News Scan for Jul 11, 2013

WHO MERS-CoV count
Mild H7N9 cases
Effects of pneumococcal vaccine
New virus in dolphin

WHO confirms latest MERS-CoV case, death

The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed Saudi Arabia's most recently announced Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case, raising the global total from the disease to 81 confirmed illnesses.

The patient is a 66-year-old man from the Asir region who has underlying health conditions and his hospitalized in stable condition. Saudi Arabia's health ministry first announced his illness on Jul 8.
Jul 11 WHO statement

In other developments, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday posted new tools to help health providers prepare for MERS cases.

One is aimed at health providers, walking them through steps to take when preparing to transport and care for patients who are possibly infected with MERS-CoV. The other is for health facilities and includes steps such as developing surge capacity plans and plans for visitor restriction if the disease is circulating in the community.
Jul 9 CDC checklists for MERS-CoV

In a brief note in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the CDC warned health providers that in the coming months the US healthcare system might be called on to care for patients infected with MERS-CoV.

It urged them to keep up  to date with the latest guidance about the disease on the CDC's Web site.
Jul 11 MMWR report


Kids' mild H7N9 cases show striking contrast to adults' cases

Surveillance during the H7N9 influenza outbreak in China this spring uncovered only two mild H7N9 cases, both in children in Shanghai, indicating that mild disease is uncommon, researchers reported yesterday in a letter to Emerging Microbes & Infections.

Chinese health officials reported that surveillance had uncovered 17 H7N9 cases in Shanghai adults by Apr 10, all of them severe. By May 31, 10 had died and the rest had been released from the hospital.

During that time, Shanghai's Sentinel Surveillance System for Influenza-like Illness had detected 1,799 symptomatic patients whose throats were swabbed. Polymerase chain reaction testing turned up only 2 H7N9 cases, both in boys under 4 years old.

Not only were clinical courses dramatically different between the adult and child cases, but x-rays showed striking contrasts. A radiograph of one of the children revealed clear lung texture, compared with abnormal chest x-rays in patients with severe disease similar to severe 2009 H1N1, H5N1 avian flu, or SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
Jul 10 Emerg Microbe Infect abstract


Study finds pneumococcal vaccine for kids protected adults too

Since the introduction of the seven-strain pneumococcal vaccine for US kids in 2000, pneumonia-related hospitalizations have dropped by 168,000 a year, including a substantial decrease in adults, according to a study today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers used data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 1997 through 1999 and again from 2007 through 2009 to determine the hospitalization rates for pneumonia before and after the vaccine's availability.

They found that the annual rate among children younger than 2 years declined by 551.1 per 100,000 children, or about 47,000 hospitalizations. The rate for those 85 years old or older declined by 1,300.8 per 100,000, or 73,000 hospitalizations. For adults aged 18 to 39, 65 to 74, and 75 to 84, the rate per 100,000 declined by 8.4, 85.3, and 359.8, respectively.

For all age-groups, the age-adjusted annual reduction per 100,000 was 54.8, or about 168,000 fewer pneumonia-related hospitalizations.
Jul 11 N Engl J Med abstract


New polyomavirus identified in dead California dolphin

A polyomavirus never before seen in a dolphin apparently killed a female short-beaked dolphin calf found on a San Diego beach in October 2010. Findings from researchers who studied a biological sample from the animal were published yesterday in PLoS One.

Polyomaviruses are known to cause disease in birds but until now have appeared in mammals only as the cause of mild or subclinical infection.

A necropsy was performed in California. The dolphin had multifocal ulcerative lesions in the trachea and bronchi with signs of an infection of possible viral origin. A sample was sent to the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health for further study. There, DNA sequencing and other tests showed the presence of polyomavirus.

Genetic analysis showed the virus to be distinct from members of the Polyomaviridae family studied previously.

Further research will help reveal whether this virus is an existing dolphin virus that is more widespread but does not normally cause serious illness or if it has jumped species and could be a threat in dolphins, the authors said.
Jul 10 PLoS One article
Jul 10 Columbia University press release

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