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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ukraine : Health Ministry has confirmed a fourth case of cholera in Mariupol

Via Kyiv Post :

" The Ukrainian Health Ministry has confirmed a fourth case of cholera in Mariupol (Donetsk region), and the condition of this patient is moderately serious, the ministry's press service reported on Tuesday.

Ukraine's chief state sanitary doctor, Serhiy Ryzhenko, together with the chief state sanitary doctor of Mariupol, Heorhiy Husakov, inspected the infectious diseases hospital where the patients with cholera are being treated.

The patients are receiving the necessary medical assistance on time and in full, the ministry's press service

Ryzhenko demanded the laboratory testing of samples from around the area be carried out in order to discover the source of the cholera outbreak.

Experienced experts from Simferopol and Mykolaiv have arrived in Mariupol to provide practical assistance.

Earlier Emergencies Ministry has said that the cholera outbreak in Mariupol is now under control.

"Everything is under control there," First Deputy Emergencies Minister Mykhailo Bolotskykh said during a telephone hotline press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday.

He said that Emergencies Minister Viktor Baloha on Monday decided to send a working group to Mariupol to assist Health Ministry officials and the local authorities."

Taiwan : Chiayi reports new bird flu case

Via Focus Taiwan News Channel :

" An avian flu case was detected again on May 27 at a duck farm in Chiayi County's Dalin township after the virus was discovered in another township in Chiayi this April.

Kuo-ching Huang, deputy director of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture, said Tuesday the two reported cases of H7N3 virus might have spread to the farm animals from migratory birds.

Huang predicted the epidemic will temper down soon since there will be fewer migratory birds in Taiwan in the summer. The bureau will take samples from farms within a 3-kilometer radius of where the bird flu was detected.

Huang said the H7N3 virus is unlikely to be passed onto humans. Only poultry are susceptible to the viral infection."

Denmark : Confirmed E. Coli cases rise to 14

From Xinhua :

" COPENHAGEN, May 30 : The number of confirmed E. coli cases has risen to 14 in Denmark, with at least 26 others suspected of having the intestinal infection, the National Serum Institute said Monday.

Seven of the confirmed cases show symptoms of kidney failure which marks an advanced stage of the sickness, the institute said.

"Almost all of the 14 infected people have been in northern Germany recently except just one. There is a 24-year-old man from Jutland. He has not even been to Germany, so he does not quite fit with the rest of the pattern," said Kaare Moelbak, chief physician at the institute."

Killer bacteria claims victims in Germany, Sweden

Via Reuters :

" A killer bacteria linked to contaminated cucumbers claimed a 15th victim in Germany on Tuesday and its first fatality abroad when a Swedish woman who had been traveling in Germany died, authorities said.

One of the largest E.coli outbreaks of its kind, it has also made more than 1,000 people ill in Germany as well as people from Spain, Sweden, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands who had recently been in Germany.

It has also caused diplomatic tension between Germany and countries such as Spain, France and Russia. The source of the virulent strain of the bacteria is unknown, authorities said. Most of the deaths have been in northern Germany.

The E. coli pathogen has been identified on cucumbers imported from Spain, but it is not clear if they were contaminated there, during transport, or possibly in Germany.

"The situation is tense but it can be dealt with," said Health Minister Daniel Bahr at a news conference late on Monday. He said he expected the number of cases to continue rising.

The German government has identified the disease as hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of a type of E. coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)."

Taiwan : Low-Path Bird Flu Found on Duck Farm

Another article from The Poultry Site, this time an outbreak of Low Path Bird Flu in Taiwan :

" TAIWAN : As the result of testing following a previous outbreak of low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), the H7N3 virus has been found on a duck farm.

The veterinary authority sent Follow Up Report No. 2 dated 30 May to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes the finding of the LPAI virus at a farm in Dalin township in the region of Chia-I – the region of a previous outbreak in April. On 20 May, 20 birds from a flock of 1,900 birds on a farm were affected.

After the H7N3 outbreak confirmed on 7 April 2011, epidemiological investigation and intensified surveillance were carried out on the surrounding poultry farms within a three-kilometre radius area around the index farm.

Samples taken from a duck breeder tested positive with both RT-PCR and virus isolation, and identified as H7N3 strain avian influenza virus (AIV) on 26 May 2011. Movement restriction was implemented on the farm immediately after AIV was detected. Clinical investigation on that farm was done and the result showed that the breeders in the farm were healthy without abnormal mortality. The pathogenicity assays of this virus isolate are now in progress."

Hong Kong : CHP investigating suspected ciguatoxin poisoning cases

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection, excerpt :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 31) is investigating four suspected ciguatoxin poisoning cases affecting nine people who have consumed coral reef fish.

The first case involved a 38-year-old woman. She developed symptoms of ciguatoxin poisoning including limb numbness and muscle pain about 20 hours after eating a fish during dinner at home on May 29.

She sought medical treatment at North District Hospital. No hospitalisation was required and she is now in stable condition.

The second case involved a man and three women aged between 14 and 50. They developed symptoms of ciguatoxin poisoning including limb numbness, nausea, dizziness and weakness about three to 11 hours after eating a fish during dinner at home on May 29.

They sought medical treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. One of them required hospitalisation and they are now in stable condition.

The third case involved a man and a woman aged 60 and 54 respectively. They developed symptoms of ciguatoxin poisoning including perioral numbness, limb numbness, weakness and diarrhea about five to seven hours after eating a fish during dinner at home on May 30.

One of them sought medical treatment at North District Hospital and required hospitalisation. Both of them are now in stable condition.

The fourth case involved a man and a woman aged 58 and 48 respectively. They developed symptoms of ciguatoxin poisoning including dizziness, perioral numbness, limb numbness, weakness and diarrhoea about half an hour to eight hours after eating a fish during dinner at home on May 30.

One of them sought medical treatment at North District Hospital and required hospitalisation. Both of them are now in stable condition.

Investigation revealed that the incriminated fishes in the above cases were purchased from a wet market in Sheung Shui."

Low-Path Bird Flu Outbreak in NW Germany

Article via Poultry Site :

" NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA, GERMANY : An outbreak of low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) has been reported in the north-west of the country.

The veterinary authority sent an Immediate Notification dated 27 May to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes one outbreak of LPAI in a flock of 20,000 birds in Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia, which started on 23 May. Of the 20,000 birds of the flock, 4,000 showed symptoms and all have been culled.

The presence of the H7 sub-type of the influenza A virus has been confirmed.

The last outbreak of avian flu in Germany was in November 2010."

Japan : Oil leaking into sea near Fukushima nuclear plant

Via Japan Today :

" TOKYO : Oil has been found leaking into the sea near the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, possibly from nearby oil tanks that may have been damaged in the March earthquake and tsunami, the plant operator said Tuesday, adding that it will set up oil fences to prevent the liquid from spreading into the Pacific Ocean.

The oil slick was found at 8 a.m. by Tokyo Electric Power Co workers who were patrolling the premises of the plant on the Pacific coast, and is believed to be spreading at a 200-300 meter range inside breakwaters.

As the leakage appears to have remained inside the breakwaters, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said that the impact on areas outside the breakwaters is likely to be ‘‘extremely limited’’ so far.

Tokyo Electric suspects that the oil may have leaked from tanks located near the water intake for the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors or pipes that deliver the oil, because the March 11 disaster took place when a tanker was supplying oil. One of the tanks was moved from its original location because of the tsunami.

The tanks, each with a 960-kiloliter capacity, are believed to have had some heavy oil inside, but it is unknown exactly how much."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Austria Checks Stores for E. Coli Vegetables

From Fox News :

" VIENNA : Austrian officials inspected supermarkets on Monday for Spanish vegetables suspected of contamination with a potentially fatal bacteria that has sickened hundreds of Europeans. In Germany, the death toll from the outbreak rose to 11.

Spain, meanwhile, went on the defensive, saying there was no proof that the E. coli outbreak has been caused by Spanish vegetables.

Spain's Secretary of State for European Affairs, Diego Lopez Garrido, said Madrid might take action against those pointing fingers at his southern European nation.

"You can't attribute the origin of this sickness to Spain," Lopez Garrido told reporters in Brussels. "There is no proof and that's why we are going to demand accountability from those who have blamed Spain for this matter."

Austrian authorities sent inspectors to 33 organic supermarkets Monday to make sure Spanish vegetables suspected of contamination have been taken off shelves."

Australia : Study reveals asthma's viral trigger

Via ABC Science :

" For more than one in ten Australians, the cold winter months, typified by increased bouts of colds and sniffles, bring on an additional challenge: asthma attacks triggered by viral infections.

Asthmas and allergies often go hand-in-hand, and Harvard Medical School Professor Dale Umetsu says that this has led asthma researchers to focus on the immune cells that mediate the allergic response.

But, in their paper published today in Nature Immunology , Umetsu and colleagues show that the flu virus can trigger a different type of immune response. Their finding may help explain why patients who are hospitalised with severe asthma don't respond to their medication.

