News Scan for Jun 06, 2016

News brief

PAHO reports 2,400 new chikungunya cases in the Americas

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 2,446 new chikungunya cases to bring the 2016 total in the Americas to 117,829 cases.

The previous 2 weeks saw increases of 27,505 and 1,184 suspected and confirmed cases, respectively. PAHO updated its numbers on Jun 3.

Honduras reported the most new cases, with 1,174, bringing its total for the year to 9,489. Colombia was next, with 824 new cases and 15,625 total. Many countries, however, have not reported new cases for many weeks.

PAHO reported a new chikungunya-related death, in Nicaragua, raising the number of 2016 fatalities to 16. The other 15 deaths were in Brazil.

The outbreak was first reported in December 2013 on St. Martin in the Caribbean with the first recorded cases of the disease in the Americas. Since then PAHO has reported 1,997,796 suspected or confirmed cases, including 284 deaths.
Jun 3 PAHO update


WHO notes 57 cases of Oropouche fever in Peru

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Jun 3 reported 57 cases of Oropouche fever in an area of Peru that had not previously reported cases of the midge-borne disease, which produces similar symptoms as other arbovirus diseases like Zika, chikungunya, and dengue.

Most of the 57 cases were from town in the Cusco region of Peru, which is in the Amazon rainforest basin and had not reported cases before, the WHO said.

Forty-five of the cases (79%) were detected in January, compared with four (7%) in February and eight (14%) in March. All patients have recovered following symptomatic treatment, and there were no fatalities.

The virus is a member of the Orthobunyavirus genus, along with the La Crosse and Jamestown Canyon viruses, which have been known to cause encephalitis in North America. Oropouche virus is transmitted to humans primarily by the Culicoides paraensis midge, and has caused large outbreaks in the Brazilian Amazon region. It typically causes fairly mild, self-limiting disease that typically includes a fever.

Local authorities are conducting epidemiologic investigations and strengthening vector control in response to the outbreak, the WHO said.

"Given the wide geographical distribution of the competent vector in the Region of the Americas, the risk of cases being identified in other countries is significant," the WHO said.

The agency added, "Given its clinical presentation, Oropouche fever should be included in the clinical differential diagnosis for other common arboviral diseases (e.g., chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, Zika virus)."
Jun 3 WHO statement

Avian Flu Scan for Jun 06, 2016

News brief

Positive test at Hong Kong poultry market prompts poultry sale suspension

Hong Kong officials yesterday suspended live-poultry trading after a routine surveillance test detected H7N9 avian flu in droppings from poultry at a market stall, according to a government announcement yesterday.

The positive sample was detected at a market in Tuen Mun on May 16. The stall sells live chickens and pigeons and is one of two at the market. Tests on poultry from the other stall were negative.

The live-poultry suspension will be in place until inspections of all local poultry farms are completed and specimens are negative, Ko Wing-man, MBBS, Hong Kong's secretary of food and health, said today at a press briefing.

Among other response steps, all 4,500 poultry at Hong Kong's only poultry wholesale market will be culled, though all samples collected from the site have tested negative, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. Tests from 9 of Hong Kong's poultry farms yielded no positive H7N9 results, and inspection and sampling will take place at the remaining 20 chicken farms.
Jun 5 Hong Kong government statement
Jun 6 Hong Kong
press release
Jun 6 Xinhua

Study finds H7 exposure in Egyptian poultry workers

Though no human infections of H7 avian flu have been reported in Egypt, the country's poultry growers have been exposed to the strain, according to a 3-year prospective cohort seroprevalence study published Jun 3 in PLoS One.

H7 viruses haven't been found during active surveillance in Egyptian poultry, but H7N3, H7N7, and H7N9 have been isolated from wild birds, with those strains closely related to low-pathogenicity Eurasian, African, or Central Asian lineage viruses.

For the H7 study, Egyptian researchers and their collaborators from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., used sera collected as part of a 3-year cohort study on H5N1 and H9N2 seroprevalence, which was found to be 2% and 5% to 7%, respectively.

Those enrolled in the study included 750 poultry-exposed people from five Egyptian governorates and 250 unexposed controls from Cairo. The samples were collected at the end of 2010 and early 2011 for baseline data, then after 1 year and 2 years.

In the exposed group, annual seroprevalence levels were 0%, 1.9%, and 2.1% as measured by microneutralization assay. For the control group, seroprevalence was 0% for each of the 3 years. The researchers confirmed their findings with western blot and immunofluorescence assays.

The team said the findings show a need to monitor the threat of H7 virus spread to exposed poultry workers.
Jun 3 PLoS One abstract

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