News Scan for Aug 20, 2018

Record measles in Europe
H5N6 avian flu case in China

Measles cases in Europe top 41,000, smash records

More than 41,000 people in the World Health Organization's (WHO's) European Region have been infected with measles from January through June of this year, already exceeding 12-month totals for any other year this decade, the WHO Regional Office for Europe reported today.

The previous high was 23,927 for all of 2017, the WHO said. In addition, country reports indicate that at least 37 people have died from the disease, which is readily preventable with a vaccine, but vaccination levels are dropping across the continent.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, MD, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a WHO statement, "We call on all countries to immediately implement broad, context-appropriate measures to stop further spread of this disease. Good health for all starts with immunization, and as long as this disease is not eliminated we are failing to live up to our Sustainable Development Goal commitments."

Seven countries in the European Region—France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine—have reported more than 1,000 infections so far this year. Ukraine has had the most, with more than 23,000 cases. Serbia, with 14 deaths, had the most measles-related fatalities.

"While immunization coverage with 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine increased from 88% of eligible children in the Region in 2016 to 90% in 2017, large disparities at the local level persist," the WHO said. "Some communities report over 95% coverage, and others below 70%."

From Jul 17, 2017, through Jun 18, 2018, Serbia had the highest incidence of measles, at 643.2 cases per 1 million people, according to WHO data. Ukraine is next, with 605.7, followed by Georgia (307.4) and Greece (293.0).
Aug 20 WHO Europe report


New human H5N6 avian flu case reported in Guangxi province, China

China has confirmed its 20th case of H5N6 avian flu, in a 42-year-old man from Laibin in Guangxi province, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reported today.

The man developed symptoms on Aug 10, was hospitalized on Aug 15, and is now in serious condition. He reported contact with live poultry before he fell ill.

The case is the third in Guangxi. The first case in China was confirmed by authorities in 2014.

"Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms," the CHP said. "They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry."
Aug 20 CHP report

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