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Saturday, December 31, 2011

China : Man dies of bird flu in Shenzhen

Via Xinhua :

" A bus driver died in a hospital Sunday after becoming infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, commonly known as bird flu, in the southern city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province, local authorities said.

The 39-year-old man surnamed Chen died of multiple organ failures at 1 p.m., the Department of Health of Guangdong said in a statement.

Chen was hospitalized for fever on Dec. 21 and tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus in Bao'an District of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, the department said.

The department also said that during the previous month prior to his fever, he had no direct contact with poultry and had not traveled out of the city.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) on Dec. 22 suspended supplies of live poultry to Hong Kong after a dead chicken tested positive in Hong Kong for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.

The AQSIQ said it would maintain in close contact and work together with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to jointly step up measures to control the epidemic."

Philippines : 2 dead, 96 hospitalized due to Leptospirosis

Via Journal Online :

" Two persons have reportedly died from leptospirosis and at least 96 residents with symptoms of the ‘rat disease’ are now confined at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center.

The fatalities were residents of Cagayan de Oro City. Those undergoing treatment are natives of Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro.

As this developed, the Department of Health-Region 10 has urged flood-affected residents to visit the City Health Office so that they could be given medication against the killer disease."

Chinese man critical with bird flu

Via Channel News Asia :

" BEIJING: A 39-year-old man is in critical condition after testing positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, state media reported Saturday quoting local health authorities.

The city borders Hong Kong, which has culled thousands of chickens and ordered a suspension of live poultry imports from China after three birds tested positive with the strain in mid-December.

The man, a bus driver surnamed Chen, was hospitalised with a fever on December 21 and tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus in Shenzhen's Bao'an district, the provincial health department said, according to Xinhua news agency.

He remains in a critical condition and is receiving emergency treatment, the report said, adding that the man had apparently had no direct contact with poultry in the month before he was taken ill nor had he left the city.

Chinese and Hong Kong authorities have been working closely together since December 21 after live poultry supplies were suspended to the glitzy financial hub following the discovery of infected birds."

India : Encephalitis toll climbs to 643 in eastern UP

Via Zee News :

"  Encephalitis has claimed the lives of two children, taking the death toll in the viral infection in eastern Uttar Pradesh to 643 this year.
The two children died in the last two days, Additional director (health) Diwakar Prasad today said.
As many as 82 people suffering from encephalitis are undergoing treatment in various government hospitals in Basti and Gorakhpur, he said.
With the fresh deaths, the toll in the viral infection in eastern Uttar Pradesh has climbed to 643 this year."

China : Notification of a human case of H5N1 in Shenzhen

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

"  The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health received notification from the Ministry of Health (MoH) tonight (December 30) concerning a suspected human case of influenza A (H5N1) in Shenzhen.

A CHP spokesman said the patient was a 39-year-old man living in Shenzhen. He developed symptoms on December 21 and was admitted to a hospital on December 25 because of severe pneumonia. He is now in critical condition. The man had no travel history or contact with poultry before the onset of symptoms.

Preliminary laboratory tests on the patient's specimen by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of Guangdong Province yielded positive result for H5N1.

The CHP is maintaining close liaison with the Guangdong Department of Health to obtain more information on the case. We will heighten our vigilance and continue to maintain stringent port health measures in connection with this development, the spokesman said."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

US : Third baby gets rare bacterial infection: Infant formula to blame?

Via CBS News, excerpt :
" An Oklahoma infant has been sickened by a rare Cronobacter sakazakii infection that's sometimes linked to tainted infant formula. Health officials say the baby from Tulsa County - the third child to be infected by the bacteria this month - has fully recovered."

India : Mysterious disease kills 6 in Bihar

Via The Asian Age :

" As many as six persons have succumbed to a mysterious disease in Bageshwari village in Bihar’s Munger district since late Tuesday night, according to a district medical official.

Three members of the family of Vinod Sao and as many members of his neighbour’s family died due to the unknown disease, Civil Surgeon Mukesh Singh said.

Eight others with similar symptoms including high fever, were being treated at private hospitals here.

Those who lost their lives were Rishi Sao, 10, Khusboo Kumari, 12, Sunil Kumar, 18, Ramsharam Sao, 70, Rita Kumari, 18, and Kamali Devi, 65, he said.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar described the deaths of villagers because of mystery disease as “extremely serious”."

US : Novel Swine Flu Virus Now Reported in 5 States, Says CDC

Article via Medscape, a long but informative article, excerpt :

" The number of reported cases of a novel swine influenza virus has risen to 12 since July, encompassing 5 states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus includes a gene from the human pandemic strain and affects mostly children.

The agency is taking the influenza newcomer seriously, urging public health departments, hospitals, and clinicians engaged in influenza surveillance to consider the possibility of the virus in patients presenting with influenza-like illness (ILI).

The infections in question involve a variant of the A(H3N2) virus that circulates among pigs. It contains a gene from the pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1) virus that codes for matrix proteins found in the viral shell.

The novel virus is worrisome enough that the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the World Organisation for Animal Health have dubbed it A(H3N2)v. The "v," which stands for "variant," distinguishes the novel virus from the seasonal A(H3N2) virus. The 2011-2012 seasonal influenza vaccine is designed to protect against this strain, the 2009 pandemic strain, and an influenza B strain.

In 3 of the 5 states where the A(H3N2)v virus has surfaced — Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Maine — patients became infected after direct or indirect contact with pigs. In Iowa and West Virginia, the other 2 states, the evidence suggests that the virus spread from human to human on a limited basis.

The CDC has not found evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus, but "all influenza viruses have the capacity to change, and it's possible this virus may become widespread," the agency states on its Web site.

One seeming bit of good news is that, so far, the A(H3N2)v virus causes illnesses that are generally no worse than those triggered by the seasonal influenza virus. Three of the 12 patients were hospitalized, but they and all the others recovered.

However, there is a bad-news chaser: The seasonal influenza vaccine for 2011-2012 is unlikely to protect people from the A(H3N2)v virus, the CDC reports. In addition, limited serologic studies indicate that young children have little preexisting immunity, although older children and adults may have limited immunity."

Fiji : Dengue alert in city

Via Fiji Times :

" THREE confirmed dengue fever cases in Lautoka has prompted the city council to take new measures by conducting insecticide spraying in the city.

Council acting Health Services director Rouhit Karan Singh said with the presence of the virus and high density of the adult mosquito population, the council with the assistance of the World Health Organisation and Health Ministry started motorised spraying last week.

Mr Singh said the spraying was carried out early in the morning and late in the afternoon depending on the weather.

"This is the best time to counter dengue species mosquitoes," he said.

He urged Lautoka residents to take precautionary measures during the spraying period."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Zambia : Cholera outbreak not clear

Via ZNBC, excerpt :

" Ministry of Health Spokesperson Dr. Kamoto Mbewe says his Ministry is still waiting for a detailed report on the reported outbreak of Cholera in Mufurila District on the Copperbelt.

Dr. Mbewe says officials are on the ground to investigate the outbreak in the area and that members of the public will be availed with detailed information once a full report is submitted to the Ministry.

He told ZANIS in Lusaka on Tuesday that people of Mupambe Township in Mufurila should not panic because health personnel are doing everything possible to contain any possible outbreak of the disease.

Dr. Mbewe also warned members of the public across the country to ensure that they boil their drinking water before using to avoid infection.

It has been reported that over 300 cases of diarrhoeal diseases have been recorded in Mufulira's Mupambe Township following the contamination of water last week."

South Korea : H1N1 found on Daejeong pig farm, movement restriction ordered

Via The Jeju Weekly :

" On Dec. 26, Jeju government announced that the Animal, Plant and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency (QIA) found pigs infected with Influenza A virus (H1N1) at a farm located in Anseong village, Daejeong, Seogwipo City.

