More people, animals sickened in Kenya's Rift Valley fever outbreak
The number of people sickened in Kenya's Rift Valley fever outbreak has climbed to 26, including 6 deaths, and though the country has experience handling earlier outbreaks, the new developments are concerning, given the high number of affected livestock and the nomadic culture that depends on an animal-based diet, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in an update.
Most of the cases are in Wajir County in the northeast, where the index case was infected, but two are from neighboring Marsabit County. Seven of the illnesses are lab-confirmed. One person is still hospitalized, and six have been discharged from treatment.
Kenya has been preparing for Rift Valley fever since February in response to heavy rains and flooding that have increased populations of mosquitoes that spread to the virus to animals. Humans typically contract the disease from eating meat from infected animals or from contact with blood or organs of infected animals. The WHO said Kenya activated its emergency operations center on Jun 14, and investigators have been dispatched to the area to assist with active case findings and to help with sensitizing communities.
In a related development, Kenya's agriculture ministry reported two more Rift Valley fever outbreaks in animals, according to a Jun 15 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). One began on Jun 7 at a farm in Wajir County, sickening 17 of 886 goats, camels, and sheep. The second outbreak began on Jun 11 at a farm near the city of Galole in Tana River County in the southeast, sickening 1 of 350 goats.
Jun 18 WHO statement
Jun 15 OIE notification
Jun 12 CIDRAP News story "Rift Valley fever sickens 10 in Kenya, triggers response"
Canada's summit on hepatitis C infections includes prevention strategy
This past weekend during the Global Hepatitis Summit in Toronto, Canada rolled out its national plan to eliminate hepatitis C infections by 2030, a goal set forth by the WHO.
Hepatitis C has the highest mortality rates of infectious diseases in Canada, and 45% to 70% of people remain undiagnosed until the disease is advanced, said Jordan Feld, MD, of the Toronto Centre for Liver Disease at University of Toronto in a press release emailed to journalists.
Much like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the focus for eliminating hepatitis C will be through prevention, including screening at-risk populations, safer needle practices, and targeting Canada's indigenous population, which has high rates of the disease.
Though new drugs can cure hepatitis C within 3 months of treatment, re-infection can occur almost immediately if prevention measures aren't taken.
To date, only 12 countries are on track to meet the WHO elimination targets. A much larger number, 194 countries, pledged to eliminate the disease in 2016. To be on track for 2030 elimination, a country must be treating at least 7% of their infected population annually and treat all those infected, regardless of how extensive liver damage may be.
Jun 15 CanHepC website