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Friday, April 29, 2011

Indonesia : Kaltim Health Team visited Two People Suspect Bird Flu

Machine translated article from Tribun News, it's not perfect translation but you get the idea of the whole story :

" Health Department team (Diskes) East Kalimantan Province Archilia chaired by Dr. S Dahlan, Head of Communicable Disease Control (P2M) will come to two persons of Makarti Village, District Marangkayu, Kukar, who stated suspect bird flu.

Provincial teams will be accompanied by field officers of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Kukar. "The team will carry the drug, device health checks and education facilities," said Eka Soni, Chairman of the Impact of Avian Influenza Investigation Team from the Ministry of Health, on Friday (29/04/2011).

As reported previously, as many as 20 thousand chickens died suddenly and tested positive for bird flu after the rapid test (rapid test) against a number of samples of chickens in the village of Makarti, Marangkayu. The spread of bird flu affecting poultry in the region adversely affected the health of citizens.

Of the 34 people who checked people's health ministry investigation team, 7 people experience a mild fever and a high fever. Two of them were stated suspect bird flu."

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have evolved a unique chemical mechanism, new discovery reveals

An article from E! Science News :

" For the first time, scientists have been able to paint a detailed chemical picture of how a particular strain of bacteria has evolved to become resistant to antibiotics. The research is a key step toward designing compounds to prevent infections by recently evolved, drug-resistant "superbugs" that often are found in hospitals, as well as in the general population.

A paper describing the research, by a team led by Squire Booker, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, will be posted by the journal Science on its early-online Science Express site on 28 April.

This paper is a continuation of research led by Booker published in another paper in Science earlier this month. The team began by studying a protein made by a recently evolved "superbug." Booker explained that, several years ago, genetic studies had revealed that Staphylococcus sciuri -- a non-human bacterial pathogen -- had evolved a new gene called cfr. The protein created by this gene had been found to play a key role in one of the bacterium's mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. Later, the same gene was found to have crossed over into a strain of Staphylococcus aureus -- a very common kind of bacteria that constitutes part of the flora living in the human nose and on the skin, and which is now the cause of various antibiotic-resistant infections

Because this gene often is found within a mobile DNA element, it can move easily from a non-human pathogen to other species of bacteria that infect humans. "The gene, which has been found in Staphylococcus aureus isolates in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Italy, and Ireland, effectively renders the bacteria resistant to seven classes of antibiotics," Booker explained. "Clearly, bacteria with this gene have a distinct evolutionary advantage. However, until now, the detailed process by which the protein encoded by that gene affected the genetic makeup of the bacteria was unclear; that is, we didn't have a clear 3D picture of what was going on at the molecular level."

Japan to launch nuclear accident investigation panel in mid-May: Kan

From Japan Today :

" TOKYO : Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Thursday he will launch an independent panel around mid-May to investigate the causes of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

‘‘By sharing the lessons from the accident with the international community through the International Atomic Energy Agency and other channels, we will take the lead in contributing to safety improvements of nuclear plants around the world,’’ Kan also told a plenary session of the House of Representatives.

The world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl explosion was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeastern region of Tohoku.

The government and the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co are still struggling to bring the radiation-spewing plant under control.

Kan said ‘‘the myth of the safety of nuclear energy’’ was prevalent among government and utility officials and that Japan needs to ‘‘humbly reflect’’ on such wrong perceptions."

Live blog: Storms kill 184 in Alabama, 272 across South

Live blog from CNN, this site gets updated regulary, it also has a radar "Severe Weather Tracker" :

" [Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET] U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called the loss of life from storms in the American Southeast "heartbreaking," and said that the "federal government will do everything we can to help (people affected by the deadly storms) recover."

We are "ready to help in any possible way," he said.

[Updated at 3:14 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in Alabama has reached 184, and the death toll in Tennessee has risen to 33, authorities said Thursday. The overall death toll is 272 people in six states.

[Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in Alabama has reached 162, Alabama Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Yasamie August said Thursday. The overall death toll is as many as 247 people in six states.

[Updated at 12:33 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in Georgia is at 14, Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday. There are now as many as 234 people dead in six states."

Japan : Fukushima Daiichi's shoreline to be sandbagged

Article from NHK News :

" As aftershocks of the March 11th earthquake continue, the operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will sandbag its shoreline as a temporary measure against another possible tsunami.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company moved emergency power generators to higher ground in order to prevent the reactors' cooling systems from failing in case a major tsunami hits the plant again.

The utility firm decided to sandbag the shoreline at the plant to a height of several meters.

Priority will be put on the area near the waste processing facility, where highly radioactive water is being moved from around the reactor buildings. The facility will also serve as a workplace for reprocessing contaminated water from June.

The firm fears that if the facility is hit by another tsunami, highly contaminated water may run into the ocean and damage the reprocessing facility.

Tokyo Electric is also planning to build a breakwater on the shoreline, as the sandbags cannot stand as the fundamental solution for possible tsunami. The tsunami that hit the plant on March 11th reached 15 meters at its height."

Thailand : Expert warns of threat from deadly bird flu

Article from Bangkok Post :

" New strain of H1N1 also active in region

A flu expert has warned that the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus strain could re-emerge in the country if stringent measures to prevent the spread of the disease are not taken.

The warning was issued yesterday at a health conference entitled ''The Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases: Situation, Lessons and Management'' held by Mahidol University.

Tawee Chotpitayasunond of the Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health told participants at the conference that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had reported 36 bird flu cases in humans over the past four months in four countries _ Cambodia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Egypt.

Of the total, 16 had died and five of them were Cambodian nationals.

According to the WHO report, two of the five who died in February were a 21-year-old woman and her 11-month-old son. They had been sent for medical treatment at a hospital in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province, opposite Thailand's Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo province. An investigation found the mother had contracted the virus from an H5N1-infected chicken she had killed and eaten.

When the deaths came to light, Thai health and livestock authorities immediately stepped up measures to prevent the spread of the disease in humans and poultry and to control the trade of eggs and poultry along the Thai-Cambodian border.

The reported number of bird flu cases in humans in the four-month period is higher than the 40 cases worldwide last year. Therefore, the prevalence of bird flu was likely to remain at least as severe as in the previous outbreak when it was at 60-70%, Dr Tawee said."

Tornadoes, storms rip US South, at least 295 dead

Article from Reuters, excerpt :

" Tornadoes and violent storms ripped through seven Southern states, killing at least 295 people and causing billions of dollars of damage in some of the deadliest twisters in U.S. history.

President Barack Obama described the loss of life as "heartbreaking" and called the damage to homes and businesses "nothing short of catastrophic." He promised strong federal support for rebuilding.

Over several days this week, the powerful tornadoes -- more than 160 reported in total -- combined with storms to cut a swath of destruction heading west to east. It was the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed up to 1,800 people.

In some areas, whole neighborhoods were flattened, cars flipped over and trees and power lines felled, leaving tangled wreckage."

Japan : Gov't warns of risk from quake-caused subsidence

Article from NHK News :

" Japan's land ministry has found that areas of land below-sea-level in the Sendai plain, Miyagi Prefecture, have increased 5-fold after the March 11th earthquake.

It warns that these areas are highly vulnerable to flooding from high tides and typhoons.

The ministry on Thursday released the findings of its aerial probe using an ultra-sensitive, laser-equipped camera to check subsidence across the Sendai plain.

The areas below sea level, shown in blue on the released map, spanned 16 square kilometers.

Before the quake, the plain had only 3 square kilometers of such low-lying areas.

The map also shows, in green, areas lying at full-tide levels. The amount of such areas has increased to 56 square kilometers from the pre-disaster total of 32 square kilometers.

Colored yellow are areas lying below the highest-ever tide level recorded in 1980. These areas have grown to 111 square kilometers from the pre-quake total of 83 square kilometers.

Many river banks and seawalls were damaged by the disaster. The ministry is calling on residents in these areas to be on the alert, and is sandbagging the broken banks."

Hint: Don’t Order The `Possum On the Half Shell’

Mike Coston at Avian Flu Diary has posted a very interesting article on armadillos. Excerpt but please go to his site for all the links and the full story :

" Armadillo and road kill jokes abound in the south (Why did the chicken cross the road? . . . To prove to the armadillo it can be done). But apparently some people actually do indulge in that cliché of a southern delicacy – known in finer rural dining establishments as `possum on the half shell’.

I’ll not bother to debate the culinary merits of armadillo stew, since I’m fully aware that tastes (of people, and presumably armadillos) vary. A lesson learned after I once futilely tried to explain `grits’ to friend from the UK while she countered with vividly told tales of `the haggis’.

Neither of us gained much ground with the other."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Japan : Survivors mourn children killed in tsunami at school memorial

Via Japan Today, children lives lost due to tsunami, a heartwrenching article, excerpt :

" ISHINOMAKI : A memorial service was held Thursday to mourn the disaster victims of an elementary school in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which lost around 70% of its students in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The photos of the 84 victims—74 children and 10 teachers—from the city-run Okawa Elementary School were displayed in honor of them at the ceremony, which was held at another school as its building was severely damaged. Okawa Elementary School started a new academic year there on April 21.