The virus is known to cause fever and flu symptoms in pigs. And it can be treated within a week.

The QIA confirmed that at the moment the extent of the infection is not severe.

The farm currently raises about 450 pigs, but the authorities have decided not to conduct a mass cull.

However, to prevent contagion, the provincial government ordered a three-week restriction on movement to and from the farm.

During this time, the status of the animals will be checked weekly, and if no other symptoms are found, the restriction order will be lifted."

China : City gears up luggage scan for H5N1 virus

Via Shanghai Daily :

" SHANGHAI'S entry-exit authorities will step up luggage inspection during the upcoming New Year holidays to prevent H5N1 virus from spreading into the Chinese mainland.

The Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said no individual can take birds or poultry products into the country.

Meanwhile, officials also said the city has never imported any poultry products from Hong Kong, where H5N1-infected chickens were found in the market last week.

Passengers from Hong Kong will undergo strict examinations at the city's two airports for signs of fever and other symptoms, officials said.

The bureau said all the poultry products Shanghai imported this year were from the United States and France where no H5N1 case has been reported."

Hong Kong : Public urged to be vigilant against upper respiratory tract infection

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 28) called on the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent upper respiratory tract infection (URI).

The appeal followed the CHP's investigation into a URI outbreak at a residential care home for the elderly in Southern District involving 16 residents aged from 68 to 98 and four staff members.

The investigation revealed that the affected persons, comprising four males and 16 females, developed URI symptoms including fever, cough and runny nose since December 19. One of them required hospitalisation. All the affected are in a stable condition.

Staff of the CHP conducted site visit and provided health advice to the institution. It was put under medical surveillance."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hong Kong : Opening remarks by SFH on avian flu

Press release from the Centre for Health Protection, a long release but worth every second of your time to read it, excerpt :

" Following is the translation of the opening remarks by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, at a media stand-up session after attending the meeting of the Steering Committee on Avian Influenza today (December 23):

I have just convened the second meeting of the Steering Committee on Avian Influenza (AI) to take stock of follow-up actions arising from the findings of a chicken carcass sample from the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market (the Wholesale Poultry Market), which was tested positive for H5N1 AI virus on December 20. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), and the Hospital Authority.

The Food and Health Bureau (FHB) and relevant departments have been actively pursuing measures to prevent and control AI over the past few days. I would like to highlight some major developments:

First, AFCD successfully completed a culling operation at the Wholesale Poultry Market on December 21. A total of 19 451 poultry was destroyed. All 180 samples of live poultry taken by AFCD before the culling were all tested negative for H5 AI virus.

Second, AFCD completed inspections on all 30 chicken farms in Hong Kong yesterday to ensure farmers have strictly complied with bio-security and environmental hygiene requirements. No abnormality with regard to the chickens has been detected. AFCD has also tested about 900 samples collected from local farms and all were found negative for H5 AI virus, indicating normal health conditions of local chickens.

Import and local supply of live poultry are suspended for 21 days due to this incident. AFCD will carry out two more rounds of inspections on all local farms before January 12, 2012 and collect samples for AI tests. It has requested all farms to notify the department immediately of any case of sick or dead poultry. In the past few days, with the Mainland authorities' co-operation, we have stepped up inspection on chilled chickens. All 150 samples tested by the Centre for Food Safety so far are satisfactory."

Zambia : Rabies Cases on the Increase in Kapiri-Mposhi

Via Lusaka Times :

" Kapiri Mposhi district has recorded an increase in cases of rabies this year mostly resulting from several ordinary dog bites.

The district has recorded 42 cases of rabies involving humans out of 243 cases of ordinary dog bites this year alone.

This came to light during an emergency meeting called by Kapiri Mposhi District Commissioner, Urgent Mazuba to devise strategies aimed at mitigating the problem. Mr. Mazuba summoned officers from the District Health Office (DHO),Veterinary Department, the Council and the Police Service."

Canada : C. difficile outbreak at Cape Breton hospital

Via CBC News, excerpt :

" Three patients have been diagnosed with C. difficile in a Cape Breton hospital.

The Cape Breton District Health Authority is restricting visitors to the Intermediate Care Unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital because of an outbreak of the hospital-acquired infection, Clostridium difficile."

New Zealand : Christchurch shakes in swarm of aftershocks

Via Radio NZ :

" Christchurch has continued to be shaken by aftershocks - one as large as six on the Richter scale - hours after the initial earthquake at 1.58pm on Friday afternoon.

The quakes have injured dozens of people although none seriously. Fewer than 20 people have been hospitalised. The initial 5.8 earthquake struck at 1.58pm on Friday and has been followed by a swarm of aftershocks.

A 6-magnitude tremor hit at 3.18pm and another measuring 5 at 4.50pm.

All have been centred in Pegasus Bay between 10 and 20 kilometres east of Christchurch at depths as shallow as 6km.

While the quakes have been under the sea, specialists say there is no tsunami threat.

The quakes cut power, damaged buildings and temporarily closed the city's airport.

People fled buildings and eye-witnesses say the force of the shaking threw some to the ground.

Rocks have also been brought down from cliffs in seaside suburbs sparking warnings from police for people to stay away from hillside suburbs.

Residents are being asked to boil all water in case supplies have been contaminated by sewage.

Christchurch City Council has established an emergency operations centre at the council offices in Tuam Street.

However, the National Civil Defence Controller says Christchurch emergency and council services say they do not need extra help from the national organisation at this stage.

The shaking raised new liquefaction problems for Christchurch's eastern suburbs and flooding has covered a number of roads."

Hong Kong : Oriental magpie robin tests positive for H5N1 virus

Press release from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection, another H5N1 positive magpie robin :

"  A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (December 23) that the dead Oriental magpie robin found in Tin Shui Wai on December 17 was confirmed to be H5N1-positive after a series of laboratory tests.

The bird's carcass was found and collected at Ju Ching Chu Secondary School (Yuen Long), 5 Tin Wu Road, Tin Shui Wai, on December 17. The Oriental magpie robin is a common resident bird in Hong Kong.

The AFCD will continue to conduct inspections of poultry farms to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented.

The spokesman reminded people to observe good personal hygiene."

Malaysia : 'Be aware of bird flu on travels'

Via NST :

" The Health Ministry has told Malaysians to be cautious when travelling to countries with the Influenza A (H5N1) pandemic following the bird flu alert in Hong Kong.

Its director-general, Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, said there was no need to worry as the virus contracted by poultry only occurred in Hong Kong without any infection to humans.

The authorities there had taken measures to avoid the virus from spreading, he added.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation, which has so far, only involved poultry in Hong Kong."

He said humans can only contract the virus when in direct contact with the infected live poultry.

Hasan urged those with "influenza-like illnesses" to immediately seek medical treatment."


New Zealand : Dozens injured in Christchurch quakes

Via The Sydney Morning Herald :

" Large earthquakes have rattled Christchurch residents just two days from Christmas, a devastating reminder of the blow the city was dealt in February.

Dozens of people received minor injuries and three unoccupied buildings collapsed when two major quakes, measuring 5.8 and 6.0, hit the city on Friday afternoon.

They were centred offshore, between 10km and 20km east of the city, at depths between 6km and 10km, according to GNS Science.

Two lesser ones measured 5.3 and 5.0.

The swarm of quakes continued into the evening, adding stress for already quake-weary locals.

Last-minute Christmas shopping and travel was abandoned after widespread evacuations of shopping malls, buildings and Christchurch Airport, and roads around the city became congested as people rushed to get home.

Civil Defence was advising people not to travel unless it was essential, with restricted bus services operating to help people get home.

The CBD red zone, devastated by February's quake which killed 182, had shut down, and while the ChristChurch Cathedral suffered more damage on Friday, other central city buildings had held up well, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton said.

Police warned people to stay away from suburbs in the hills, as slips and rocks crashed down following the quakes.

