News Scan for Jan 20, 2016

US Zika cases in pregnancy
H5N1 outbreaks in Nigeria
Lassa fever in Nigeria

Illinois reports 2 pregnancy-related Zika cases as affected nations mount

Shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance on Zika virus infection and pregnancy yesterday, Illinois officials reported two imported cases in pregnant women, a potential risk for birth defects.

And in related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed that Guyana, Barbados, Ecuador, and Bolivia have joined the ever-growing list of countries affected by the mosquito-borne disease.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said the two pregnant Illinois residents had recently traveled to Zika-affected countries and have tested positive for the virus. "Physicians are monitoring their health and pregnancies," the agency said in a press release.

"There is virtually no risk to Illinois residents since you cannot contract Zika virus from another person, but only through the bite of an infected mosquito," said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD. "But . . . we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to take preventive measures when traveling in affected countries and check health travel advisories."

The concern is over microcephaly in infants born to infected mothers—an underdeveloped head that is often associated with cognitive defects. Brazil has now reported 3,893 suspected microcephaly cases, including 363 new ones, according to a post today on Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog. Recent testing has shown a possible link between Zika and the condition.
Jan 19 IDPH news release
Jan 19 CIDRAP News story "CDC releases Zika guidance on pregnant patients"
Jan 20 Avian Flu Diary post

Guyana's affected case involves a 27-year-old woman who tested positive on Jan 14, the WHO said in a news release. It also noted three lab-confirmed cases that from Barbados and six from Ecuador that were reported to the WHO on Jan 15. Two of the Ecuadorian cases were locally acquired, as were the cases in Guyana and Barbados.

The agency said in a separate news release that Bolivia has confirmed a Zika virus infection in a 32-year-old pregnant woman from Portachuelo who first had symptoms on Jan 8. She had not traveled outside the country recently.
Jan 20 WHO news release on Guyana, Barbados, and Ecuador
Jan 20 WHO news release on Bolivia case


Nigeria reports 22 H5N1 outbreaks involving almost 100,000 poultry

Nigeria has confirmed 22 new outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu in poultry, according to two separate reports posted today by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The first report details three outbreaks in the southern states of Enugu, Delta, and Ebonyi that began Jan 11 and 12. Two involved chicken farms of 1,609 and 3,000 birds, while the Ebonyi outbreak was in a backyard flock of 250 chickens.

All told, the virus killed 2,362 of 4,859 poultry, and the surviving birds were euthanized to contain the outbreaks. The report cites "poor farm biosecurity" as a factor in the outbreaks.

The second report details 19 outbreaks in six separate northern states, with 11 of them occurring in Kano. They involved farms and backyard flocks ranging from 15 to 30,000 birds. The outbreaks started from Jan 10 to Jan 14.

Among 91,653 poultry in all the outbreaks combined, 3,622 birds died from H5N1, and the remaining, 87,830 were culled. The report also mentioned poor farm biosecurity in the events.
Jan 19 OIE report on 3 southern outbreaks
Jan 19 OIE report on 19 northern outbreaks


Lassa deaths in Nigeria climb to 63

Cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria have climbed to as high as 212 and deaths to 63, according to the Nigeria-based Premium Times. On Jan 9 the country's health ministry reported 86 cases and 40 deaths.

Minister of Health Isaac Adewole, MD, said that 17 of the country's 36 states are now reporting cases of the disease, up from 10 states. But he added that every state should consider itself at risk of Lassa fever, which is typically transmitted by rodents.

Adewole said 5,000 primary healthcare centers would be activated this year in response to the outbreak, and six of the most affected states—Niger, Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi and Ondo—would have Lassa fever diagnostic centers. This would bring the country's total to 12 such centers.
Jan 20 Premium Times report
Jan 11 CIDRAP News scan on previous update

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