Those who attended the memorial included the families of the victims as well as members of the Self-Defense Forces, police and fire departments who searched for them.

Many pupils and school staff members perished in the tsunami that rushed upstream along a local river while they were fleeing to higher ground from Okawa Elementary School, which was located about five kilometers from the mouth of the river.

Of the 108 children at the school, 67 were confirmed dead as of Wednesday morning with seven still missing. Of the 13 school teachers and others, nine were killed and one was still missing.

Meanwhile, Ground Self-Defense Force troops mounted an intensive search on the coast of Miyagi Prefecture on the same day to look for those still missing, many of them believed to have been washed away by the tidal waves."

US : Johnson County logs rare case of measles

Article from The Kansas City Star, excerpt :

" The Johnson County Health Department is investigating the county’s first measles case in nearly six years.

The unidentified person, who had not been vaccinated against measles, became ill earlier this month, said Nancy Tausz of the Health Department.

Blue Valley North High School sent an email Wednesday to parents reporting that the case of measles was found at that school. The school was identifying students and staff members who hadn’t been vaccinated –— a small number –— and telling them to stay home until May 9."

Japan : TEPCO monitoring No.1 reactor

Via NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company is monitoring one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to determine whether more water could be pumped inside to cool the fuel rods.

Tokyo Electric plans to submerge the fuel rods at 2 reactors in water by July this year.

On Wednesday morning, the utility increased the amount of water injected into the No.1 reactor from 6 tons per hour to 10 tons per hour on an experimental basis.

As a result, the temperature at the top of the reactor was 107.3 degrees Celsius Thursday morning, down 24.7 degrees from before the water increase. The temperature at the bottom of the reactor had dropped 12 degrees to 98.5 degrees Celsius.

Pressure inside the reactor containment vessel was also down.

Tokyo Electric says it's not yet known how deep the water inside the reactor container is, but that no leakage outside the reactor building has been confirmed.

The utility had initially planned to increase the amount of water injected to 14 tons per hour on Wednesday, but it says it will continue to monitor temperatures and pressure through Thursday evening."

Japan : TEPCO to rid 200,000 tons of radioactive water

Via NHK News :

" The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it aims to begin disposing of highly radioactive water starting in June.

The contaminated water is hampering efforts to reactivate the cooling systems in the plant's reactors.

On Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Company announced it would set up the treatment system to eliminate radioactive materials.

The utility firm says 87,500 tons of contaminated water has accumulated in the No.1 to 4 reactors.

It estimates that up to 200,000 tons of highly contaminated water will be produced by the year end if all the water used to cool the reactors becomes highly radioactive.

The company says it plans to start installing the system in early May and begin operating in June.

It hopes to dispose of 1,200 tons of highly contaminated water per day once the system is in place."

Japan : Female worker at nuclear plant suffers radiation dose exceeding limit

Via Japan Today :

" TOKYO : Tokyo Electric Power Co said Wednesday that one of its female employees was exposed to radiation doses far above the legal limit at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant—the latest revelation of lax radiation management by the plant operator since the crisis erupted last month.

As a key step to bringing an end to the ongoing crisis, the utility said, meanwhile, it will seek to start in June decontamination of highly radioactive water accumulating in the plant’s premises, which has prevented restoration work as a side effect of the emergency water injection into troubled reactors from outside in place of their lost cooling functions.

TEPCO also started to increase the amount of water injected into the damaged No. 1 reactor core in preparation to flood the reactor’s primary containment vessel to cool the fuel inside in a stable manner.

The utility is trying to contain the country’s worst nuclear disaster in line with a recently unveiled roadmap, which seeks to restore stable cooling of the reactors and spent fuel pools of the Nos. 1 to 4 units in about three months.

But in the latest sign of tough working conditions at the radiation-leaking plant, the firm said it found earlier in the day that one of its 19 female employees working at the plant when the March 11 quake and tsunami crippled it had been exposed to 17.55 millisieverts of radiation by March 23, against the legal limit of 5 millisieverts over a three-month period.

The woman, who is in her 50s, has no health problems, but two more female workers may also have been exposed to radiation in excess of the limit before all the female employees left the plant on March 23, the utility and the government’s nuclear safety agency said.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said at a press conference that the situation was ‘‘extremely deplorable,’’ and urged the utility to investigate the reason and take measures to prevent a recurrence.

The woman concerned was found to have suffered more internal than external radiation exposure, with the internal exposure reaching 13.6 millisieverts. She was involved in work to refuel fire trucks and worked inside a building on-site, which is used as an operation center to deal with the crisis, according to TEPCO and the agency.

TEPCO official Junichi Matsumoto said that the woman may have inhaled radioactive substances that have entered the building in the early days of the crisis. ‘‘For some time after the accident, people were not wearing masks inside the building,’’ he added.

Matsumoto acknowledged that radiation-dose management was not sufficient after hydrogen explosions occurred in some reactor buildings and spewed massive radioactive materials. The company is currently taking measures to prevent radioactive substances from entering the building, he added.

Under Japanese law, radiation workers cannot be exposed to more than 100 millisieverts over five years and more than 50 millisieverts in one year, but the limit for female workers comes to 5 millisieverts in a three-month period, considering chances of pregnancy."

One New Outbreak of Bird Flu in South Viet Nam

Another news article from The Poultry Site :

" VIET NAM : One new outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been reported in a village poultry flock in the south of the country.

The veterinary authority sent Follow Up Report No. 51 dated 26 April to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes one new outbreak of HPAI at Phuoc Hau in Vinh Long province in the south of the country.

A village flock of 2,000 birds was affected, with 1,050 birds dying and 950 destroyed.

The presence of the H5N1 sub-type of the HPAI virus has been confirmed."

Indonesia Reports 18 Bird Flu Outbreaks

Via The Poultry Site :

" INDONESIA : A total of 18 outbreaks of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported, all in Gorontalo province in northern Sulawesi, a region free of the disease for almost four years.

The veterinary authority sent an Immediate Notification dated 26 April to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes 18 outbreaks of HPAI starting between 30 March and 6 April in the region of Gorontalo, all in village flocks.

In total 4,709 birds were affected, of which 817 and 4,119 have been destroyed.

The presence of the H5N1 sub-type of the HPAI virus has been confirmed.

It adds that since the end of March 2011, and with laboratory confirmation by the Disease Investigation Center in Maros, the Gorontalo province is infected with HPAI. Since then, the disease has spread in four districts of Gorontalo province: Gorontalo, Gorontalo municipality, Boalemo and Bone Bolango. Stamping out is the main control measure for HPAI in the area. Movement control of poultry has been done, especially using check points."

New WHO report: deaths from noncommunicable diseases on the rise, with developing world hit hardest

News release from WHO, excerpt :

" Noncommunicable diseases a two-punch blow to development

27 April 2011 Moscow : Noncommunicable diseases are the leading killer today and are on the increase, the first WHO Global status report on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) launched today confirms. In 20081, 36.1 million people died from conditions such as heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes. Nearly 80% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Noncommunicable diseases a two-punch blow to development

"The rise of chronic noncommunicable diseases presents an enormous challenge," says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, who launched the report during the WHO Global Forum on addressing the challenge of noncommunicable diseases, being held today in Moscow, the Russian Federation. "For some countries, it is no exaggeration to describe the situation as an impending disaster; a disaster for health, for society, and most of all for national economies."

Dr Chan adds: "Chronic noncommunicable diseases deliver a two-punch blow to development. They cause billions of dollars in losses of national income, and they push millions of people below the poverty line, each and every year."

Millions of deaths can be prevented

But millions of deaths can be prevented by stronger implementation of measures that exist today. These include policies that promote government-wide action against NCDs: stronger anti-tobacco controls and promoting healthier diets, physical activity, and reducing harmful use of alcohol; along with improving people's access to essential health care.

The Global status report on NCDs provides global, regional and country-specific statistics, evidence, and experiences needed to launch a more forceful response to the growing threat posed by chronic noncommunicable diseases. It provides a baseline to chart future NCD trends and responses in countries, including in terms of its socioeconomic impacts. The report provides advice and recommendations for all countries and pays special attention to conditions in low- and middle-income countries which are hardest hit by NCDs.

Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17 million people annually, followed by cancer (7.6 million), respiratory disease (4.2 million), and diabetes (1.3 million). These four groups of diseases account for around 80% of all NCD deaths, and share four common risk factors:

  • tobacco use

  • physical inactivity

  • the harmful use of alcohol and

  • poor diets.

