News Scan for Sep 22, 2017

Vaccine-related polio
More chikungunya in France, Italy
Waning flu vaccine protection
H5N8 in South Africa

New case of MERS-CoV found in United Arab Emirates 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported a new case of MERS-CoV to the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a WHO update yesterday.

A 78-year-old man from Al Ain was hospitalized on Aug 11 with symptoms of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. The man was not a healthcare worker, but no other details of his exposure or risk factors were available at this time.

This is the fourth case of MERS-CoV reported in Al Ain in recent months. In early June the UAE reported a pair of infections in Al Ain in men—a butcher and a farmer—who had direct links with camels. Another man was diagnosed as having MERS in late August.

According to the WHO, there have been 2,081 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 722 related deaths, reported to the organization since 2012.
Sep 21 WHO update


Syria, DRC each report case of vaccine-derived polio

Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported a case of vaccine-derived polio in the last week, according to an update today from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). Both cases were identified as poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2).

The cases bring the total of vaccine-derived polio cases to 49 for 2017. Last year, only 3 such cases were documented. Nine cases this year have been found in the DRC, with the remaining 40 in Syria.

A 17-month-old child in Lwamba, Haut Lomami, DRC, was diagnosed as having cVDPV2, with an onset of paralysis on Jul 27. In Syria, a 9-month-old boy with no polio vaccination history had onset of paralysis on Jun 19. The patient lives in Mayadeen district, Deir-Ez-Zour governorate, which has been the epicenter of polio activity this year in Syria. 

Both the DRC and Syria have ongoing immunization campaigns.
Sep 22 GPEI report


France and Italy report more local chikungunya cases

France has detected a second local chikungunya cluster, and Italy has reported 75 more local cases in its outbreak, raising the total to 92, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its latest weekly communicable disease threat report.

In France, the new cluster is in Var department city of Taradeau, about 8 miles from where the first local cluster was recently found. The patients in the new cluster are adults, ages 25 and 65 years-old, who were sick in early September and are from the same family.

France's initial local cluster in Cannet-des-Maures has nine cases, of which seven are confirmed and two are suspected. The ECDC said the close location of the two clusters suggests they are related.

Meanwhile, Italy reported 75 new local chikungunya cases from three cities in the Lazio region, raising the outbreak total to 92. Affected cities include Anzio (70), Rome (19), and Latina (3). The ECDC added that local media outlets are reporting two other cases from two different regions and that both patients had recently traveled to Anzio before they became ill.

So far there's no evidence that the clusters in France and Italy are related, but having two distinct outbreaks in the same part of Europe shows that environmental conditions are favorable for the local spread of imported chikungunya virus.
Sep 22 ECDC weekly communicable disease threat report


Study finds flu vaccine protection wanes in older people in H3N2 seasons

Flu vaccine protection wanes in older people during H3N2-dominated seasons, according to Spanish researchers who analyzed the timing of flu vaccination in adult patients hospitalized for influenza over four seasons. The team published its findings Sep 20 in Vaccine.

The Valencia Hospital Network for the Study of Influenza looked at 3,615 people with flulike illness who had been vaccinated against flu, of which 822 (23%) had lab-confirmed infections. Researchers got patients' vaccination data from Valencia region's vaccine information system. The study period began with the 2011-2012 season and ended with the 2014-2015 season.

They found a lower risk of flu in late vaccines during two H3N2-dominant seasons—2011-2012 and 2014-2015—but not for the seasons when 2009 H1N1 and influenza B Yamagata lineage were the main strains. They noted that during both of the H3N2 seasons the vaccine's H3N2 component was a poor match with the circulating strain.

When they looked at the pattern for patient age 65 and older, they found a statistically significant lower risk of hospital admission in late vaccines during the same two H3N2-dominant seasons. For the earlier H3N2-dominant season, they saw a 39% waning of vaccine effectiveness, and for the later one they noted a 31% waning.

They concluded that their results are consistent with waning benefits seen in other H3N2 mismatch seasons, that the underlying mechanisms are still unclear, and that more researcher is needed to explore a possible waning effect across populations and seasons. However, they said their findings add support for urgent calls to develop better flu vaccines.
Sep 20 Vaccine study


H5N8 avian flu strikes more poultry farms in South Africa

South Africa today reported 11 more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks, 10 involving commercial farms, according to two notifications today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In the farm-related outbreaks, all but one occurred in Western Cape Province, with one located in neighboring Eastern Cape Province. Both are on the southern tip of the country. Four of the locations were ostrich farms. The events began between Sep 4 and Sep 17.

Taken together, the virus killed 294,264 of 1,450,897 susceptible birds, and the remaining ones were culled to control the spread of the virus.

In a separate report, South African officials said tests detected H5N8 in a Peregrine falcon found dead on Sep 14 in Western Cape Province.

South Africa has been battling H5N8 outbreaks since June.
Sep 22 OIE report on H5N8 on South African farms
Sep 22 OIE report on H5N8 in South African wild birds

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