News Scan for Jan 08, 2020

New DRC Ebola case
MERS-CoV infection in UAE
Borna virus deaths
Avian flu in 3 countries

New Ebola case confirmed in DRC amid unknown transmission chains

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) online Ebola dashboard shows a case count of 3,392 today, with a single newly confirmed case since yesterday. No new fatalities were recorded, so the death toll remains 2,234.

The WHO said 568 suspected cases are currently under investigation, the same number reported yesterday for the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) said the newly confirmed case yesterday was in Mabalako.

All cases in the past 2 weeks have come from Butembo, Katwa, Kalunguta, Mabalako, and Mambasa, the WHO said in its latest situation report on the outbreak yesterday.

"Two of these three chains have an unknown origin to date and are still under investigation, including through the use of the genetic sequencing techniques," the WHO said. "The new confirmed cases in Mambasa are of particular concern, since there had been no new confirmed cases in Ituri Province for 66 days."

The transmission chain in Kalunguta is also unknown.
WHO Ebola dashboard

Jan 7 CMRE report
Jan 7 WHO situation report


WHO confirms MERS case in United Arab Emirates

The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed a new MERS-CoV case in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), only the country's second case since 2018.

The MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection involves a 74-year-old man in Al Ain, a city of more than 750,000 people in Abu Dhabi region, according to a WHO statement. He developed a fever, cough, and sore throat 1 month ago and was hospitalized on Dec 10. He was transferred on Dec 16 to intensive care, where he is now in stable condition.

The man has multiple underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. He also had recent contact with camels, a known MERS risk factor, on his farm. He had not traveled recently.

The most recent UAE MERS case also involved a farmer in Al Ain and was reported by the WHO on Oct 31, 2019. Before that, the country hadn't confirmed a case since May 2018. All told, the country has reported 89 MERS cases, including 12 deaths, since 2012.

Globally, the WHO has tallied 2,494 MERS cases in that span, including 858 deaths. The vast majority of cases have been in Saudi Arabia.
Jan 8 WHO statement
Oct 31, 2019, CIDRAP News scan on previous case


After 8 German deaths, researchers suggest more testing for Borna virus

Yesterday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers describe eight human fatalities in Germany caused by Borna disease virus 1 (BoDV-1), and suggest that wider testing for the disease may be useful in regions where the virus occurs in the wild.

The study was based on data collected from the brain tissue of 56 patients who died of an unidentified virus and presented with encephalitis. Six of those patients had BoDV-1, and two were likely infected, the authors said. All patients lived in southern Germany at their time of death. The newly confirmed cases raise the number of published human BoDV-1 infections in the endemic area to 14.

Southern Germany, as well as Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, is home to the white-toothed shrew, which is the natural reservoir for Borna.

The authors say testing should occur in all patients with unknown and rapidly evolving central or peripheral nervous system disorders, and when patients may have come into contact with the infected reservoir host, the white-toothed shrew. Testing would help gain a more accurate picture of the spread of BoDv-1, they said.

Writing in an accompanying commentary, Tomoyuki Honda, PhD from Osaka University, Japan, said the study "has several implications for the pathology and epidemiology of bornavirus infection…. It is time to relaunch human bornavirus research based on a theoretical framework that integrates the knowledge from these confirmed human bornavirus cases."
Jan 7 Lancet Infect Dis study

Jan 7 Lancet Infect Dis commentary


High-path avian flu outbreaks strike birds in China, Poland, and India

In the latest highly pathogenic avian flu developments, three countries reported new outbreaks, all involving different strains.

In China, the agriculture ministry reported two H5N6 outbreaks involving wild swans in Xinjiang province, located in the west of the country, according to an official statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. H5N6 has sickened poultry in several mostly Asian countries, but so far, human illnesses involving the strain have only been reported in China.

Meanwhile, Poland reported eight more H5N8 outbreaks on poultry farms, which come in the wake of new detections announced on Jan 2, according to notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Of the eight new events, seven occurred in Lubelski province, located in the east where the virus was detected earlier this month. One of the farms is in Wielkopolski province in western Poland. The events began between Dec 31 and Jan 4, killing 22,359 of 116,394 susceptible birds. The surviving ones were culled to curb the spread of the virus.

And animal health officials in India reported a H5N1 outbreak at poultry farm in Chhattisgarh state, located in the east central part of the country, according to notification from the OIE. The event began on Dec 7, killing 5,634 of 21,060 birds at the facility. The remaining birds were slaughtered as part of the outbreak response. India's last H5N1 outbreak occurred in September 2019.
Jan 8 AFD post
Jan 7 OIE report on H5N8 in Poland
Jan 8 OIE report on H5N1 in India

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