Not just a problem of affluent societies

"About 30% of people dying from NCDs in low- and middle-income countries are aged under 60 years and are in their most productive period of life. These premature deaths are all the more tragic because they are largely preventable," says Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. "This is a great loss, not just at an individual level, but also profoundly affect the family and a country's workforce. For the millions struggling with poverty, a vicious circle ensues. Poverty contributes to NCDs and NCDs contribute to poverty. Unless the epidemic of NCDs is aggressively confronted, the global goal of reducing poverty will be difficult to achieve."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Japan : Big tank may be put under nuclear plant to store tainted water

Article from Japan Today :

" TOKYO : Prime Minister Naoto Kan is considering setting up a big underground tank in the compound of the radiation-spewing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent contaminated water from spilling into the sea, a fishery official said Wednesday.

‘‘There is bedrock 46 meters underground. The government has found that no tainted water will seep below (the bedrock) and is considering building a tank there,’’ Ikuhiro Hattori, who heads the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives Associations, quoted Kan as saying.

Hattori talked to the press after he and other executives of the federation held talks with Kan, during which they lodged a protest against the government for allowing the nuclear plant’s operator to release a large amount of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean in early April.

Hattori told Kan the release of radioactive water without any prior consultation is ‘‘hard-to-forgive’’ and asked him to make sure that fishermen receive enough compensation for losses they incurred in the wake of the crisis at the nuclear plant—which was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Kan apologized to the executives and promised that the government will be responsible for upcoming damages with the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The utility unveiled a plan to dump ‘‘water containing relatively low levels of radioactive materials’’ into the sea at the last minute on April 4."

Panama : Minsa confirms case of A(H1N1) flu in minor

An article from Prensa :

" The Epidemiological Surveillance System of the Metropolitan Region of Health has confirmed the first case of A(HINI) influenza in a minor.

The child, a little over two and a half years old, is now out of danger, and has returned to her home.

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) in a press release in which it was emphasized that the entity had ordered the 14 health regions of the country to activate epidemiological surveillance systems.

That warning was issued by the Department of Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control of the Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), with the aim of identifying possible outbreaks of the A(H1N1) flu in several countries throughout the region.

In response to the confirmation of this first case, health institutions in Panama are beefing up awareness campaigns about the importance of hand-washing as the most efficient way to reduce the transmission of this disease."

US : Cases of Lyme disease handled inconsistently

Article from Metrowest Daily News, excerpt :

" The state needs a commission to study Lyme disease because the illness is poorly understood and care for patients is inconsistent, a new report says.

"The medical community, ranging from physicians to medical research institutes, have varied perceptions of Lyme disease and appropriate treatment methods," said the report released yesterday by the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight led by state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick.

The report said that since insurance companies rely on the Infectious Diseases Society of America's guidelines for Lyme treatment of 28 days, people suffering chronic symptoms might not receive coverage for care and medication.

"Insurance companies in Massachusetts have typically followed IDSA guidelines rather than (International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society's) and therefore patients being prescribed treatment for longer than 28 days often have their treatment denied by the insurance companies," the report states.

Suffolk and Middlesex counties saw the most reported cases of Lyme disease in 2009, with a combined count of 702 out of the statewide 4,045 cases, the report says."

Kenya: Measles Cases Reported

Via All Africa :

" Two more cases of measles have been reported in Mombasa and one confirmed. The total number of reported cases is now 16 with five confirmed.

The two were reported at Mewa Hospital in King'orani. District Public Health Officer Mohammed Masudi said the two cases are from Bakarani in Kisauni constituency.

"Bakarani has become the latest area to have had measles cases. This means we have to increase our area of coverage despite the limited resources we have so far," said Masudi.

Masudi said they are currently using routine vaccines that were supplied by the Public Health ministry, but they need more to handle the outbreak"

Indonesia : Logging Takes the Bite Out of Efforts to Squash Malaria

Via Jakarta Globe :

" The Health Ministry has high hopes of eradicating malaria in the country, but says massive deforestation — which pushes parasite-carrying animals toward urban areas — has threatened its efforts to combat the disease.

Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the ministry’s director general for disease control, said Indonesia was expected to be malaria-free by 2030, with the number of infections decreasing every year.

“In 2009 and last year, malaria elimination efforts posted good results,” he said on Sunday in marking World Malaria Day, which falls on April 25 each year.

“The number of infections continues to decrease in each province, although not at the same rate,” he added.

There were 544,470 reported cases of the mosquito-borne disease last year, 900 of which were fatal, according to the ministry.

The annual incidence of infection per 1,000 people also fell from 4.6 in 1990 to 1.96 last year.

The ministry said Jakarta became malaria-free last year, with Bali and Batam expected to follow suit this year."

Malaysia : Current Situation of Dengue Fever and Chikungunya - Week 15/2011 (10 - 16 April 2011)

Press release from Malaysia's Ministry of Health on the dengue and chikungunya situation (you can download the PDF to view the report and appendix), excerpt :

" Week 15/2011 (10 - 16 April 2011)

During week 15 of 2011 for a period of 10 to 16 April, a total of 398 cases of dengue fever have been reported nationwide, an increase of 42 cases or 12% compared to 356 cases in the previous week.

There are eight states that showed an increase from last week's case, namely Penang, which rose by 20 cases (87%), Selangor 16 cases (10%), Kuala Lumpur / Putrajaya 11 cases (31%), Kedah 4 cases (133 %), Terengganu 2 cases (33%), Sabah 2 cases (33%), Johor 2 cases (7%) and Sarawak, an increase of 1 case (9%) (Appendix A).

Starting from January to 16 April 2011 a total of 6,250 cases were reported, a decrease of 58% or 8,530 cases comparing to 14,780 cases reported for the same period in 2010. Dengue deaths also decreased by 83% or 43 deaths, of which there were 9 deaths in 2011 compared to 52 in the same period in 2010.

For Chikungunya, no cases have been reported for the period of 10 to 16 April 2011. Cumulative number of cases was 14 cases of chikungunya, a decrease of 97% compared with 533 cases reported for the same period in 2010 (Appendix B)."

Chile warns of whooping cough outbreak

Via Xinhua, excerpt :

" SANTIAGO, April 26 : Chile has registered a significant increase of new whooping cough cases in Metropolitan Region, its Health Ministry said Tuesday.

According to the ministry, 359 cases are recorded in the region, and 60 percent of the patients are infants under one year old, with most under 6 months old.

Authorities are keeping a nationwide vigilance of the disease and are monitoring all new cases. So far, a total of 689 children both in 2010 and 2009 have developed the sickness throughout Chile."

Japan : TEPCO starts tests for more water injection

Article from NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun testing one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to see if it can move forward with its plan to submerge and cool the hot fuel rods.

TEPCO began pumping more water into the No.1 reactor on Wednesday in order to monitor changes in the water depth in the containment vessel and check for leaks.

The test is part of a plan to fill the No.1 and No.3 reactors' containment vessels with water by July, to cool the fuel rods in a stable manner.

TEPCO says it will raise the amount of water injected from 6 to 10 tons per hour for 6 hours, and then to 14 tons per hour. The temperature and pressure in the containment vessel will be monitored for 18 hours.

The utility says it will decrease the flow back to 6 tons per hour by Thursday morning and then send robots into the reactor building to check for leaks.

TEPCO also says it will make sure that the containment vessel, with the added weight of the water inside, can withstand strong aftershocks.

The firm says robots on Tuesday detected radiation levels of up to 1,120 millisieverts per hour inside the No.1 reactor building. It says some contaminated water may be leaking from the reactor into external pipes."

Indonesia : 10 Thousand Chickens Sudden Death

Machine translated article from Media Indonesia :

" A total of 10 thousand chickens in the village of Sudimoro, Srumbung District, Magelang regency, Central Java, died suddenly within the past week."chicken samples were checked with the rapid test of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (Peterikan) Magelang regency, but the results are negative Avian influents (AI)," said Department of Animal Health Section Head of Magelang District Peterikan John Manglapay in Magelang, Tuesday (26 / 4).

According to John, this time it was still awaiting the results of virus isolation by Central Veterinary Wates Yogyakarta. Allegedly, thousands of chickens owned Sujono, ranchers in the area, died suddenly due to have been infected with bird flu virus.Because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of bird flu, the head was swollen and bluish purple cockscomb.

"It was not bird flu. So we do virus isolation," he said.To anticipate the spread of this case, it collects large breeder-breeder chicken population Sudimoro 2000-5000 tails in the Village. They are advised to be careful. All vaccinated chickens also had repeated AI."

Australia : New superbug detected in Australia

Article from Virtual Medical Centre :

" Australia is in the grip of a new superbug that can cause potentially fatal colon infections, an editorial in the latest Medical Journal of Australia says.

The first case of an epidemic strain of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) thought to have been acquired in Australia has been identified at a hospital in Melbourne, and further clusters have been reported in residential aged care facilities, Dr Rhonda Stuart of the Monash Medical Centre's Department of Infectious Diseases said.

C. difficile infection can cause conditions ranging from mild diarrhoea to pseudomembranous colitis to toxic megacolon, and can be fatal. It is the most common cause of hospital-acquired diarrhoea, and now rivals methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) as the most common health care-associated infection in the United States.