The eastern suburbs were again hit by significant liquefaction and flooding, which had seen many homes declared unsafe to live in back in February."

India : Docs on alert over avian deaths

Via The Telegraph :

" The State Health Society, Bihar, has issued an advisory to civil surgeons to keep a tab on unusual deaths of birds in their respective districts following the outbreak of avian influenza in Jharkhand.
According to sources in the society, the step has been taken as hundreds of crows have died in Jharkhand because of avian influenza since November.

“The crows first started dying mysteriously in Jam-shedpur district. This was followed by deaths in Ranchi, Bokaro, Khunti, Sahebganj and other districts of Jharkhand. We have asked civil surgeons to be alert and keep an eye on any such incident in our state. Letters have been issued to them and we are getting updates on a daily basis,” a senior official of the society said today.

“The situation is alarming in Jharkhand. Samples of dead crows from Jharkhand sent to Bhopal for laboratory tests were found infected with strains of H5N1 virus. This confirmed outbreak of avian influenza in Jharkhand,” the official added.

Patna civil surgeon Dr Lakhendra Prasad said he has asked all primary health centres and other hospitals in the district to maintain a daily record of any unusual bird death."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Singapore : Vulnerable groups "should get flu jabs"

Via Channel News Asia, excerpt :

" Doctors here have advised those prone to infection -- such as the elderly and children -- to get flu vaccinations, following reports of a bird flu outbreak in Hong Kong.

However, doctors added there is no cause for alarm.

They said the risk of the H5N1 virus making its way to Singapore is relatively low.

Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday raised their bird flu alert to "serious" and culled some 17,000 chickens as a precautionary measure.

Doctors in Singapore said the bird flu would only be brought to Singapore through human carriers, or through migratory birds.

Although migratory birds have not posed a problem in previous instances, doctors advise Singaporeans not to be complacent.

Raffles Hospital's infectious diseases specialist Leong Hoe Nam said: "I would also, in addition, recommend people to go for flu vaccination, especially those who are immuno-compromised, those with chronic illnesses, those who are 60-65 years of age, and young children -- it's about preventing the common influenza."

Dr Leong said there are enough flu jabs in Singapore to meet demand.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) added it has a healthy stockpile of H5N1 vaccine."

Barbados : Health warning

Via The Barbados Advocate :

" Significant increase in number of leptospirosis cases
THERE have been three reported deaths from leptospirosis so far this year.

Senior Medical Officer of Health for the North, Dr. Karen Springer, revealed that in total there have been 41 cases of the disease – the highest number since 1999. This figure is up from 12 cases recorded last year, with no resulting deaths.

Dr. Springer’s comments came during a press briefing on the status of leptospirosis in this country at the Ministry of Health’s Culloden Road headquarters yesterday morning.

“The number of deaths is in keeping with what we would expect, but the number of cases is certainly [not] what we would normally expect. The majority of our cases are in the 20 to 60 age group, and the majority of our cases are male – 84 per cent of our cases are male,” she told the media.

Springer also noted that in terms of geographical distribution, the majority of cases that have been recorded are in the St. Michael, Christ Church, St. James and St. Thomas areas. In terms of occupation, she said data has only been provided on 24 of the 41 confirmed cases, and it suggests that half of those persons are engaged in outdoor occupations such as farming, gardening or landscaping."

Malaysia ready to face regional H5N1 outbreak

Via The Sun Daily :

" All 1,600 Influenza A (H5N1) tests conducted by the Veterinary Department on poultry samples this year came back negative, Health director general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said today.
He also said no cases involving humans have been detected in the country to date.

Hasan said Malaysia had since 2006 also implemented its National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan (NIPPP).

As such, Hasan urged the public to not worry, in light of the recent outbreak of H5N1 reported in Hong Kong earlier this week.

"The virus can be only be transmitted to humans who are in contact with the infected poultry," he said adding that Hong Kong health authorities have taken measures to curb the outbreak.

"There has so far been no human to human infection reported in Hong Kong," he said."

East China university reports 13 tuberculosis cases

Via Xinhua :

" A university in the eastern province of Jiangsu has reported 13 tuberculosis cases among its students, local authorities said Thursday.

From Dec. 2 to 19, 13 students in the eastern campus of Jiangsu University of Science and Technology, based in the city of Zhenjiang, were confirmed to have been infected with tuberculosis, said Lin Feng, head of the city's health bureau.

Health and disease control departments of the city have made quarantine and preventive measures to cut its spread, Lin said.

According to Lin, tuberculosis, a common kind of respiratory infectious disease, is easily caught in fall and winter, especially in schools and universities where many people gather.

Wu Honghui, an official on disease control with the Health Department of Jiangsu, said more cases, but not a large number, may be reported, and treatment for the disease may take six to nine months."

Hong Kong : Update on cluster of Clostridium Difficile toxin cases in TWGHs Wong Tai Sin Hospital

Press release from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The spokesperson of TWGHs Wong Tai Sin Hospital (WTSH) made the following update today (December 22) regarding an earlier announcement on a cluster of Clostridium Difficile toxin cases in a tuberculosis and chest ward:

One more 88-year-old male patient in the ward has presented with diarrhoea symptoms. The test result of the patient concerned was positive for Clostridium Difficile toxin. He is being treated under isolation and is in stable condition.

Admission to the respective ward has been suspended and restricted visiting to the area has also been imposed. Infection control measures have already been stepped up according to established guidelines. All other patients in the ward are under close surveillance."

Avian influenza - situation in Egypt - update 59

Via WHO :

" The Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt has notified WHO of a case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

The case is a 29-year-old male from Dakahlia Governorate. He developed symptoms on 8 December 2011 and was admitted to hospital on 15 December 2011, where he received oseltamivir treatment. He was in critical condition and died on 19 December 2011.

The case was confirmed by the Central Public Health Laboratories, a National Influenza Centre of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network on 18 December 2011.

Investigations into the source of infection indicated that the case had exposure to backyard poultry.
Of the 156 cases confirmed to date in Egypt, 54 have been fatal."

Bangladesh : Four HPAI Outbreaks in Dhaka and Khulna

Via The Poultry Site :

" Dr Musaddique Hossain, Director (Animal Health & Administration), Department of Livestock Services, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock in Dhaka, has reported four new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Dhaka and Khulna.

The World Organisation for Animal Health received follow-up report no. 36 yesterday, 21 December. The causal agent has been identified as H5N1 virus and all four outbreaks took place at commercial poultry farms located in Dhaka and Khulna.

According to the report, a total of 14984 birds were found susceptible to the outbreaks, out of which 1257 cases were identified, indicating a 100 per cent apparent case fatality rate (meaning all 1257 affected birds were found dead). A total of 13727 birds were destroyed."

Indonesia : Rabies returns, kills one

Via The Jakarta Post :

" After four months with no reported cases, rabies, which has gripped the resort island in an epidemic since 2008, struck again this week, killing a teenager in Gianyar regency.

The death brings the total death toll since 2008 to 137, and this year’s death toll to 23.

The victim was identified as Anak Agung Gede Wisnu, an 18-year-old native of Badung village in Payangan subdistrict.

Physicians at Sanglah Central Hospital pronounced him dead Sunday evening, only a few hours after he had arrived at the island’s number-one referral facility for rabies.

His family stated that the boy had been bitten on his left arm by a stray dog six months ago.

“Unfortunately, he did not have a rabies vaccine [VAR] after the incident,” Sanglah spokesperson Kadek Nariyantha said.

He disclosed that the victim had already been in a very severe condition when he was admitted to Sanglah Hospital."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

India : Dengue, malaria claim life of 13 CRFP personnel

Via Samay Live :

" Thirteen CRPF personnel died and 11 others became seriously ill due to dengue and malaria in Naxal-hit states in the past 10 months, Rajya Sabha was informed.

Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh said adequate preventive measures are being taken for the safety of the force from these diseases.