"TH2 cells, mast cells and eosinpophils are all [immune] cells that are related to allergy and are involved in adaptive immunity where there is memory for allergy," explains Umetsu.

These cells are found in the lungs of almost all people with asthma; notably those with allergic asthma, the most common form of asthma. They respond to corticosteroids, medication that helps limit airway inflammation and constriction and mucus secretion. "

Community perceptions of malaria and vaccines in South Coast and Busia regions of Kenya

A research from an open access article in the Malaria Journal, excerpt :

" Abstract (provisional)


Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children younger than 5 years in Kenya. Within the context of planning for a vaccine to be used alongside existing malaria control methods, this study explores sociocultural and health communications issues among individuals who are responsible for or influence decisions on childhood vaccination at the community level.


This qualitative study was conducted in two malaria-endemic regions of Kenya--South Coast and Busia. Participant selection was purposive and criterion based. A total of 20 focus group discussions, 22 in-depth interviews, and 18 exit interviews were conducted.


Participants understand that malaria is a serious problem that no single tool can defeat. Communities would welcome a malaria vaccine, although they would have questions and concerns about the intervention. While support for local child immunization programs exists, limited understanding about vaccines and what they do is evident among younger and older people, particularly men. Even as health care providers are frustrated when parents do not have their children vaccinated, some parents have concerns about access to and the quality of vaccination services."

Philippines : Health officials sound dengue alarm

Via Manila Bulletin, dengue is on the rise in Philippines :

" MANILA, Philippines : Health officials sounded the alarm on dengue cases in the country as it climbed to 22,903 cases and 141 deaths representing an eight percent increase on cases recorded between January to May 7 compared to last year’s figures of 21,207 cases and 161 deaths recorded during the same period.

Most of the cases came from the National Capital Region (6,732), Central Luzon (4,181), and Calabarzon (3,555).

In the National Capital Region, Quezon City had the most number of cases with 1,694, followed by Manila, 824; Caloocan City, 775; Pasig, 592; Valenzuela, 466, and Parañaque City, 407.

“Dengue cases surged during the months of June until August,” Department of Health Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag said as he warned that the public must also inspect all objects that collect water such as coconut husks or empty bottles.

Ages of cases ranged from less than a month to 89 years old. Around half, or 53 percent, of the cases were males while 39.9 percent of those affected belonged to the 1-10 years age group.

Clustering of cases was observed in some parts of La Union, Pangasinan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Davao City, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Kalinga, and Metro Manila."

Ukraine : Three people diagnosed with cholera in Mariupol

Via Interfax :

" Three people were diagnosed with cholera in Mariupol, Donetsk region, on Sunday.

According to a preliminary report from the Emergencies Ministry, two people got the infection from eating saltwater fish, and the other got it from ingesting seawater.

All three have been taken to hospital, and their health condition is satisfactory.

The city's epidemiological station has started an investigation into the outbreak and is taking preventative and control measures."

Germany holds E. coli crisis meeting

Article from Herald Sun :

" GERMANY called crisis talks today over warnings that an outbreak of E. coli bacteria poisoning, which is believed to have already left 10 dead, was still spreading.

Some two weeks after the outbreak was first reported in the north of the country, the number of people contaminated or suspected of having been poisoned by the potentially deadly enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) has reached 1,200, according to media reports.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the figure but the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has described the outbreak as "one of the largest worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany".

EHEC can result in full-blown haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a disease that causes bloody diarrhoea and serious liver damage and which can result in death.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national disease institute, reported 329 HUS cases nationwide and three confirmed deaths.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner was to hold an emergency meeting later today with Health Minister Daniel Bahr and regional state representatives to discuss the outbreak, her ministry announced.

The outbreak has also affected several other European countries, including Britain, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, though most cases appeared to involve people who had travelled from Germany, the Stockholm centre said."

Scotland : Swine flu FAI told virus 'was missed by doctors'

Via BBC, excerpt :

" A fatal accident inquiry into a Scottish swine flu death has heard the victim was relieved when told by doctors he did not have the virus.

Bill Anderson, 53, from Fife, was the first Scot to die who was not suffering from a pre-existing health condition.

His wife Lynda told the inquiry at Dunfermline Sheriff Court he was sent to hospital by NHS 24 in September 2009 but was diagnosed with seasonal flu.

The former RAF medic, from Kirkcaldy, died four days later."

Denmark : Number of confirmed E.Coli cases rises to 11

Via Xinhua :

" COPENHAGEN, May 29 : The number of confirmed E.coli cases has risen to 11 with at least another eight persons suspected of having the intestinal infection in Denmark, according to Denmark's National Serum Institute on Sunday.

Five of the confirmed cases show symptoms of kidney failure which marks an advanced stage of the sickness, the institute said.

Danish cucumbers are suspected of helping spread the E. coli bacteria believed to be causing a deadly outbreak of intestinal infection in Denmark and Germany, local media reported Sunday.

The Danish cucumbers were mixed in Germany with cucumbers originating in the Netherlands, making it difficult to determine if Danish cucumbers are in fact contaminated.

Denmark's Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) had earlier said the suspicion against Danish cucumber was "vague", but advised Danish consumers not to eat raw tomatoes, lettuces and cucumbers from Germany, and cucumber from Spain."

Singapore : Dengue cases rise in South West District

Via Channel News Asia :

" SINGAPORE: Singapore's South West District has seen a 24.8 per cent increase in dengue cases in the first four months of this year.

According to statistics from the National Environment Agency, there were 166 cases, compared with 133 cases for the same period last year.

The number of dengue clusters there has also doubled - from four to eight, compared with the same period last year.

Mayor of South West District Amy Khor said the increase in dengue cases is a cause for concern, especially when the number of cases for Singapore as a whole has fallen.

The number of dengue cases in Singapore in the first four months of this year was 1,208 as of April 30, a 10 per cent decrease from last year's 1,348 cases.

The total number of dengue clusters in Singapore over the first four months of this year has also fallen to 83 clusters as compared to last year's 99 over the same period."

Australia : Slow response in swine flu death

Article from ABC News :

" The Tasmanian Coroner has found in was not unreasonable for the Mersey Hospital to send home a girl who later died from Swine Flu.

The 12 year girl was admitted to the Mersey Hospital in July 2009 with flu-like symptoms but released after two days, but died four days later.

Coroner, Tim Hill, found the decision by hospital staff to send her home was not unreasonable, based on the girl's symptoms and her negative results to a swine flu test.

Mr Hill found while clinically correct at the time, not treating her with Tamiflu may have reduced the girl's prospects of recovery.

He was critical of the Tasmanian Ambulance Service which took more than 30 minutes to respond to a Triple 0 call from the girl's family on the day of her death."

Germany : E coli outbreak claims 11th victim

Via Monsters and Critics, excerpt :

" Berlin : An E coli outbreak suspected to have been caused by tainted vegetables has claimed an 11th victim in Germany, authorities in the German state of North Rhein-Westphalia said Monday.

A 91-year-old woman, who was also suffering from other health problems, died on Sunday in Paderborn after becoming infected with enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC).

The woman is the first victim outside of northern Germany. She had also been suffering from haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure caused by E coli.

Germany has blamed the outbreak on organically grown cucumbers imported from Spain, though Spanish Health Minister Leire Pajin said there was 'no proof, no evidence' behind the accusations."

Hong Kong : Fatal case of scarlet fever investigated

Via Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (May 30) is investigating a fatal case of scarlet fever involving a seven-year-old girl.

The patient presented with fever, sore throat, vomiting and skin rash on May 20. She consulted a private doctor but her condition deteriorated. She was referred and admitted to Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) on May 27. Her condition further deteriorated and complicated with toxic shock syndrome. She passed away on May 29.

Laboratory tests on the patient's blood and blister fluid specimens by QMH both yielded positive results for Streptococus pyogenes (Group A).

The CHP's investigation revealed that the girl did not have recent travel history. Her home and school contacts were asymptomatic. Investigation continues.

A CHP spokesman explained that scarlet fever is caused by Group A Streptococus bacteria. It can be cured with an appropriate antibiotic. This disease usually affects children between two and eight years of age. It presents as fever, sore throat and rash. The rash appears over the trunk and neck and spreads to the limbs, especially armpits, elbows and the groin.

"Typically scarlet fever rash does not involve the face. It is transmitted through either a respiratory route or direct contact with infected respiratory secretions," he said.

People who are suspected to have scarlet fever should consult their doctors.

A total of 268 cases of scarlet fever have been reported so far this year. There were 128, 187 and 235 cases in 2010, 2009 and 2008 respectively. No fatal cases were reported in the past five years."

Japan : Radiation exposure for 2 workers may exceed limit

Via NHK News :

" Two workers at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have been exposed to high levels of radiation exceeding the safety limit set by the government.

If confirmed, these are the first cases of radiation exposure since the health ministry raised the limit in March following the accident.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Monday the 2 workers are men. One is in his 30s and the other in his 40s. Both worked at the control rooms of the Number 3 and 4 reactors, and elsewhere, after the accident broke out at the plant.