Since 2000, C. difficile infection rates associated with an epidemic strain (C. difficile ribotype 027) have increased in healthcare facilities in the US, Canada and Europe. This strain has an increased resistance to antibiotics, increased production of toxins and spores, and causes more morbidity and mortality.

"Australia is now also in the grip of this new strain of C. difficile," Dr Stuart said.

"It is sobering to contemplate that what has occurred in the US, Canada and Europe is potentially and imminently on our doorstep."

Philippines : Diarrhea kills 6 in Oro

Via Sun Star :

" DIARRHEA has killed six people in the village Tignapoloan in Cagayan de Oro City, while eight others, mostly children, were confined at the J.R. Borja Memorial City Hospital.

Councilor Dante Pajo, chair of the City Council committee on health, said at least 14 persons from the said barangay suffered from diarrhea reportedly due to contaminated water from a well.

Pajo confirmed that water samples from Barangay Tignapoloan were contaminated with Escherichia Coli (E. coli).

"They get their drinking water from the well, which is not fit for human consumption," Pajo said.

E. coli is the most frequent cause of diarrhea and intestinal infections. Its presence in water indicates the presence of fecal waste.

Earlier, Tignapoloan Barangay chairman Renato Rances confirmed there were 11 casualties from his village, some of whom were not brought to the hospital.

Rances said most of those who were infected are residing within the boundary of Lanao del Sur province."

Japan : Fukushima farmers protest near TEPCO headquarters

Article from NHK News :

" Farmers affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have demanded that its operator put it under control and compensate them as soon as possible.

About 200 vegetable and dairy farmers from Fukushima, Chiba, Ibaraki and other prefectures took part in the protest in front of the headquarters of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The farmers displayed vegetables and milk cows, shipments of which have been banned due to radiation concerns, and demanded sufficient compensation for damage caused by the bans and rumors.

TEPCO officials apologized to the farmers for causing trouble, saying the firm is trying to settle the crisis and will compensate them with help from the government.

Milk shipments from 2 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture remain banned, as are shipments of spinach, cabbage and other leafy vegetables from the entire prefecture.

In a related move, farmers in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, say the accident has so far cost them 530-million yen, or about 6.5-million dollars.

The estimate was reported by a task force set up by agricultural cooperatives in the prefecture at an inaugural meeting on Tuesday.

The loss is attributed to bans on shipments of 6 kinds of vegetables from part of the prefecture between April 4th and 22nd, consumer reluctance to buy vegetables from Chiba, and a fall in prices. The farmers plan to seek compensation from TEPCO."

AH1N1 Influenza Outbreak In Venezuela Rises To 1,669 Cases

Article from NASDAQ, excerpt :

" CARACAS : The number of diagnosed cases of AH1N1 influenza in Venezuela continues to rise, having reached 1,669 this week, while local authorities say the outbreak is under control.

Speaking on a local radio station Monday, Venezuelan health official Miriam Morales said the rate of new infections had slowed and added that the government has purchased 6 million doses of vaccine to combat the strain of influenza commonly known as swine flu.

At the beginning of last week, the number of confirmed cases stood at 1,594, with most tallied since mid-March. Though Health Minister Eugenia Sader has said that the eruption has been "totally and absolutely under control" since the first days of April, the number of newly identified patients has steadily climbed from week to week, often by the hundreds."

Bangladesh Reports 31 New Bird Flu Outbreaks

Via The Poultry Site :

" BANGLADESH : There have been 31 new outbreaks of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The veterinary authority sent Follow Up Report No. 32 dated 21 April to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes 31 new outbreaks of HPAI, starting between 19 March and 18 April across a wide area on central Bangladesh. All but one of the outbreaks were in commercial poultry flocks.

In all, 180,420 birds were involved, of which 26,532 died and 153,888 were destroyed.

The presence of the H5N1 sub-type of the HPAI virus was confirmed."

Japan : Governors demand transparency on Fukushima case

Article from NHK News :

" Governors of Japanese prefectures that host nuclear power plants and facilities are demanding the full publication of information about the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Governors of 9 out of 13 prefectures hosting nuclear facilities held a meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.

They said at the meeting that the central government's present handling of the ongoing crisis cannot quell the concerns of local residents over nuclear power stations.

The governors demanded the state government thoroughly take safety measures for nuclear power stations and explain the measures to people in ways that will obtain their understanding."

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log - Updates of 26 April 2011

The latest update from IAEA with regards to the situation in Fukushima, Japan, excerpt :

" IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (26 April 2011, 18:00 UTC)

1. Current situation

Overall, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious, but there are signs of recovery in some functions, such as electrical power and instrumentation.

After the announcement on 11 April by the Government of Japan to establish 'planned evacuation zones' and 'emergency evacuation preparation zones', in a press conference on 22 April by the chief cabinet secretary of Japan Mr. Edano it was stated that "the Prime Minister, as head of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, has issued instructions to the governor of Fukushima Prefecture and the heads of municipal governments concerned." These instructions included:

Designation of 'planned evacuation zones' to be applied to some specific zones outside the 20 km radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant: "the villages of Katsurao, Namie and Iitate, part of the town of Kawamata, and part of the city of Minamisoma", where planned evacuations are expected to be implemented in approximately one month's time.

Designation of 'emergency evacuation preparation zones', to be applied to the area within a 20-30 km radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant (except for areas designated as planned evacuation zones): "the towns of Hirono and Naraha, the village of Kawauchi, and parts of the cities of Tamura and Minamisoma", in which preparations should be made so that the residents can take shelter indoors or can evacuate by their own means in the event of an emergency. In addition, with regard to the areas located within a 20-30 km radius from the nuclear power plant, the advisory for sheltering indoors that has been in effect to date has been lifted.

Changes to Fukushima Daiichi plant status

The IAEA receives information from various official sources in Japan through the Japanese national competent authority, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). Additional detail is provided in the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) status summary with information received by 07:00 UTC on 26 April 2011.

Management of on-site contaminated water

According to the 25 April evaluation by NISA of the report submitted by TEPCO, there is a little less than 70,000 tonnes of stagnant water with high level radioactivity in the basement of the turbine buildings of Units 1, 2 and 3.

Plant status

On 25 April the power supply for the temporary electrical pumps that supply water to the reactor pressure vessel of Units 1, 2 and 3 was switched from the off-site power supply to temporary diesel generators to allow work to enhance the off-site supply.

White smoke continues to be emitted from Units 2, 3 and 4.

In Unit 1 fresh water is being continuously injected into the reactor pressure vessel through the feedwater line at an indicated flow rate of 6 m3/h using a temporary electric pump with off-site power.

In Unit 2 and Unit 3 fresh water is being continuously injected into the reactor pressure vessel through the fire extinguisher line at an indicated rate of 7 m3/h using temporary electric pumps with off-site power.

In Unit 4 140 tonnes of fresh water was sprayed over the spent fuel pool on 23 April and 165 tonnes of fresh water was sprayed over the spent fuel pool on 24 April using a concrete pump truck. The nuclear emergency response headquarters reported that temperature measurements showed the spent fuel pool temperature to be 83 °C before spraying and 66 °C after spraying on 23 April, and the spent fuel pool temperature to be 86 °C before spraying and 81 °C after spraying on 24 April."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Australia : People at risk of leptospirosis from mice

Article from ABC News :

" As mice near plague proportions in NSW, health authorites are warning of serious health risks for humans.

Four cases of leptospirosis have been reported to the NSW Department of Health in recent days. The disease is passed to humans through contact with mouse urine.

Population health expert Dr Tony Brown warns the disease is potentially fatal and relatively easy to contract.

"If you're in close contact with animals and exposed to mud, water, soil and things that could be, particularly if they've been contaminated with mouse urine, I think you need to be aware that that's a problem."

Canada : When pandemics strike, ICUs are ground zero for rapid response

Via Healthzone, excerpt :

" As the H1N1 pandemic spread through Canada in the spring of 2009, a senior federal health official asked Dr. Rob Fowler, a critical care physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, how many intensive-care units there were in this country.

“Rob said, ‘We thought you knew!’ ” recalls Dr. John Marshall, a trauma surgeon at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. “Even in Canada . . . a developed country, nobody knew what our capacity was.”

That ICU count — 331 — is known now.

What has also become apparent is the revelatory role that hospital ICUs can play in pandemic outbreaks, as places where the virulence, demographics and lethality of emerging ailments can be first and best assessed."

Sri Lanka : Rat fever and dengue on the rise

Via Daily Mirror :

" The Health Ministry today warned of the high possibility of Rat fever (Leptospirosis) and Dengue spreading as a result of the prevalent heavy rains. According to the latest reports 32 deaths related to Dengue have been reported while 31 deaths have been reported due to Rat fever.

