News Scan for Mar 03, 2014

News brief

Caribbean chikungunya cases may now top 10,000

The Caribbean now has 10,476 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases of chikungunya, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said late last week, up from 6,540 the week before.

Martinique continues to have the most cases in the first known chikungunya outbreak in the Americas, which began on St. Martin in December 2013. The island nation of about 400,000 inhabitants has 3,940 suspected and 1,058 confirmed or probable cases, the ECDC said.

The French side of St. Marin is next, with 2,030 suspected and 765 confirmed or probable cases. Guadeloupe has 1,460 suspected and 476 confirmed or probable cases.

The next hardest-hit areas are: St. Barthelemy, 380 suspected and 127 confirmed or probable cases; the Dutch side of St. Martin, 115 confirmed cases; Dominica, 44 confirmed locally acquired and 45 imported cases; French Guiana, 10 locally acquired and 7 imported cases; Anguilla, 11 confirmed cases; UK Virgin Islands, 6 confirmed cases; and Aruba and St. Kitts and Nevis each with 1 confirmed case.

Among nations or territories, the French side of St. Martin has by far the highest incidence of the disease, according to a Feb 28 update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). That part of the island has only 36,000 people and an incidence of 2,144 chikungunya cases per 100,000 population.

The islands with the next-highest incidence are St. Barthelemy, at 1,427 per 100,000, and Martinique, with 262.
Feb 28 ECDC report
Feb 28 PAHO case table


Ontario study: 2009 H1N1 highest in minorities

Adults in Ontario who contracted 2009 H1N1 flu (pH1N1) during the 2009-10 pandemic were more likely to be black or Asian, and black kids had six times the risk white kids had of contracting the disease, according to a new study in BMC Public Health.

The test-negative case-control study involved 402 adults and 352 children, with 173 pH1N1 cases and 229 controls in adults and 240 pH1N1 cases and 112 controls in kids.

The researchers found that the risk of contracting pH1N1 in black adults was 9.72 times the risk in whites, in South Asians it was 6.22, and in East/Southeast Asians it was 2.59.

The risk in black children was 6.43 times that in white children. When looking at just kids that didn't have risk factors for severe influenza, however, the researchers found that the risk rose to 16.02 in blacks and was 2.92 in South Asians.

The authors conclude, "To minimize risk in these ethnic groups, further insight needs to be gained as to whether these findings are a result of social or biological factors, or both."
Mar 1 BMC Public Health abstract


Two thirds of Dutch mumps patients had received vaccine

Two thirds of those who contracted mumps in the Netherlands in recent years had received two doses of measles-containing vaccine, and almost half were college students or their contacts, according to a recent study in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Investigators analyzed data from 1,557 mumps cases that occurred from Sep 1, 2009, to Aug 31, 2012. They found a seasonal pattern, with peaks in the spring and fall.

A strong majority of patients were male (59.0%), were 18 to 25 years old (67.9%), and had received two doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine (67.7%). Also, 46.6% were college students or people in contact with college students.

The team found that the MMR vaccine reduced the risk of testicular inflammation, which was the most commonly reported complication, by 74%, overall complications by 76%, and hospitalization by 82%.
Feb 28 Emerg Infect Dis study


Militants kill 12 guards of polio team in Pakistan

Militants have killed 12 members of a polio immunization team's security escort in the remote tribal region of northwestern Pakistan that borders Afghanistan, Reuters reported on Mar 1.

The attackers detonated a roadside bomb targeting the security detail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, then opened fire on their convoy, local officials said. The assault lasted an hour, and the gunmen also fired on first responders, Reuters reported. About a dozen wounded were taken to a hospital.

One local official said that those killed were local militia members recruited for the vaccination campaign.

Numerous teams of polio vaccination workers have been attacked in Pakistan in recent years, and certain militants have decried immunization campaigns as a Western plot of espionage or an attempt to sterilize Muslim children.
Mar 1 Reuters story

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