TEPCO said a test conducted at an institute last Monday found 9,760 becquerels and 7,690 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 in the workers' thyroids. This means they are likely suffering from internal radiation exposure after inhaling radioactive substances.

These figures are more than tenfold the other workers.

It was confirmed that the 2 contaminated workers have been exposed to external radiation of 74 and 89 millisieverts so far.

TEPCO said these combined readings suggest that the 2 may have been exposed to radiation levels exceeding the safety limit of 250 millisieverts set for emergency situations.

TEPCO says that so far, the workers have not complained of health problems."

Malaysia : Drop in leptospirosis cases in Perak this year

Via The Star :

" TAIPING: Perak has recorded a significant drop in leptospirosis cases this year.

State Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said 51 positive cases were reported so far this year.

“We received 91 reports of suspected cases up to this month. However, further tests revealed 40 of the cases were negative,” he said after visiting those suspected to be suffering from leptospirosis at Taiping Hospital here on Saturday.

No leptospirosis-related deaths had been reported in the state this year, he added.

Dr Mah noted that 319 cases with 19 deaths were reported in Perak last year."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

E. coli outbreak in Germany one of the largest ever

Via DW World :

" The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has found that the recent E. coli outbreak in Germany is one of the most severe ever and the largest in Germany to date.

A risk assessment from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm, an EU agency tasked with monitoring diseases, has found that the E. coli outbreak in Germany is one of the most severe worldwide.

More than 1,000 people in Germany have been infected with a rare strain of E. coli, which can cause haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), an illness that can lead to acute kidney failure and cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Ten people have already died of the disease in the recent outbreak.

The ECDC noted that E. coli infections normally affect children, but that in this recent outbreak, it was mainly adults, and women in particular, who fell ill.

Raw vegetable warning

Germans have been advised not to eat raw vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

"As long as the experts in Germany and Spain have not found the definitive source of the bacteria, we have to stick with our warnings against raw vegetables," Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

On Friday, the European Commission said that two Spanish farms in Malaga and Almeria had been shut down after German experts identified Spanish cucumbers as the source of the E. coli bacteria."

Cholera death toll reaches 30 in Dominican Republic

Article from Dominican Today :

" Santo Domingo. : Nearly 30 people have died of cholera in the Dominican Republic and at least another 5,000 have been infected following last year's massive outbreak in Haiti, said Senen Caba, the head of the Dominican Medical College.

However, the health ministry said in its latest toll that the number of deaths is 23 while only 1,288 have been infected.

Health Minister Bautista Rojas told the press he expects a rise in cases in the coming three to four weeks. He also confirmed that two new laboratories have been installed for detecting the disease."

Indonesia : Outbreaks of bird flu threat in Madina

Machine translated article from Media Indonesia :

" PANYABUNGAN : Post-discovery ende malignant disease in early May 2011, now the Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Mandailing Natal district finds bird flu disease or viral diseases Infuenza Avian H5N1 strain in poultry. Cases of bird flu was discovered in the village of Huraba II Kec Siabu, Kab Mandailing Natal.

Cashmere Dali, the village head Huraba II Kec encountered Siabu said last week, she received reports from residents who say their chickens died suddenly without any cause. This report was continued to the Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Madina.

Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Mandailing Natal district to conduct investigations of chickens died suddenly in the village itu. They said, there was found a few chickens died of bird flu or avian virus H5N1 strain Infeluenza."

US : Case of Measles in Nassau County

Via Long Island Press :

" The Nassau County Department of Health announced on Friday that a case of measles has been confirmed in an adult who lives in Nassau County.

Officials are warning that other residents may have been exposed to the disease. The department of health released a list of places and times where exposure could have occurred:

Crest Hollow Country Club, 8325 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY 11797. Exposure: Sunday, May 22 from 6:30 pm to 12:00 midnight."

Sri Lanka : Over 400 dengue cases within six days

Via The Nation :

" The number of dengue cases is increasing in an alarming rate with 400 cases being reported within just six days, according to the latest Government Epidemiology Unit (GEU) report published on May 26.

With this increase, reported dengue cases are fast heading towards the 7,000 mark and among them, there are 54 deaths, the report said.

The last count of the cumulative number of dengue cases a week ago was 5,657 with 49 dead. This week’s cumulative number of cases stands at 6,077, which is 420 cases more in the space of just six days, while the number of deaths is up by five. Colombo stands firmly in the lead place with 1,976 cases. Of these, 833 are from the Colombo Municipality area and 1,143 in other areas in the district. On May 20, the cumulative number of cases in the Colombo MC area was 1,727 cases and 733 in other areas, reflecting an increase of 49 cases in the Colombo District.

Gampaha takes the second leading place in the dengue count with 709 cumulative cases by May 26 and Batticaloa in the third place with 465 cases, and Kalutara in the fourth slot with 361 cases. Other districts trailing close behind include, Ratnapura (289), Kurunegala (253), Hambantota (190), Galle (184), Matara (166), Kegalle (151). Only eight districts have recorded less than a 100 cases so far. They include: Nuwara Eliya (49), Matale (80), Kilinochchi (32), Mannar (20), Mullathivu (6), Kalmunai (15), Ampara (81) and Puttalam (94)."

EU health body says German E. coli outbreak serious

Via Reuters :

" An E. coli outbreak in Germany which has infected more than 270 people and killed at least five is one of the biggest of its kind worldwide and the largest ever in Germany, European health experts said Saturday.

German officials said Thursday they suspected cucumbers imported from Spain as a possible source of the outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of a type of E. coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

In a risk assessment of the outbreak, the Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors disease in the European Union, called it "one of the largest described outbreaks of STEC/HUS worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany."

It said latest reports were of 276 cases of HUS in Germany since April 25. Smaller numbers of cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain -- all linked with recent travel to Germany.

German officials say five people have died so far, but the ECDC said its latest information was that two people had died, both of them women."

Germany suspects three more E. coli fatalities

Article from Gulf Times :

" German health chiefs said yesterday that they feared bacteria blamed on tainted Spanish cucumbers had caused three more deaths in the country amid efforts to trace the cause of an illness affecting hundreds.

The confirmed number of deaths in Germany from the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) bacteria currently stands at two, but seven more are now suspected among about 300 cases of infection reported in several countries in the past week.

The three new deaths in north Germany were announced by the health ministry of Schleswig-Holstein state and a clinic in Hamburg.

The latest deaths of two women in their 80s and a third in her 30s.

Authorities in southern Spain said yesterday that they had introduced restrictions on two distributors suspected of exporting cucumbers tainted with the bacteria that causes the potentially fatal haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

The regional council of Andalusia said suspect batches of cucumbers had been withdrawn pending laboratory checks whose results would be known tomorrow.

The European Commission said earlier that Spain had suspended the activities of two distributors in the southern provinces of Almeria and Malaga, but spokesman Frederic Vincent confirmed yesterday that only the greenhouses where the suspect cucumbers had been grown were affected.

“We don’t know where the contamination occurred, whether on the (Spanish) sites or along the distribution chain,” he said.

A probe was launched and samples taken from the soil, water and products from the two agricultural sites, the European Union’s executive arm said on Friday.

“Investigations are ongoing to identify other potential sources, while a third suspect batch of cucumbers originating either in the Netherlands or in Denmark, and traded in Germany, is also under investigation,” it said.

A suspect consignment of Spanish cucumbers was distributed to Denmark, but authorities there traced the vegetables and withdrew them from the market, the statement said."

Spanish Killer Cucumber Bug Kills 10 In Germany

Via AGI News, excerpt :

" The number of people killed in Germany by a deadly form of E Coli (EHEC), found in Spanish cucumbers, rose to 10. The latest victim is a 84-year-old woman who died this morning in Lauenburg, in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

It was announced by the German Health Ministry that explained that "the number of serious cases has risen".

The Hamburg's Institute for Hygiene and Environment found EHEC bacteria in three cucumbers imported from Spain and in one imported from the Netherlands."

Japan : Radioactive materials found off Miyagi and Ibaraki

Article from NHK News :

" Japan's science ministry has detected extraordinarily high levels of radioactive cesium in seafloor samples collected off Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures.

Experts say monitoring should be stepped up over a larger area to determine how fish and shell fish are being affected.

The ministry collected samples from 12 locations along a 300-kilometer stretch off Fukushima prefecture's Pacific coast between May 9th and 14th. It hoped to get an idea about the spread of nuclear contamination caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Radioactive substances were found in all locations, including those off Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures, which had not been previously investigated.

Radioactive cesium 137, measuring 110 becquerels per kilogram or about 100 times the normal level, was found in samples collected from the seabed 30 kilometers off Sendai City and 45 meters beneath the surface.

Samples collected from the seabed 10 kilometers off Mito City and 49 meters beneath the surface measured 50 becquerels or about 50 times the normal level.

Professor Takashi Ishimaru of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology says plankton most probably absorbed the radioactive substances carried by the current near the sea surface, and then sank to the seabed.

