News Scan for Jun 15, 2015

Four new Saudi MERS cases
Sierra Leone Ebola curfew
Lack of diphtheria antitoxin in Europe

Saudi Arabia reports 4 new MERS cases, 3 in Hofuf
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Health (MOH) reported four more MERS-CoV cases over the weekend and today—three in the hot spot city of Hofuf—in an outbreak that still simmers even as it gets overshadowed by MERS events in South Korea. The agency also reported three deaths in previously reported cases.

The Hofuf cases of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) involve Saudi women aged 54, 55, and 69, the MOH said in separate reports Jun 13, yesterday, and today. The 55-year-old is in critical condition, while the other two are listed as stable. None are healthcare workers, and possible exposure to other MERS patients is under review for all three.

Hofuf has had a series of MERS-CoV cases in recent weeks, including a family cluster that was reported May 11 and a number of hospital-related infections.

The fourth patient is a 46-year-old Saudi man in Riyadh. He is likewise not a health worker, and he had no recent exposure to other MERS patients, the MOH said yesterday. He is in stable condition.

The agency reported deaths today in two MERS male patients in Hofuf, aged 45 and 65. It reported yesterday that a 74-year-old Saudi man in Taif also died from the disease. All had preexisting conditions.

The MOH also reported yesterday that a 74-year-old Saudi man in Taif has recovered from MERS. The cases count is now at 1,033 in Saudi Arabia, with 454 deaths. Nine patients are still being treated, and 1 is in home isolation.
Jun 15 MOH update
Jun 14 MOH update
Jun 13 MOH update


Sierra Leone institutes Ebola-related curfew in 2 regions

The president of Sierra Leone has enacted curfews in the country's regions hardest hit by Ebola, according to Reuters and the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

"I have instructed the security to institute chiefdom-level curfew and restriction on movement from 6 pm to 6 am in Kambia and Port Loko districts, with immediate effect," said President Ernest Bai Koroma, according to Reuters. The two districts lie between the capital of Freetown and the country's border with Guinea.

In addition, community-based surveillance will increase in those districts, with heightened military and police patrols, UNMEER reported on Jun 12. President Koroma also eased restriction on trading throughout the country as cases have generally been declining overall, UNMEER added.
Jun 13 Reuters story
Jun 12 UNMEER report


ECDC reports lack of diphtheria antitoxin after case in Spain

A case of diphtheria in Spain—the country's first in almost 30 years—has highlighted not only the need for childhood vaccination but also an urgent lack of diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) in Europe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a rapid risk assessment today.

The case involved a 6-year-old unvaccinated child who was hospitalized on May 28. Diphtheria was confirmed on May 30.

"Unless healthcare providers in the EU have immediate access to DAT there is a risk that patients with toxigenic diphtheria do not receive DAT treatment soon enough for it to optimise its impact," the ECDC said in a press release. "DAT treatment initiated later than 48 hours after onset of systemic toxic symptoms has limited impact although DAT is, when necessary, offered at any stage of the disease."

The scarcity of DAT is because disease incidence has been so low in Europe, the agency said. It added that an inventory of DAT worldwide would be beneficial. "Another option is to assess the need for joint procurement of DAT products to be used in emergencies," the ECDC said in the release.

"The diphtheria case in Spain does not currently represent a serious cross-border threat to health in the EU," the ECDC concluded. Europe has seen a small but steady increase in diphtheria in recent years, to 31 cases in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available.
Jun 15 ECDC rapid risk assessment
Jun 15 ECDC news release

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