News Scan for Apr 11, 2016

More Saudi MERS
New chikungunya cases
Antibiotic overuse in India

Saudi Arabia reports 2 new MERS cases and 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new MERS-CoV cases, one recovery, and the deaths of two previously reported patients over the past several days.

The first MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves a 59-year-old Saudi man from the eastern city of Dammam who is hospitalized in stable condition. He is not a healthcare worker, and the source of his exposure is listed as "contact with camels," the MOH said in an Apr 9 update.

The second patient is a 21-year-old Saudi man in Hofuf who is in stable condition, the MOH said today. He is not a healthcare worker and had recent contact with camels.

The MOH yesterday reported the deaths of two patients, one of whom was a 78-year-old Saudi woman from Buraydah, the site of an ongoing hospital MERS cluster. She was not a healthcare worker and had an underlying medical condition. The other fatality was in a 65-year-old man from Ar Rass, which is near Buraydah in Al-Qassim province. The man was not a healthcare worker and had preexisting disease.

A previously reported patient in Buraydah has also recovered from his infection, the MOH said yesterday. The recovery occurred in a 57-year-old Saudi man who is not a healthcare worker and had an underlying medical condition.

Today's update brings the MERS-CoV total in Saudi Arabia since 2012 to 1,371 cases, including 587 deaths. Nine cases remain active.
Apr 9 MOH update
Apr 10 MOH
Apr 11 MOH update


PAHO reports 4,500 new chikungunya cases

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) last week reported 4,587 new cases of chikungunya in the Americas over a 2-week span, bringing the 2016 outbreak total to 41,116 confirmed and suspected cases.

The agency has not reported any new 2015 cases since Mar 4, leaving that number at 731,920 cases. Therefore, the outbreak total since its 2012 onset has now reached 1,920,662 cases.

According to the latest report, Bolivia reported the largest case increase, with 1,725 new infections, for a total of 6,900, to become the second most affected nation this year. Colombia, the hardest-hit nation so far in 2016, had the next largest gain, with 967 new cases and 10,415 for the year.

Brazil and Guatemala were next, with 799 and 584 new cases, respectively. Brazil has now logged 3,565 cases this year, and Guatemala has 1,321. Many countries, however, have not reported new numbers for many weeks.

PAHO did report did not report any new chikungunya-related deaths, leaving that number at two. The outbreak was first reported in December 2013 on St. Martin in the Caribbean with the first recorded cases of the disease in the Americas.
Apr 8 PAHO update
Latest PAHO 2015 cumulative case numbers


Bloomberg investigation looks into antibiotics' use in poultry farms

India's chicken farming practices and how some farmers there use antibiotics could be increasing the prevalence of  antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to three recent articles by Bloomberg News.

The stories focused on antibiotics labeled "critically" and "highly" important by the World Health Organization. These antibiotics are meant to treat, not prevent, infections, and researchers are concerned that their widespread use could lead to more resistance.

According to a February 2016 report commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, an insufficient response to antibiotic-resistant bacteria could lead to 10 million extra deaths per year and cost the global economy $100 trillion.

Colistin, one of the administered antibiotics at some poultry farms, has already been showing signs of weakening. Some bacteria's resistance is attributed to the gene mcr-1, which has now been found in more than 20 countries, the articles said. Abdul Ghafur, MD, an infectious diseases physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, told Bloomberg that Indian laboratories are finding the gene in as many as 10% to 15% of specimens tested.

Although the companies named in the Bloomberg articles—such as SR Group and Suguna Foods—are using antibiotics that are legal in India's animal practices, a few are not legal for poultry use in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. In 2011, an Indian government panel made recommendations to curtail the use of antibiotics in animal production, but backlash has halted almost all progress, according to Bloomberg.
Mar 29 Bloomberg overview
Mar 29 Bloomberg focus on poultry industry
Mar 29 Bloomberg focus on drug resistance

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