News Scan for Feb 06, 2017

H7N9 cases in China
Saudi MERS
Zika microcephaly in Mexico
Chikungunya cases
MenB vaccine and carriage

China reports 4 more H7N9 cases as Taiwan announces imported case

In a sign of an ongoing steady stream of H7N9 avian flu cases, five new infections have been reported, four from China's mainland plus an imported infection in Taiwan, according to statements yesterday and today from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

The cases reported from the mainland include two in Hunan province and one each in Guangxi and Hubei provinces. The patients in Hunan province are both from Changsha, a 37-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman, both of whom were exposed to poultry and are hospitalized in serious condition.

Guangxi province's case-patient is a 32-year-old man from Guigang who had worked in Guangdong province before he got sick and is now hospitalized in critical condition. The patient from Hubei province is a man from Honghu, but no other details were available.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's case involves a 69-year-old man who got sick on Jan 23 while in Guangdong province, the CHP said. He returned to Taiwan on Jan 25 for medical care, and his H7N9 infection was confirmed on Feb 4.

China is in its fifth wave of H7N9 activity, which saw an early, large surge of cases (106) in December, followed by even more (183) in January. So far at least 295 cases have been reported this season, which is approaching the record 319 cases reported during the mainland's second wave, which occurred in the winter of 2013-14.
Feb 5 CHP statement
Feb 6 CHP statement


Officials confirm 2 MERS cases in Saudi Arabia, 1 death

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new MERS cases and one death in the past few days.

On Feb 3 the MOH reported that a 54-year-old male expatriate in Najran was in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection. The source of his infection is listed as primary, meaning he did not contract the disease from another person. The same day, the MOH said a 68-year-old man in Taif had died from the respiratory infection. He had preexisting illness.

Today the MOH said a 45-year-old male expatriate in Medina was also in stable condition after being diagnosed as having MERS. His infection is also listed as "primary."

The new cases raise Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV total to 1,552 infections, including 644 deaths. Nine people are still in treatment or monitoring.
Feb 3 MOH report
Feb 6 MOH report


Mexico reports its first baby born with Zika-related microcephaly

On Feb 3 Mexico confirmed that Mexico confirmed its first baby born with Zika-related microcephaly, according to a report from the Associated Press (AP).  

Mexico's health ministry issued a statement that said the baby was born on Nov 5. The child was premature and died at birth, and the mother was a 25-year-old woman from Oaxaca. It took several months to confirm the child had microcephaly related to a prenatal Zika infection, the ministry said.

Mexico is one of the hardest-hit countries in the current Zika epidemic. As of Feb 3, officials had confirmed 7,634 cases of Zika in the country, including 4,252 in pregnant women.
Feb 3 AP story


PAHO reports only 123 new chikungunya case

Continuing a slow start to 2017, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Feb 3 reported only 123 new chikungunya cases, bringing the yearly total so far to 582 cases.

Most of the new cases were in Peru and Colombia. Peru reported 47 new infections, to reach 98 cases for the year, while Colombia notched 39 new cases to bring its 2017 total to 106. Costa Rica had 21 new infections and 48 total. In addition, Ecuador (9 cases), Nicaragua (6), and Mexico (1) all reported their first cases, bringing to eight the number of chikungunya-affected nations that have reported case numbers to PAHO.

The outbreak began in late 2013 on the Caribbean island of St. Martin and has now sickened at least 2,387,300 people.
Feb 3 PAHO update


Study: Vaccine does not reduce menningococcal B carriage

A new study in Clinical infectious Diseases showed that MenB, the meningococcal serogroup B vaccine, did not rapidly reduce meningococcal carriage or prevent serogroup B acquisition among college students with high vaccination coverage (over 90%).

The research was conducted via nasal swabbing and surveys during four vaccination campaigns at Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, two students at the school were diagnosed as having meningitis B, prompting four campus-wide vaccination campaigns. The students survived, and 71 close contacts were successfully given prophylactic antibiotics.

Of the 615 vaccinated students who participated in multiple surveys, 71% remained non-carriers, 8% had cleared carriage, 15% remained carriers, and 7% had acquired carriage. After each campaign, the prevalence of meningococcal bacteria in nasal passages remained 20% to 24%, indicating that carriage status remained stable despite vaccination. Only 4% (10 students) carried the meningococcal B subtype. Male students and smokers were more likely to be carriers.

"Despite high vaccination coverage, carriage prevalence on campus remained stable, suggesting MenB-FHbp does not rapidly reduce either overall or serogroup B meningococcal carriage or prevent serogroup B carriage acquisition at the individual-level," the authors write. ". . . therefore  herd protection reinforces the need to achieve high vaccination coverage to protect vaccinated individuals as well as antimicrobial chemoprophylaxis for close contacts during outbreaks."
Feb 4 Clin Inf Dis study

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