News Scan for Jan 26, 2018

Saudi MERS recap
Polio in Afghanistan
Nigeria Lassa fever outbreak
Netherlands H5N6 detections

Recent Saudi MERS cases widely distributed, some have camel and healthcare exposure

In a regular overview of recent MERS-CoV activity in Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that between Dec 9, 2017, and Jan 17 the country reported 20 more cases, 8 of them fatal. Also, it reported a death in a patient covered in one of the WHO's earlier updates.

The latest cases are from 11 areas of the country, and 5 of the 20 had direct or indirect contact with camels, a known risk factor for contracting the disease. Three had consumed camel milk.

Patient ages ranged from 28 to 89 years old. No clusters were reported, and one illness was reported in a health worker, a 37-year-old woman from Riyadh who was asymptomatic and tested positive for the disease on Jan 9. Also, one patient was admitted to the hospital for another condition before  MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) symptoms began, hinting at a possible healthcare exposure.

Investigations are still underway into the sources of infection for each case, and Saudi Arabia's health ministry is following contacts of known case-patients. The WHO said the latest cases don't change its risk assessment, and so far non-sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in healthcare settings.

So far, the WHO has received reports of 2,143 lab-confirmed MERS-CoV cases, at least 749 of them fatal. Most are from Saudi Arabia.
Jan 26 WHO MERS-CoV update


Afghanistan reports its first polio case of 2018

In the latest polio developments, Afghanistan has reported a new case of wild poliovirus type 1, its first of 2018, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said today in its latest weekly update. The illness was reported from the Kama district of Nangarhar province. The patient's symptom onset was Jan 1.

GPEI said the case highlights challenges faced in the last few areas where the virus is still circulating and the importance of vaccinating every last child. A bivalent oral polio vaccine campaign wrapped up in Afghanistan last week, which targeted more than 5 million children.

One new WPV1 environmental sample was reported this week, which was collected in the Kandahar district of Kandahar province.

No new cases were reported from other global polio hot spots. In Syria, the first round of the second phase of the vaccine-derived polio outbreak response was completed on Jan 21.
Jan 26 GPEI update


Nigeria activates EOC to battle Lassa fever outbreak

With a rising number of Lassa fever cases reported from several states, Nigeria has activated its emergency operations center to coordinate the outbreak response, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a Jan 24 statement.

Though the disease is endemic in West Africa, Nigeria has reported 107 suspected cases from 10 states since the start of 2018. NCDC has deployed rapid response teams to the three hardest-hit states: Ebonyi, Ondo, and Edo.

So far, 61 cases have been confirmed, 16 of them fatal. Ten healthcare workers from four states have contracted the virus. Also, NCDC said it is collaborating with several health partners, including the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lassa fever is an acute virus hemorrhagic illness that is transmitted to humans by contact with food or household items contaminated by rodents that carry the virus.
Jan 24 NCDC statement


Netherlands reports more H5N6 reassortant in wild birds

The Netherlands has reported three more highly pathogenic H5N6 outbreaks, all involving wild birds, according to a notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The outbreaks were reported from three different states, with start dates ranging from Dec 18 to Jan 1.

Locations include wild birds found dead in Gelderland and North Holland provinces mixed nonpoultry species in a backyard setting in South Holland. The virus killed 8 of 32 susceptible birds. At the backyard location, the surviving birds were culled to control the spread of the virus.

The report said the H5N6 subtype is a reassortant linked to H5N8, which this season has turned up in a few Asian countries, as well as some in Europe, including Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Jan 24 OIE report on H5N6 in the Netherlands

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