NEWS SCAN: Plague in New Mexico, cholera in 3 countries, measles update

May 31, 2011

New Mexico confirms 2nd human plague case
A 78-year-old man from Santa Fe County has contracted New Mexico's second case of bubonic plague in less than a month, according to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDH). The man is recovering in a hospital, according to a department news release. The first case was confirmed May 6 in a 58-year-old man from the same county who also was hospitalized but is now recovering at home. "We are seeing plague activity in both humans and animals from many different locations of north-central New Mexico," said NMDH Secretary Dr. Catherine Torres. "Everyone needs to be aware of the situation and take precautions to avoid rodents and their fleas." Plague, a bacterial disease, is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, other wildlife, and pets, according to the NMDH. "Preventing your pets from roaming and hunting rodents, using a flea control product on all your pets, and not allowing them to sleep in bed with you are three things you can do to decrease your risk of being bitten by an infected flea," said NMDH public health veterinarian Dr. Paul Ettestad. Last month the department announced it had detected the disease in pets in two counties, including Santa Fe. In 2010 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed only two human cases of plague in the United States, both in Oregon.
May 27 NMDH press release
May 6 NMDH press release

Cholera stalks Haiti, Dominican Republic, Somalia
Cholera cases are on the rise again in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, and Somalia is also fighting an epidemic, according to press reports. The disease is increasing in Haiti's West department, and health agencies are responding quickly in an effort to keep the pathogen from spreading to Port-au-Prince, said World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman Fadela Chaib, according to a May 27 United Nations press release. More than 300,000 Haitians have had cholera and more than 5,000 have died in the epidemic that began there in 2010.
May 27 UN press release
Meanwhile, the cholera death toll in the Dominican Republic has risen to 23 out of 1,288 cases that have occurred since the disease erupted there last November, according to a May 28 Agence France-Presse (AFP) report. The health ministry said more than 400 cases and 10 deaths had occurred in the preceding 3 weeks, AFP reported. The head of the Dominican Medical College disputed the health ministry's figures, asserting that 30 people have died and 5,000 have been infected.
May 28 AFP story
In Somalia, the WHO said at least 85 people have died in a cholera outbreak that began in April, according to a May 30 Associated Press (AP) report. WHO spokesman Pieter Desloover said the 85 deaths were in just one hospital in Mogadishu, and the outbreak also has struck two other cities, Afgoye and Baidoa. The story said 2,403 cases involving acute watery diarrhea and cholera have been reported in Somalia this year, most of them in children under the age of 5.

Toddler in Washington state contracts measles
A 2-year-old boy from Port Orchard, Wash., who had no history of travel has contracted measles, the first case in Kitsap County since 1999, according to county health officials. The boy had received his first measles shot but was not yet due to receive a second dose, which would have afforded more complete protection, according to the Kitsap Sun. The CDC confirmed the case on May 27. His is the third measles case in the state this year.
May 27 Kitsap Sun story
In Ireland, officials are warning parents to ensure that their kids' measles vaccinations are up to date before traveling to other European nations, according to an article yesterday in the Dublin-based Independent. The story specifically mentions as hotspots France, which confirmed almost as many cases (about 5,000) from January to March as it did all last year, and Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
May 30 Independent article

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