News Scan for Jan 17, 2017

More Saudi MERS
Potential CDC funding cuts
Yellow fever in Brazil

More MERS cases linked to camel exposure in Saudi Arabia

In recent days the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) announced three more MERS-CoV cases, two in the city of Al Hofuf and one in Najran.

Two Saudi men, 61 and 57, from Al Hofuf were diagnosed as having MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) on Jan 13. Both are in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of the disease, and both are listed as having primary exposure to the virus, which means they did not contract the disease from another person. The MOH said the 61-year-old man had direct contact with camels.

On Jan 14 a 66-year-old man from Najran was also listed in stable condition with MERS. He is likewise listed as having a primary exposure to the respiratory virus.

The new cases raise Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV total to 1,539, including 640 deaths. Eleven people are still in treatment or monitoring.

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) released new details on 15 cases of MERS-CoV reported in Saudi Arabia between Dec 16 and 31, which included 2 fatal cases.

Five of the cases were in patients who had direct contact with camels, including drinking raw camel milk. Two cases were in expatriate healthcare workers, and one case involved an asymptomatic household contact of a patient. The remaining cases had unspecified primary sources of infection.
Jan 13 MOH update
Jan 14 MOH update
Jan 17 WHO


Analysis: CDC could lose $5 billion if ACA is repealed

A new analysis from the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) shows that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would lose up to 12% of its annual operating budget if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed.

The $5 billion loss would come from destroying the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a key part of the ACA. States would lose approximately $3 billion over the next 5 years if the fund is erased. TFAH said the loss would be felt at the state and federal level, and would include reduced funds for dealing with disease outbreaks. According to the analysis, infectious diseases cost the country more than $120 billion per year, and that the cost increases when there are new disease outbreaks.

"Losing the Prevention Fund would result in diminished support for public health in every state, undermining their ability to fight epidemics and keep people safe," said John Auerbach, the president and CEO of TFAH, in a press release.

Other programs that would suffer are programs to address prescription painkiller and heroin use, declining life expectancy, and obesity and diabetes.

Repealing the ACA, or Obamacare, was a campaign promise of president-elect Donald Trump.

In other CDC news, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, will step down from his position on Jan 20, inauguration day. According to the Washington Post, Anne Schuchat, MD, the CDC's chief health officer during the H1N1 pandemic and the principal deputy director since 2015, will become the acting director.
Jan 17 TFAH press release
Jan 16 Washington Post


WHO: 110 suspected cases of yellow fever in Brazil

Late last week the WHO reported there are now 110 suspected cases of yellow fever in Brazil's Minas Gerais state, with animal outbreaks near 13 cities, 7 of which also have human cases.

The current outbreak has resulted in 30 deaths from the mosquito-borne disease. The first patients diagnosed had symptom onset on or after Dec 18. The WHO said most patients are male, with an average age of all patients of 37 years.

Minas Gerais last reported yellow fever in 2002 and 2003, in an outbreak that involved 63 confirmed cases and 23 deaths. According to the WHO, the area has low vaccination coverage. The region of Brazil is considered to have a low risk of transmission, so routine vaccination is not recommended.

"The introduction of the virus in these areas could potentially trigger large epidemics of yellow fever. There is also a risk that infected humans may travel to affected areas, within or outside of Brazil, where the Aedes mosquitoes are present and initiate local cycles of human-to-human transmission," the WHO statement said.
Jan 13 WHO statement

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