News Scan for Sep 14, 2018

More DRC Ebola cases
Polio cases in 4 nations
Low-path H7N3 on California farm
Salmonella and breaded chicken

DRC reports 3 more Ebola infections, all from same hot spot

Tests have confirmed Ebola in three more people, all from the hot spot in Beni, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) health ministry said today.

The latest cases lift the outbreak total to 140, which includes 109 confirmed and 31 probable cases. Two more deaths were reported, putting the fatality number at 94, and health officials are still investigating 13 suspected cases. So far, 8,963 people have been vaccinated with VSV-EBOV, Merck's experimental Ebola vaccine.

Also today, the World Health Organization (WHO) posted an update on the outbreak, which said that, at the 6-week mark, the overall situation has improved, but there are still significant risks owing to sporadic cases that continue to be reported in Mabalako, Beni, and Butembo health zones.

The WHO's report also noted ongoing challenges with community resistance. It said though most communities have welcomed response activities such as contact monitoring and vaccination, in some locations behaviors are increasing the risk of transmission and leading to poor disease outcomes. Such behaviors include constant movement between health zones, hiding when symptoms develop, and other types of community resistance.

"Risks are heightened by continued transmission in local health facilities because of poor infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, sporadic reports of unsafe burials, and the detection of cases in hard-to-reach and insecure areas," the WHO said.

Since its last similar report on Sep 5, eight new cases were reported to the WHO, all linked to an ongoing transmission chain from a community in Beni. Three of the patients were diagnosed in Beni health zone, 3 in Butembo, and 2 in Mabalako.
Sep 14 DRC update
Sep 14 WHO update


New polio cases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia

In its latest weekly update, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) reported new polio cases in four countries, including wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) in Afghanistan and Pakistan and vaccine-derived polio in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Somalia.

Afghanistan's latest case involves a patient from Uruzgan province who had a Jul 8 paralysis onset, bringing the country's total for 2018 to 13 WPV1 cases. Pakistan's new case-patient is from Charsada province and had a paralysis onset of Aug 1, lifting the country's total to 4 for the year.

Elsewhere, PNG reported three new cases in its outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1). Two patients are from Eastern Highlands province and had paralysis onsets on Jul 24 and Jul 27, and one is from National capital district and had an Aug 2 onset. The country has now reported 12 cVDPV1 cases in its outbreak. A nationwide vaccine campaign is planned for October and November.

Somalia, which is experiencing separate outbreaks of cVDPV2 and cVDPV3, reported two new cVDPV2 cases, both in the same district in Lower Juba province. Paralysis onsets were Jul 29 and Jul 30. For 2018, the country has now recorded 4 cVDPV2 cases, 2 cVDPV3 cases, and 1 involving both types.
Sep 14 GPEI update


Surveillance tests find low-path H7N3 avian flu on California turkey farm

Pre-slaughter testing recently revealed low-pathogenic H7N3 avian flu in a California turkey flock, according to a Sep 12 notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The report said the last detection of the virus occurred in April.

The birds at the farm in Stanislaus County, located in California's Central Valley, didn't show any symptoms and tested positive for the virus on Sep 6. All 26,258 turkeys on the farm were destroyed to control the spread of the virus.

Partial genetic sequencing showed that the H7 and N3 are from low-pathogenic North American wild bird lineages. More detailed characterization will be done pending virus recovery.

According to the report, the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the California Department of Food and Agriculture are conducting an epidemiologic investigation and have increased testing following the detection of the virus, including 10 commercial poultry farms in a 10-kilometer zone around the affected farm.
Sep 12 OIE report on  low-path H7N3 in California

In related news, earlier this week, Denmark reported more detections of highly pathogenic H5N6 in wild birds. The Sep 11 OIE report said pairs of mallards and pheasants were found dead on Aug 27 in the town of Slagelse on the island of Zealand, and a mute swan and common eider were found dead on Sep 3 in the harbor town of Orehoved on the island of Falster.

The country has reported a few other detections of H5N6 in wild birds since July. The H5N6 strain in European birds is not the same as zoonotic H5N6 reported in Asia.
Sep 11 OIE report on H5N6 in Denmark


Canadian officials note 419 Salmonella cases tied to frozen breaded chicken

In the 16 months since the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has used whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to help identify outbreaks, it has confirmed 419 Salmonella cases involving frozen raw breaded chicken products in 12 separate outbreaks, and 2 of the outbreaks are likely still ongoing, the agency said yesterday in a public health notice.

Of the 419 patients, 86 required hospitalization. Three patients died, but for two of them Salmonella infection was not the cause of death and for the third the role of the infection as a cause of death could not be determined. Ontario had the most cases (146), followed by Quebec (98) and Alberta (60). PHAC scientists began using WGS in May 2017.

PHAC alerted the public to both ongoing outbreaks on Jul 21. One involves 39 cases in 7 provinces and the other 25 cases in 8 provinces. The first outbreak is linked to No Name brand chicken nuggets, whose products were recalled on Jul 20. The other outbreak is tied to unbranded $10 chicken fries. Both products are made by Loblaw Companies Ltd of Brampton, Ont.

In a separate statement on the risk of the products, PHAC said, "Most frozen breaded chicken products available for sale in grocery stores in Canada contain raw chicken that can cause Salmonella illness and therefore pose an increased health risk to Canadians who handle, prepare or consume them. Such products include chicken nuggets, chicken strips, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken and chicken fries. Canadians need to be aware that even though these products may appear to be cooked, they are not. They need to be handled carefully and cooked properly to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) before they are safe to eat."

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has posted seven food recalls related to the 12 outbreaks dating back to July 2017.
Sep 13 PHAC public health notice
Sep 13 PHAC statement of risk
CFIA recall notices

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