News Scan for Nov 30, 2018

Ebola in the DRC
Avian flu in Minnesota, South Africa
US flu continues rise

Two more Ebola cases reported in DRC outbreak

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) health ministry today reported two more Ebola cases, plus two more deaths, according to its daily statement.

Of the two new cases, one is a lab confirmed infection in a patient from Beni. The other is classified as a probable illness involving an individual from Katwa, located east of Butembo, who died and is part of a family cluster from the area that the ministry reported on Nov 20.

The two additional deaths both involve people from Beni.

Today's developments boost the overall outbreak total to 428, which includes 380 confirmed and 48 probable cases. The latest deaths lift the fatality total to 248. Meanwhile, health officials are still investigating 66 suspected Ebola cases, according to today's report.

In vaccination developments, the total number immunized with VSV-EBOV since the ring vaccination campaign began on Aug 8 is 38,018.
Nov 30 DRC update

In research developments, an analysis of Ebola transmission linked to virus persistence in survivors after the West Africa outbreak identified 13 possible events, with 8 recipients identified and a possible source found for 5. An international research team reported their findings today in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Of the 8 recipients found, 7 were female, and the group ranged in age from 16 to 55 years.

Researchers couldn't identify a clear hypothesis for transmission in four events. Five met the criteria for sexual transmission, and all of the survivors linked to the cases were male. Transmission through breast milk may have occurred in one of the events. One of the transmission events led to at least four generations of cases, the group reported.

"Our findings are relevant for response planning, especially related to surveillance and response capacity, and for the development of policies and guidelines regarding survivor counselling, care, and management," they wrote.
Nov 30 Emerg Infect Dis report


Low-path H5N2 detected in Minnesota turkeys; H5N8 strikes South Africa

In the latest avian influenza outbreak developments, Minnesota detected low-pathogenic H5N2 again at another turkey farm, and South Africa recently reported a highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak at a commercial ostrich farm, according to notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In Minnesota, enhanced surveillance for avian flu viruses has found low pathogenic H5N2 at commercial turkey farms in two counties since the middle of November. The virus is related to a North American wild bird low-pathogenic H5N2 lineage.

The latest detection occurred on Nov 13 at a facility housing 40,000 birds in the already-affected Kandiyohi County in the central part of the state.  The birds will be depopulated through controlled marketing.

Meanwhile, South Africa's agriculture ministry reported another highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak at a commercial ostrich farm, part of a sporadic cluster of outbreaks involving that strain. The latest outbreak began on Oct 29 at a farm in Western Cape province in the south of the country. The virus killed 20 of 461 birds, and the surviving birds were slated for culling. South Africa reported its last H5N8 outbreak during the first week of November.
Nov 28 OIE report on low-pathogenic H5N2 in Minnesota
Nov 28 OIE report on highly pathogenic H5N8 in South Africa


US ILI rate rose above national average during Thanksgiving week

The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) now stands at 2.3%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) FluView report for the week ending Nov 24.

Five of the 10 US regions reported ILI at or above their baseline levels, with 2 states (Georgia and Louisiana) reporting high ILI activity; Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah reported moderate activity; New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 8 states experiencing low activity; and 37 states reporting minimal activity.

The rise in ILI echoes past seasons which saw a slight uptick around Thanksgiving, the CDC said, adding that the pattern may reflect fewer clinic visits for routine health issues.

Both influenza A and B are circulating, but 2009 H1N1 remains the dominant strain, representing 83.3% of influenza A viruses subtyped. Influenza A was found in 95.5% of public health lab samples, compared to 4.5% of samples showing influenza B.

Two pediatric deaths attributed to flu were reported to CDC this week, raising the 2018-2019 season total to five.
Nov 30 CDC FluView

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