News Scan for Nov 14, 2014

New Saudi MERS case
Legionnaires' outbreak in Portugal
Global measles burden
Filed Under
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Saudis add 1 to MERS case count, Taif patients bolt from hospital

Another case of MERS-CoV has been reported today by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH), bringing the total cases there since June 2012 to 805, with 17 of those currently active.

The new case-patient is a 58-year-old man in Riyadh. He has not been hospitalized but is in isolation at home in stable condition. He has preexisting disease and a history of animal exposure. He had no reported contact with suspected or confirmed MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patients.

Of the 805 cases so far, 447 patients have recovered and 342 have died. No new deaths or recoveries were reported by the MOH today.

In other Saudi MERS developments, an Arab News article today reports that "some" MERS-CoV patients have "run away" from King Faisal Hospital in Taif, a city hard hit by the disease in recent weeks. Patients' families have been contacted and encouraged to return the patients to the hospital for treatment.

Professor of Medicine Mohammad Al-Halwani from Al-Baha University is cited in the story as saying the flurry of MERS-CoV cases in Taif can be explained by the current camel-breeding season, during which young camels are prone to contracting the virus. He also said the cold weather conditions, during which people suffer more respiratory infections with coughing and sneezing, encourage spread of the disease through droplets.

In addition, Al-Halwani said medical practitioners may have grown careless around MERS patients, neglecting personal hygiene and thus contracting and spreading the disease.
Nov 14 MOH update
Nov 14 Arab News article


Portugal reports large outbreak of Legionnaires' disease

Portuguese health authorities have reported 302 cases of Legionnaires' disease and 5 confirmed deaths stemming from an outbreak that began Nov 6 in a suburb of Lisbon, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) statement yesterday. An additional 4 deaths possibly related to the outbreak are under investigation.

The first 17 cases of Legionnaires' disease were identified on Nov 6 in Vila Franca de Xira. In the past week, 285 additional cases have been identified, making this case cluster the largest Legionnaires' outbreak ever detected in Portugal, the update said.

Portuguese authorities have closed ornamental fountains, shut down industrial cooling towers, and increased the concentration of chlorine in tap water in affected areas. Residents are being advised to disinfect showerheads, increase water heater temperatures, and avoid showers and hot tubs.

A WHO regional outbreak investigation team is in Portugal to address the outbreak, the report said.
Nov 13 WHO statement


Global decline in measles slowed by recent outbreaks

The number of new measles cases decreased by 72% from 2000 to 2013, despite several significant outbreaks in 2013, according to a report today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The report outlines progress toward reaching the World Health Assembly's goal of eliminating measles in four WHO regions by 2015. Objectives toward meeting this goal include increasing first-dose coverage of measles vaccine for infants by more than 90%, reducing global measles incidence to fewer than five cases per million people, and achieving a 95% reduction in measles mortality.

From 2000 to 2013, the WHO and UNICEF reported an increase in first-dose vaccine coverage from 44% to 68% in member states. Global measles deaths decreased by 75%.

The annual global measles incidence in the study period fell 72%. A 2012-13 increase in measles incidence from 33 cases to 40 cases per million people was primarily attributed to outbreaks in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 60% of infants do not receive a first dose of vaccine in these six countries, which accounted for more than 70% of measles-related deaths in 2013.

Despite the fact that endemic measles is now absent in 19 European and Western Pacific Region nations, the report said that measles elimination will likely not be possible by 2015. Measles is one of the three main causes of death in children under the age of 5, and the WHO estimates that ongoing elimination efforts have prevented 15.6 million deaths worldwide.
Nov 14 MMWR report

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