was also diagnosed with MERS-CoV. He presented with symptoms and is in critical condition. The MOH said investigators are currently reviewing the source of his infection.
Saudi Arabia has now recorded 1,704 MERS-CoV cases, 690 of them fatal, since the first detection in humans in 2012. Twelve people are still receiving treatment for their infections.
Aug 24 MOH update
Texas adds three counties to Zika testing recommendation
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) today added three counties to its enhanced Zika virus testing recommendations for pregnant women as well as people with rash and other symptoms of the disease.
The new counties include Kinney, Maverick, and Val Verde counties, all in the southern tip of the state on the border with Mexico. They join six other counties that are already recommended for enhanced testing: Cameron, Hildago, Starr, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata.
There is no evidence of ongoing Zika transmission anywhere in Texas, but the TDSHS said climate and geography in the nine counties are at higher risk for Zika spread by mosquitoes and that reports from Mexico show transmission is still occurring in some of its states, including some at the US border.
Also today, the TDSHS updated its advice for testing pregnant women in the high-risk areas, urging providers to test them 3 times rather than 2 during pregnancy, consistent with a recent recommendation change from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The TDSHS warned that Texas is entering peak mosquito season, and it warned people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by consistently wearing repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and using air conditioning or making sure door and window screens are intact.
So far, Texas has only reported one local Zika case this year, an individual from Hildago County whose illness was announced at the end of July.
Aug 24 TDSHS statement
Lower respiratory infections cause 2.74 million deaths worldwide: report
A new global disease burden study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases estimates that lower respiratory tract infections (LRIs) caused 2.74 million deaths worldwide in 2015, making them the fifth leading cause of death, and the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 5 years. The infections also resulted in 103 million disability-adjusted life years lost.
The modeling study looked at rates of LRIs and their four most common etiologies: Pneumococcal pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Though the overall incidence of LRIs has decreased between 2005 and 2015, infections still disproportionally affect the poorest regions in the world. The authors said 75% of deaths from LRIs occur in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. Other parts of the world, including east and southeast Asia, central Europe, and tropical Latin America, saw a more than 50% reduction in under-age-5 deaths from LRIs.
Burdens for specific etiologies were also unevenly distributed. Pneumonia, for example, has been reduced worldwide by 36% in the decade between 2005 and 2015, but in sub-Saharan Africa, that reduction is only 21.4%. Overall, pneumonia accounted for 64.1% of LRI deaths worldwide in 2015. After pneumonia, Hib infections, followed by RSV, and influenza, were the most likely to cause death.
In a commentary on the study, Cynthia Whitney, MD, MPH, with the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, writes, "Effective interventions for reducing pneumonia deaths are available, and a vaccine to prevent RSV infection could be available in the near future. With continued resources and attention, modeled estimates of pneumonia deaths, as well as actual numbers, can continue to decrease."
Aug 23 Lancet Infect Dis study
Aug 23 Lancet Infect Dis commentary