News Scan for Sep 20, 2016

MERS in Austria
Global flu update
Triclosan-containing sutures
Ebola strain comparison

WHO details MERS case in Austria

The World Health Organization (WHO) today described a case of MERS-CoV in a Saudi man diagnosed with the virus while he was visiting Vienna, Austria. This is the second case of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) reported in that country and was noted in recent media reports.

A 67-year-old camel breeder was visiting Austria when he first experienced fever and a cough on Sep 6. He was taken to a hospital on Sep 7, and diagnosed with severe pneumonia. On Sep 8, MERS-CoV was confirmed by a reference laboratory in Vienna. The patient remains isolated and in critical condition.

The WHO said the case represents a serious public health threat for Austria, as hospital-based outbreaks are common with MERS-CoV. The last MERS case in Austria was also in a Saudi visitor, in 2014.
 Sep 20 WHO report


Flu season hangs on in Australia and South Africa, few hot spots elsewhere

Flu activity in Australia continued to increase over the past few weeks with H3N2 as the dominant strain, and disease levels in that part of the world seem to have peaked, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its regular global flu update.

In neighboring New Zealand, however, flu markers are still running below the seasonal baseline.

Southern Africa's flu season is still underway with all three strains cocirculating, while other parts of Africa are reporting sporadic H3N2 detections, except for elevated influenza B levels in Madagascar.

In South America, flu and other respiratory viruses declined in most countries, except for Chile and Argentina, where levels remained elevated.

Southeast Asian flu activity remained at low levels, as for most the Caribbean region, where many countries are battling other respiratory viruses such as parainfluenza in Suriname and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) elsewhere.

Globally, 78% of flu viruses tested in recent weeks were influenza A and 22% were influenza B. Of the subtyped influenza viruses, 81% were the H3N2 strain.
Sep 19 WHO global flu update


Triclosan sutures can help prevent surgical site infections in children

A new study in the The Lancet Infectious Diseases shows that using sutures containing the antimicrobial triclosan can reduce the incidence of surgical site infections (SSIs) in children. SSIs are responsible for 31% of healthcare-associated infections.

Finnish researchers found that children who were treated with triclosan-containing sutures had a 3% incidence of SSIs, while those treated with standard sutures had a 5% incidence of SSIs. The study took place between 2010 and 2014, and involved 1,633 children. Twenty of the 778 children treated with tricolsan sutures suffered from SSIs, compared to 42 of the 779 children who got the control sutures. According to the authors, to prevent one SSI, triclosan sutures had to be used in 36 children.

Triclosan has made headlines recently after the Food and Drug Administration said it could no longer be marketed in over-the-counter products, in an effort to combat antimicrobial resistance.  The ingredient can still be used, however, in healthcare settings.
Sep 20 Lancet Infect Dis study
Sep 20 Lancet Infect Dis commentary


West Africa Ebola strain deadlier than central African strain

A study published yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases compared two strains of Ebola virus in rhesus macaques, and found that the West Africa Ebola strain (Makona) causes more severe disease than the central African strain (Kikwit).

Researchers suspected that heightened viremia and viral shedding contributed to the severity of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, which originated in West Africa. Compared to earlier outbreaks in Central Africa, the West African Ebola outbreak was much deadlier, taking more than 11,000 lives in 3 years. To evaluate this hypothesis, researchers infected 15 monkeys with 3 different Ebola strains, two from West Africa.

All monkeys infected with West African strains (EBOV-C05/C07) died, while two out of three monkeys infected with Central African strain (EBOV-K) died.  Those infected with EBOV-C05 also showed more enhanced replication and disease pathology in their lungs than the monkeys infected with the other two strains. Animals infected with the two West African strains shed more virus than those sickened by the Kikwit strain, though the difference wasn't statistically significant.
Sep 19 J Infect Dis study

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