Health Ministry spokesman W.M.D. Wanninayake told Daily Mirror Online that there is a high possibility of the diseases rising with the continuing rains. “The public should be vigilant and should take appropriate measures to keep their environments free of breeding grounds for these diseases,” he added.

During the period of January - April this year, a total number of 2785 cases of rat fever have been reported while some 3778 cases of Dengue have been reported to which includes 710 cases in April alone."

Japan : Fukushima to cull dying livestock in 20-km radius of nuclear plant

Article from Japan Today, excerpt :

" FUKUSHIMA : Six Fukushima prefectural government workers dressed in protective outfits went into the no-entry zone within a 20-kilometer radius of the crisis-hit nuclear power plant in the northeastern Japanese prefecture Monday to begin work to cull starving livestock.

While there is no legal stipulation involving slaughtering livestock in the area which has been restricted because of the nuclear accident, the prefectural government decided to kill the animals for public health reasons, local officials said.

According to a livestock hygiene service center in the prefecture, the workers will conduct activities in Minamisoma’s Odaka district, where 887 cows, 80 horses, about 6,200 pigs and around 260,000 chickens were raised as of October last year.

The Odaka district was also struck by the massive tsunami that followed the powerful March 11 earthquake, and some livestock barns out of 91 in the area have been destroyed or swept away."

Japan : Govt was unaware of hydrogen explosion risk

Article from NHK News :

" An advisor to Prime Minister Naoto Kan says no one in the government knew of the risk of a hydrogen explosion in the initial stages of the emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The disclosure was made on Monday by Goshi Hosono, who is a governing party lawmaker and senior member of the government's nuclear taskforce.

Hosono referred to a hydrogen blast that shattered the No.1 reactor building one day after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The blast occurred after workers began venting air from the reactor containment vessel to reduce pressure inside.

Hosono said he was not aware of a single nuclear expert who warned of the risk of a hydrogen blast following the venting operation. He said nitrogen inside the reactor container was supposed to prevent such explosions.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company also told reporters that hydrogen is supposed to be processed within the containment vessel, and that such an explosion is not assumed in a reactor building.

Large amounts of radioactive substances were released into the environment as a result of the hydrogen blast."

Pakistan : Deadly malaria is on rise, says minister

Article from Daily Times :

" KARACHI: Malaria is a deadly disease and if it is not treated on a timely fashion, then it becomes difficult to save the patient through medication, Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed said this while addressing a seminar on International Malaria Day at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital here on Monday.

The minister said both malaria and dengue caused by mosquitoes, adding that number of dengue patients rose sharply last year due to floods. Ahmed informed that as the mercury rises in the coming months, there would be a surge in dengue patients. Commenting on last year’s flood, he said though the death toll of children did not touch the number feared by international institutions, however, the disease affected the children badly in the aftermaths of flood.

Ahmed informed that the dengue surveillance cell had been made active since April 16, where dengue test were being carried out besides providing platelets to the patients.

The minister said the Sindh Health Department was facing shortage of funds but still the department carried out fumigation campaign in all areas. Later talking to the media in response to a question about devolution, Ahmed reiterated that all departments should be devolved to provinces along with their respective budgets pursuant to the decision of the parliament."

India : Further tests to confirm cholera

Via Times of India :

" MUMBAI: Even as health officials try to pass off cases of vomiting and diarrhea among some people in Bhayander (W) as food poisoning, stool samples of the four suspected cholera patients have been sent for the mandatory culture test to put to rest doubts about the highly infectious disease.

Doctors say that the hanging drop diagnostic test to establish cholera, though considered a provisional report, is sufficient to establish cholera and begin treatment. "The stool culture test puts a stamp on what is already known. Instead of arguing over whether it is food poisoning or not,

The samples should have been sent for the test earlier," a doctor said.

Bhayander resident Charmi Shah (15) allegedly died of cholera and the hanging drop test performed on her sample was positive. The 15-year-old Bhayander girl Charmi Shah died of cholera. Her hanging test was positive."

New study sheds light on evolution of 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus in Japan

Article from EurekAlert!, excerpt :

" Analysis of mutations of the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus by researchers at the RIKEN Omics Science Center (OSC) has revealed major genetic differences between the virus in its early phase of infection in Japan and in its peak phase. While yielding valuable clues on the genetic origins of drug resistance, the findings also pave the way toward the development of new diagnostic kits for detecting and preventing the spread of global pandemic diseases.

A unique triple combination of bird, swine and human flu viruses, the pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus, first detected in April of 2009, quickly spread from Mexico to locations across the world. By April 2010, outbreaks of the disease at both local and global scales had resulted in roughly 18,000 deaths worldwide, causing serious damage both to human health and on the global economy.

In Japan, the first case of the pandemic was reported on May 9, 2009, thereafter spreading to hundreds of people in Osaka and Kobe and eventually leading to more than 200 deaths in the country. Existing research on the spread of the virus in Japan has provided valuable information on local strains during the early phase of infection and on their classification into different groups. How the pandemic evolved to reach its peak phase of contagion, however, is not yet well understood."

Brazil to vaccinate 30 mln people against flu

Via Xinhua :

" About 30 million people in Brazil will be vaccinated against the flu during an annual campaign that started Monday, President Dilma Rousseff said.

The campaign, which will continue until May 13, will focus on the elderly and the indigenous population, the pregnant, children aged between 6 months and 2 years, as well as health professionals.

Pregnant women and children under the age of 2 were the most affected in the epidemic of A/H1N1 influenza in 2009 and 2010, Rousseff said in her weekly radio show "Breakfast with the President."

UK : TB study points to drugs to halt lung destruction

Article from Reuters :

" LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) : Scientists have identified a key enzyme responsible for destroying lung tissue in tuberculosis (TB) and say the finding could lead swiftly to new treatments for the highly infectious disease.

In a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation published on Monday, researchers said a drug already shown to be safe in humans and partially developed by Roche (ROG.VX), known as RO323555, was effective at suppressing the enzyme's activity driven by TB infection in human cells.

The findings suggest this and similar so-called MMP inhibitor drugs might prevent lung damage in TB patients and help limit the spread of the disease, they said.

TB is a worldwide pandemic that kills around 1.7 million people a year and is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection destroys patients' lung tissue, causing them to cough up the bacteria, which then spread through the air and can be inhaled by others.

Experts say the worldwide number of new cases -- more than 9 million a year -- is higher than at any other time in history.

TB patients need months of antibiotic treatment, but drug-resistant strains are becoming increasingly common and the World Health Organisation has warned that these infections could affect more than 2 million people by 2015."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vietnam : Hanoians warned about dengue fever outbreaks

Article from Vietnam News :

" HA NOI : Dengue fever outbreaks were increasingly likely in Ha Noi and people needed to take precautions to avoid catching the disease, said deputy director of Ha Noi's Preventive Medicine Centre Nguyen Nhat Cam.

"We are entering a weather pattern of high temperatures and humidity, which provides better conditions for mosquitoes, which spread dengue fever," said Cam.

Previously, the cycle of the dengue fever in Ha Noi came around every four to five years from May to November. However, during the past few years, it was hard to predict outbreaks of the disease, he said.

Cam said rapid urbanisation and better transportation enabled the disease to spread more rapidly.

During the first four months of the year, the number of cases diagnosed with dengue fever was 220, an increase of 15 to 20 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The highest concentration was in Hoang Mai, Hai Ba Trung and Gia Lam districts.

Cam said these areas had high population density, a substantial population of migrant workers from the countryside and poor hygiene conditions.

The doctor urged authorities to boost campaigns to raise public awareness about dengue fever. There was no vaccine and no specific treatment available for dengue fever yet. However, most preventive measures were simple and could be carried out at home."

US : Quadruple amputee brings malaria awareness campaign to Aurora

An article from The Beacon News, this lady has my utmost respect and I'm pretty sure may others too. She is indeed a true survivor and fighter :

Dawn Dubsky, a Chicago nujrse who lost four limbs to malaria, tells her story at Aurora University on Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011.

" AURORA : A single mosquito bite is a small burden to most, but to Chicago resident Dawn Dubsky, one bite was enough to change her life forever.

On a 2008 trip to Ghana, Africa, a place she had always wanted to visit, Dubsky was bitten by a mosquito. Ten days later, after she arrived back in the United State feeling fatigued and rather ill, Dubsky suspected the worst.

The 35-year-old registered nurse had chosen not to take a malaria prophylactic medication which would prevent the contraction of the disease and, as a result, had been infected by the mosquito bite.

After checking herself into the emergency room, where she soon slipped out of consciousness, further complications arose. Septic shock, which occurred as a result of the malaria, had cut off circulation to her extremities, forcing doctors to amputate both of her legs and both of her arms.

Three years ago, on Easter Sunday, Dubsky awoke for the first time since entering the hospital and was given the devastating news — the former marathon runner, world traveler and adventurist would be wheelchair-bound forever.

“I was pretty depressed for a while,” Dubsky said last week at Aurora University, where she promoted her non-profit organization, America Against Malaria."