Singh said apart from other measures, a clear cut plan has been made and kept at each unit for casualty evacuation in case of emergency.

It consists of details of the nearest hospitals, their phone numbers, distance, stretcher etc. Also, the men have been trained to rise to any emergency situation for early evacuation of seriously ill patients."

Scientists agree to withhold bird flu research

Via ABC News, excerpt :

" Scientists who have produced a highly contagious version of the bird flu virus have reportedly agreed to a US request to withhold data about their work.

Last month, researchers in the Netherlands discovered that the H5N1 influenza virus, or bird flu, could develop into a dangerous virus that can spread between humans.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu is fatal in 60 per cent of human cases but only 350 people have so far died from the disease largely because it cannot be spread by sneezing or coughing.

But by using ferrets in a lab, the researchers proved it was possible to change H5N1 into an aerosol-transmissible virus that can be easily spread rapidly through the air.

The genetic mutations could trigger deadly epidemics in humans, and the scientists behind the research have now agreed to remove key details of their work from publication.

The research - known as the Erasmus study - alarmed the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), a US Government science committee.

It argued the information could be used by terrorists to orchestrate a biological attack using the virus.

The virologists were planning to publish their research in the respected journals Science and Nature.

But they have now agreed to redact their manuscripts at the request of the NSABB."

Hong Kong : Chicken carcass sample found in Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market tested positive for H5N1 virus

Press release from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, yesterday (December 20) announced that a chicken carcass sample taken from the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market (Wholesale Poultry Market) was tested positive of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus during regular surveillance of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).

Staff from AFCD found the concerned chicken carcass sample from the Wholesale Poultry Market yesterday morning. The Government is tracing the source of the chicken carcass. It is not certain at this stage whether the chicken came from local farm or was imported.

In view of the finding of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus in the local wholesale poultry market, the Government has raised the response level for avian influenza from "Alert" to "Serious".

Dr Chow convened a meeting of the Steering Committee on Avian Influenza last night, which decided to implement a series of measures to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect public health.

Measures by the Administration include the following:

(1) The Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation declared the Wholesale Poultry Market as an infected place. AFCD will cull all poultry in this market, which amounted to more than 17,000 in total number, in the morning of December 21. The Wholesale Poultry Market will be closed until January 12, 2012.

(2) Local farms are stopped from dispatching chickens to the market for 21 days. During the period, AFCD would step up inspection on local farms and collect more samples for tests in order to monitor if any of the local farms is infected. AFCD had inspected all 30 chicken farms in Hong Kong yesterday and no abnormality had been detected so far. AFCD would continue to step up inspection on local farms in the coming few days and conduct virus tests for chickens.

(3) Imports of live poultry including day-old chicks would be suspended for 21 days. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has notified the Mainland authorities of the case. The relevant inspection and quarantine bureaux have been requested to stay alert and take all necessary precautions to prevent avian influenza in registered live poultry farms which supply Hong Kong with poultry. The Mainland authorities indicated that no abnormality has been detected from the registered live poultry farms.

(4) The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) would request all live poultry retail outlets to be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected to prevent the virus from growing and accumulating in the environment. Prohibition of overnight stocking of live poultry at all retail outlets has been implemented since 2008. As such, no live poultry was kept after 8pm last night at the retail level. In other words, there would be no live chicken supply at the retail level during the closure of the Wholesale Poultry Market.

(5) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) would contact poultry wholesalers and workers in the Wholesale Poultry Market as well as local chicken farmers to follow up on their health condition. The Hospital Authority (HA) has prepared for contingency response measures. CHP and HA have also urged doctors and public hospitals to report any suspected case of avian influenza.

(6) The Administration has stepped up cleansing and biosecurity measures in the Hong Kong Wetland Park, and has also contacted the World Wild Fund Hong Kong requesting them to step up their biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of avian influenza in Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Dr Chow said recent detection of H5N1 virus in local wild birds indicated that the disease remained a threat to our community.

"It is unfortunate that an avian influenza case is detected before the Winter Solstice, necessitating a halt to the supply of live chickens. I understand that it will cause inconvenience to the public, and the poultry trade will also encounter losses. However, to safeguard public health, we need to adopt decisive and effective measures to prevent and control the spread of the virus," Dr Chow said.

Dr Chow called for concerted effort from the community to guard against avian flu. Members of the public should strictly observe personal and environmental hygiene, and stay away from dead birds, avoid contact with wild birds, live poultry and their droppings. Members of the public should consult their doctors for medical advice promptly if they have fever or flu symptoms.

Dr Chow noted the incident has reflected the effectiveness of the Government's established surveillance on avian influenza virus. Such effective surveillance has enabled contingency measures to be taken swiftly."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

UK : Norovirus at Warwick Hospital

Via Stratford Observer, excerpt :

" ALL non-essential visiting has been restricted on two wards at Warwick Hospital due to a suspected outbreak of Norovirus.

Restrictions have been imposed on Malins Ward and Nicholas Ward, and will remain in place until further notice.

Norovirus is a highly infectious seasonal viral infection which causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be brought into hospitals and cause outbreaks on wards."

Hong Kong :Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci case in Surgical Ward at Tung Wah Hospital

One more from the Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong :

" The spokesperson for Tung Wah Hospital (TWH) made the following announcement today (December 20):

A 74-year-old male patient was admitted to the Surgical Ward of TWH on November 26 for terminal hepatocellular carcinoma. He was confirmed as a carrier of Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) on December 17. The patient passed away on December 19 at TWH due to his underlying medical illness.

In accordance with the prevailing infection control guidelines, the hospital has screened inpatients who were in close contact with the index patient in the same period. So far six inpatients (four male and two female, aged 71 to 87) have tested positive as VRE carriers. They are now under medical surveillance and isolation. The hospital will continue the screening process.

The hospital has stepped up infection control measures in the ward according to established guidelines. The relevant ward environment and equipment have also been disinfected."

Philippines : Diarrhea outbreak in Davao prison downs 50 inmates

Via Phil Star :

" About 50 inmates of a major prison in the southern Philippines have been hospitalized following a diarrhea outbreak blamed on ill-prepared and contaminated food, prison and health officials said today.

Some 49 detainees of the Davao Penal Colony in Dujali town, in the southern province of Davao del Norte were rushed to various hospitals after complaining of severe stomach pain, loose bowel, and over a dozen have lost consciousness, said assistant prison superintendent Gerardo Padilla.

Padilla said inmates started falling ill Sunday after eating catered food sold into the facility, and that 12 prisoners were still at a regional government hospital undergoing treatment in the provincial capital city of Tagum as of today.

Elmer Derla, the prison doctor, said they were conducting an investigation to determine what really caused the diarrhea outbreak, and stool samples from the victims were being subjected to laboratory examination."

Hong Kong : Vigilance urged against meningococcal infection

Press release from Hong Kong's CHP, this time with regards to a meningococcal infection case :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a confirmed case of invasive meningococcal infection, a communicable disease transmitted by direct contact with droplets from carriers or infected persons, and has appealed to the public for vigilance.

The case involves a 28-year-old man, with good past health, living alone in Sham Shui Po.

The man travelled to Macau on December 17. He developed fever, headache and vomiting on December 19.

He was admitted to Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital on December 19. He was transferred to Caritas Medical Centre and admitted in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit on the same day.

A lumbar puncture specimen taken from the patient grew Neisseria meningitidis. The man is now in serious condition.

The CHP's investigation is continuing.

This is the eighth confirmed case of meningococcal infection this year. Two cases each were reported in 2010 and 2009. No case was reported in 2008."

Pakistan : Another dengue patient dies

Via Dawn :

" While the mosquito-borne dengue virus is thought to have subsided substantially following the onset of winter, one more patient suffering from dengue haemorrhagic fever died last week at a government hospital, raising the death toll to 18 across the province.

