News Scan for Nov 17, 2017

Saudi MERS case
Polio in Afghanistan
Tainted tiny turtles
Pandemic planning guide
US flu rises

New MERS case reported in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a new case of MERS-CoV infection in Az Zulfi in the central part of the country near Riyadh.

In a report dated Nov 15 but posted today, the MOH said a 59-year-old male expatriate is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection. The man's infection is listed as "primary," meaning it's unlikely he contracted the virus from another person.

The new case brings Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV count since 2012 to 1,745, including 705 deaths. Eight patients are still being treated, according to the MOH.
Nov 15 MOH


Another polio case detected in Afghanistan

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) announced that another wild poliovirus case has been detected in Afghanistan, according to its weekly surveillance report. The case was found in Kandahar province.

This is the tenth wild poliovirus case in Afghanistan reported in 2017. The child who contracted the virus is 11 months old; onset of paralysis began on Oct 17. A new environmental sample was also collected in Kandahar on Oct 5.

Last year, Afghanistan reported 12 wild poliovirus cases. Along with neighboring Pakistan and Nigeria, Afghanistan is one of three remaining countries in which wild poliovirus is still endemic.
Nov 17 GPEI report


CDC: 29 more people ill with Salmonella after contact with pet turtles

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday confirmed that an addition 29 people in 14 states have fallen sick since the agency's last update on Aug 29 in a Salmonella outbreak connected to pet turtles. There are now 66 cases in 18 states connected to this outbreak.

Twenty-three people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The outbreak is caused by a strain known as Salmonella Agbeni. Epidemiologic interviews have shown that 20 (40%) of the 50 people interviewed reported contact with turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat, before getting sick.

Tiny turtles, a miniature pet that's illegal to sell in the United States, are any turtles with shell lengths less than 4 inches. These animals are known reservoirs for Salmonella

The CDC recommends that households with small children do not keep tiny turtles or other reptiles as pets, and emphasizes hand washing after handling all pets.
Nov 17 CDC outbreak update


ECDC unveils guide for revising national pandemic plans

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) today published a guide for revising influenza preparedness plans, based on lessons learned from the 2009 H1N1 event.

The agecny said that although the 2009 pandemic was milder than expected, it demonstrated that even better prepared countries had gaps in their surveillance and healthcare systems. The ECDC also said the 2009 pandemic had limited impact on sectors apart from healthcare and didn't fully test multisector coordination, noting that earlier European assessments suggest there are still weaknesses in planning for those areas, including business continuity.

Since 2009, only 13 countries in the World Health Organization European Region have published revised pandemic plans as of July 2017, the ECDC said.

The 20-page guide addresses 12 key areas of pandemic preparedness, including, risk assessment, command and control, vaccines, antivirals and other essential medicines, health services, business continuity, special groups, and international cooperation.
Nov 17 ECDC guide


Flu levels rising slightly in US, with more activity in the South

The latest information from the CDC's weekly FluView report shows slightly elevated US flu activity, with Louisiana reporting high activity.

The clear majority of states (41) are still experiencing minimal activity, but Georgia and Mississippi are seeing moderate levels of influenza-like illness (ILI), and six states (Alabama, Hawaii, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming) are reporting low levels of ILI.

The proportion of outpatient visits for ILI was 1.9%, below the national average of 2.2%. Influenza A is still the dominant strain, accounting for 74.9% of all samples tested. Influenza B accounted for 25.1%.

There were no variant flu cases reported in the last week, the CDC said.
Nov 17 CDC FluView 

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