News Scan for Jun 01, 2015

Ebola in Sierra Leone
DoD anthrax probe
Chikungunya cases
Avian flu in Taiwan

Sierra Leone reports another spurt of Ebola cases

Sierra Leone is reporting a spate of new Ebola cases in a new hot spot in the Kaffu Bullom part of Port Loko district, located in the western part of the country, according to official and media reports.

Five lab-confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in Kaffu Bullom chiefdom, as well as three in the Western Area Urban district, according to May 29 and Jun 1 updates from the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). The reports also noted that a new lab-confirmed case has been reported in Guinea's Fria district, north of Conakry.

The outbreak in Kaffu Bullom has resulted in at least 5 deaths, and the transmission chain is thought to be linked to a sick person who arrived in the area from Kambia district, which had been one of Sierra Leone's recent Ebola hot spots, Awareness Times, a newspaper based in Freetown, reported today.

The report said a family from Kaffu Bullom reportedly escaped quarantine and went to Rural Western Area district, and soldiers are now monitoring entry and exit points to prevent others from leaving quarantine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update today that the overall Ebola outbreak total in the hardest-hit countries is at 27,135 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases and 11,145 deaths. The numbers include illnesses reported from Guinea and Sierra Leone, the two countries still reporting cases, as of May 30.
May 29 UNMEER update
Jun 1 UNMEER update
Jun 1 Awareness Times story
Jun 1 WHO update


DoD launches probe of anthrax-related lab procedures

The Department of Defense (DoD) late last week ordered a comprehensive review of its lab procedures involving spore-forming Bacillus anthracis—which causes anthrax—after a recent incident in which live B anthracis was mistakenly sent to non-DoD labs.

A May 29 DoD news release also raised the number of US labs receiving the live bacteria, from 18 to 24, and the number of states involved, from 9 to 11. The agency also said two foreign countries received live B anthracis. It didn't specify which nations, but media reports have noted that they are South Korea and Australia.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work ordered the review after the live samples were shipped from the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Earlier on May 29 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was investigating the shipments, as well.

The DoD said in the release, "In addition to the CDC review, Work ordered all DoD laboratories that have these materials to test all previously inactivated spore-forming anthrax in the inventory. Furthermore, DoD is advising labs that received inactive anthrax from the department, to stop working with those samples until further instruction from the DoD and CDC."

Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall will lead the review, which will consist of a root-cause analysis, review of biohazard safety steps, assessment of lab adherence to protocols, and identification of systemic problems and the steps necessary to fix them.

Work said he expects review findings within 30 days.
May 29 DoD news release
May 29 CDC media statement


PAHO reports 17,000-case jump in chikungunya outbreak

The Americas have had 17,165 new chikungunya cases, bringing the outbreak total to 1,463,915, according to the Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO's) weekly update on May 29.

The numbers again include a big jump in Colombia, which has been the outbreak hot spot for weeks, although many nations have not reported for weeks. PAHO reported a 14,551-case increase the previous week. The total so far this year is 326,968 cases.

Colombia reported 16,229 new chikungunya cases, for a total of 233,958. El Salvador had 844 new cases—the next highest increase—for a total of 9,499.

The epidemic began in December 2013 with the first locally acquired chikungunya case ever reported in the Americas, on St. Martin in the Caribbean.
May 29 PAHO update


Taiwan continues to battle H5N2, H5N8 avian flu outbreaks

Taiwan's struggle with avian influenza has continued, with four H5N2 outbreaks and one H5N2 incursion recently, according to a pair of reports the government filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on May 29.

The country has reported numerous poultry outbreaks of the two viruses on poultry farms over the winter and this spring.

Chickens were the victims in all four H5N2 outbreaks, the report said. Two of them involved farms in Yunlin County, one targeted a farm in Changhua County, and one hit an abattoir in Nantou County. The first two counties are in western Taiwan, while Nantou is in the central region of the island.

The four facilities housed 54,845 birds collectively, of which 32,639 got sick and 28,634 died, according to the report. The rest were destroyed as a precaution.

The H5N8 outbreak struck a Changhua County farm housing 12,000 chickens, according to the other report. Of those, 6,570 died of the infection, and the rest were culled.

In line with Taiwan's standard procedures, farms within 3 kilometers of the affected ones will be under intensified surveillance for 3 months, officials said.
May 29 OIE report on H5N2 outbreaks
May 29 OIE report on
H5N8 outbreak

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