News Scan for Nov 26, 2014

New Saudi MERS case, deaths
More sprout Salmonella cases
H5 avian flu in India, Germany
4 Pakistani polio workers killed

Saudi Arabia reports new MERS case, names MERS leader

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a new MERS-CoV case today as well as a new MERS director, and yesterday it confirmed two MERS-CoV deaths in previously reported case-patients.

The new case of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is in a 79-year-old Saudi woman in Al-Kharj, a city southeast of Riyadh that has reported several cases in recent weeks.

The woman has preexisting disease and is in critical condition, the MOH said. She is not a healthcare worker (HCW) but had contact with a MERS patient in a healthcare setting. She reported no recent animal exposure.

The two deaths reported yesterday were both Riyadh, in a 30-year-old female expatriate HCW and in a 75-year-old male non-HCW who had underlying disease.

The new infection and deaths bring the Saudi MERS total to 811 cases and 348 deaths.
Nov 26 MOH update
Nov 25 MOH update

In related news, the Saudi MOH said today that its Command and Control Center (CCC) has assigned Wail A. Tashkandi, MBChB, to serve as its MERS-CoV "champion," focusing exclusively on responding to MERS-related health threats.

Tashkandi led the CCC's disease control efforts related to this year's hajj.

"We have seen improvements across the Kingdom in its efforts to combat MERS-CoV," Tashkandi said in an MOH statement. "Together, we will continue to expand the use of best practices developed with our international partners in response to coronavirus and ensure they reach all patients."

The MoH launched the CCC in June in conjunction with international experts, such as those from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to rapidly address disease threats.
Nov 26 MOH statement


Sprout-linked Salmonella outbreak grows to 68 cases

A Salmonella outbreak tied to bean sprouts from a Brooklyn company has grown by 5 cases, to 68 cases in 10 states, according to a CDC update yesterday.

"Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods, Inc. are the likely source of this outbreak," the CDC said, adding that 33 (79%) of 42 case-patients reported eating bean sprouts in the week before developing symptoms.

Illness-onset dates ranged from Sep 30 to November 10, and patients range in age from younger than 1 year to 83 years, with a median of 31 years. Among 43 patients with available information, 11 (26%) required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

Massachusetts has reported the most cases, 31, followed by Pennsylvania, with 10. No other state has confirmed more than 6 cases. The CDC first reported the outbreak on Nov 21.

Wonton Foods stopped all production and sale of its sprouts on Nov 21, the CDC said. Its last shipment of bean sprouts was on Nov 18.
Nov 25 CDC update


Two H5 outbreaks in India, 1 case in wild duck in Germany

Two outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5 avian flu in the state of Karala in southern India reported yesterday by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) join a growing number of widespread regions seeing H5 outbreaks recently.

The first outbreak, in the Indian district of Kottayam, infected and killed 500 ducks out of 13,000 susceptible birds. The second, in the nearby Alappuzha district, saw 15,000 fatal infections among 228,807 susceptible birds. The apparent morbidity and mortality rate for the total outbreak was 6.41% and the apparent case-fatality rate was 100%.

The OIE report says the affected premises are being disinfected and an intensive surveillance campaign carried out in a 10-kilometer-radius zone. Among other measures being implemented are quarantine of the susceptible birds and movement control of birds in the country.
Nov 25 OIE report

In related H5 influenza news, the OIE also reported yesterday that H5N8 avian flu had been identified in a clinically healthy wild duck on the Isle of Rugen, which lies in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania state in northeastern Germany.

The duck was shot on Nov 17 during active monitoring of wild birds in the area following an outbreak on a turkey farm in the state. That outbreak, reported to the OIE Nov 4, occurred about 60 miles from the Isle of Rugen. It infected 5,000 turkeys out of 30,939 susceptible birds, killing 1,880 of them.
Nov 25 OIE report on wild duck
Nov 6 CIDRAP News scan on turkey farm outbreak


Murder of polio workers in Pakistan halts area vaccination campaign

A polio vaccination drive in Pakistan was disbanded on its fourth and final day when four health workers were killed, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.

The attack occurred outside Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province in the southwestern part of the country. Gunmen riding a motorbike shot into the seven-member vaccinating team's vehicle, says the story. A man and a woman died on the way to the hospital, and two other victims died at the hospital. The remaining three workers are recovering.

Health workers were vaccinating children in eight districts of oil-rich Baluchistan. Militants in the sparsely populated province are numerous, says the report. Pakistan, one of only three countries in which poliovirus is still endemic, has seen a doubling of polio cases this year, with 246 so far.

Vaccination teams have been attacked many times in Pakistan, with more than 60 health workers killed over just the past 2 years. The militancy has been most common in the lawless tribal areas in the northwest. Vaccination campaigns are seen by some there as acts of Western espionage aimed at sterilizing recipients.
Nov 26 AFP story
Oct 30 CIDRAP News scan on polio status

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