UK : Cases of malaria among UK travellers rise by 30%

Article from BBC News, excerpt :

" The number of malaria infections recorded among UK residents has increased by nearly 30% over the past two years.

New figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveal there were 1,761 new cases in 2010.

Over the past decade most infections have occurred among people who visited West Africa or South Asia.

The HPA is warning travellers to heed advice on how to avoid malaria, which is the world's second biggest killer.

In 2008 there were 1,370 new cases but the following year the numbers increased to 1,495.

In 2010, almost 40% of UK residents who contracted the disease had visited either Nigeria or Ghana, while 11% had been to India."

Japan : Heat exchanger for No1 reactor considered

Via NHK News :

" The Tokyo Electric Power Company is thinking about setting up a heat exchanger to hasten the full-scale recovery of the cooling system at the Number 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

TEPCO says 70 percent of the fuel is apparently damaged and 6 tons of water per hour is being injected into the reactor.

In order to cool it under more stable conditions, TEPCO wants the water level in the containment vessel to reach the height of the fuel rods

At present, the water level is estimated to be about 6 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel.

Two plans have been considered to cool the vessel, one uses sea water, the other air.

To avoid the risk of further damage from possible aftershocks TEPCO is favoring the water system."

US : Meningitis vaccine for babies 9 months

Article from UPI, excerpt :

" A vaccine against meningococcal disease has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for children as young as 9 months, officials say.

Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, says neisseria meningitidis is a leading cause of meningitis in young children -- it progresses rapidly and can cause death within hours although early symptoms are often difficult to distinguish from influenza and other common illnesses.

Even with appropriate antibiotics and intensive care, between 10 percent and 15 percent of people who develop the disease die and another 10 percent to 20 percent suffer complications such as brain damage or hearing loss, Midthun says.

The safety of Menactra in children as young as 9 months was evaluated in four clinical studies in which more than 3,700 participants received the vaccine."

Pakistan : Malaria cases rising in Sindh

Article from The News :

" After recent floods the number of malaria cases rose sharply in Sindh as accumulated flood water provided excellent environment to mosquitoes for breeding.

Despite many efforts by the government, malaria is yet to be eliminated from the country and each year it claims hundreds of lives, say experts.

Director of the provincial Malaria Control Programme, Dr Naheed Jamali, said that earlier the cases of malaria had been on the decline but the heavy floods of last year sent the number of malaria cases in Sindh soaring.

She said during the year 2009 more than 25,000 malaria cases were reported in Sindh whereas in the year 2010 due to flood the number rose to 57,000 cases.

She said that there were more than 400 types of mosquitoes and it needed hectic efforts to eliminate them.

She said under the malaria control programme in Sindh, 48 centres were working including the centres in teaching hospitals.

She said that four districts of Sindh — Thatta, Khairpur, Dadu and Tharparker — lead in malaria cases, while the number of reported cases was also on the rise in the districts of Kashmore, Ghotki and Larkana due to standing floodwater.

Dr Jamali said that last year 0.2 million mosquito nets were distributed that would remain in working condition for at least five years."

Japanese robots to be used at Fukushima

Another article from NHK News :

" Japanese robots that will be used to inspect the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were shown to the media in Chiba, near Tokyo, on Sunday.

The robots were developed by research groups at Chiba Institute of Technology, Tohoku University and other institutions.

The remote-controlled robots with tracks more than 20 centimeters wide are designed to travel over stairs and debris. They have a camera on a one-meter long probe and a radiation monitor. Detailed 3-D images of the plant's interior can also be created with laser beams.

The cable-operated robot can be used to guide the wireless-controlled robot in areas where wireless communications are difficult.

The semiconductors in the robots are said to deteriorate under high levels of radiation. But tests show that they can withstand radiation levels 400 times higher than the limit for workers.

Eiji Koyanagi of Chiba Institute of Technology says the robots are highly mobile and easy to operate. He says his team will be able to improve the machines by using information obtained from the site.

Tokyo Electric Power Company workers are preparing to use the robots to inspect the plant."

Japan : More seawater damage on farmland found

Article from NHK News :

" More farmland in the city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan was found to have been damaged by seawater.

Most of the farmland along the sea coast in Sendai was submerged in seawater when the tsunami hit the area on March 11th.

About 78 percent of the 2,300 hectares of farmland cannot be planted this year because the salt level is too high.

The city and a local agricultural cooperative tested the salt level in the remaining 22 percent, about 500 hectares, to see if rice saplings could be planted this season.

They found that about 60 hectares of soil in which the damage was thought to be slight actually had too a high salt level to plant.

Seawater is believed to have come upstream along the irrigation canal into the farmland when the tsunami hit.

The agricultural cooperative plans to water the farmland to remove the salt before planting rice in late May, at the earliest.

The planting would be about one month later than usual and the impact of the natural disaster on farming in Japan continues to grow."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Disease claims young victims in Ivory Coast crisis

An article from Associated Press, as per copyright I can only post an excerpt, but the deaths are due to malaria, go to the actual link for the full story :

" ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) -- Kneeling family members bent in prayer over two little bodies wrapped in sheets on the grass in the hospital grounds. Then two women among them released heart-rending wails."

US - New York : Alarming bacteria outbreak at Batavia hospital

Article from WIVB :

" BATAVIA, N.Y. : State health officials are investigating an alarming bacteria outbreak at a Batavia hospital. The family of a patient who was treated for the infection is speaking out.
Officials at United Memorial Medical Center say it's not that many more cases of C-Difficile than they see normally, but 18 cases in six weeks is still raising concerns.

John Gerace said, "She was very lucid; we were eating cake."

Margaret Wagner just celebrated her 86th birthday on April 5th. She had to celebrate it in United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in Batavia because she broke her hip, but the day after a picture of the celebration was taken, she had hip surgery and almost immediately contracted a disease known as C-Difficile, and now her great nephew, John Gerace, isn't sure she'll survive it.

Gerace said, "She's been fighting for the past two weeks with this, and it's sad to see somebody, and I've said it again, just to whittle away like that in front of you with something that's preventable. Had we known this was going on in the hospital, we would have never put her there."

India : The superbug effect

Article from The Hindu :

" The discovery of the New Delhi mettallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) in 51 of 151 sewage samples and two of 50 drinking water samples taken from India's capital indicates that the superbug is present in the environment and is no longer a hospital-born infection.

The study published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal (“Dissemination of NDM-1 positive bacteria in the New Delhi environment and its implications for human health: an environment point prevalence study,” by Timothy R. Walsh et al.) found that the NDM-1 gene has spread to families of gram-negative bacteria like E. coli that populate the human gut.

The drug-resistant gene has been found even in pathogenic bacteria that cause cholera and dysentery. Transfer of the NDM-1 gene to bacteria belonging to a different species is possible as it is carried in the plasmids, which are capable of moving from one bacterium to another.

Transfer of the plasmids carrying the NDM-1 gene was highest at 30°C, the average peak temperature, and within the daily temperature range of New Delhi from April to October. Most importantly, the transfer has been facilitated by poor sanitation, as reflected by the oral-faecal route of transmission.

It is clear that the two papers (August 2010 and April 2011) have at last shaken the government, which has initially been in denial, out of its slumber and inaction. The Indian Council of Medical Research has invited research proposals from scientists to generate scientific evidence on antimicrobial resistance.

This move indicates that the apex medical research body has finally realised there is no place for jingoism in matters of science, and that the latest findings must be taken seriously and verified scientifically."

Japan : TEPCO to cautiously inject water in No.4 fuel pool

From NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company has decided to be more cautious about the volume of cooling water injected into the spent fuel pool of one of its reactors.This is due to fear that the reactor building might be further damaged by the weight of the water itself.The company has been injecting water daily into the spent fuel pools of the reactors to prevent fuel rods from being exposed and further damaged.

At the Number 4 reactor's pool, the water temperature was about 91 degrees Celsius on Friday, more than 50 degrees higher than the normal level, and TEPCO was forced to inject 200 tons of water. Substantial amounts of water will have to be injected daily.

Citing damage to the walls of the building supporting the pool during last month's hydrogen explosion, the power company says excessive water injection could further weaken the structure of the building.

From Saturday, the utility started assessing more carefully the appropriate amount of water to be poured into the pool, using a device to monitor temperature and the level of cooling water in the pool.1,535 spent fuel rods are stored in the pool of the Number 4 reactor's building, the largest amount at the site."

Sri Lanka : 32 dengue deaths this year

Article from Daily Mirror :

" Thirty-two dengue related deaths were reported during the first four months of this year, while 3,784 patients were reported.

The epidemiology unit of the Health Ministry said that 716 patients were reported in April, 907 in January, 1,050 in February and 1,111 in March.

The highest number of cases was reported from the Colombo District, where 1,273 patients and 12 deaths were reported.

The dengue epidemic is on the rise, due to monsoonal rains, the unit said."

