News Scan for Jan 25, 2017

Saudi MERS case
WHO director candidates
Seoul virus alert
MRSA in med students

Another MERS case reported in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported a new case of MERS-CoV in the city of Jeddah.

A 48-year-old expatriate man is in critical condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).The source of his infection is listed as primary, meaning he did not contract the disease from another person.

MERS-CoV is a severe respiratory virus that can be transmitted easily in healthcare settings and households. Contact with camels, including drinking raw camel milk, has also been linked to transmission of the virus.

The new case raises Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV total to 1,545 infections, including 641 deaths. Eight people are still in treatment or monitoring.
Jan 25 MOH update


WHO board narrows director-general list to 3 candidates

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) executive board meeting in Geneva today interviewed five candidates for the next director-general and voted to narrow the list to three, according to a statement today. The short list, up for a member-nation vote at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May, includes:

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, from Ethiopia, who is currently the country's foreign affairs minister and was its former health minister
  • David Nabarro, MD, from the United Kingdom, who is currently a special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general and has led UN and WHO infectious disease and health emergency efforts
  • Sania Nishtar, MD, from Pakistan, who is a former health minister and leads a nonprofit group aimed at improving health systems in Pakistan.

The three candidates, all of whom have extensive experience in global health, will participate in interviews tomorrow with the media ahead of the WHA vote. The new director-general will take office on Jul 1.
Jan 25 WHO statement


Probe into rat-linked Seoul virus infections spreads to more states

The investigation into the nation's first known outbreak of Seoul virus linked to rats from breeding facilities has spread beyond Illinois and Wisconsin to 10 more states that have received the animals, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday in a Health Alert Network (HAN) notice to health providers.

The hantavirus infected six people in Illinois and two in Wisconsin who were involved with rat-breeding operations, and the ongoing investigation into where the rats were distributed to identify people at risk found that residents of the following states may also have infected rates: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

No new cases have been reported since the CDC's initial outbreak announcement on Jan 20 of the eight cases.

In its HAN notice, the CDC included testing recommendations, covering those who have recent or current symptoms after handling rats from facilities that sold infected animals. In general, the agency recommends that clinicians consider hantavirus testing in all people with Seoul virus infection and rat contact, even if the rats aren't linked to a breeder connected to the outbreak.
Jan 24 CDC HAN notice
Jan 20 CIDRAP News scan "CDC: Rat-linked Seoul virus cases reported in 2 states"


Study shows nasal MRSA in med students before healthcare exposure

A small study from Israel showed that carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can occur in the noses of medical students even before they have healthcare exposure, indicating community acquisition of hospital strains, according to the findings in Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control.

The investigators followed 58 medical students for 19 months, noting that S aureus carriage steadily increased in their nasal specimens, from 33% at baseline to 38% at 13 months and 41% at 19 months. They also noted that 7 students (12%) carried 13 MRSA isolates, and that MRSA was found in 4 of them before they began their clinical rotations. Two of those students carried different MRSA strains at various times, and 1 had persistent nasal carriage of MRSA.

The authors concluded, "Compared with previous reports, higher rates of MRSA carriage were evident. . . . carriage occurred largely before healthcare exposure, implying community-acquisition of hospital strains."
Jan 23 Antimicrob Resist Infect Control study

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