He said monitoring must be stepped up over a larger area, as radioactive materials in the seabed do not dissolve quickly, and can accumulate in the bodies of larger fish that eat shrimp and crabs that live on the seafloor."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Britain : Major food alert as three people in Britain diagnosed with E.coli strain that has killed five in Germany

Via Mail Online, now Britain is reporting cases of E Coli :

" Spanish cucumbers are suspected source of deadly E.coli strain

Three people have been diagnosed in Britain with the killer E.coli strain that has already claimed five lives in Germany and put 300 people in hospital.

At least another 500 people are suspected of being infected and hospitals in Germany are braced for a wave of new admissions.

Many of the victims - most of them women - are in intensive care and fighting for their lives after eating suspected 'killer cucumbers' from Spain that are now thought to be the cause of the infections.

But other salad items such as tomatoes and lettuce may also be the source of the bug.

The UK victims are Germans who travelled from their homeland and fell ill after entering Britain. However, the infection could potentially be passed person-to-person through hand-to-mouth contact.

It is understood the suspect salad items have not been sold in the UK but the UK Health Protection Agency said checks are ongoing.

Today the HPA said the outbreak is mainly affecting adults - almost 70 per cent of whom are women."

Bulgaria Probes Retailers for Contaminated Cucumbers

Via Novinite :

" Bulgaria's Food Safety Authority has said it is in the process of contacting all retailers, suppliers and caterers in relation to an outbreak of E Coli in Germany to ensure there is no contaminated product here.

The probe will cover fresh vegetables, imported from European Union countries.

More than 200 people have been affected by the outbreak of E Coli in Germany and four people have died. Cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark, Britain, and the Netherlands.

German health officials said Thursday that cucumbers imported from Spain was one source of the recent deadly E. coli outbreak in northern states.

The Hamburg Institute for Hygiene and the Environment (HU) found that four cucumbers in a local market were contaminated by Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), and three of them were imported from two separate Spanish suppliers, Hamburg state health authorities said.

The origin of the fourth cucumber was still under investigation, officials added."

UK : HPA confirms measles cases until end of April 2011

From UK's Health and Protection Agency :

" 334 laboratory confirmed cases of measles have been reported in England and Wales to the Health Protection Agency up to the end of April 2011, compared to a provisional total of 374 cases for the whole of 2010.

Cases are mainly in children or adults under 25 years of age, the vast majority are unvaccinated. Measles cases have been associated with small clusters in universities, schools or families or associated with travel abroad. Other European countries have also seen increases in measles cases in recent months.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of the immunisation department at the Health Protection Agency, said: "We again are reminding parents and young adults of the importance of immunisation. Although MMR coverage has improved over the last few years, we cannot stress enough that measles is serious and in some cases it can be fatal."

Indonesia : Thousands of Poultry Dead Due to Bird Flu In Kalteng

Machine translated article from Media Indonesia :

" About four thousand birds in the District Murung Raya, South Barito, Gunung Mas and North Barito, Central Kalimantan Province (Central Kalimantan) in the last month of sudden death due to bird flu virus.

"Department of Agriculture and Livestock of Central Kalimantan, until now there has been able to confirm the origin of the virus, said Head of the Department of Agriculture and animal husbandry Tute Kalteng Lelo (27/5).

According to him, now the Department of Agriculture and Livestock of Central Kalimantan, have lowered the team down to the districts assisted by a team of experts from the Veterinary Research Institute Banjarbaru. He said although thousands of chicken infected with the virus have died, but not a single case of this virus is transmitted to humans."

Cholera toll in Dominican Republic climbs to 23

Article from Business Live :

" At least 23 people have died of cholera in the Dominican Republic and another 1,288 have been infected following a massive outbreak in neighboring Haiti last year, officials said.

The health ministry released the new toll on Thursday, saying that in the last three weeks alone the number of dead has nearly doubled from 13 and the number of infections has risen by more than 400.

The government said it had installed two new laboratories for detecting the disease, but Health Minister Bautista Rojas said he expects a rise in cases in the coming three to four weeks.

The head of the Dominican Medical College, Senen Caba, has meanwhile disputed the toll, saying the epidemic has killed 30 and infected 5,000."

FAO : African swine fever spreading into Europe

Another article from Xinhua, excerpt :

" ROME, May 26 : African swine fever, a viral disease deadly to pigs but harmless to human beings, is spreading beyond Russia and the Caucasus region into Europe, the United Nations' food agency said Thursday.

"African swine fever is fast becoming a global issue," said Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization.

"It now poses an immediate threat to Europe and beyond. Countries need to be on the alert and to strengthen their preparedness and contingency plans," he said.

The disease, for which there is currently no vaccine, was introduced into Georgia from southern Africa late in 2006."

Vietnam halts nationwide poultry vaccination

Via Vetsweb :

" The nationwide vaccination of poultry against bird flu in Vietnam has been halted as a new type of the H5N1 virus had rendered the vaccine ineffective the Vietnamese government has said.

The government said in a statement that a new type of the virus had appeared in 2010 following post-vaccination surveillance. Vietnam had planned to use a vaccine imported from China for its vaccination this year, but the vaccine did not work against the new variety, the Animal Health Department said.

The new type has been circulating in northern provinces, coastal provinces in the central region as well as in the Central Highlands, although it was reported that the old type of the virus remains active in southern provinces."

Toddler, police contract potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease in Western Australia

Via Xinhua :

" A toddler and a policeman have become the latest victims of a rare and potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease in Western Australia (WA), local media reported on Friday.

The two-year-old child contracted Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) in the Kimberley of WA and is now in Royal Darwin Hospital in a stable condition, according to Australian Associated Press (AAP).

The 29-year-old police officer, who was recently contracted the disease at an Aboriginal community of WA, has emerged from a coma in a Perth hospital but is still unable to communicate.

It is not known if the victims from WA's far north will fully recover.

In April 2011, a man who had been traveling in WA's northwest became the first person in the state to die from the disease in three years.

A 19-year-old Canadian tourist also died after contracting MVE while traveling through the Northern Territory earlier in May.

Germany : E. coli outbreak continues to spread, Spain investigates sources

Article DW World :

" The E. coli outbreak in Germany is spreading, with several new cases reported on Friday. Consumers are still being advised to exercise caution with raw vegetables.

The German institute responsible for disease control and prevention has reported 60 new cases of severe infection with the E. coli bacterium.

The director of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Reinhard Burger, told the news show "Morgenmagazin" on ARD television that the patients were suffering from haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a serious development that sometimes follows an E. coli infection, in which toxic metabolic products of the bacterium can cause kidney damage.

So far, at least three women in Germany have been confirmed to have died of the infection. Outbreaks have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark, Britain and the Netherlands.

Spanish cucumbers

On Thursday, the Hamburg Institute for Hygiene identified cucumbers from Spain as the source of the outbreak.

Spanish health ministry has launched an investigation. Officials said authorities had contacted two farms in the provinces of Malaga and Almeria, where the cucumbers are believed to have come from.

However, the ministry also said a contamination within Germany itself could not be ruled out. This possibility was also mentioned by the managing director of one of the farms, who claimed that a load of cucumbers fell on the ground on the way to the Hamburg wholesale market.

Stricter regulations

The president of the German Farmers' Association, Gerd Sonnleitner, has meanwhile called for stricter regulations on imported vegetables. He told the daily "Rheinische Post" that there had to be uniform standards for the entire European Union.

He said the rules also should apply to third-world exporters. He added that German farmers also suffered when such an outbreak occurred, as consumers became generally more cautious.

German authorities have advised people not to eat cucumbers and generally be careful with raw vegetables. They are also looking at further possible sources of contaminated food, including cucumbers from the Netherlands."

Vietnam : Officials issue dengue alert

Via The Phnom Penh Post, excerpt :

" Officials from the National Dengue Control Programme have called on provincial health officials to be on alert for outbreaks of dengue fever following a recent spike in the number of recorded cases.

In an email sent earlier this week, NDCP director Ngan Chantha instructed provincial officials to be prepared to treat the mosquito-borne illness as the Kingdom heads into the rainy season, during which dengue cases are most common.

Ngan Chantha said yesterday that there had been an increase in the number of deaths from dengue fever this year because parents had not sent infected children to hospitals quickly enough.

“According to our data, the current dengue fever situation is alarming,” he said.

There have been 845 reported cases of dengue fever nationwide so far this year, resulting in eight deaths, compared with 731 cases resulting in four deaths over the same period last year, Ngan Chantha said."

Ireland : FSA warns retailers of contaminated cucumbers

Via RTE News :

" The Food Safety Authority is contacting all retailers, suppliers and caterers in relation to an outbreak of E Coli in Germany to ensure there is no contaminated product here.

The Food Safety Authority has said it is in the process of contacting all retailers, suppliers and caterers in relation to an outbreak of E Coli in Germany to ensure there is no contaminated product here.

More than 200 people have been affected by the outbreak of E Coli in Germany and four people have died.

Cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark, Britain, and the Netherlands.

A spokesperson for the Food Safety Authority said there is no indication that there is any of the product in Ireland at this stage.