Japan : Reactor 1 water level concerns

Article from NHK News :

" The Japanese government has expressed concern about the structural strength of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant's Number 1 reactor. It says the ongoing water injections may be making the vessel less earthquake resistant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is planning to fill part of the containment vessel with water to cool the reactor.TEPCO wants the water level to reach the top of the fuel rods in reactors one and three by mid July, so it can cool them under more stable conditions.

At the Number 1 reactor, where fuel rods are believed to be the most seriously damaged, six tons of water are being injected every hour.TEPCO believes the water is vaporizing, then condensing in the containment vessel.

The water level is now estimated to be about half way up the bulb of the dry well.TEPCO says the water accumulation will not compromise the structure. But the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says large amounts of water can make the building less earthquake-proof.

The agency says it needs to check whether the suppression pool pipes can withstand higher levels of pressure from the extra water."

Friday, April 22, 2011

India : Woman diagnosed with swine flu in Bhopal

Article from Bio Scholar :

" A woman whose husband died of swine flu here last week was Thursday diagnosed with the same infection, officials said.

“Rupal Soni has been diagnosed with swine flu, but she is out of danger,” Chief Medical and Health Officer Pankaj Shukla told IANS.

Rupal’s husband, Dr. Mukesh Soni, had succumbed to swine flu April 14.

“We had sent twenty-five samples for investigations, but only Rupal’s sample tested positive. We hope there would be no more such cases,” Shukla said.

He added that all health officials across Madhya Pradesh have been instructed to take precautionary measures against swine flu."

Egypt : New bird flu case detected in Menoufiya

Via Ahram Online :

" Bird flu has hit the governorate of Menoufiya, with a new infected area found in the town of Fisha.

According to Ahmed Fouad, head of Veterinary Medicine in Menoufiya, the poultry in the house of one Ibrahim Gaber tested positive for the virus, The birds were slaughtered as a precautionary measure.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been 141 cases of human bird flu in Egypt since the virus was first detected in 2006, with 46 of them resulting in death."

Japan : Gov't seals off no-go zone around nuclear plant

From Japan Today, excerpt :

" FUTABA : The government sealed off a wide area around a radiation-spewing nuclear power plant on Friday to prevent tens of thousands of residents from sneaking back to the homes they quickly evacuated, some with little more than a credit card and the clothes on their backs.

Fearing they might not see their homes again for months, evacuees raced into the deserted towns Thursday before the ban took effect to grab whatever belongings they could cram into their cars.

“This is our last chance, but we aren’t going to stay long. We are just getting what we need and getting out,” said Kiyoshi Kitajima, an X-ray technician, who dashed to his hospital in Futaba, a town next door to the plant, to collect equipment before the order took effect at midnight.

Nearly 80,000 people have been evacuated from a 20-kilometer zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and a tsunami destroyed its power and cooling systems on March 11. The order had no teeth, however, and people began increasingly returning to check on the remains of their lives. Some had stayed all along.

With ongoing concerns about radiation exposure—as well as theft in the mainly deserted zone—government officials imposed the formal closure barring anyone from entering the area."

India : Woman succumbs to swine flu in Jodhpur

Article from Times of India :

" JODHPUR: With the death of a woman on Thursday in the swine flu isolation ward at MDM Hospital, the dreaded virus has once again made its presence felt in Jodhpur. She was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday and was tested positive on Wednesday. Two deaths have occurred so far this year in Jodhpur.

Samdu Devi (22) was brought to MDM Hospital from Sojat City on Tuesday under serious condition. She was pregnant and was immediately put on ventilator. Her swab was sent for the test on the same day and the report, which was obtained on Wednesday, she was tested positive. Samdu finally breathed her last on Thursday morning.

Before this, one person had succumbed to the virus in February. In all, 4 patients had been tested positive this year. Arvind Mathur, HOD (Medicine) informed that there are two more patients admitted in the isolation ward, who have tested positive but there condition is improving. Besides, the sample of the swab of two more suspects has been sent to the laboratory and the report is awaited."

M6.0 quake hits eastern Japan; registers lower 5 intensity in Chiba

Via Japan Today :

" TOKYO : An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 rocked eastern and northeastern Japan on Thursday night, registering lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Chiba Prefecture, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake that struck the region around 10:37 p.m., the agency said. No tsunami warning was issued.

The quake, focused in the Pacific off Chiba Prefecture, registered lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in Asahi, Chiba Prefecture, and 4 in many cities and towns in Chiba and neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture, according to the agency. The earthquake also shook Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Kanagawa and Yamanashi prefectures as well as Tokyo."

Indonesia : S. Jakarta Has 134 Illegal Slaughtering Houses

Article from Berita Jakarta :

" The Jakarta Provincial Government has provided integrated chicken slaughtering house in Rawakepiting, East Jakarta and Petukanganutara, South Jakarta.

It is aimed to prevent the spread of avian flu. It is not easy to realize the integrated slaughtering house since there are 134 illegal slaughterings house in South Jakarta.

"The illegal slaughtering house is too near with residential and protested by local people," told South Jakarta Head of Animal Husbandry and Fishery Agency Chaidir Taufik to, Thursday (4/21).

According to him, the illegal slaughtering house is under sub-district management, while the agency is only running the supervision.

"We should not be involved in illegal slaughtering house activity," he added."

Japan : Radioactive water likely to hamper cooling effort

Article from NHK News :

" The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power facility plans to cool the reactors by filling their vessels with water. However, that process may be hampered by wastewater contaminated with highly radioactive materials.

According Tokyo Electric Power Company's blueprint for bringing the troubled facility under control, the Number 1 and 3 reactor vessels will be filled with water up to the height of the nuclear fuel rods by the middle of July. This is aimed at cooling the reactors in a stable manner.

TEPCO says that the water level has begun rising in the Number 1 reactor. It says water injected to cool the reactor vaporizes out of the reactor and then turns into water after being cooled inside the container.

However, if the container has been damaged, then highly radioactive water may seep out.

The utility needs to check the reactor turbine building for any water leakage from the building housing the reactor, but workers cannot enter the reactor building at present. However, the effort to identify the source of a leak is difficult because of radioactive water inside the basement of the turbine building.

Work to move contaminated water from the Number 2 reactor is already underway. However, it's not clear when they can begin moving contaminated water from the Number 1 reactor."

Sustained Efforts Needed To Eliminate Bird Flu

Article from Scoop :

" New York, Apr 21 2011 : While most countries have managed to stamp out bird flu, eliminating the virus from poultry in the six countries where it remains endemic will take at least 10 years, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says in a new report.

The H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1 HPAI), which was reported in 60 countries at its peak in 2006, remains “firmly entrenched” in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Viet Nam, according to the Rome-based agency.

FAO’s report attributes this to three factors: the structure of their national poultry sectors; the quality of public and private veterinary and animal production services, which are not always able to detect and respond to infections; and the level of commitment to dealing vigorously with the H5N1 virus.

“The fear of H5N1 does not necessarily translate into concrete plans for virus control and elimination,” states the report, entitled “Approaches to Controlling, Preventing and Eliminating H5N1 HPAI in Endemic Countries.”

The report outlines measures that each of the six endemic countries should take over the next five years to move them towards virus elimination, including in the areas of outbreak control and response, gathering and analysing information, and disease prevention and risk reduction."

Thailand : Mosquitoes with dengue virus 'doubly dangerous'

Article from The Nation :

" The Department of Medical Sciences' National Institute of Health yesterday revealed that one mosquito can carry two strains of dengue fever, as larvae can be infected with viruses through their mothers.

The NIH also warned that this year's weather changes could lead to an outbreak of the disease.

After receiving an award for outstanding research yesterday for her study of the biology and infection rate of mosquitoes carrying dengue fever, NIH researcher Usavadee Thavara said she conducted the study in 25 dengue-hit provinces from 2006 to 2010 and found that two species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and A albopictus, spread the disease's four strains.

The two species also evolved from usually living at altitudes no higher than 500 metres above sea level to being found at places as high as 1,509 metres at Chiang Rai's Doi Tung area and 1,928 metres at Chiang Mai's Doi Angkhang area. The two species, formerly active only in daytime, now also hunted at night, she said.

While A aegypti's highest biting rate was 45 mosquitoes per person per hour during summer, A albopictus' highest rate was 18 per person per hour in winter, she said."

WHO has been busy lately

As the title reads the World Health Organization has been busy, releasing 4 disease updates for 3 different countries and Europe. Here's excerpts from all 4 disease outbreaks updates :

" Wild poliovirus in Côte d'Ivoire

21 April 2011 :
Côte d'Ivoire is experiencing an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) with three new cases reported with onset of paralysis on 27 January, 24 February and 27 February this year.

Genetic sequencing of the isolated viruses show that they are linked to WPV3 last detected in mid-2008 in northern Nigeria. They are the first WPV3 recorded in Côte d'Ivoire since 2000. In 2008-2009, Côte d'Ivoire was affected by a wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) outbreak affecting west Africa (and which was recently stopped).

