News Scan for Dec 05, 2018

Heartland virus study in Missouri
Yellow fever in South Sudan
Climate change and public health

About 1% of NW Missouri population hosts antibodies to Heartland virus

A new study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Missouri researchers tested specimens collected from blood donors in northwestern Missouri, and found Heartland virus antibodies in 0.9% of samples. The study appeared yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Human cases of Heartland virus and infected ticks have been found in northwestern Missouri in recent years, but this was the first study to establish the seroprevalence of the virus in the general population of that region.

The blood specimens were collected from four consecutive blood drives conducted at the end of 2013. A total of 487 blood donors were tested, median age was 52 years (range, 16 to 87 years), and 225 (46%) were men. Seven donors (0.9%, 95% confidence interval, 0.4% to 4.2%) had Heartland virus antibodies confirmed by plaque reduction neutralization tests, and five of them lived in the same county (Daviess).

"These results suggest that several infections have gone unidentified because they were asymptomatic or the infected persons did not seek care, were not tested, or were ill before the identification of Heartland virus as a cause of human disease," the authors said.
Dec 4 Emerg Infect Dis study


South Sudan reports yellow fever outbreak near DRC border

According to the weekly update from the World Health Organization's (WHO's) regional office in Africa, South Sudanese officials report a yellow fever outbreak in the southwestern part of the country, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

So far, one 25-year-old man has been diagnosed as having yellow fever in Nzara County, Gbudue state. The patient was initially suspected as having Ebola, as he had recently traveled to the DRC, which is battling the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history.

The man tested negative for Ebola virus but positive for yellow fever, prompting the South Sudanese ministry of health to declare a yellow fever outbreak on Nov 29.

"The affected area is very rural and located close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the case-patient had travelled before falling ill," the WHO said. "South Sudan had the last documented reactive yellow fever vaccination campaign in 2003 in Imatong (present day Torit), following an outbreak that affected 178 people, with 27 deaths. The country has not yet introduced yellow fever vaccine into the national immunization programme."
Nov 30 WHO bulletin


WHO says Paris Agreement will reduce infectious disease deaths

The WHO, in a special report on health and climate change in light of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24), held this week in Katowice, Poland, said addressing climate change will reduce deaths caused by infectious diseases.

By meeting Paris Agreement goals, WHO said nations could also improve the health of citizens. The organization said 1 million lives could be saved from air pollution by 2050, and that addressing air quality was the public health step that could expect the most gains from the Paris Agreement.

Vector control and flooding are also affected by the Paris Agreement, the WHO said, and both are factors in infectious disease transmission. The agency said the vectorial capacity of mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever has risen by 10% since the 1950s, and climate change has led to increased flooding, which can result in unhygienic conditions primed for infectious diseases.

"Only approximately 0.5% of multilateral climate funds dispersed for climate change adaptation have been allocated to health projects," the WHO warned in a news release. "The report calls for countries to account for health in all cost-benefit analyses of climate change mitigation. It also recommends that countries use fiscal incentives such as carbon pricing and energy subsidies to incentivize sectors to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants."
Dec 5 WHO
Dec 5 WHO press release

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