News Scan for Dec 16, 2015

News brief

MERS infects another healthcare worker in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported a MERS-CoV case, the country's first in 15 days. The case, from Buraidah, is likely linked to another recent case from the same location. The latest patient is a healthcare worker who contracted the virus in a healthcare setting.

The MOH also said the latest case-patient is a 41-year-old foreign woman who is symptomatic and in stable condition. The earlier Buraidah case, reported Nov 29, was considered primary.

Buraidah is in north central Saudi Arabia, about 220 miles northwest of Riyadh.

The new case lifts the country's total from MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) to 1,280 cases, 550 of them fatal.
Dec 16 Saudi MOH statement


Colistin-resistance gene MCR-1 noted in UK, another Danish patient

MCR-1, the recently identified gene that disables the last-line antibiotic colistin, has now been identified in the United Kingdom and in another patient in Denmark, according to a post yesterday on Germination, a National Geographic public health, food, and disease blog.

The gene was first identified in China, as noted in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Nov 18, then noted in Malaysia and Portugal. On Dec 3 Danish scientists reported it one patient and in five samples of imported poultry meat.

In the latest developments, Public Health England announced it found MCR-1 in 15 stored bacterial samples from 2012 to 2015: 10 Salmonella samples and 3 Escherichia coli samples from hospitalized patients, as well as 2 Salmonella samples from imported poultry meat. In addition, the Danish researchers who reported their country's first findings told Germination author Maryn McKenna that the resistance factor has been identified in an additional patient, from 2011.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases today tweeted that it will report new developments about the gene sometime later this week.
Dec 15 Germination blog post
Nov 20 CIDRAP News scan on first MCR-1 report
Dec 4 CIDRAP News scan on findings in Denmark
Lancet Infect Dis Twitter feed


Two cases of vaccine-derived polio reported in Laos

Laos has confirmed two new cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus-1 (VDPV1) cases, bringing the country's recent total to five, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday.

The cases involve 7-month-old and 14-month old boys in Xaisomboun province, which had not previously reported any VDPV1 cases. The younger child first experienced paralysis on Oct 3 after receiving oral polio vaccine (OPV) on Sep 30. Stool samples from two of his contacts tested positive for VDPV1 on Nov 4.

The older boy had fever onset on Oct 26 and his first paralysis symptoms on Oct 28. He also had received OPV. Two of three close contacts tested positive for the virus on Nov 4.

In addition to the five polio cases, the first of which was reported Oct 12, 16 health contacts in Bolikhamxay and Xaisomboun provinces have tested positive for VDPV1 via stool sample since the beginning of the outbreak, the WHO said.
Dec 15 WHO statement
Oct 12 CIDRAP News scan on first case

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Flu Scan for Dec 16, 2015

News brief

H9N2 infects four children in China

China recently reported four H9N2 avian influenza detections, all in children. The cases were noted yesterday in a report in Chinese from Taiwan's health ministry that was translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.

Details of the cases also appeared yesterday in a weekly avian influenza update from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP). Both of the government sources cited China's National Health and Family Planning Commission.

All four of the H9N2 infections were mild. One involved a 4-year-old girl from Anhui province who visited a wet market. The other three case-patients, a 1-year-old girl, a 2-year-old boy, and a 15-year-old girl, were from Hunan province. No details were given about their possible exposure sources.

In a risk assessment earlier this year in the wake of an H9N2 detection in Bangladesh, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the virus doesn't seem to transmit easily among people and tends to cause a mild disease, making it a low public health risk. However, the strain is one deemed to have pandemic potential, and health officials have said it bears watching.
Dec 15 CHP report
Dec 15 FluTrackers thread


Iran, Oman among the few global flu hot spots

The slow start to the Northern Hemisphere flu season continues in most countries, with low or sporadic activity reported in the United States and Canada and most of Europe still reporting interseasonal levels, except for the United Kingdom and Norway, which are reporting low levels, the WHO said yesterday in its global update.

About the only hot spots are Oman, which is reporting an increasing mix of 2009 H1N1 and influenza B detections, and Iran, where the 2009 H1N1 virus is predominating.

Elsewhere, Sri Lanka is reporting increased flu activity, as are Central American locations Nicaragua and Costa Rica and Kazakhstan in central Asia.

At the global level as of Nov 29, 72% of specimens tested were influenza A and 28% were influenza B. Of the subtyped influenza A viruses, 57.3% were H3N2 and 42.7 were 2009 H1N1.
Dec 14 WHO global flu update


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