News Scan for Apr 16, 2014

Chikungunya in Tonga
HPV and throat cancer
New H7N9 case

Tonga reports more than 10,000 chikungunya cases

Tongan health officials have confirmed a first-ever chikungunya outbreak affecting more than 10,000 people, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report today. The Polynesian archipelago nation is home to about 100,000 people.

Tonga's health minister, Dr. Siale Akau'ola, said the country is receiving help from the WHO and hopes that the worst has passed. "It's a major outbreak, but I think we feel that it's at its peak now. We are hopeful that it will start to go down within the coming few weeks."

The Pacific has been dealing with an "unprecedented" surge of dengue fever, zika virus, and chikungunya cases, which are all caused by mosquito bites, the story said.

Akau'ola said he thinks the chikungunya virus was spread to Tonga from another island in the region. The disease has already infected tens of thousands of people in Papua New Guinea, according to ABC, which is almost 3,000 miles away.
Apr 16 ABC News story


Study: 72% of pre-vaccine oropharyngeal cancers positive for HPV

An analysis of oropharyngeal tumor tissue samples collected from patients before human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines were approved for US use showed a high prevalence of HPV and that almost two thirds of patients had HPV type 16 or 18, the strains covered in both US vaccines, according to a report today in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extracted HPV DNA from 557 samples collected from 1995 through 2005. They found that 72% were positive for HPV and 62% for HPV types 16 or 18.

(Two HPV vaccines are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration: Gardasil, from Merck, which protects against strains 6, 11, 16, and 18, and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, which protects against HPV 16 and 18.)

The prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, however, was lower in women (53%) than in men (66%), and lower in African-American patients (31%) compared with other racial or ethnic groups (68% to 80%).

The authors conclude, "Results indicate that vaccines could prevent most oropharyngeal cancers in the United States, but their effect may vary by demographic variables."
Apr 16 Emerg Infect Dis report


China reports new H7N9 case in Jiangsu province

China's eastern coastal province of Jiangsu has reported a new case of H7N9 avian flu in a person who had contact with poultry, according to an update today from the infectious disease message board FluTrackers, while the World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed a case reported yesterday.

The newly reported case is in a 60-year-old man who is hospitalized in Changzhou. His infection was confirmed today, and he had visited live-poultry markets daily before he fell ill.

The new H7N9 case pushes the outbreak's overall total to 423, according to a FluTrackers case list. So far 286 cases have been reported in the outbreak's current second wave, compared with 136 during the first wave last spring. The unofficial death count remains at 127.

The case confirmed by the WHO today is in a 30-year-old man from Hengyang city in Hunan province. The man became ill on Apr 9, was hospitalized on Apr 13, and is currently in stable condition, the agency said.
Apr 16 FluTrackers post
FluTrackers human H7N9 case list
Apr 16 WHO


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