News Scan for Mar 01, 2019

MERS in Saudi Arabia
;
UNICEF measles alert
;
Polio positives in Mozambique, Nigeria
; ;

MERS sickens 1 more in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's health ministry today reported new MERS-CoV case, which involves a 78-year-old man from Afif in the in the central part of the country, according to an update to its epidemiological week 9 report.

An investigation revealed the man had contact with camels before his MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) symptoms began. He is currently hospitalized for his infection.

Today's new case raises Saudi Arabia's total number of MERS-CoV illnesses this year to 83, of which 51 were from Wadi ad-Dawasir where a large hospital-related outbreak is under way and illnesses linked to camel exposure have also occurred.
Mar 1 Saudi health ministry update

 

UNICEF sounds alarm over measles surge

UNICEF today warned that measles cases this year are surging to alarmingly high levels, with 10 countries accounting for more than 74% of the total increase.

The United Nations agency notes that, for 2018, 98 countries reported more measles than the previous year, a sign of eroding progress against the highly preventable but potentially fatal and highly communicable disease. Countries with the 10 highest increases last year, in order of number of cases, are Ukraine, Philippines, Brazil, Yemen, Venezuela, Serbia, Madagascar, Sudan, Thailand, and France.

For 2018, the Ukraine reported 35,120 cases, and already this year the country has reported 24,042 measles cases. Similarly, the Philippines last year reported 15,559 cases in all of 2018 but has already recorded 12,736, including 203 deaths, in the first 2 months of 2019.

UNICEF highlighted several countries that had no reported measles cases in 2017, but reported cases in 2018. They are Brazil, Moldova, Montenegro, Colombia, Timor-Leste, Peru, Chile, and Uzbekistan.

Gaps in health infrastructure, civil unrest, low community awareness, complacency, and vaccine hesitancy have led to outbreaks in both developing and developed countries. The United States, for example, experienced a sixfold increase between 2017 and 2018.

In a statement, Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director, said, "This is a wake up call. We have a safe, effective, and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious diseases—a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives each year over the last two decades." She also warned that a lack of action today will have disastrous consequences tomorrow.

UNICEF and its partners have stepped up efforts in several parts of the world, including the Ukraine, the Philippines, Brazil, Yemen, and Madagascar.
Mar 1 UNICEF press release

In other measles developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that it is collaborating with Nigeria's government to curb further spread of measles and rubella in the country. A measles outbreak is occurring across five states, with one—Ogun—also experiencing a rubella outbreak.

Though the vaccine is part of the routine immunization schedule and measles vaccination campaigns were held in 2017 and 2018, population immunity remains low because of poor belief in immunization and vaccine refusal during the campaigns, especially in border areas.
Feb 28 WHO Nigeria office statement

 

More positive contacts found in Mozambique and Nigeria polio outbreaks

Mozambique and Nigeria reported more positive vaccine-derived polio samples, all in community contacts of earlier cases, according to a weekly update today from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Mozambique is currently experiencing a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) outbreak, and the latest positive sample was collected Dec 17 from a community contact in Zambezia province.

Nigeria reported eight positive cVDPV2 samples collected Jan 13 and 14 from health contacts of a patient with acute flaccid paralysis in Kwara state. The country is experiencing two vaccine-derived polio outbreaks, the other involving cVDPV1.
Feb 28 GPEI weekly report

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