News Scan for Mar 17, 2020

Saudi MERS cases
Flu-related hospital readmission
Global flu decrease

MERS-CoV infects 2 more in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) has reported two more MERS-CoV cases, one in Riyadh and the other in Mecca, raising the number reported in March to eight.

The case in Riyadh involves a 47-year-old man who had primary exposure, meaning he wasn't likely exposed to another known patient sick with MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The other is an 80-year-old man from Mecca whose exposure to camels isn't known and is also thought to have primary exposure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on Jan 31 that it has received reports of 2,519 MERS-CoV cases, along with at least 866 deaths. The vast majority of the illnesses were reported from Saudi Arabia.
Mar 17 Saudi MOH statement


Flu patients at high risk for hospital readmission, study says

Patients hospitalized with the flu—especially those with underlying illnesses—are likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 1 year and even somewhat likely to be readmitted within a month, according to a study published today in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In a retrospective study of Tennessee Emerging Infections Program Influenza Surveillance data from 2006 to 2016 and the state's Hospital Discharge Data System, researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville analyzed demographic factors and outcomes to understand how often flu patients were readmitted and under which circumstances.

They found that of the 2,897 patients hospitalized with lab-confirmed flu, 409 (14%) were readmitted at least once within 30 days, while 1,364 (47%) were readmitted within a year. Fifty-four percent (739 patients) of those readmitted with a year were readmitted multiple times.

Readmitted patients had more underlying illnesses than those who did not return to the hospital and tended to be older and female. Reasons for readmission at 30 days included pneumonia, acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma exacerbation, septicemia, acute respiratory failure, and acute kidney failure.

Underlying illnesses such as cardiovascular, lung, kidney, and liver disease; diabetes; and immunosuppression were linked to an elevated risk of readmission within 1 year.
Mar 17 J Infect abstract


Global flu activity starts to decline

The WHO in its latest global flu update today said indicators show that influenza has peaked and is starting to decline in parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

In both Canada and the United States, influenza-like-illness (ILI) started to decrease, with influenza A and B co-circulating in each country. In the United States, "Hospitalization rates were reported at levels similar to previous seasons except in children and young adults, where cumulative hospitalization rates were higher compared to recent seasons on record (except for the 2009 pandemic for the 5-17 year-old age group)," the WHO said.

Flu activity rose in parts of northern Europe but appears to have peaked in Bulgaria and Ukraine. In southwest Europe, activity appeared to decrease, as well. Influenza A detections predominated in most European reporting countries, though influenza B detections increased in recent weeks, the WHO said.

China, Hong Kong, and Japan also reported a decrease in activity and detections. Worldwide, influenza A accounted for 67.3% of virus detections, and, of those samples, 74.5% were 2009 H1N1.
Mar 17 WHO update

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