According to the details released by the provincial focal person of the dengue surveillance cell on Monday, the 56-year-old woman, resident of a locality near Kati Pahari, Qasba Colony, was admitted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on Dec 10.

She tested positive for dengue and died on Dec 13.

The woman is the first dengue patient to die at the ASH this year."

Bangladesh culls 14,000 birds, destroys 50,000 eggs after flu virus detection

Via Xinhua :

"  Bangladesh's authorities have culled nearly 14,000 chickens and destroyed about 50,000 eggs since this season's first outbreak of bird flu was detected last month, an official said Tuesday.

The government's bird flu control room official told Xinhua that "some 13,727 chickens were culled since its resurrection last month."

Fresh outbreak of bird flu was detected in Bangladesh in the second week of November with arrival of winter season.

Ataur Rahman, assistant director at the control room of Fisheries and Live Stock Department, said some 12,762 chickens were culled in two commercial farms in central Manikganj and western Rajbarbi districts.

He said some 965 birds, including 400 at the latest on Monday, were culled in two flu-hit farms so far this month. "A total of 44, 756 eggs were also destroyed since the first outbreak in mid November," he added."

Hong Kong : Update on cluster of Clostridium Difficile toxin cases in Kowloon Hospital

More press release from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection, excerpt :

" The spokesperson for Kowloon Hospital (KH) made the following update today (December 20) regarding an earlier announcement on a cluster of Clostridium Difficile toxin cases in a female rehabilitation ward.

One more patient, aged 80, in the ward has presented with diarrhoea symptoms. The test results of the patient concerned were positive for Clostridium Difficile toxin. She is being treated under isolation and is in stable condition. In addition, four patients, aged 50 to 79, in a male rehabilitation ward have presented with diarrhoea symptoms since December 17. The test results of the patients concerned were positive for Clostridium Difficile toxin. They are being treated under isolation and are in stable condition.

Admissions to the two wards have been suspended. Restricted visiting to the wards has also been imposed. Infection control measures have already been stepped up according to established guidelines. All other patients in the wards concerned are under close surveillance."

Hong Kong : CHP investigates influenza-like illness outbreak

Another press release from the Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong :

"  The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 20) called on people to maintain good environmental and personal hygiene to prevent influenza.

The appeal was made after the CHP received a report of an influenza-like illness (ILI) outbreak affecting 20 girls at a primary school in Yau Tsim Mong District.

The affected pupils are aged 6 and 7. They developed symptoms of respiratory tract infection, including fever, cough and sore throat, since December 13.

No hospitalisation was required. All those affected are in stable condition."

Strange "rodent-fever" claims two lives in Ghana

Via Xinhua :

" A strange disease has hit inhabitants of the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, near Kumasi, 270 km north of the capital, claiming two lives, health officials said here on Monday.

Director of Public Health Dr. Joseph Amankwa told Xinhua that the disease, which had been identified as Laffa viral hemorrhagic fever, and had symptoms similar to those of malaria, caused victims to bleed to death.

Dr. Amankwa said he received information about the infection over the weekend but indicated that no other details were made available.

"We are sending a team to the affected area to verify what the actual situation is to determine our next action. We are also liaising with the World Health Organization to gather enough data on the infections and soon information will be sent out to the public," he said.

According to reports carried by local Joy fm radio station, the disease was the first of its kind in the country."

Hong Kong : Oriental magpie robin tests positive for H5 virus

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection had a busy day today. One of the many press releases from them. This one with regards to H5 positive magpie robin, excerpt :

" Preliminary testing of a dead Oriental magpie robin found in Tin Shui Wai has returned a positive result for the H5 avian influenza virus, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (December 20), adding that further confirmatory tests are being conducted.

The bird's carcass was found and collected at Ju Ching Chu Secondary School (Yuen Long), 5 Tin Wu Road, Tin Shui Wai, on December 17. The Oriental magpie robin is a common resident bird in Hong Kong.

The AFCD has reminded the school to step up cleansing and disinfection.

The spokesman said that two chicken farms are within 3 kilometres of where the bird was found. AFCD staff inspected the farms and found no abnormal mortality or symptoms of avian influenza among the chicken flocks. These farms will be put under enhanced surveillance.

In view of the case, the AFCD has phoned poultry farmers to remind them to strengthen precautionary and biosecurity measures against avian influenza. Letters have been issued to farmers, pet bird shop owners and licence holders of pet poultry and racing pigeons reminding them that proper precautions must be taken.

The spokesman said the department would conduct frequent inspections of poultry farms and the wholesale market to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented. The department will continue its wild bird monitoring and surveillance."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Australia : Teenager with measles sparks SA Health alert

Via Adelaide Now, excerpt :

" SA Health has issued a public health alert about the highly infectious measles virus following a confirmed case in South Australia this week.   

SA Health's chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the 22-year-old girl from metropolitan Adelaide most likely acquired the virus while overseas.

"Measles is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, and is spread through coughing and sneezing," he said.

"The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and sore eyes, followed by a rash which begins on the head and then spreads down the body. Complications of measles can be severe."

Hong Kong : Black-headed gull tests positive for H5N1 virus

Press release from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (December 19) that a Black-headed gull found in Yuen Long was confirmed to be H5N1 positive after a series of laboratory tests.

The sick wild bird was found and collected at Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School, 7 Tai Yuk Road, Yuen Long, on December 13. The bird died the next day. The black-headed gull is a common winter visitor.

The AFCD will continue to conduct inspections of poultry farms and the wholesale market to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented.

The spokesman reminded people to observe good personal hygiene."

Filipinos prepare mass graves for storm victims

Via ABC News :

" Authorities in the Philippines are preparing for mass burials to cope with the death and destruction caused by tropical storm Washi at the weekend.

The death toll stands at more than 650 with more than 900 still missing after flash flooding and landslides that swept away entire villages in the middle of the night.

The Red Cross says most of those killed were women and children.

Morgues and hospitals on the island of Mindanao are struggling to cope with the dead and injured in an area that is desperately poor and wracked by conflict.

Local authorities plan to bury unidentified bodies in mass graves to try to avert a disease outbreak and to reduce pressure on mortuaries which are now turning away the dead due to lack of space.

"Today we will dig a mass grave and bury the unclaimed bodies as well as those in an advanced state of decomposition," Iligan's mayor Lawrence Cruz said on national television.

He said up to 50 of about 300 bodies recovered in Iligan since Washi struck in the early hours of Saturday will be communally buried.

Television footage from an Iligan mortuary showed a corridor lined with bodies awaiting burial, wrapped in white plastic bags bound tightly with tan-coloured packaging tape."

India : Dengue cases in Gujarat fourth highest in country

Via Times of India :

"  If the figures of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) are to be believed , only one person died of dengue in the state since January 2011.

The dengue figures published by NVBDCP-Gujarat till November this year claim that only 1,327 dengue cases were reported in the state since January with just one fatality .

Going by these numbers , Gujarat ranked fourth in the country in terms of the number of dengue cases in the country in 2011, after Punjab , Orissa and Tamil Nadu .

Besides this state health authorities have been claiming repeatedly that 2011 was an "eight year peak" in mosquito-related illnesses."

Fiji : Beware of dengue outbreak

Via The Fiji Times :

" THERE are now 12 confirmed cases of dengue fever in the West.

According to Lautoka Hospital consultant Doctor Deo Narayan, three of the victims were recently admitted.

"Based on our lab results, they all tested positive for dengue," Dr Narayan said.

"Two of the cases were from Nadi while the third is from Lautoka. All three were very sick but we managed to treat them and send them home."

Symptoms of the disease include high fever and joint pains, and the Health Ministry has advised people to seek medical attention if they develop a fever.

It has also requested residents to destroy all possible mosquito breeding places as a precautionary measure."

