Saudi Arabia identifies new MERS cases linked to camels
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new cases of MERS-CoV over the last few days, both linked to camel exposure.
On Oct 13, a 60-year-old Saudi man from Jazan was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) after presenting with symptoms. He is in stable condition, and the MOH said the man had direct contact with camels.
Yesterday the MOH said a 25-year-old male expatriate in Riyadh also had MERS. He is in stable condition and also had direct contact with camels. Neither patient is a healthcare worker.
European officials say H5N6, African flu developments warrant scrutiny
European health officials today posted an overview of extensive avian influenza activity, mostly involving highly pathogenic H5N8, over the past winter and spring months that included more than 2,700 outbreaks in poultry, other captive birds, and wild birds, spanning 23 countries.
The report also came with a warning that highly pathogenic H5N6 could follow in H5N8's footsteps, a concern not only for the food supply, but also because—unlike other strains recently detected in Europe—H5N6 in Asian has been linked to sometimes-fatal human illnesses.
The joint report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) detailed outbreaks reported from Oct 19, 2016, to Aug 31, 2017. Most of the highly pathogenic events involved H5N8, but a much smaller number of H5N5 outbreaks were reported, along with one involving H5N6. Also, 65 low-pathogenic H5 outbreaks were reported in four countries, mostly in France.
Monitoring in other parts of the world shows a potential risk of long-distance spread of H5N6 from Asia to wintering groups in Western Europe, similar to what occurred with H5N8 and H5N1. Also, the experts noted that the situation in Africa with H5N8 and H5N1 is rapidly evolving, which calls for stronger collaborative efforts to closely monitor avian influenza developments.
Oct 16 ECDC-EFSA joint report
In related developments, a recent avian flu outbreak in the Netherlands has been confirmed as low-pathogenic H5N2, according to a notification today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The outbreak began on Oct 11, striking a commercial farm in Zeeland province in the far southwest. No poultry deaths from the virus were reported, but officials destroyed 41,504 susceptible birds to curb the spread of the virus.
Oct 16 OIE report on low-path H5N2 in the Netherlands
California declares hepatitis A outbreak an emergency
Governor of California Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, Jr., on Oct 13 declared the state's ongoing hepatitis A outbreak an emergency, which will allow the state to buy hepatitis A vaccine directly from manufacturers.
This is the largest outbreak in the United States in the 22 years since the hepatitis A vaccine has been available, and the current federal supply of the vaccine is not sufficient to meet California's needs, the governor said in his proclamation.
As of Oct 6, the outbreak total is 576 cases, including 18 deaths. Most of the cases have occurred in homeless people and illicit drug users. The outbreak is transmitted through person-to-person contact and contact with fecally contaminated environments.
The California Department of Health (CDPH) said San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles counties have declared local outbreaks. The vast majority of cases (490) and all deaths have been reported in San Diego County.
Oct 13 Gov. Brown proclamation
Oct 6 CDPH update