They also said the majority of cucumbers being sold here are Irish.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said there are no cases in Ireland of the E Coli strain."

Jamaica : Gov't confirms two swine flu deaths since January

Article from Jamaica Observer, deaths linked to H1N1 (Swine Flu) has been detected :

" JAMAICA has recorded two deaths from the Influenza A (H1N1) since the start of the year, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

According to the ministry, a woman who was confirmed with the illness died Sunday at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Her death followed that of a male patient at the Kingston Hospital in January.

The ministry said that as at May 21 there were eight confirmed cases of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, popularly called the swine flu, among a total of 42 influenza cases. It warned that the region is still in the post-pandemic stage of the outbreak.

"The post-pandemic phase means that the Influenza A (H1N1) virus has taken on a behaviour and intensity similar to that of regular seasonal influenza viruses. It also means that in the coming years there could be sustained community transmission and localised outbreaks of the disease," the ministry said in a release.

"The Pan American Health Organisation recently advised that there have been outbreaks of Influenza A (H1N1) in a number of countries in the Region and sporadic cases in others since 2011," it added.

As a result the, the ministry is urging persons to "continue to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their family members from infection."

Spain: two Spanish companies being probed over deadly bacterial infection in Germany

Via Winnipeg Free Press :

" MADRID : Spain says two Spanish companies that produce cucumbers are being probed in connection with a deadly bacterial outbreak in Germany.

The Health Ministry said in a statement Thursday night it was advised of the possible link by the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.

The ministry says it is not clear if the E. coli infection lay in cucumbers themselves or developed during their transport to Germany or handling there.

The statement said an unnamed company in the Netherlands was also mentioned in the EU alert.

In Germany, five deaths there have been linked to the bacteria and more than 200 infections have been reported in recent days.

Nordic authorities say the infection may have spread to Sweden and Denmark."

Japan : TEPCO may need to plug leak at Fukushima plant

Via NHK News, excerpt :

" The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant says highly radioactive water continues to leak from a waste disposal facility in the complex.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Friday that the water level had dropped by around 3 centimeters as of 7 AM from the level observed at 5 PM on Thursday.

TEPCO had transferred to the facility some of the highly radioactive water flooding the basement of the No.3 reactor's turbine building and nearby tunnel, before it suspended the work earlier this week.

On Thursday, the transferred water was found to be leaking into an underground passage to another building.

The utility firm says it is likely that the water level in the facility will stop falling, but added that it may need to plug the leaks.

The work is expected to be difficult as radiation levels of up to 70 millisieverts per hour have been detected on the water's surface."

German E.coli outbreak spreads to Sweden

Via The Local :

" Ten Swedes are severly ill and many more are suffering other effects from a virulent enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) bacteria following the recent outbreak of the disease in Northern Germany.

According to Sofie Ivarsson, epidemiologist at the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (Smitskyddsinstitutet), it is the complication haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) that causes patients serious trouble.

“It is the kidneys that are hit by HUS, but other systems are also affected,” she said to news agency TT.

Ivarsson also told TT that those who were not sick enough to require hospitalisation still suffer from a serious gastric illness with diarrhoea and bloody stools.

What is extraordinary with this outbreak is that it is only adults that have suffered complications.

“Usually these kind of complications tend to strike against children,” Ivarsson said to TT.

So far the disease have been identified in several southern Swedish counties and tests are showing that it is probably the same bacteria as the recent outbreak in Germany."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

US : 2 more measles cases reported in Massachusetts

Via Boston Herald, excerpt :

" An apparently random outbreak of measles in Massachusetts has public health officials concerned.

Officials reported two more confirmed cases this week, bringing the total in the state this year to 17. There have only been one to three cases per year in the previous four years.

Dr. Anita Barry, director of the infectious disease bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission, tells The Boston Globe there appears to be no pattern to this year’s cases and no common source.

The latest cases were in a 23-month-old boy from Boston who had received his first measles vaccination last year and a teenage boy from outside the city treated at a Boston health care facility."

Outbreak for E.coli in Germany, antibiotics inactive

Via Zee News, situation in Germany looks serious :

" Berlin: German health authorities are alarmed by the outbreak of a life-threatening stomach infection that has apparently killed three people and is reportedly capable of making most antibiotics inactive.

About 140 patients infected by the Escherichia Coli (EHEC) bowel bacteria are in critical condition in hospitals in northern Germany and at least three deaths have been linked to the bacteria, media reports said.

The symptoms include severe stomach pain and diarrhea and if untreated, the infection can lead to kidney failure and loss of haemoglobin from red blood cells.

Health authorities are particularly concerned by the rapid spreading of the infection since the first cases were reported in the states of Schleswig-Holstein and in Hamburg in mid-May.

From there, the virus spread within a short time to the neighbouring states of Bremen and Lower Saxony and reached Frankfurt and the southern state of Bavaria.

Health authorities estimate than over 600 people have so far been infected across the country, but media reports said their number could be much higher because nation-wide statistics are still not available."

Philippines : 188 downed by diarrhea in Basilan capital

From Inquirer :

" A new outbreak of diarrhea has stricken 188 people in Isabela City in Basilan from May 1 to 23, the city’s health officer said.

Dr. Rafael Cabug said that 164 of those stricken were hospitalized while the rest received treatment as outpatients.

It was the second diarrhea outbreak in Isabela City.

In March, 180 people were hospitalized in a week’s time. Two of the patients later died.

Cabug said the authorities suspected that contaminated water from the city’s water provider caused the outbreak.

“There were instances in the past that water samples yielded … diarrhea-causing organisms,” he said.

Cabug said they submitted fresh water samples for testing following the rise in diarrhea cases and the result could be released a few days from now.

In Zamboanga City, the local health office reported that from January to April, at least 1,823 cases of diarrhea were recorded, up by more than 500 compared to the same period last year."

India : Outbreak of Dengue Suspected in Migrant Workers' Colony

Via The Mangalorean :

" Mulki, May 26: A team of district health officials visited the migrant workers' colony at Lingappayyakadu near here, following reports in the media about possible outbreak of malaria and dengue.

Lack of hygiene and water contamination are said to have caused these cases. Water is stored in unclean and open containers, facilitating mosquito breeding. The team visited all houses in the colonies and spread the word around stressing the importance of hygiene and cleanliness.

The Ashraya colony, Bijapur colony, K S Rao colony and Chitrapu have been given special focus in containing water-borne and communicable diseases. The team detected seven suspected cases as shown in the primary test. It is yet to be confirmed by 'Eliza' test, for which the samples have been sent.

Two multi-storied apartment complexes are coming up in Bappanad. Mosquito breeding has been reported in the area and eight suspected malaria cases, with an infant among them, were detected in the locality."

Germany : E.coli deaths continue as ministers warn of threat

Via The Local :

" Another woman died in Germany on Wednesday after being treated for infection with the virulent enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) bacteria on Wednesday, as government minister warned the situation remained "threatening.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner and Health Minister Daniel Bahr called for everyone to take particular care with food hygiene at a press conference in Berlin.

The country was faced with a, “threatening situation,” said Aigner. “Therefore particular care is needed,” added Bahr.

But they both rejected the idea of a crisis team, which is generally only needed if international information sharing or other such measures were needed.

The two ministers said they were both confident that the public health authority Robert Koch Institute (RKI) would identify the root of the problem.

“We are optimistic that we will soon be bordering on being able to say where the source is,” said Aigner.

Reinhard Burger, president of the RKI, had already said earlier in the day that it was possible that no clear source of the infection might ever be identified.

So far suggestions have been made the raw, insufficiently cleaned vegetables or salads could be a source of infection, while investigations are continuing in Frankfurt where all 19 people infected in the city had eaten at canteens run by consultancy giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The number of people confirmed to have died in Germany from EHEC infection, which can cause fatal kidney failure, has reached three. But health officials said an elderly woman who died on Sunday in Stormarn, Schleswig Holstein, was not killed by the bacteria.

The latest woman to die was a 41-year-old from Cuxhaven – although she was being treated for the symptoms of EHEC infection since May 21, her cause of death will now be investigated. So far all those to die have been women, while it appears they are more frequently becoming infected than men."

Japan : 10 million doses of avian flu vaccine expire a year

Via Asahi :

" Ten million doses of a vaccine to protect humans from contracting avian flu go to waste each year in Japan.

The cost of producing those vaccines comes to about 6 billion yen ($73 million). Disposing of them also costs money.

Some health experts suggest it would make more sense to administer the vaccines to volunteers rather than allow them to expire and scrap them.

Human cases of the highly pathogenic avian flu virus subtype H5N1 were first detected in Hong Kong in 1997.

According to the World Health Organization, 526 cases were reported as of March 2, with 311 deaths. That works out to about 60 percent of all patients.

Currently, H5N1 is not easily passed from human to human. However, a new highly fatal virus could set off a global pandemic if it undergoes genetic recombination with an easily transmittable virus such as the swine flu virus subtype H1N1."

South Korea : Another woman dies of mysterious virus

An article from Xinhua :

" SEOUL, May 26 : A pregnant woman has died of pneumonia related to an unidentified virus, nearly 15 days after the same cause brought about the first fatality in South Korea, local media reported Thursday.