Friday, December 16, 2011

US : Tuberculosis case reported at Lincoln High School

Via Scoop San Diego :

" An individual at Lincoln High School was recently diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and may have exposed a limited number of students, faculty, and staff to the disease, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported today.

HHSA is working closely with the San Diego Unified School District to notify those who may have come in contact with the exposed individual. The period of exposure is from Sept. 6, 2011 to Dec. 6, 2011.

"Most people who are exposed to TB do not develop the disease," says Dr. Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. "TB can be treated and cured

The affected students, faculty, and staff who may have been exposed will be notified by school officials and should go to their primary care physician to be tested. If individuals do not have a primary care physician they can go to a County Public Health or TB Clinic for testing.

San Diego Unified School District is offering no-cost testing for affected students, faculty, and staff at Lincoln High School located at 4777 Imperial Ave in San Diego on Jan. 31, 2012."

Hong Kong : Cluster of Clostridium Difficile toxin cases in Kowloon Hospital rehabilitation ward

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The spokesperson for Kowloon Hospital (KH) made the following announcement today (December 16):

Three female patients aged 71 to 94 in the rehabilitation ward have presented with diarrhoea since December 10. The test results of the patients were positive for the Clostridium Difficile toxin. They are being treated under isolation and are in stable condition.

Admission to the ward has been suspended and restricted visits to the ward have been imposed. Infection control measures have been stepped up according to established guidelines. All other patients in the ward concerned are under close surveillance.

The cases have been reported to the Hospital Authority Head Office and the Centre for Health Protection for follow up."

Malaysia : Dengue cases up during last nine weeks

Via The Malay Mail :

" Dengue cases have shown an increase over the last nine weeks, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

A total of 486 cases were reported between Dec 4 and and 10, the highest recorded since February.

However, the total number of cases from January to December was much lower, with 18,371 cases and 34 deaths compared with 44,641 cases and 132 deaths in the same period last year.

“Statistics also show Malaysia has a decreasing rate of 58 per cent in cases, which is relatively high when compared with the Philippines at 35 per cent, and Australia, at 30 per cent,” he said.

Liow said that to prevent dengue, the Combi (Communication for Behavioural Impact) committee would focus on community behaviour and educate the people on facing vector-borne diseases.

He advised the public to seek early treatment if they suffered from fever as delayed treatment may result in death.

Liow also said the number of dengue cases was usually higher during the rainy season."

Hong Kong : Woman tests negative for H5 avian flu virus

From Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" A spokesman for the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health said today (December 16) that the specimen taken from a 48-year-old woman who touched a sick bird had yielded negative results for influenza A virus with all subtypes, including H5, by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

The woman picked up the sick bird with her bare hands and without wearing a face mask on December 13. The bird later died and tested positive for H5 avian influenza virus. The woman developed fever, sore throat and diarrhoea on December 14. She was admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) yesterday for isolation and laboratory testing. Tests on her specimen taken yesterday yielded negative results for influenza A virus with all subtypes by PCR.

Tests for other viruses are being done by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch (PHLSB).

PHLSB is now proceeding with tests of the specimen taken from the woman's 11-year-old son; results are pending. Her son was also admitted to PMH yesterday for isolation and laboratory test as a precautionary measure. He had recovered from fever and cough earlier this week.

CHP's investigation continues."

Hong Kong school closed in bird flu scare

Via Straits Times :

" A Hong Kong school was closed on Friday after a dead bird found in the southern Chinese city was tested positive for the deadly H5 strain of the bird flu virus, health officials said.

The closure came after the school clerk, a 48-year-old woman, picked up a sick black-headed gull at the school on Tuesday, which died the next day and was tested positive for the H5 strain, a health department spokesman told AFP.

She picked up the bird - a common winter visitor - without any protection and developed a fever, sore throat and diarrhoea but has tested negative for Influenza A (H5), a variant of bird flu.

'She has been cleared in the medical results we received today but tests on her 11-year-old son are still ongoing, with results expected to be released later Friday,' said the spokesman."

WHO : Avian influenza - situation in Egypt - update 58

Press release from WHO :

" The Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt has notified WHO of two cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.
The two cases are a mother and her young child from Dakahlia Governorate. Both developed symptoms on 26 November 2011.‬‪The mother was admitted to a Hospital on 1 December 2011 and received oseltamivir on admission. The child was hospitalised on 2 December 2011 and received oseltamivir on admission. The mother was 24 weeks pregnant. She died on 3 December 2011. The child is in stable condition.
Investigations into the source of infection indicate that both cases had exposure to sick and dead backyard poultry (chicken and turkeys).
The case was confirmed by the Egyptian Central Public Health Laboratories, a National Influenza Centre of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network, on 3 December 2011.
Of the 155 cases confirmed to date in Egypt, 53 have been fatal."‬‪

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Australia : Toddler gets meningococcal disease

Via ABC Online :

" A two-year-old boy from Hervey Bay in southern Queensland has tested positive for meningococcal disease.

Queensland Health says he arrived at the Hervey Bay Hospital on Sunday night and was sent to Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital.

Tests on Tuesday confirmed he has meningococcal disease.

Staff, children and parents at the boy's day care centre have been notified and given antibiotics.

A four-year-old girl and a 66-year-old woman from the Fraser Coast region have died from the disease this year."

Malawi : About 60 cholera cases recorded in Chikhwawa

Via Nyasa Times :

" Erratic water supply that has affected the southern region district of Chikhwawa during the last two months has resulted in the area recording an unprecedented number of cholera incidents, officials have said.

Since the start of rainy season, the district has recorded 58 cases of cholera out of the national statistics of 59, Ministry of Health Spokesperson Henry Chimbali said.

Chimbali said government had this year put in place exceptional interventions for cholera prevention that have helped to drastically reduce the number of cholera cases across the country.

“This year we really prepared to deal with cholera thorough the interventions that had been put in place and we indeed are managing to control it,” said Chimbali.

The cases in Chikhwawa were mainly recorded around the Boma because that is where the problem of water shortage hit hard and so far no death has been reported. The other case has been recorded in Blantyre."

Eurasian Tree Sparrows, Risk for H5N1 Virus Spread and Human Contamination through Buddhist Ritual: An Experimental Approach

Research article from PLOS One :

" Background

The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 virus has dramatically spread throughout Southeast Asia since its first detection in 1997. Merit Release Birds, such as the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, are believed to increase one's positive karma when kissed and released during Buddhist rituals. Since these birds are often in close contact with both poultry and humans, we investigated their potential role in the spread of H5N1 virus.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Seven series of experiments were conducted in order to investigate the possible interactions between inoculated and exposed birds, including sparrow/sparrow, sparrow/chicken, duck/sparrow. Daily and post-mortem samples collected were tested for H5N1 virus by real-time RT-PCR and egg inoculation. When directly inoculated, Eurasian Tree Sparrows were highly susceptible to the H5N1 virus, with a fatality rate approaching 100% within 5 days post-inoculation. Although transmission of fatal infection between sparrows did not occur, seroconversion of the exposed birds was observed. Up to 100% chickens exposed to inoculated sparrows died of H5N1 infection, depending on the caging conditions of the birds, while a fatality rate of 50% was observed on sparrows exposed to infected ducks. Large quantities of H5N1 virus were detected in the sparrows, particularly in their feathers, from which infectious particles were recovered.


Our study indicates that under experimental conditions, Eurasian Tree Sparrows are susceptible to H5N1 infection, either by direct inoculation or by contact with infected poultry. Their ability to transmit H5N1 infection to other birds is also demonstrated, suggesting that the sparrows may play a role in the dissemination of the virus. Finally, the presence of significant quantities of H5N1 virus on sparrows' feathers, including infectious particles, would suggest that Merit Release Birds represent a risk for human contamination in countries where avian influenza virus is circulating and where this religious ritual is practiced."

India : Death toll from illicit liquor disaster in India rises to 121

Via Xinhua :

" The death toll from the illicit liquor disaster in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal has risen to 121, while 100 are being treated of poisoning in hospitals, said local media reports.

