News Scan for Sep 07, 2017

Saudi MERS case
Zika retina damage
VHF PPE profile
Yellow fever in Brazil
Pakistani polio case

Saudi Arabia reports new MERS case in Riyadh

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported another new case of MERS-CoV in Riyadh today.

A 48-year-old male expatriate from the capital city was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) after presenting with symptoms of the virus. He is in critical condition. The man's source of infection is listed as "pimary," meaning it's unlikely he contracted the virus from another person.

Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV case count since 2012 has now reached 1,720, including 693 deaths. Nine patients are still being treated, according to the MOH.
Sep 7 Saudi MOH report


Study: Zika damages ganglion cells in retina, leading to vision problems

A study today in JAMA Ophthalmology suggests that congenital infection with the Zika virus interferes with the correct formation of the retina's ganglion cell layer (GCL), leading to lasting vision problems.

To conduct the study researchers compared eight infants who had confirmed congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) to eight infants with cobalamin C deficiency (cblC), an inherited disorder that affects the body's ability to process vitamin B12. All study participants had two eye evaluations.

The infants with CZS had severe thinning of the ganglion cell region that lines the retina, in addition to increased retinal backscatter and severe structural disorganization. The central retinal degeneration was similar to that of cblC deficiency.

"The findings provide the first, to date, in vivo evidence in humans for possible retinal maldevelopment with a predilection for retinal GCL loss in CZS," the authors wrote.

This is the first study to observe changes to the ganglion cells in the retina, and the authors said this malformation suggest a particular vulnerability of the inner retina to the Zika virus.
Sep 7 JAMA Ophthalmol study


WHO seeks input on health worker PPE for viral hemorrhagic fever

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a draft of a preferred product profile for personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers responding to Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks.

In its initial estimate, the WHO said health workers in West Africa's Ebola outbreak were 21 to 32 times more likely to contract Ebola when compared to the general adult population. High levels of infections during the outbreak revealed challenges in training and problems with PPE use, suggesting that improved PPE design and training might help cut the risk to responders.

Since the outbreak, the WHO has convened experts to advise about PPE use, and a 2015 workshop led to the formation of a WHO Advisory Committee for Innovative PPE, which drafted the PPE preferred product profile. They suggest reviewing and modifying PPE that's currently on the market and designing innovative new systems.

Now the group is asking for stakeholder input, and the comment period began yesterday and is open through Sep 28. In its materials, the committee said it hopes to approve final guidance in October 2017.
Sep 6 WHO draft PPE preferred product notification
WHO draft PPE preferred product profile and comment instructions


Brazil declares end of yellow fever outbreak

Brazil's MOH confirmed yesterday that the country's yellow fever outbreak, which began last December, is over. A total of 777 cases of yellow fever were confirmed during the outbreak, including 261 deaths. No new cases have been detected since June.

There are still 213 cases under investigation, the MOH said. A total of 2,270 potential cases were ruled out, and 307 cases were declared inconclusive. The case-fatality rate among confirmed cases was approximately 34%.

More than 98% of confirmed cases (764 of 777) were found in the country's southeastern states, including Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Espirito Santo, and Bahia. The disease never took hold in the country's large cities, though sporadic zoonotic cases were reported outside of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were also never implicated in the transmission cycle of this outbreak.

Throughout the outbreak, health officials conducted several yellow fever vaccination campaigns, using 36.7 million doses of the vaccine. The MOH said another 10 million doses are ready for use in 2018.
Sep 6 Brazil MOH press release
Sep 7 Xinhua
news story


New polio case reported in Pakistan

Pakistan now has four cases of wild polio type virus 1 this year, with the latest case reported in Karachi, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's (GPEI's) weekly update.

The new patient had onset of paralysis on Aug 11. Pakistan, along with neighboring Afghanistan as well as Nigeria, is one of three countries where wild polio virus type 1 is still endemic.

According to the GPEI, small-scale vaccination campaigns were carried out in July in the core polio reservoirs and other high-risk areas, aiming to reach 10.1 million children who are still unvaccinated against the virus.
Sep 6 GPEI

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