News Scan for Aug 02, 2019

Polio cases and positive findings
NY Powassan virus death
Prenatal flu vaccination access

Six countries report more polio cases

In the latest polio developments, Afghanistan and Pakistan reported more wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases, and three African nations and Malaysia reported circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus in cases, contacts, or the community, according to a weekly update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

In Afghanistan, a patient from Garmser district in Hilmand province had a paralysis onset of May 26, bringing the country's WPV1 total for the year to 12. Pakistan reported two cases, one from Balochistan province and the other from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with Jun 6 and Jun 11 paralysis onsets, respectively. The country has now reported 47 WPV1 cases in 2019, already far outpacing the 12 reported for 2018.

In Africa, Nigeria reported one more cVDPV2 case involving a patient from Borno state who had a Jun 20 paralysis onset, pushing the country's total to 13 so far this year. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported cVDPV2 in a close contact from Sankuru state on Jun 23 and one sample from a community isolate, also in Sankuru state, on Jun 22. Central African Republic reported 10 samples from community isolates in RS1 state and three such samples from RS4 state.

And finally, Myanmar reported one more cVDPV1 case in a patient from Kayin province who had a May 23 paralysis onset, putting the country's total at three so far for the year.
Aug 2 GPEI weekly update

Earlier this week the World Health Organization (WHO) summarized all the cVDPV2 developments in Africa this year, where cases or environmental positives reported in eight countries, with some reporting separate outbreaks.

The WHO said the risk of international spread or emergence of cVDPV2 across Africa is high due to suboptimal population immunity, ongoing population movements, and increasing mucosal immunity gaps to type 2 poliovirus. It added that the events underscore the risk posed by any low-level transmission of the virus and that a robust response is needed to rapidly stop circulation and ensure sufficient vaccination coverage in affected areas.
Jul 31 WHO update


New York man dies from Powassan virus infection

Yesterday the Ulster County Department of Health in New York confirmed the death of a man with Powassan virus. The man, who lived in Gardiner, was the first known case of Powassan virus in New York this year and had underlying health conditions.

Powassan virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick, and infections—though serious— are rare. According to Ulster County, only one to six New York state residents are diagnosed with the virus each year.

"It is imperative that all residents take every precaution necessary against tick-borne illnesses, especially during outdoor activities.  Residents should vigilantly check themselves and their pets for ticks and tick bites," said Carol M. Smith, MD, Ulster County’s commissioner of health and mental health.

There is no treatment for Powassan virus, and symptoms can range from headache, fever, to encephalitis.
Aug 1 Ulster County press release


Study: Easy access to prenatal flu vaccination boosts uptake

Free flu vaccination during prenatal visits at maternity hospitals can significantly increase vaccine coverage, according to a study that took place at three Paris-area hospitals. French researchers reported their findings yesterday in PLOS One.

Though seasonal influenza vaccination is recommended for pregnant women to protect them and their babies, coverage is well-below recommended levels. According to the study, vaccination coverage in pregnant women in France is 2016 was estimated to be 7%.

The study, which took place during the 2016-2017 flu season, included data from maternity wards at three hospitals. At one hospital, women at their prenatal appointments were offered the vaccine without charge. The team compared vaccination at that hospital with women who had prenatal appointments at the other two hospitals.

Data from a questionnaire answered by 248 women who gave birth during 10 days in January 2017 found an overall flu vaccine coverage of 19.4%. It was much higher at 35.4% in women from the hospital where free flu vaccine was offered and much lower at 2.7% and 0% in the women at the other two hospitals.

Other factors significantly linked to higher vaccine coverage were the mother's French birth and previous flu vaccination.

Vaccinated women generally reported that they had received enough information about flu vaccination, mainly from their prenatal care provider. The team found that women who weren't vaccinated said they didn't because it wasn't offered (81.5%), they feared fetal side effects (59.5%), or had inadequate information (51.4%).

The team concluded that the streamlined vaccination approach at the intervention hospital probably led to higher uptake levels by limiting the number of missed opportunities.
Aug 1 PLOS One abstract

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