Most of the victims are poor rickshaw pullers, laborers and hawkers, who reported sick after consuming the liquor, also known as hooch in a village Tuesday night in some illegal liquor dens near Sangrampur railway station in South 24 Parganas district, according to the reports.

"So far 121 people have died," district police superintendent L. N. Meena was quoted as saying by Indo-Asian News Service.

Seven people have been arrested in the area."

Hong Kong : Vigilance urged against meningococcal infection

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is investigating a confirmed case of meningococcal infection, a communicable disease transmitted by direct contact with droplets from carriers or infected persons, and has appealed to the public for vigilance.

The case involves a 27-year-old man, with good past health, living in Wan Chai.

The man travelled to Hokkaido, Japan, from December 4 to 8. He complained of fever, diarrhoea, chills and rigor since December 10.

He sought medical consultation at St Paul's Hospital on December 11. He was transferred to Ruttonjee Hospital and was admitted to the hospital's Intensive Care Unit on the same day.

A blood specimen taken from the patient grew Neisseria meningitidis. The man is now in serious condition.

The CHP's investigation is continuing.

This is the seventh confirmed case of meningococcal infection this year. Two cases each were reported in 2010 and 2009. No case was reported in 2008."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

UK : Meningitis outbreak

Via Burton Mail :

" A CHILD was today recovering in hospital following an outbreak of a potentially deadly strain of meningitis at a primary school.

The head teacher of Fairmeadows Foundation Primary School, Newhall, has issued a warning to parents and pupils following the case of meningococcal septicaemia, a blood poisoning form of the virus, also known as Ctype meningitis.

Clare Hodson-Walker confirmed one of her pupils was in hospital undergoing treatment.

The school, which has more than 200 children, immediately sought advice and guidance from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) on how to deal with the outbreak.

Ms Hodson-Walker told the Mail: “I can confirm that a child is currently in hospital with meningitis. The school acted quickly to get official and appropriate information out to all parents and carers.
“This contained helpful information about the signs and symptoms to be aware of.

“Those people who are at a slightly higher risk, such as immediate family, have already been identified by the HPA and have been given precautionary antibiotics. Children in school are at no greater risk.

“We remain in close contact with the HPA and continue to follow their advice regarding the situation. We have also sought additional advice from the Meningitis Research Foundation and sent this to parents and carers.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the child and their family at this very difficult time and we ask everyone for their understanding."

Saudi Arabia : Dengue larvae found in seven Makkah schools

Via The Saudi Gazette :

" Swarms of dengue mosquitoes have been discovered at seven schools in Al-Sharayeh District. The infestation at male and female schools is believed to have been caused by poor maintenance of water coolers and toilets.

The Makkah Mayoralty has called on principals to fix the problem right away to prevent an outbreak of dengue fever. However a source told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that “male and female students at some of these schools have got fever and symptoms similar to those of dengue fever”.

The discovery was made by the mayoralty’s dengue fever teams who were paying a routine visit to the school to spray insecticides. However, when they tested water coolers they discovered small worms of dengue mosquitoes in the water.

The teams are now urging all schools to clean and sterilize water coolers once every two weeks.

The head of hygiene and cleaning, Saleh Ezzat, said: “The insecticides are effective for three months and Health Affairs registered only two cases of dengue fever during the previous period."

US : 59 in Mississippi ill from Salmonella Tied to One Restaurant

Article via Food Safety News, excerpt :

" The Salmonella outbreak in Corinth has now been pinned on a single restaurant, so there is no threat to the general public in northeast Mississippi, the state health department advises.

But the Don Julio Mexican Restaurant in Corinth, MS is closed indefinitely after 59 of its customers and employees have returned cultures positive for Salmonella.

"Our investigation has shown that the incident does not appear to be a food producer or supplier issue," Dr. Jessie R. Taylor, the Northeast Mississippi District health officer, said in a news release. "It appears to be an isolated problem with this particular restaurant, and the restaurant is working closely with us to correct the problem."

Fear that multiple restaurants and/or a food producer or supplier might be responsible for the outbreak rose last week when Magnolia Regional Health Center began filling up with people with symptoms of Salmonella infection.

As more people became ill, state and district health officials moved into the town of 1,500, which sits near the Mississippi-Tennessee border, to conduct tests and food-history interviews.

Before the Mississippi State Department of Health concluded that only one restaurant was responsible, some feared multiple sources might be involved because the illnesses were so widespread."

Trinidad & Tobago : Report on dengue death submitted to Health Ministry

Via News Day :

" The report on the death of Asia Archibald, who succumbed to dengue, was submitted to the Ministry of Health last week. Chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) Dr Ashvin Sharma confirmed this yesterday at a public board meeting at The Auditorium, La Joya Complex, St Joseph. Efforts to contact Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan were futile.

Sharma listed the achievements, goals, plans and negative findings since the board’s appointment in November last year.

Archibald, eight, died in August from the deadly dengue virus. She was discharged from the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), but fell seriously ill hours after. An investigation into her death was subsequently launched. While he listed plans for next month’s sod-turning ceremony for two chemo-dialysis centres at San Fernando General Hospital and the EWMSC, Sharma also noted Archibald’s death."

Novartis says cell-based flu vaccine facility ready to produce

From Robert Roos at CIDRAP, excerpt :

" Novartis's new cell-culture based influenza vaccine factory in North Carolina has begun making a prepandemic H5N1 flu vaccine and is ready to start producing vaccines for a real pandemic when needed, the company and federal health officials announced yesterday.
The facility in Holly Springs, N.C., billed as the first of its kind in the United States, was dedicated yesterday after a long testing process.

As part of the testing, last week the plant produced two lots of "prepandemic" H5N1 flu vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile, and another lot will be completed this week, for a total of 6.5 million doses, said Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Cambridge, Mass.

"The dedication signals that in an influenza pandemic the facility can produce cell-based influenza vaccine that could be authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration for use during the emergency," the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a press release.

Dr. Robin Robinson, director of HHS's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), called the plant's dedication "a major milestone" in national pandemic preparedness. "Today we're marking the first change in influenza vaccine manufacturing in the United States in 50 years," he said in the release.

Cell-based vaccine production involves growing flu viruses in mammalian cell cultures instead of in chicken eggs, the conventional method. It is regarded as more flexible and somewhat faster than egg-based production. No cell-based flu vaccine has yet been approved by the FDA, though such vaccines, including one made by Novartis, are licensed in Europe.

In a flu pandemic, the Novartis plant may be able to produce up to 25% of the vaccine doses needed in the United States, HHS said. The facility is designed to produce 150 million doses of a monovalent vaccine within 6 months after declaration of a pandemic, according to Power."

7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes Papua New Guinea

Via Herald Sun, excerpt :

" AN earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale hit Papua New Guinea this afternoon, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.   

The tremor struck at a depth of 75 miles (121km), about 137 miles (221km) north-northwest of the capital Port Moresby at 3.05pm local time.

Witnesses in Port Moresby told AFP that people came running out of buildings, power lines swayed and parked cars rocked.

"It was pretty strong. Everybody felt it. I was siting in my car when it hit and it was rocking, rocking, rocking," an AFP photographer said.

According to Geoscience Australia, the tremor was not expected to create a tsunami.

"It's not tsunamigenic," seismologist Clive Collins said. "That's the assessment on the basis that it's about 20 kilometers [12 miles] inshore and also it's about 120 kilometers [74 miles] deep and that's too deep really to cause any tsunami problems."

India : Woman dies of dengue, toll reaches 7

Via Times of India :

"  A 45-year-old woman has died of dengue, taking the toll due to the mosquito-borne disease this season to seven, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi said on Tuesday.

