News Scan for Apr 14, 2017

Saudi MERS cases
Zika RNA in mosquitoes
H7N9 cases in China
US flu decline

Two new MERS cases confirmed in Saudi Arabia

Today the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed two new cases of MERS-CoVin separate cities.

A 61-year-old Saudi woman from Turbah is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The source of her infection is listed as primary, meaning it's unlike she contracted the virus from anyone else.

The second MERS patient is an 86-year-old Saudi man from Taif. He is also listed in stable condition . The MOH said the man had direct contact with camels, a known risk factor for contracting the coronavirus.

The new cases raise Saudi Arabia's total to 1,592 MERS-CoV infections, 659 of them fatal, since the virus was first detected in humans in 2012. Seven people are still being treated for their infections, the MOH said.
Apr 14 MOH update


Zika RNA found in Asian tiger mosquitoes (Ae albopictus) in Brazil

Zika RNA—but not live virus—has been found in Brazilian Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquitoes, a species that is more widespread in the United States than is Aedes aegypti, the chief transmitter of the virus, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Florida and their counterparts in Brazil tested adult Ae albopictus mosquitoes that emerged from eggs collected in the wild in Bahia, Brazil, they reported yesterday in in the Entomological Society of America's (ESA's) Journal of Medical Entomology. They found Zika virus RNA in five male mosquitoes.

"Detecting Zika RNA fragments without finding live Zika virus suggests that either the female parent was not itself infected with live Zika virus or it was not able to transfer live Zika virus to her eggs," said Florida's Chelsea Smartt, PhD, in an ESA news release.

"Our results mean that Aedes albopictus may have a role in Zika virus transmission and should be of concern to public health," Smartt says. "This mosquito is found worldwide, has a wide range of hosts, and has adapted to colder climates. The role of this mosquito in Zika virus transmission needs to be assessed."
Apr 14 J Med Entomol study
Apr 14 ESA news release


Wave of new H7N9 cases in China pushes seasonal total past 600

Today Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) posted its weekly update of H7N9 avian flu in mainland China, noting 14 new cases, 2 of them fatal.  For the first time Xizang and Tianjin provinces reported cases.

Thirteen of the patients had exposure to live poultry or poultry markets in the weeks before symptom onset. There were 11 male and 3 female patients, with an age range from 39 to 81 years. The patients reported symptom onset from Mar 27 to Apr 11.

Three patients were from Sichuan province; two each from Henan, Shandong and Xizang; and one each from Anhui, Beijing, Hunan, Tianjin, and Zhejiang province. The CHP said travelers to mainland areas with H7N9 infections should take precautions against the virus, including wearing face coverings and practicing good hygiene when visiting live-bird markets.

China has now reported at least 612 cases and at least 179 deaths in its fifth H7N9 wave, the largest yet recorded by far.
Apr 14 CHP update


CDC: Flu has peaked, but 24 states still report widespread activity

Flu season has peaked but many states can still expect to see flu activity in the next few weeks, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly FluView. Despite the decreasing flu activity, the CDC said vaccination efforts should continue as long as flu is circulating.

Last week influenza B accounted for 67.8% of all lab-confirmed influenza cases, despite influenza A dominating earlier this season, which is a typical seasonal pattern. The CDC said vaccine effectiveness this season was 43% against H3N2 (influenza A) and 73% against B viruses.

The proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.6%, a decrease from last week's 2.9%. The percentage, however, is still above the national baseline of 2.2%. Hospitalization rates last week were 59.4 per 100,000 population, an increase from the previous week's rate of 54.1 per 100,000.

Last week brought 5 more pediatric deaths from influenza, raising that total to 72 for the season. Flu remains widespread in 24 states. Only 2 states experienced high ILI activity, 7 states reported moderate ILI activity, and New York City and 11 states experienced low ILI activity.
Apr 14 CDC FluView update

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