The 36-year-old woman died early Thursday morning, about one month after being admitted to the intensive care unit of a large hospital in Seoul, according to the Korea Center for Disaster Control and Prevention (KCDC), Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported.

She initially showed cold-like symptoms but later was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The victim was among eight patients who checked into the intensive care unit of the hospital for infection with the unknown virus.

Seven of the eight patients have recently given birth or are expecting, prompting widespread fears among the country's pregnant women.

The KCDC has been focusing on verifying the origin of the virus by studying the specimen taken from the patient and conducting genetic analysis on it."

German salad warning after food poisoning deaths

Via Yahoo Health :

" Germany has warned consumers to be especially careful when eating tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers which are believed to be responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning that has left three dead.

Initial findings by the Robert Koch Institute, the national disease centre, "indicate that the most recent contamination by EHEC (enterohaemorrhagic E. coli) is most probably due to consumption of raw tomatoes, cucumbers and leaf salad," the ministry for consumer protection said late Wednesday.

The agency called on consumers to wash vegetables carefully, especially those originating in northern Germany where most cases of food poisoning have been reported over the past fortnight.

Health officials say some 140 people have become seriously ill with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), caused by EHEC, and at least three have died. There are hundreds of other suspected cases.

The officials say the number of cases is very unusual as there are normally just 1,000 EHEC infections and 60 cases of HUS per year."

Japan : TEPCO suspects new leak at Fukushima

Via NHK News :

" The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is inspecting a wastewater disposal facility for possible leaks, after finding that its water level had dropped.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has been removing highly radioactive wastewater from the plant's Number 2 and Number 3 reactors to waste disposal facilities within the compound.

The utility initially planned to transfer 14,000 tons, but it now wants to remove an additional 5,000 tons because there has been no noticeable drop in accumulated water in the reactors.

TEPCO suspended the transfer from the Number 3 reactor on Thursday to check whether the disposal facility could hold more water.

It found that the water level at the facility had dropped by 4.8 centimeters over a 20-hour period, meaning some 57 tons of water had been lost.

TEPCO says there has been no increase in radiation levels in nearby groundwater, but that the water level continues to fall.

The utility plans to begin running a water purifier on an experimental basis in early June.

If a leak is found at the waste disposal facility, it could delay the resumption of water transfer from the Number 3 reactor, raising the risk of radioactive wastewater spilling into the sea or seeping underground from the reactor."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Measles cases reported in the U.S. are at highest level since 1996

Via NJ Star Ledger :

" Measles cases so far this year are at their highest level since 1996, prompting federal health authorities to urge that children be vaccinated earlier.

Of the 118 cases reported through Friday in the U.S., 105 were associated with importation from other countries, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report issued Tuesday. The greatest numbers came from Europe and Southeast Asia.

Though 40 percent of the American cases have required hospitalization, none resulted in encephalitis or death.

Since the disease was declared "eliminated" in the United States in 2000, there have been a median of 56 annual cases here, mostly imported and spread by travelers, according to the CDC. The largest national number of reported cases in the last decade was 140."

Diarrhea, measles claim 30 toddlers in southern Somalia

Via All Headline News :

" Some 67 children suffering from diarrhea were taken to Mogadishu medical facilities for urgent treatment.

With some regions in drought-ridden Somalia receiving spring showers, watery diarrhea and measles continue to claim the lives of children in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

At least 30 children have died from watery diarrhea and scores more are suffering from the disease in southern Somalia towns, Mohammed Hussein, a resident in the Lower Shabelle region, told All Headline News by phone.

Most of the toddlers are under the age of five.

Hussein said there is outbreak of two diseases, diarrhea and measles, noting that four children on Tuesday night died of measles in the Wanlawayn district, about 90 kilometers southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Some 67 children suffering from diarrhea were taken to Mogadishu medical facilities for urgent treatment, according to the local inhabitant.

“Whenever rains start in this region (Lower Shabelle), it forms more lagoons where the children play and drink that unsafe water,” said Hussein. That may lead to an outbreak of watery diarrhea, he added."

Dengue has affected more than 700,000 Hondurans

Machine translated article from El Heraldo :

" The Health Ministry found that more than 700,000 Hondurans have had dengue fever once in their life.

The head of dengue program, Dr. Roxana Araujo, has warned that these 700 thousand people "are at risk of dengue hemorrhagic fever, and dengue type that gives those who have had the classic" he said.

The gallery said that this figure is not to make the public panic, but to take measures to clean their homes and eliminate breeding places of Aedes aegypti.

Destroyed farms

Health has so far invested 20 million Lempiras in the campaign against dengue, which has been reduced by 74 percent over the previous year."

UK : Latest flu outbreak deadlier than 2009 pandemic as under 65s are hardest hit by swine strain

Via Mail Online, excerpt :

" Most of the Britons killed by the winter flu epidemic that swept the country were young or middle-aged due, according to official figures.

Altogether 602 people died from influenza during the winter of 2010, which was higher than the total during the 2009 global pandemic when 474 died.

More than 70 per cent (415) of those were aged between 15 and 64, despite the common belief that frail, old people are more at risk.

This was because the swine flu strain, which affected more younger people, claimed the most victims with 562 deaths linked to H1N1 last year.

Also just half of those at risk in this age group had been immunised against flu, according to the Health Protection Agency's annual flu report."

Germany sees a sharp upswing in dangerous intestinal infections

Via DW World, outbreak of potentially deadly E Coli (EHEC) in Germany :

" May brought a mysterious rise in cases of a dangerous ailment caused by EHEC bacteria. Health officials are scrambling to find the source of the often foodborne disease, which has caused at least one death this month.

German health authorities have registered over 400 confirmed or suspected cases of a rare and potentially lethal bacterial disease since mid May. The reports represent a dramatic rise in comparison with the last ten years, in which 800 to 1,200 cases occurred annually.

The condition is caused by a strain of the bacterium E. coli - enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) - which is often foodborne and can lead to severe digestive problems.

"The first symptom is diarrhea, and, in more severe cases, this is typically followed by blood in the stool and massive cramping," said Reinhard Burger in an interview with Deutsche Welle. Burger is President of Germany's Robert Koch Institute, a federal institution tasked with disease control and prevention.

While an average case runs its course in around a week, acute instances of the ailment can lead to kidney failure and even death. Symptoms generally take several days to show up after individuals come in contact with the EHEC bacteria.

Both the rash of reports and the severity of the outbreaks in May has alarmed public health officials.

"This epidemic is really very unusual, because in a normal year, we only see about 10 cases in Hamburg," Rico Schmidt of Hamburg's Department of Health told Deutsche Welle.

In May, Hamburg has already registered over 40 cases of the more severe form of illness brought on by EHEC."

South Africa : Ostrich flu spreads

Article from IAfrica :

" More ostriches on seven farms in the Klein Karoo valley in the Western Cape are to be culled after the areas tested positive for avian influenza.

"Ostriches on those farms are also going to be culled by way of controlled slaughter in the abattoir," the agriculture department said on Tuesday.

The skin and feathers would be harvested and processed, and the meat turned into pet food.

The move follows a recent outbreak of the virus in the province. It saw the department isolate a highly pathogenic avian influenza in the Klein Karoo last month and led to the immediate suspension of ostrich meat exports to the European Union (EU).

"A total of 10,000 ostriches have already been culled in this way during the current outbreak, and the department at this stage cannot estimate the total number that will be culled, since the outbreak is on-going," the department said in a statement. "More farms are being sampled and more results becoming available from the laboratory. This remains part of the outbreak and should not be viewed as a different outbreak." The entire Klein Karoo valley, which represents about 70 percent of the ostrich industry, is affected and no movement of ostriches is allowed except to the abattoir.

The department said this measure was a bid to contain the outbreak and prevent it from spreading to other areas.

The rest of the country could, however, move birds for slaughter for the local market if the farm of origin had tested negative within 28 days of slaughter."

UK : Solihull patient died of swine flu after being taken to walk-in centre instead of A&E

Via Birmingham Post :

" Add a commentRecommend A patient died from swine flu after being taken into a walk-in centre instead of A&E in a cost-cutting move by NHS chiefs, it has emerged.

Solihull NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) urged paramedics to take more patients to walk-in centres instead of A&E in a bid to save the NHS £75,000.

But within three months of it starting, a young adult with flu-like symptoms was taken to the walk-in centre and ended up dying from swine flu, an end of year project report to the PCT revealed.

Clare Rippin, PCT project manager, reported: “Activity figures started to decrease from January due to two West Midlands Ambulance Service diverts to walk-in centres in Birmingham ending up with adverse events through no fault of the ambulance crews.

“One case was a young adult presenting with flu like symptoms, which ended up being a case of swine flu which was fatal.

“This resulted in crews being very cautious about using the alternative pathway.”

No-one was immediately available from Solihull NHS Primary Care Trust to comment."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Indonesia : RI lags behind in flu vaccination rate

Via Jakarta Post, excerpt :

" Indonesia has a low rate of influenza vaccination because immunization shots are expensive, experts say.