According to MCD officials, Nurjahan, a resident of Batla House, was admitted to AIIMS on December 1 and died four days later. "She was diagnosed with dengue," said Dr V K Monga, chairman, MCD health committee.

Occurrence of dengue deaths even after winter has set in is a matter of concern, Monga said. "The toll due to dengue has gone up to seven this year. The total count of dengue cases in the city is 1,120," he said."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

India : Why some battle dengue better

Via Times of India :

" Scientists have for the first time discovered a part of our immune system that is involved in getting rid of dengue viruses, and also determines a person's ability to fight off the disease.
Worldwide, dengue fever strikes roughly 50 million people every year and takes the lives of thousands, but specific therapies or a vaccine for this mosquito-borne illness remain unavailable.

Today, 2.5 billion people are at risk from dengue fever and from dengue hemorrhagic fever, a lethal complication of infection. Despite the high infection rates, there are currently no specific treatments for dengue fever and no vaccine to prevent infection with the dengue virus.

Many scientists who study the disease have been searching for ways to boost the human immune response to dengue so that it does not gain a foothold in the body.

Researchers from Washington University, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, report a new finding that a part of the immune system called mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is involved in targeting dengue viruses for destruction.

MBL recognizes sugar molecules present on the outsides of many different kinds of viruses and bacteria. When it finds these sugars, MBL activates the complement system, which targets foreign materials in the body for destruction in any of a number of cruel ways. Scientists have known that the complement system takes a hit during dengue infection, but until now no one knew that it also plays a role in getting rid of dengue viruses."

Bird flu outbreak in Tibet

Article via Phayul :

" DHARAMSHALA : The World Organisation for Animal Health issued an alert on a reported outbreak of bird flu in a village in Tibet Monday.

The Paris-based organisation cited a notification from China’s Ministry of Agriculture while confirming the deadly outbreak.

Chinese authorities found highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds in the village of Sangda near Tibet’s ancient capital city of Lhasa, according to the organisation. The current outbreak of bird flu has killed 290 birds and another 1,575 fowls were culled, according to the notice.

Repeated outbreaks of bird flu in Tibet have been reported over the years. In 2008, an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, which could be fatal to human beings, was reported around the same area. Over 8000 fowls were subsequently culled. In 2009, after authorities found strains of the H5N1 virus in poultry sold at a wholesale market in Lhasa, over 1600 birds were destroyed."

Indonesia receives facilities from WHO to contain bird flu threat

Via Xinhua, excerpt :

"  Indonesia has received two first ever isolation rooms from the World Health Organization (WHO), which can help cure and prevent the spread of infection diseases, including bird flu.

The facilities were set up as the threat of avian influenza and other infectious diseases still existed in the vast archipelago country, whose number of H5N1 case was the highest in the world with fatality rate of nearly 100 percent partly caused by delayed diagnosis and improper treatment.

Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying on Tuesday that the newly developed airborne infection isolation facilities with negative pressure in Tangerang Regional Hospital in Tangerang, Banten, and in Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, were specifically designed to help contain avian influenza outbreaks in the country that could reduce the fatality.

"By developing such airborne infection isolation rooms, we hope that hospitals can offer better treatment for patients infected by the virus so that we can reduce bird flu-related deaths," she said on the sidelines of a ceremony to hand over the two isolation rooms from the WHO to the ministry in Tangerang on Monday.

Indonesia has been hit by bird flu since 2005. The disease has developed slowly in recent years, but the threat remains. The case has killed 150 people out of 182 cases, the largest number in the world, according to Endang."

Hong Kong : Vigilance urged against community-associated MRSA

Article via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 13) called on the public to stay vigilant against infection by community-associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA), a drug-resistant bacterium.

The appeal followed the CHP's investigation into a confirmed case of invasive CA-MRSA involving an 80-year-old woman living in Kowloon City.

The woman, with good past health, presented with left knee pain and swelling for one month. She was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on November 28. The hospital confirmed the diagnosis of septic arthritis of her left knee and arthrotomy and drainage of her left knee was performed on November 30.

The pus collected from the patient grew MRSA. She is currently in stable condition in hospital.

She has no recent travel history. Her home contact did not have symptoms of CA-MRSA infection.

MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics. It is a common infection worldwide."

Nepal : Poultry deaths spur bird flu fear

Via The Himalayan Times :

" Residents of Ghurmi Bazaar, Udayapur, have become fearful that bird flu has hit the area after a mysterious disease claimed more than 1,000 chickens at different poultry farms here in the last few days.

According to Tilak Shrestha, a local, chickens first started dying at the poultry farms belonging to Hira Tamang and Lekh Bahadur Magar in Lekhani VDC-2, Ghurmi, three days ago, which later spread to other poultries in the village. “As the death of fowls in such great numbers had never happened in our village, we fear it is due to bird flu,” he said, adding that villagers have now stopped selling and eating chicken here.

Meanwhile, though the District Livestock Health Office had guessed the disease was Ranikhet, diagnosis is yet to be confirmed.

As the disease could not be diagnosed at the Regional Livestock Health Office in Biratnagar, sample of dead chickens have been sent to Kathmandu to establish the cause behind the death of fowls, said Dev Narayan Singh, chief at DLHO.

There are about 1000 chicken farmers in Udayapur. Following death of chickens in such large numbers, its export to Khotang, Okhaldhunga and Solukhumbu have been banned."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tanzania : Patients - New TB drugs too strong

Via IPP Media :

" Doctors have assured patients at national Tuberculosis Hospital, Kibong’oto in Kilimanjaro Region that the newly received drugs are made up of the same compounds as those they were taking before.

The assurance comes after this paper was told by some patients that the medicines were too strong for them.

But when reached for comment the National TB and Leprosy, Programme Manager, Dr Saidi Egwaga said the medicines were of very good quality and that hey have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“They are same as those they used to take. They are accepted worldwide,” he said.

When told that patients were complaining that the medicines were too strong for them, Dr Egwaga said the issue of whether the medicine is strong or not is a matter that should be discussed between the patient and his/her doctor."

Mexico : IPN scientist discovers the toxin that causes melioidosis, high mortality in Asia

Machine translated article via La Chronica, excerpt :

" Mexican scientist, National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), Abimael Cruz Migoni discovered the toxin that causes melioidosis, which is a step toward developing a vaccine or drug against this disease that causes high mortality in Asia.

Melioidosis is an infection produced by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei and its acute form affects the lungs and causes from mild bronchitis to necrotizing pneumonia.

When the disease spreads through the body, is mortal. The finding of a graduate of the IPN is important because so far there is no effective treatment. Asia has a high rate of deaths, and are comparable to the number-causing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and tuberculosis. FIND. Abimael Cruz, who performs a post-doctoral work at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, England, said the discovery of the toxin was recorded when conducting studies on structural proteins in the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, causing melioidosis.

In recent days, the journal Science published the finding. The scientist graduated from the Interdisciplinary Professional Unit Biotechnology (UPIBI) and the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV), clarified that the toxin showed that it is one of the weapons powerful forces to account Burkholderia pseudomallei, but not only, because by removing the gene that encodes the bacteria is causing the disease."

Fiji : Lepto kills farmer

Fatality due to leptospirosis has been recorded in Fiji. Article via The Fiji Times :

" A 30-YEAR old farmer has died after suffering from leptospirosis.

Ministry of Health spokesman Peni Namotu said leptospirosis is an infectious disease spread through the urine of infected wild and domestic animals.

And he urged members of the public suffering from headache, muscular pain, sudden onset of fever and redness of eyes to visit a doctor.

He said symptoms were very similar to that of flu, was often underestimated or ignored, leading to dangerous complications and even death.

Mr Namotu said the farmer, who was of Indian descent, passed away last Sunday.

He said the ministry's lab earlier this week confirmed leptospirosis as the cause of death.

The ministry has warned people, especially those in rural areas and living on farms, to take precautionary measures and wear proper footwear when going outdoors."