News Scan for Aug 05, 2019

Ebola cases rise steadily
;
MERS case in Saudi Arabia
;
Measles cases slow
;
Army biolab suspension
;
Pregnancy and influenza

DRC reports more daily double-digit Ebola rises

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw no let-up in Ebola cases over the weekend, reporting 39 new cases, which would boost the outbreak total to 2,763, according to updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard.

Based on data reported for Aug 2, the DRC reported 17 more cases, and for Aug 3 the country reported 12 more infections.

Health officials are still investigating 397 suspected cases

As of yesterday, the online dashboard showed that the death toll was 1,843, which is 20 more than the health ministry's last daily update, which was posted on Aug 2.

In the Aug 2 report, the health ministry said a sister of the second case-patient detected in Goma who fled to South Kivu province has been found and 40 of her contacts have already been vaccinated, including 9 that are classified as high risk. Also, the ministry said a 25-year-old man who is a traditional healer is among the recently confirmed cases in Mabalako. He was vaccinated on Jul 20, but treated his symptoms between Jul 24 and Jul 29, which gradually worsened. The man's infection was confirmed on Jul 30 and he has been taken to an Ebola treatment center. So far, 22 of his contacts have been identified.

Meanwhile, in other developments, a patient with a confirmed infection from Lubero who fled into the community in Masereka has been located and was transferred to an Ebola treatment center.
WHO online Ebola dashboard
Aug 2 DRC update

 

MERS infects one more in Saudi Arabia

Over the weekend the Saudi Arabia ministry of health (MOH) reported the first MERS-CoV infection of August, which involves a 71-year-old man from Buraidah, according to an official statement.

The man had a history of contact with camels, and his exposure to MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is listed as "primary," meaning it's unlikely he contracted the virus from another known patient.

Saudi Arabia reported six cases of MERS-CoV in July.

Since 2012 when the virus was first reported, the World Health Organization has confirmed at least 2,442 cases, the vast majority in Saudi Arabia. At least 842 patients have died from their infections.
Aug 4 MOH update

 

New cases lift US measles total to 1,172

Eight more measles cases were recorded in the last week, bringing the United States' total in 2019 to 1,172. Though this is the most cases in the United States since 1992, and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000, the eight cases represent a decline in transmission rates across the country.

Thirty states have reported cases in 2019, a number unchanged for the past 2 weeks, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC is tracking five ongoing outbreaks (3 or more related cases) in in New York (Brooklyn and Rockland County); one in Washington state; one in El Paso, Texas; and one in Los Angeles County, California.

"More than 75% of the cases this year are linked to outbreaks in New York and New York City. Measles is more likely to spread and cause outbreaks in U.S. communities where groups of people are unvaccinated," the CDC said.

Though no measles deaths have been recorded this year, the virus has caused 124 hospitalizations as of Aug 1, and 64 other case-patients have reported complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.
Aug 5 CDC update

 

Inspection findings suspend work at USAMRIID biolab at Fort Detrick

Research on high-level pathogens at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)  lab at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., has been suspended after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inspection in June found several concerns regarding standard operating procedures, the Frederick News-Post reported on Aug 2.

No infectious disease-causing materials have been found outside authorized areas, according to the report, which cites USAMRIID public affairs officer Caree Vander Linden. The CDC sent the lab a cease and desist order in July, which suspends the lab's registration with the Federal Select Agent Program, which supervises high-level pathogen use and possession.

Some of the findings that triggered the suspension include failure to follow local procedures and lack of periodic recertification training for workers in biocontainment labs. Also, inspectors found that the wastewater decontamination system didn't meet Federal Select Agent Program standards.

According to the News-Post report, USAMRIID has been working on modified biosafety level 3 procedures and a new decontamination system since flooding occurred in May 2018, which Vander Linden says "increased the operational complexity of biocontainment laboratory research activities within the Institute."

USAMRIID work outside the lab isn't expected to be affected, and Vander Linden told the News-Post that the group will continue its critical diagnostic mission and will still be available to provide medical and subject matter expertise as needed. She said USAMRIID will work to meet Army and CDC requirements that will pave the way for the suspension to be lifted.
Aug 2 News-Post story

 

Meta-analysis: Pregnancy linked to influenza hospitalization, but not death

A meta-analysis of 33 studies on pregnant women and influenza found that pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of hospitalization, but not death, according to new research published in BMC Infectious Diseases.

"Pregnancy was associated with a seven times higher risk of hospitalization but, among patients seeking medical care as in-or outpatients, was not found to be independently associated with influenza-associated mortality, after adjusting for other potential risk factors in multivariable analysis," the authors wrote.

Pregnant women may not see increased rates of mortality because they are more likely than non-pregnant peers to get antiviral treatment, the study found. Antiviral treatment (55.4% in pregnant versus 28.7% in non-pregnant women; OR 3.09, 95% CI 2.88–3.31) and receipt of the influenza vaccine (12.1% versus 7.8%; OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.44–1.82) were more common in pregnant women.

The authors conclude that pregnant women in high-resource countries are more likely to be hospitalized based on preferential admission because of perceived risks of complications.
Aug 2 BMC Infect Dis study

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