Samsuridjal Djauzi, a professor at the medical department of the University of Indonesia, said Indonesia currently ranked low among countries in Asia and the Pacific in the use of the seasonal influenza vaccine.

He cited data published in the newsletter of the Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee on Influenza (APACI) in August 2007, which said that South Korea ranked the highest in the region with 311 vaccines per 1,000 people.

Samsuridjal presented the data at a press conference for an influenza symposium on Saturday, and said Singapore could cover 90 vaccines per 1,000 citizens.

“Thailand is able to distribute 1 vaccine per 1,000. Indonesia is less than that,” he said.

Influenza is a contagious infectious disease that can be divided into two types, seasonal influenza and pandemic influenza.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur said seasonal influenza is caused by influenza viruses such as H1N1 and H3N2, and attacks the respiratory system, while pandemic influenza occurs when the virus spreads and infects a large number of people.

People usually misunderstand influenza as only an influenza-like illness, such as the common cold, because of their similar symptoms like fever, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, cold and cough."

Cholera in Dominican Republic Has Killed 14, Spreads to Most of Country

Via Fox News :

" The cholera epidemic is making a big comeback in the Dominican Republic – with hundreds of new cases of the disease, which has now spread to most of the country.

Deputy Health Minister Jose Rodriguez says there have been 1,143 cases of cholera and 14 deaths since the outbreak began in November. The number of new cases reported Monday is up about 50 percent since the middle of May.

The Dominican physicians' union says cases have been confirmed in 28 of the country's 32 provinces. The situation may worsen with the onset of the hurricane season in June.

Cholera was detected in the Dominican Republic after an outbreak in neighboring Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the DR, in October. There have been 266,000 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths in Haiti."

Australia : Health experts warn of bad flu season

Article from ABC News :

" Health authorities in north Queensland are warning this year's flu season could be worse than usual.

Dr Steven Donohue from Queensland Health says there has already been a notable increase in cases.

He says swine flu seems to be occurring outside the traditional flu season.

"In 2009 when the new pandemic flu, or swine flu as some people called it, came out, I think that sort of upset the apple cart of the way that the annual flu outbreak's working," he said.

"That flu is still around and it's still one of the main ones that we're seeing in Australia at the moment."

Dr Donohue says the rise in cases is a concern for authorities heading into winter

"Yes, already in fact even from earlier in the year, we've seen quite a lot more flu than we would normally would at this time of year and chances are it could be quite a big flu season coming up over the winter period," he said."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Japan : Contaminated water removcal to be suspended soon

Via NHK News :

" The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant is continuing the transfer of highly radioactive water from 2 reactor buildings to storage facilities within the compound, but the facilities are expected to become full within 3 or 4 days.

About 47,000 tons of contaminated water has accumulated in the turbine buildings and utility tunnels, hampering Tokyo Electric Power Company's efforts to bring the plant under control.

TEPCO is pumping a total of 14,000 tons of such water from the Numbers 2 and 3 reactors to the storage facilities. But one of the facilities is expected to reach its capacity in 3 days and the other in 4 days, forcing the transfer to be suspended.

TEPCO says it is studying whether it is possible for the storing facilities to accept additional radioactive water for the time being, until it starts operating a new facility.

The new facility is designed to lower the radiation level of the contaminated water on a full-fledged basis, and then use the water to cool the reactors. The facility is expected to be completed by mid-June.

The utility says the levels of the remaining contaminated water at the 2 reactors remain almost unchanged and that there is no immediate risk that the radioactive water will leak into the ground or the sea. TEPCO says it is monitoring operations closely to prevent any leaks."

New Zealand : Waikato tops NZ's flu case numbers

Via Stuff :

" With a week to go until winter, Waikato is already seeing more people for suspected flu than anywhere in the country. Natalie Akoorie and Jonathan Carson report.

A strain of flu that killed three school children in 2005 is tipped to turn nasty again this winter, health experts say.

And last week Waikato had the highest number of influenza consultations recorded by GPs nationally, with winter still another week away.

Influenza B, a seasonal strain of the flu responsible for "explosive outbreaks" of the virus, and for killing three healthy school-aged children six years ago, is expected to dominate viruses this year.

During the past two winters, swine flu and another animal-to-human flu called H3N2 were the biggest problems, with swine flu (or H1N1) reaching pandemic levels in 2009 and 2010.

Canterbury District Health Board virologist Dr Lance Jennings said New Zealanders were affected by influenza every year but of the three viruses circulating this autumn – swine flu, H3N2 and influenza B – he predicted the latter to be on the increase.

"I suspect this year we will see a mixture of viruses and possibly influenza B affecting us more severely."

This year's vaccination provided cover against all three viruses and was the best protection against the flu, he said.

WHO National Influenza Centre director Dr Sue Huang said influenza B, a human-only flu, had caused "explosive outbreaks" in the past."

South Darfur : Otash IDPs beg for help as diarrhea outbreak kills tens of children

Article from Radio Dabanga :

" The displaced people of Otash IDP camp near Nyala in South Darfur launched a desperate call for help to the United Nations and humanitarian organizations working in the field of health to save the lives of thousands of children after diarrhea spread in the camp, taking the lives of hundreds.

Residents did not know the cause of the diarrhea. A sheikh from the camp revealed that ten children die daily in three centers out of eleven centers in the camp infected by the diarrhea.

A camp resident stated that a medical team from Nyala visited the camp and checked on the cases. The medical team promised to come back again but never fulfilled the promise. The sheikh also stated that the camp lacks any health center and that most of the displaced people are unable to go to Nyala hospital to treat their children due to the high costs.

He also stated that the appearance of the diarrhea coincided with the water crisis in the camp and that the disease infected children aged between two months to five years old."

Nigeria : Too little, too late

Via Next :

" The president of the Malaria Society of Nigeria, John Puddicombe has accused the federal government and corporate bodies of not doing enough to control the incidence of malaria in the country.

Speaking at an awareness outreach on malaria at Akere Primary Health Centre, Ajegunle, in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government area of Lagos at the weekend, Mr Puddicombe said a lot more effort is required to prevent “about 30,0000 deaths from malaria each year in Nigeria.”

Too little is done

Mr Puddicombe, however, commended international bodies for doing more in controlling malaria scourge in the country, where pregnant women and children under the age of five have been said to be the biggest casualties.

According to him, past efforts by the organisation to improve its awareness by introducing malaria clubs in schools have not received the expected support, while other areas like entertainment and football have continued to enjoy the support of the government and corporate bodies.

He said a proposal to start malaria clubs in schools which was sent to the Federal Ministry of Health while Adenike Grange was the health minister “never saw the light of day”, adding that similar treatment were received from “over hundred corporate bodies in Lagos State” where his organisation had sought support for the project.

“Out of over hundred corporate bodies, only two responded and those two were not willing to sponsor the health programme. It doesn’t look to these bodies as a priority; some of them prefer to sponsor football matches to supporting health programmes that will help the country as a whole,” he said.

The federal ministry of health has recently announced that it was targeting school children, but Mr Puddicombe explained that the move to have malaria clubs in secondary schools four years ago “would have gone a long way already in bringing down the menace of malaria in the country.”

“Through the programme, the children will broaden the awareness of the disease by taking the message home and educating their parents about environmental management and the use of treated nets.”

The high point of the outreach was the free malaria screening and treatment, and the distribution of free insecticide treated nets to residents."

Duration of viral shedding in hospitalized patients infected with pandemic H1N1

A study article from BMC Infectious Diseases, excerpt :

" Abstract (provisional)


The first influenza pandemic of the 21th century was ignited by a new strain of influenza A virus (A/H1N1pdm). Specific patient groups, including those with comorbidities, pregnant women, young children, older and immunocompromised patients, are at increased risk for serious influenza-related disease. This study was aimed at investigating the influence of clinical presentation, antiviral treatment and possible drug resistance-associated mutations, on the extent and duration of viral shedding in patients infected with A/H1N1pdm.


An observational study was performed, based on retrospective review of clinical and laboratory records of patients who were hospitalized for A/H1N1pdm infection at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases "L. Spallanzani", Rome, Italy, between April 24 and December 31, 2009. Among 119 hospitalized patients, 39 were selected for a post hoc analysis, based on the availability of serial nasopharyngeal swabs samples and related information.


Eleven out of the 39 study patients (28.2%) presented with pneumonia; 29 (74.4%) received antiviral treatment. Patients with pneumonia were significantly older than patients without pneumonia. The mean values of viral RNA concentration were not significantly increased in patients with pneumonia, but a significant increase in the duration of viral shedding was observed as compared to patients without pneumonia. In patients receiving antivirals, the viral RNA concentration was significantly reduced in comparison to untreated patients at days 4-5 after symptom onset, while the overall duration of viral shedding was only marginally affected. A significant correlation between duration of viral shedding and time elapsed between symptom onset and therapy start was observed, with a significant reduction of days of viral shedding when therapy was initiated within 2 days of symptoms appearance. No known drug resistance mutations were detected in patients with prolonged viral shedding."

