DRC declares yellow fever outbreak over

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the yellow fever outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is over, based on an announcement from the DRC. The declaration follows Angola's Dec 23 announcement that the outbreak had ended in that country. The DRC reported its last case on Jul 12, 2016.

"We are able to declare the end of one of the largest and most challenging yellow fever outbreak in recent years through the strong and coordinated response by national authorities, local health workers and partners," said Matshidiso Moeti, MD, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The outbreak began in December of 2015 and reached its peak last summer. According to the WHO, there were 965 confirmed cases of yellow fever across Angola and DRC. Angola reported a total of 4,306 suspected cases and 376 deaths, of which 884 cases and 121 deaths were laboratory confirmed, while DRC reported 2,987 suspected cases, with 81 laboratory-confirmed cases and 16 deaths.

More than 30 million people in Angola and DRC were vaccinated during massive campaigns this past summer, which drained the global stockpile of yellow vaccine several times.
 Feb 14 WHO statement


Pair of H7N9 cases reported from China's Sichuan province

China reported two more H7N9 avian influenza infections from China, both involving residents of Sichuan province in the country's southwest, Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) said today in a statement.

The patients are from two different locations: One is a 60-year-old man from Pengxi County, the other a 48-year-old woman from Zhongjiang County. Both are hospitalized in critical condition.

China is in the midst of its fifth wave of H7N9 illnesses, which last week surpassed the second wave that occurred not long after the virus was first detected in humans in 2013. So far at least 349 cases have been reported this season.
Feb 14 CHP report


Educational intervention can improve patient hand hygiene

A study yesterday in the American Journal of Infection Control indicates that a simple educational intervention can improve hand hygiene in hospital patients.

Hand hygiene by patients and healthcare workers has been advocated as a measure to prevent the transmission and spread of pathogens that cause healthcare-associated infections and promote the emergence of antibiotic resistance. In the randomized trial, 54 patients on four medical-surgical wards at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Ohio received a bottle of hand sanitizer that was placed on their bedside table. In the intervention group, patients received education on hand hygiene from a member of the study team. The control group received no education.

The education was based on a patient hand hygiene model that directs patients to use hand sanitizer at five specific moments:

  1. Before and after touching wounds/devices
  2. Before eating
  3. After using the restroom
  4. When entering or leaving your room
  5. When healthcare personnel enter your room

The fifth moment was added as a nonverbal reminder to healthcare personal of the importance of hand hygiene.

To determine the impact of the intervention, the investigators measured patient hand sanitizer use by weighing the hand sanitizer bottles every day for 3 days. They also assessed the frequency of hand sanitizer use by patients when healthcare personnel entered the room.

Based on the grams of hand sanitizer used per day, the investigators found that the intervention group used significantly more hand sanitizer than the control group overall and for each of the 3 days of monitoring. In addition, the intervention group performed hand hygiene when healthcare personnel entered the room more often than the control group, although the difference was only statistically significant on day 1 of the trial.  

"These results suggest that the 5 moments for patient hand hygiene model can be an effective means to increase patient hand hygiene performance," the authors write.
Feb 13 Am J Infect Control study


More than 900 new cases of cholera in Somalia

The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that Somalia has reported 913 new suspected cholera cases, including 10 deaths, since their last update on Jan 25. Despite increasing cases, the fatality rate has dropped to 1.1% from last week’s 1.7%, indicating improving patient care.

The WHO said it will continue to work with the Somali Ministry of Health to boost response activities across the country. In the last month, a new treatment center was opened in in Burhakaba, and chlorination of water sources was conducted in Baidoa, Burhakaba and surrounding areas. Thirty-eight districts in the country have reported cases.

"Most of the affected districts are along the Shebelle River where the waters have dried up. The ongoing drought, subsequent water shortage and malnutrition have led to the spread of the outbreak," the WHO said.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 4,026 suspected cases of cholera including 57 deaths (case-fatality rate 1.5%). Because of the prolonged conflict in the country, insecurity and accessibility have hindered cholera response operations.
Feb 13 WHO update


PAHO reports 126 new chikungunya case

Reports of new chikungunya cases continue to trickle in, as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Feb 10 reported only 126 new cases, bringing the yearly total so far to 708 cases.

Most of the new cases were in the Andean region, with Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela all reporting new cases. Columbia reported 31 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 137. Peru added 50 more cases to reach 148 for 2017, and Venezuela had 12 new cases. Venezuela now has 23 suspected or confirmed chikungunya cases.

Last week, Mexico reported its first case of chikungunya for the year, and this week added two more to the case count this week. Puerto Rico also reported its first case this week. There are now nine countries reporting chikungunya activity to the PAHO in 2017.

The outbreak began in late 2013 on the Caribbean island of St. Martin and has now sickened at least 2,387,426 people.
Feb 10 PAHO update

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