News Scan for Aug 04, 2020

News brief

COVID-19 RNA found on surfaces after asymptomatic patients' eye exams

COVID-19 genetic material—not necessarily live virus—was found on surfaces in a 1-meter (3.3-foot) diameter circle where asymptomatic patients who had passed coronavirus triage had eye exams, according to a small study published yesterday in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The quality-improvement study was performed on Mar 20, 1 week after the first confirmed COVID-19 case was identified at Tepecik Training and Research Hospital in Izmir, Turkey. Seven samples were taken for reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing from eye exam devices and door handles both before and after 22 ophthalmologic patients and nine companions had been in the exam room. Mean exam time was 9 minutes.

All seven samples taken before the day's exams began were negative for coronavirus, while two samples taken after exams were positive for COVID-19 RNA, both from devices used in the exams. The authors noted that RT-PCR cannot determine the presence of infectious virus and that the testing method has limitations.

The novel coronavirus is believed to be transmitted mainly through large respiratory droplets and tiny airborne aerosols, depending on the environmental conditions, but may also spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the face.

"This study provided objective data about the potential for patients who are asymptomatic, those accompanying them, or health care personnel in an eye examination room to leave viral material on the surfaces tested," the authors wrote. "Further studies are needed to determine the clinical relevance of these findings."
Aug 3 JAMA Ophthalmol study


Four more local dengue cases reported in Florida Keys

Four more dengue fever cases have been reported in an ongoing outbreak in the Florida Keys, raising the total this year to 26, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing information from the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County.

All four of the latest patients have received treatment and are expected to recover, according to the report. The event marks the area's first in about a decade. Most cases have been reported from the Key Largo area.

An outbreak in the Florida Keys in 2009 sickened 22 people, and a similar event in 2010 resulted in about 66 illnesses.
Aug 4 AP story


Little flu reported, even in Southern Hemisphere

Recent flu activity is lower than expected for this time of year, and although the Southern Hemisphere would typically be in the middle if its flu season, so far there's no sign that it has started, potentially because of COVID-19 hygiene and distancing measures, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its regular update.

Sporadic detections were noted in a few regions, including Central America, the Caribbean, Argentina, and Brazil. Many areas such as South and Southeast Asia reported no flu cases.

Of the few respiratory specimens that tested positive for flu in the first half of July, 57.8% were influenza A, and of the subtyped influenza A viruses, all were 2009 H1N1. Of the two characterized influenza B viruses, both were from the Victoria lineage.
Aug 3 WHO global flu update

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