News Scan for Jul 31, 2020

Kids as COVID-19 conduits
;
Ebola in the DRC
;
Polio in 4 countries
;
H3N2v flu case in Hawaii

Kids 5 and younger could spread COVID-19 as much as adults, study finds

Children younger than 5 years with mild or moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of coronavirus genetic material in their nose and throat than do older children and adults, according to a research letter published yesterday in JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University analyzed data from 145 kids within the first week of symptoms of mild or moderate coronavirus infection, comparing loads of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in 46 children younger than 5 years, 51 children 5 to 17 years, and 48 adults 18 to 65 years old.

Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification cycle threshold values revealed that very young children had 10 to 100 times more coronavirus RNA in their upper respiratory tract than older kids and adults.

The authors noted that their study could detect only viral RNA, not live virus, although some previous studies have shown a correlation between higher viral RNA levels and the ability to culture live virus.

They said their findings could mean that young children, who often have mild or asymptomatic illness, spread the virus as much as other age-groups. This mode of transmission may have been underrecognized due to the rapid closure of schools and daycare facilities earlier in the pandemic, which prevented large studies of schools as a conduit of community spread.

"Behavioral habits of young children and close quarters in school and day care settings raise concern for SARS-CoV-2 amplification in this population as public health restrictions are eased," they wrote. "In addition to public health implications, this population will be important for targeting immunization efforts as SARS-CoV-2 vaccines become available."
Jul 30 JAMA Pediatr research letter

 

Ebola infects 3 more in DRC Equateur outbreak, 72 total, with 31 deaths

Three more Ebola cases have been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Equateur province Ebola outbreak, raising the total to 72, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office said on Twitter today.

The fatality count declined by 1, bringing that total to 31.

The WHO has said the rising incidence and geographic spread is concerning, as is the number of confirmed cases that remain in the community or have been lost to follow-up, factors that raise the risk of further spread.

The outbreak, the DRC's 11th, is occurring in the same province in the country's northwest region, where an outbreak occurred in 2018 that sickened 54 people, 33 of them fatally.
Jul 31 WHO African regional office tweet

 

Guinea reports first vaccine-derived polio cases; 3 countries report more

Four countries reported more vaccine-derived polio cases, including the first from Guinea, according to the latest weekly update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

In the Middle East, Pakistan reported two more circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases, one each from Punjab and Sindh provinces, raising the total for the year to 50.

In Africa, Chad reported four more cVDPV2 cases, three from Logone Oriental province and one from Logone Occidental, raising the total for 2020 to 40 from two separate outbreaks.

The DRC reported two more cVDPV2 cases, one each from Kongo Central and Kwilu provinces, raising its total this year to 20. And Guinea reported eight cVDPV2 cases, its first such detections. All were from Kankan region in the eastern part of the country.
Jul 30 GPEI weekly report

 

Hawaii probes exposure source in H3N2v flu case

Health officials in Hawaii have reported a variant H3N2 (H3N2v) infection in a child younger than 18, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly flu update. The patient was not hospitalized and has recovered.

In the past, H3N2v cases have been linked to swine exposure at agricultural fairs in the summer, but so far, no exposure to swine has been reported in Hawaii's patient, and an investigation into the source is under way.

The CDC said the H3N2v case is the first to be reported in the United States since 2018. A large H3N2v outbreak occurred in 2011 and 2012 in the United States, mostly in children exposed to pigs.
Jul 31 CDC FluView report

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