Philippines : Number of dengue cases increases in Baguio City

Via The Manila Times :

" BAGUIO CITY: The City Health Services Office (CHSO) in Baguio City has confirmed that there was an increase of dengue cases in the city, recording 42 such cases since January as compared to the 30 registered in the same period last year.

Although there was no recorded clustering of dengue cases in the city’s 128 villages, Donabel Tubera, CHSO medical officer 4, advised the public to be vigilant and ensure that their households and backyards are free of possible dengue mosquito breeding sites.

“Those who have fever should immediately consult a doctor. For free consultation, the public could go to the nearest health centers or to the CHSO,” she said.

The health services office recently conducted a Dengue Awareness Caravan at the South Sanitary Camp village to encourage the public to be alert and take part in preventing the spread of the disease.

The project includes “Operation Taob” for empty containers and “Operation Yugyug” for plants."

South Africa : Avian Influenza Hits Business Continuity

Article from The Poultry Site :

" An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in South Africa, is causing severe business continuity issues for some regional poultry and ostrich farmers.

HPAI was first detected on 9 April 2011 in ostrich farms in South Africa's Klein Karoo Valley in the Western Cape Province.

In the following weeks the disease spread further in the area endangering the local ostrich population that is kept for meat production.

A European Commission emergency veterinary team arrived yesterday on-the spot to give technical assistance to the local authorities to control the disease."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

199 suspected cases of dengue in Honduras

Translated article from El Heraldo :

" Nearly 200 suspected cases of hemorrhagic dengue have been detected by health authorities in Honduras, recorded so far 14 confirmed cases .

The head of the National Dengue Program, Roxana Araujo, reported Saturday that the national campaign was launched last January has invested 20 million lempiras for the prevention of the disease.

Today, health authorities continued inspections are conducted every week in neighborhoods and districts of the Honduran capital.

This time, it was the turn of Villeda Morales colony, where cells were checked for the presence of larvae and Abbe endowed neighbors.

A total of 199 suspected cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever in the territorion Honduras, where to date there have been no death due to the work of the population, Araujo said."

Japan : Total 250 tons of radioactive water leaked into sea early May - TEPCO

Via Japan Today :

" TOKYO : Highly contaminated radioactive water that leaked into the sea in earlier May from a pit near a seawater intake of the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant totaled 250 tons and contained an estimated 20 terabecquerels of radioactive substances, Tokyo Electric Power Co said Saturday.

The estimated amount of radioactive substances from the plant, crippled by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, is about 100 times the annual allowable limit for release outside the plant, said TEPCO.

The leak is estimated to have lasted for 41 hours from 2 a.m. on May 10 through 7 p.m. on the following day, TEPCO said based on its analysis of data showing changes in water levels in the pit.

The leak raised the concentration of radioactive substances within the port of the power plant, but the level outside the port did not change significantly, TEPCO said.

The leak from near the No. 3 reactor compares with about 500 tons of radioactive water with 4,700 terabecquerels of radioactive substances that leaked from near the No. 2 reactor from April 1 to 6.

TEPCO reported the latest finding to the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which is expected to ask the utility to take steps to prevent a recurrence.

The utility found out about the leak on May 11 and stopped it by filling the pit with concrete and other substances that day."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Indonesia : Bird Flu Still toward Kalteng

Machine translated article from Jawa Pos National Network :

" Sampit bird-flu outbreak is still not go away from Central Kalimantan. In the district of East Kotawarimngin, precisely in Keluarahan Sawahan Sub New Mentawa Ketapang, Sampit, local officials found some residents chicken that died suddenly.

Head of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Distanak Kotim Ir Milky eka Ward, chickens that died suddenly it amounted to four tails, and then examined using a rapid test with positive result suspect bird flu virus (H5N1).

"Initially we were getting reports from residents and positive chickens suspected of a kind kate and broiler chickens. Indeed, while it was still suspected, because of the chicken carcasses will be sent in advance to the Center of Investigation and Testing Veterinary (BPPV), Banjar Baru, for sure if the four chickens it's really positive for bird flu or not, "he told reporters yesterday.

In addition, through laboratory examination was also to find out what the cause of death of chickens in order to anticipate further steps could be taken immediately. To find out the results of these tests are usually the most rapid Milky say 1 week after the chicken carcasses to the laboratory."

Congo : Remote DRC province has unique challenges when treating measles epidemic

From MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres) in their efforst of treating measles in Congo, excerpt :

" "Maniema is a logistical challenge," said Roudy Jeantal, an MSF logistician. The infrastructure is in poor condition, which makes it difficult to reach the sites and discourages many health care actors from organizing programs in this part of the country. MSF is among the few present in the province today.

Organizing and treating in an emergency

Since late March, MSF teams, working with the Ministry of the Health, have set up eight outpatient treatment sites for patients with simple measles cases and three treatment centres for complicated cases in the health care regions of Kibombo and Samba, the most affected areas in the province of Maniema. A team also provides regular support to the Tchuki referral centre, in the Kabambare health zone, in the eastern part of the province.

"We had to rely on community networks and medical staff to inform the population that we were here because most people did not seek treatment at medical facilities," said Dr. Bobo Makoso, MSF medical coordinator in Maniema. "The community awareness efforts worked well. In Likeri, for example, patient visits rose from approximately 30 to more than 100 per day."

Since launching its activities, MSF has treated more than 2,000 patients across all sites. Nearly 250 of them required hospitalization.

Overcoming logistical challenges to reach the population

"Maniema is a logistical challenge," said Roudy Jeantal, an MSF logistician. The infrastructure is in poor condition, which makes it difficult to reach the sites and discourages many health care actors from organizing programs in this part of the country. MSF is among the few present in the province today."

Australia : Expert downplays dengue fears

Via ABC News :

" A medical entomologist says it is extremely unlikely mosquitoes capable of carrying dengue fever in the Bundaberg region will lead to an outbreak.

The Bundaberg council has for the first time found the aedes aegypti mosquito in Gin Gin.

James Cook University professor Scott Ritchie says the insects are only capable of transmitting the disease between humans.

"These mosquitoes do not have dengue first and foremost," he said.

"They are not infected with dengue.

"What they could have is if someone arrives in that area with dengue and gets bitten by the mosquitoes, there's the potential for an outbreak."

Professor Ritchie says it is not uncommon to find the insects this far south."

Vietnam : Epidemics continue to threaten provinces

From Vietnam News :

" Swine flu, hand-foot-mouth disease, and respiratory diseases have been either spreading to or worsening in many provinces, health officials warned.

The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that one more person has died of swine flu, increasing the number of fatalities this year to 13.

The patient, a 27-year-old man in Central Highland Dak Lak Province's Krong Bong District, fell ill on April 27 with symptoms like coughing, high fever, and blood in the mucus.

He received treatment at a private health clinic for many days before his family took him to the provincial general hospital where he tested positive for A/H1N1. Despite being given Tamiflu, he failed to recover and died on May 6.

There have been more than 470 cases of swine flu in the country this year."

WHO : Influenza update - 20 May 2011

WHO's latest influenza update - Update 134, excerpt, go to the site for full detailed report :

" Summary

• The influenza season is largely finished in the temperate countries of the northern hemisphere with transmission now either undetectable or at very low levels in most areas.

• A few tropical countries are experiencing low grade transmission including the Dominican Republic, Venezuela (influenza A(H1N1)2009) and Jamaica (influenza type B) in the Americas, Rwanda (influenza A(H3N2) and Madagascar (influenza type B) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

• The influenza season has not yet started in the temperate countries of the southern hemisphere. Australia has reported a small increase in reports of influenza-like illness however actual detections of influenza virus have decreased in most jurisdictions in recent weeks, including in the northern tropical states.

• A summary review of the northern hemisphere 2010/11 winter influenza season will be published in the World Health Organization's Weekly Epidemiological Report on May 26, 2011.

Countries in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere

North America:

Influenza activity in both the United States of America (USA) and Canada has now largely returned to baseline levels. Rates of influenza-like illness, reports of influenza related deaths, and influenza related hospitalizations all continue to decrease in both countries, though some localized activity persists in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza virus is low, 5% in Canada and less than 2% in the USA, and are predominantly influenza type B."

Japan : 5 tons of seawater may have entered Hamaoka nuclear reactor

Via Japan Today, excerpt :

" SHIZUOKA : Around five tons of seawater may have entered one of the reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture along with about 400 tons of seawater found in its steam condenser when work was under way Sunday to put the reactor into a state of cold shutdown, Chubu Electric Power Co, the plant operator, said Thursday.

The reactor will not be decommissioned because the utility will dilute and desalinate the seawater in an effort to prevent any corrosion inside the reactor, the company said.

Seawater might have entered from damaged piping inside the condenser, which cools steam from the turbine and turns it into water.

The company will try to find the cause of the trouble by the end of this month by inspecting around 21,000 pipes measuring 3 centimeters in diameter that are installed inside the condenser."