News Scan for Jun 26, 2018

Kenya's Rift Valley fever outbreak expands
Tool visualizes flu damage in real time

More Rift Valley fever cases reported in Kenya, death toll reaches 11

In a World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office weekly bulletin, Kenya reported an additional 44 cases of Rift Valley fever (RVF), including 6 deaths, in an ongoing outbreak of the virus.

The spike in cases raises outbreak totals to 54 cases, including 11 deaths, resulting in a case-fatality rate of 20.4%. Men ages 21 to 30 years old make up 70% of the patients.

Three counties in Kenya have confirmed cases, mostly among herders and nomadic people with epidemiological links to RVF in cattle.

"For the past two months, the Ministry of Livestock has been reporting high numbers of deaths among animals, as well as abortions in camels and goats in four counties: Marsabit (bordering Ethiopia),Wajir (bordering Ethiopia and Somalia), Kitui (east of Nairobi) and Kadjiado (bordering Tanzania)," the WHO said in the bulletin.

Officials said higher than normal rainfall this year has increased RVF activity in Kenya's endemic regions.
Jun 22 WHO African regional office report


FluVision offers glimpse inside flu-infected mouse lungs

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes FluVision, an imaging tool that allows researchers to observe inside the bodies of flu-infected animals.

Yoshihiro Kawaoka, PhD, a professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, created FluVision, which he used to look at the lungs of flu-infected mice.

Kawaoka and his colleagues infected mice with fluorescently-labeled flu viruses, including H5N1, and then used a system of lasers and microscopes to see inside the animal's lungs. They found that lungs of mice with H5N1 became "leaky" 2 days after virus exposure (capillary contents permeated alveoli) and produced more dead cells in the lungs than mice infected with an adapted human H1N1 strain.

All mice with influenza-infected lungs also had reduced blood flow in the lungs' capillaries, suggesting the virus caused vascular damage before it caused lung damage.

The new tool also allows the team to watch the action of neutrophils, one of the body's first lines of defenses against flu. They were six time more prevalent in mice infected with H5N1 and doubled in those infected with H1N1. Also, neutrophils behaved differently than those in healthy mice after their levels peaked. They showed two kinds of motion, slow and rapid.

Kawaoka said researchers don't yet know why or what the neutrophils are doing. "We are seeing the mechanisms of the immune system at work," he says. "These are the things you discover and it's exciting, but now we have to figure out what's going on."
Jun 25 University of Wisconsin-Madison press release
Jun 25 Proc Natl Acad Sci

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