News Scan for Apr 02, 2014

New H7N9 cases
E coli O157 prevalence
Funds for tropical diseases
Vector-borne diseases

H7N9 sickens 2, kills 2 in China

China reported two more H7N9 influenza infections today, along with two deaths in patients whose illnesses were announced earlier.

One of the case-patients is a 28-year-old man from Jiangsu province who is listed in serious condition at a Suzhou hospital, according to a health department statement translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board. The report noted that a few chickens and pigeons were being raised in the patient's home.

Meanwhile, Guangdong province today announced that H7N9 has been detected in a 68-year-old man who is hospitalized in critical condition in Guangzhou, according to a separate report found by FluTrackers.

It also noted that two earlier-confirmed case patients died on Mar 29. One was a patient whose illness was first announced toward the end of February, and the other patient's case was confirmed in early March.

The two new infections lift the overall outbreak total to 407 cases, based on a case listing maintained by FluTrackers. The two additional deaths push the unofficial number of fatalities to 124. So far 271 infections have been reported in the second wave of H7N9 activity that started in October, compared with 136 in the first wave when the virus emerged last spring.
Apr 2 FluTrackers thread
FluTrackers human H7N9 case list


Meta-analysis suggests cattle E coli O157 most common in Africa

Scientists who conducted what they call the first meta-analysis of the global prevalence of Escherichia coli O157 in cattle say their findings suggest the pathogen is most common in Africa, followed by North America, and least common in Latin America.

Writing in PLoS One yesterday, authors from Bangladesh and South Africa said they searched seven electronic databases for relevant publications dating from 1980 to 2012. They identified 140 studies involving 220,427 cattle.

Their pooled estimate of the global prevalence of the pathogen is 5.68% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.16%-6.20%). For global regions, they came up with these prevalence estimates: Africa, 31.20% (95% CI, 12.35%–50.04%); North America, 7.35% (6.44%-8.26%); Oceania, 6.85% (2.41%-11.29%); Europe, 5.15% (4.21%-6.09%); Asia, 4.69% (3.05%-6.33%); and Latin America and the Caribbean, 1.65% (0.77%-2.53%).

Different studies yielded varied findings within most regions, the report says. Using statistical methods, the researchers identified several factors that were associated with differences in estimates, including global region, type of cattle, and, to a lesser extent, type of screening specimen used.
Apr 1 PLoS One report


Groups pledge $300 million to fight neglected tropical diseases

Organizations from across the globe have pledged more than $300 million in new funds to combat 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as part of a private-public partnership launched 2 years ago, Global Health Strategies (GHS) said in a press release today.

The announcement came at a gathering of leaders today at the Institut Pasteur that coincides with the release of a new report highlighting gains over the past 2 years, including pharmaceutical companies meeting 100% of requests for drugs and affected countries taking ownership of NTD programs.

The 10 NTDS involve parasitic and bacterial infections that put one in six people worldwide at risk and hit poor people especially hard, the GHS release said.

Since the 2012 London Declaration—which garnered support from 13 drug companies, global health organizations, private foundations, and donor and NTD-endemic countries for a push to reduce NTDs—the partnership has made strong progress in efforts to reach the World Health Organization's (WHO)'s goals to control or eliminate some NTDs by the end of the decade.

"The tremendous progress we have seen over the past 2 years is proof of the power of partnerships and the generosity of companies that made commitments under the London Declaration," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, who spoke today at the meeting.

New funding includes a $120 million commitment from a group of partners to address intestinal worms common in areas with limited access to clean water and sanitation. And the World Bank Group, which has long contributed to fighting onchocerciasis (river blindness), is committing $120 million toward NTD control and elimination in low-income African nations, including funds for school-based deworming efforts.

Also, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is contributing $50 million to lower the risks of drug resistance, and Mundo Sano ($8 million) and Vitamin Angels ($4.5 million) have pledged funds for deworming efforts.
Apr 2 GHS press release


World Health Day (Apr 7) to focus on vector-borne diseases

The theme this year for World Health Day, celebrated on Apr 7, is vector-borne diseases, according to a joint statement by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the WHO Regional Office for the Americas.

Vector-borne diseases, which are spread by organisms like insects, ticks, and snails, "cause a high burden of illness and death for individuals, their families, and communities, especially in poorer countries," the statement said.

Significant vector-borne diseases in the Americas are malaria, dengue, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma.
PAHO/WHO-Americas statement

In other World Health Day news, vector-borne disease sickens 77,000 Europeans every year, the WHO Regional Office for Europe said in a news release today. The agency called for everyone to protect themselves from the diseases, whether imported or locally acquired.

Mosquito, sandfly, and tick bites transmitted diseases to more than 1.5 million Europeans between 1990 and 2010, the agency said. In addition, exotic diseases like chikungunya are being reported in the region, local cases of dengue have reappeared after an absence of more than 60 years, the number of imported malaria cases is still high, and the geographic distribution of some long-established vector-borne diseases like Lyme and leishmaniasis is expanding.

"There is a clear warning signal to the European Region that diseases carried by vectors may spread and intensify in the years ahead," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe. "This is not the time to lower our guard."
Apr 2 WHO-Europe news release

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