There is currently a high risk of further spread of WPV3 - both within and from - Côte d'Ivoire. It is the first time since 2000 that WPV3 has been recorded in this part of west Africa (WPV3 transmission has been limited to northern Nigeria and parts of Niger, and since 2008 also in parts of Mali and one case in Benin). The outbreak response may be constrained by the current security situation in Côte d'Ivoire. Due to the persistence of subnational surveillance gaps in Côte d'Ivoire and other areas of west Africa, undetected further circulation cannot be ruled out at this time.

Avian influenza – situation in Cambodia - update 3

21 April 2011 : The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Cambodia has announced a confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus.

The case was a 5 year old girl from Pea Raing district, Prey Veng Province. She developed symptoms on 11 April, was initially treated by local private practitioners with no effect and was later admitted to Kantha Bopha Children Hospital on 13 April. Despite all intensive care, she died on 16 April, four days after admission.

There have been reports of poultry die off in her village. The girl is the fifteenth person in Cambodia to become infected with the H5N1 virus and the thirteenth to die from complications of the disease. All five cases of H5N1 infections in humans in Cambodia this year have been fatal.

Measles outbreaks in Europe

21 April 2011 :
As of 18 April 2011, 33 countries in Europe have reported more than 6 500 measles cases. Epidemiological investigations and genotyping have confirmed transmission of measles virus among several countries in the Region and to the Americas.

Belgium* has reported 100 cases to date, compared to 40 cases in all of 2010.
Bulgaria* has reported 131 cases this year, compared to 24 000 cases in 2009-10.
France* reported 4 937 cases from January to March 2011, compared to 5 090 cases reported in all of 2010.
In Serbia**, nearly 300 cases have been reported from Leskovac in the southeastern part of the country.

Spain* has reported two ongoing measles outbreaks since October 2010, with more than 600 cases reported in Andalusia. In the first outbreak, the most affected areas are Sevilla and surrounding municipalities, where more than 350 measles cases have been reported since January 2011. Cases of measles are reported among healthcare workers as well. The second outbreak was reported in the province of Granada, where about 250 cases have been reported since October 2010.

Avian influenza - situation in Egypt - update 51

21 April 2011 : On 16 April 2011, the Ministry of Health of Egypt notified WHO of two new cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

The first case was a 29 years-old male from Fayoum Governorate Wadi Elrian area who developed symptoms on 1 April , was hospitalized on 4 April and died on 7 April.

The second case was a one -and-a -half year-old male child from Fayoum Governorate, Sennores District who developed symptoms on 9 April and was hospitalized on 11 April. He is under treatment and is in stable condition.

All the cases received oseltamivir treatment at the time of hospitalization.

Investigations into the source of infection indicate that both the cases had exposure to sick and/or dead poultry suspected to have avian influenza. There is no epidemiological link identified between these two cases."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

US : Salmonella Cases Tied to Raw Milk in Texas

Article from Food Safety News :

" Four cases of Salmonella infection in Texas since November are linked to unpasteurized milk, the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday.

Three of the four people have a connection to one Texas dairy farm, and raw milk sold at the farm tested positive for the same rare type of Salmonella matching the outbreak strain, department director Zachary Thompson said in a news release.

Local media reports say three of those sickened were children.

Dallas Country, which investigated the illnesses, said it has reported the four Salmonella cases to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The county health department issued its alert about the outbreak on the same day state lawmakers held a hearing on bills to ease restrictions on the sale of raw milk.

Texas currently limits the sale of unpasteurized milk to the farms where it is produced. The proposed legislation would expand sales to farmers' markets, food co-ops and other sites."

Japan : Radioactive water transfer continues

Via NHK News :

" Work to remove highly radioactive water near a reactor to a storage facility is underway at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex.

Work to pump out 25,000 tons of contaminated water from the Number 2 reactor turbine house and tunnels began on Tuesday.

Plant operator the Tokyo Electric Power Company says that as of Thursday morning, 450 tons of water had been moved to the waste processing facility.

Tokyo Electric says there have been no leaks or other problems so far and that the water level in the tunnel is down three centimeters since work began.

Tokyo Electric says it plans to continue pumping water at the current rate of 10 tons per hour for around 10 more days, and then add more pumps if things go well. The firm says it will transfer a total of 10,000 tons by mid-May.

But water around the Number 2 reactor is only part of the 67,500 tons of radioactive water that Tokyo Electric estimates to have accumulated at the plant.

The utility says radioactive water in the tunnel of the Number 3 reactor facility has been rising by several centimeters a day for the past week, and is soon likely to reach one-meter below ground level."

Co-op sells banned spinach to consumers in eastern Japan

Article from Japan Today, excerpt :

" CHIBA : A Tokyo-based cooperative has delivered spinach grown in the town of Tako, Chiba Prefecture, to consumers in three eastern Japan prefectures despite a government ban on shipments due to concerns about radiation, the Chiba prefectural government said Thursday.

Some of the 74 lots of Tako-grown spinach—home delivered by Pal System Consumers Cooperative Union to 70 households in Gunma, Saitama and Chiba prefecture—had already been consumed, it said.

A dealer in the town of Shibayama which also has vegetable fields in Tako shipped the spinach in question as part of 380 lots on April 10 and has said it did not know of the shipment ban, prompting the local government to issue a verbal warning, it said.

A cooperative association formed by nine consumer cooperatives in Tokyo and nine surrounding prefectures, Pal System said it thought there were no problems with the spinach shipped, as the dealer was based in Shibayama, but was alerted to the possibility of a problem through documents submitted by the dealer."

Indonesia : Hundreds of chickens die in Kotanopan

Machine translated article from Waspada Online :

" PANYABUNGAN : Over the past week, hundreds of chickens died suddenly in Kotanopan, Kab. Mandailing Natal. Until now Husbandry Department Mandailing Natal meniliti cause of death has not gone down the chicken, so that citizens suspected disease that attacks the chicken is bird flu.

Sakban, 30, one citizen alone Siambak Estuary, Kec. Kotanopan that the encounter said that, in this last week has hundreds of chickens died suddenly. Until now he had not know the cause, only provisional estimates of bird flu.

"This week hundreds of my chickens died suddenly, I do not know the cause. His death was so sudden, in the afternoon when entering into the cage is still healthy, but died the next morning, there were not half-hearted at times reached 10-15 tail one night, "he said yesterday.

The same thing happened Bahrum Lopez, 35, a resident Muarapugkut. He admitted this week dozens of chickens died suddenly.

"It's tens of my chickens died within a week. What I also do not know the cause, said the bird flu attack. Now I live chicken 2 tails only, everything is dead, "he said."

New Zealand : Tough winter predicted for many quake city residents

Article from Radio New Zealand :

" Increasing unemployment, overcrowding and damp, damaged homes could mean a "dreadful winter" for many in Christchurch, a Canterbury District Health Board member says.

Health services in the quake-stricken city are becoming stretched to treat growing numbers of people with influenza and other illnesses.

Health board member Andrew Dickerson told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme he is very worried about the vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly and the disabled.

"Particularly in the eastern suburbs where people are living in severely damaged homes, homes that are made damp by the liquefaction, overcrowding conditions with many families now sharing, we're seeing increasing unemployment, a high level of anxiety out there."

Mr Dickerson says when all those factors combine with cold weather vulnerable people, including those in poverty or who have chronic health conditions, face a very difficult situation."

Renewed cholera outbreaks in Haiti

Article from Google hosted AFP report, excerpt :

" PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haitian health officials on Wednesday said they have found new cases of cholera in rural areas of the country, but said the epidemic, which has killed thousands since last year, remains on the decline.

"Residual outbreaks" have appeared in the north, the central plateau, and the southeast, "but they do not constitute a spike in the disease," the country's public health general director Gabriel Timothe told AFP late Tuesday.

He said authorities were addressing the outbreaks in the various regions, and insisted "the trend is decreasing."

Haiti has suffered a devastating cholera epidemic since October, and authorities have reported 4,856 deaths since the onset of the disease, thought to have been eradicated from the country a century ago.

To mark six months of efforts to contain the epidemic, outgoing President Rene Preval received Haitian and international health experts, officials and aid workers on Tuesday to thank them for their work, and urged Haitians to continue safe hygiene guidelines."

Mexico : Juárez records five H1N1 deaths in a month

Article from El Paso Times :

" The death toll from the H1N1 flu outbreak in Juárez has risen to five within a month, with 48 Juárez residents already infected with the H1N1 virus, Chihuahua health authorities said Wednesday.
The deaths of two people in Juárez - one of them a traffic police officer - were confirmed as a result of the H1N1 virus March 20.

Juárez health authorities issued an alert upon linking those deaths to the H1N1 virus and had applied more than 269,815 vaccines so far in Juárez, officials said.

Juárez residents, mainly pregnant women, are encouraged to get the vaccine. It is free for everybody, officials said."