Saudi MERS cases, deaths, recoveries increase by 1 each
A 61-year-old man from the Najran province of Saudi Arabia has become the country's 819th MERS-CoV case-patient, according to an update today from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH).
The man, a non–healthcare worker (HCW) who is in critical condition, had preexisting disease as well as animal exposure, considered to be a risk factor for MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). He had no known contact with MERS-CoV patients in the community, and whether he has had contact with such patients in the healthcare setting is under investigation.
Over the weekend, the MOH announced the death from MERS-CoV of a previously reported 58-year-old male case-patient in the city of Taif, hard hit recently by the disease. He was not an HCW but did have preexisting disease. No other details were given.
Also over the weekend, the MOH reported the recovery from MERS of a previously reported 43-year-old expatriate in the city of Sakakah in the northwestern province of Al-Jawf. He was not an HCW and had no preexisting disease.
In other health news from Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Al Heaza was announced as the country's new minister of health, says a Reuters story. He replaces Labor Minister Adel al-Faqieh, who held the post since April on an interim basis and, according to the story, "oversaw a shake-up of the Health Ministry."
Al Heaza's appointment was announced in a royal decree carried through state media that also named new ministers of higher education, transport, agriculture, information, and Islamic affairs "as part of the kingdom's broadest reshuffle of second-tier posts in years."
The government changes are reportedly in anticipation of the Saudi 2015 budget, expected later this month.
Dec 8 Reuters story
Caribbean chikungunya outbreak nears 1 million cases
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported 63,782 new chikungunya cases in the Caribbean and Americas on Dec 5, bringing the outbreak total to 996,884.
The total includes 975,678 suspected and 18,892 confirmed locally acquired cases and 2,314 imported cases. Colombia reported 3 deaths and the US Virgin Islands reported 1, bringing the fatality total to 154.
Hot spots in South and Central America were responsible for many of the new cases. Venezuela reported 20,917 new cases since Nov 21, bringing its outbreak total to 28,387. Case numbers in Colombia continue to rise, with the country reporting 17,129 new cases, bringing its total to 39,527. El Salvador reported 12,154 new cases, for a national total of 135,383.
Most of the Caribbean islands reported fairly steady increases in chikungunya cases. The United States reported 61 new imported cases, to bring its imported total to 1,900, and Mexico reported 60 new locally acquired and 2 new imported cases.
Dec 5 PAHO update
China reports two more H7N9 flu cases
Chinese news agencies reported two H7N9 avian flu cases over the weekend.
A report yesterday from Xinhua, China's state news agency, said that samples from a 66-year-old man from the city of Meizhou in Guangdong province tested positive for H7N9 on Dec 6. The man had died from the infection on Dec 3.
The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) confirmed the case in a statement issued yesterday and reiterated its commitment to preventing the spread of H7N9 from mainland China.
China Central Television News (CCTV) also said on Dec 6 that a 38-year-old man from Shanghai was hospitalized for H7N9, according to a report in International Business Times.
According to an H7N9 case list kept by FluTrackers, the new diagnoses bring the H7N9 total to 465 cases and 176 deaths.
Dec 7 Xinhua story
Dec 7 CHP report
Dec 6 International Business Times story
FluTrackers H7N9 case list
US study: Annual RSV deaths may be as low as 42
Annual US deaths attributed to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be as low as 42, much lower than previous estimates, according to a study today in Pediatrics.
Researchers from the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare, both in Salt Lake City, analyzed data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) for 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009 and the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS) administrative data from 2000 to 2011 for RSV hospitalizations.
Using the 2009 KID data set, they estimated 42 annual RSV deaths. Using PHIS data over the 12 years, they estimated 259 annual deaths. Earlier studies based on decades-old data indicated a range of 210 to 4,500 deaths a year, according to a news release from the University of Utah.
The authors conclude, "Deaths associated with RSV are uncommon in the 21st century. The majority of deaths in both the KID and PHIS data sets occurred in infants with complex chronic conditions and in those with other acute conditions such as sepsis that could have contributed to their deaths."
Dec 8 Pediatrics abstract
Dec 8 University of Utah news release