News Scan for Oct 15, 2018

News brief

New MERS case recorded in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) recorded a new case of MERS-CoV over the weekend, the second case in epidemiologic week 41 (last week).

A 64-year-old man from Dawadmi, Riyadh region is hospitalized with a MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection. The man had camel contact, one of the most common risk factors for MERS.

Since 2012, at least 2,261 cases of MERS have been recorded, including 803 fatalities. The vast majority of cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia.
Oct 13 MOH


WHO: Chikungunya outbreak sickens nearly 14,000 in Sudan

A chikungunya outbreak in Sudan has sickened 13,978 people in seven states, mostly in Kassala, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in an outbreak announcement.

In late May, a cluster of four suspected cases was reported in the country's Red Sea state, with the first suspected case reported in Kassala state on Aug 8. A few days later the National Public Health Laboratory in Khartoum confirmed chikungunya in 22 of 24 collected blood samples. Testing on another 100 samples showed that 50% of pooled batches of 10 were positive for both dengue and chikungunya, and all were positive for chikungunya.

Besides Red Sea and Kassala, the other affected states as of Oct 2 are Al Gardaref, River Nile, Northern, South Darfur, and Khartoum. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported. About 7% of the patient are children younger than 5 years old, and 60% are female.

The WHO said the threat to Sudan is very high because of the presence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in most parts of the country, availability of breeding sites, and lack of community coordination on vector control, which is complicated by the ongoing rainy season.

Sudan doesn't have a surveillance system to clearly define the outbreak, and without the financial and technical resources, the growing case total threatens to overwhelm already stretched health capacities. At the regional level, the risk of further spread is moderate, according to the report.

The WHO's regional office is mobilizing resources to support the response in Sudan and is prepared to help neighboring countries if the outbreak spreads.
Oct 15 WHO statement


Pertussis hospitalization study finds youngest, oldest most vulnerable

A study that looked at pertussis hospitalization beyond just infants—the group at highest risk of severe illness and death—found that infections severe enough for hospitalization can occur at any age, but that the youngest and oldest patients are most vulnerable. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their colleagues from seven US Emerging Infections Program Network states reported their findings today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Of 15,942 pertussis (whooping cough) patients who had cough onsets from Jan 2011 through December 2015 in the seven states, 515 (3.2%) were hospitalized and 3 people died from their infections. Though babies younger than 2 months old accounted for only 1.6% of all cases, they made up 29.3% of hospitalizations. Infants ages 2 to 11 months and adults ages 65 and older also had high rates of pertussis hospitalization.

Babies younger than 2 months whose mothers were vaccinated during the third pregnancy trimester and those age 2 months to 11 years who were current with their vaccinations had a 43% to 66% lower risk of pertussis hospitalization.

Another key finding was an association between underlying medical conditions and pertussis hospitalization. Of adolescents and young adults ages 12 to 20 years who were hospitalized with the illness, 43.5% had a history of asthma. Among seniors, 26.8% had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"Understanding the spectrum of severe illness across all age groups is necessary for identifying additional populations at increased risk that could benefit from targeted vaccination or post-exposure prophylaxis," the group wrote.
Oct 15 Clin Infect Dis abstract


Low-path H7N3 avian flu turns up again in California turkeys

For the fourth time since September a poultry farm in California's Stanislaus County has reported a low-pathogenic H7N3 avian flu outbreak, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in an Oct 12 notification to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The latest outbreak began on Oct 4 at a commercial turkey farm housing 33,400 birds. The virus was found during routine preslaughter surveillance for H5 and H7 avian influenza viruses. Partial sequencing suggests that the H7N3 found in the turkeys is of a low-pathogenic North American wild bird lineage.

An epidemiologic investigation and enhanced surveillance are under way. State agriculture officials have quarantined the facility and imposed controls on poultry movements. Other measures will include poultry culling and disinfection of the premises.
Oct 12 OIE report on H7N3 in California

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