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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Muslim hajj pilgrimage in focus amid MERS virus fears

Via The Star, excerpt from a long informative article :

" Virologists are casting a worried eye on this year's Islamic hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia as they struggle with the enigmatic, deadly virus known as MERS which is striking hardest in the kingdom.

Little is known about the new pathogen, beyond the fact that it can be lethal by causing respiratory problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. It can be transmitted between humans, but unlike its cousin, the SARS virus, which sparked a scare a decade ago, it does not seem very contagious.

Even so, for any respiratory virus the mass gathering of the hajj provides a perfect opportunity to first spread at the two holiest Muslim shrines in the cities of Mecca and Medina, and then travel around the globe at jet speed as pilgrims return home.

The 2012 hajj drew 3.1 million people - and this year's event likewise occurs in October, as the northern hemisphere slides into the season for coughs and sneezes.

UN World Health Organisation (WHO) head Margaret Chan sounded the alarm to ministers at the agency's annual congress in May.

"We need to get the facts clear and get the appropriate advice to all your countries where your pilgrims want to go to Mecca. It is something quite urgent," she said.

Experts point first and foremost to figuring out the basics of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

Is it transmitted by contact - if a patient contaminates his home or workplace with droplets containing virus? Or is it done by breathing in virus from coughs and sneezes? What is the best treatment for it? What about a vaccine? Are there risks of viral mutation? And is there an animal host which acts as a reservoir for the virus?"

Poultry contact, chronic illness cited as H7N9 risk factors

From Lisa Schnirring at CIDRAP :

" A study designed to sift out some of the risk factors for H7N9 influenza in China found that exposure to live poultry and their environments were the main drivers, as well as having some types of chronic illness, researchers reported yesterday.

The group, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and provincial centers, focused their study on H7N9 patients from Jiangsu province, and they surveyed controls to identify features that did and didn't associate with infection risk. They published their findings in Eurosurveillance.

Jiangsu province had 27 cases as of May 27, but researchers excluded 2 of them, because one involved human-to-human transmission and data were missing for the other. Eight of the cases were fatal. The study included 93 controls that were matched by age, sex, and location.

Researchers conducted the survey between Apr 25 and May 12. It included questions about health status, daily habits, and activity and environmental exposures within 2 weeks of case illness onsets. Questions about poultry exposure asked about direct contact at markets, home, or work.

Patient ages ranged from 21 to 85, with 12 of them older than 60. Nineteen of the patients were men."

India : Delhi has highest swine flu cases, Gujarat records maximum deaths

Article via Economic Times :

" Delhi has had the highest number of swine flu patients this year while Gujarat has seen maximum deaths due to the disease among the states, according to official statistics.

According to Health Ministry, a total of 4,825 cases were reported in the country this year till June 25 with Delhi topping the list with 1,507 cases.

Asked why Delhi has the highest number of cases, the official said "this is due to high rate of urbanisation here. There is more contact with people".

Gujarat follows Delhi with 1,029 cases reported during the period followed by Rajasthan with 847.

Though Delhi registered the highest number of cases, the deaths were 16. Gujarat topped in this category with 195 deaths due to swine flu.

A total of 600 people have died due to the deadly disease, a senior Health Ministry official said.

Rajasthan recorded the highest number of deaths after Gujarat with 162 followed by 84 deaths in Maharashtra."

Friday, June 28, 2013

India : 34 dengue cases from Pune reported in June

Via Times of India

" City doctors have reported a spurt in dengue and malaria cases this month and attribute it to the fluctuating temperature and the intermittent rains. Civic health officials said on Thursday that the number of cases has shot up in June and asked people to take necessary precautions and ensure there weren't allowing water to stagnate in and around their place of residence.

"We have recorded as many as 34 dengue and 15 malaria cases this month alone. Intermittent rains and erratic temperature are the reasons for the rise in mosquito borne diseases. We have initiated all anti-larval measures. There is no need to panic. However, citizens should continue to initiate measures to prevent dengue as it breeds in clean water," said Vaishali Jadhav, acting medical officer of health (MoH), Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Civic health officials said that in May there were 15 cases of dengue and 10 cases of Malaria reported in Pune city. "There is definitely a rise this month but it is not alarming. We are continuously monitoring the situation," Jadhav said."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Malaysia : Penang health dept investigating death of 4-year old boy

Via NST :

" The Penang Health Department is investigating a possible Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) outbreak here after a four-year-old boy from Mak Mandin died from fever and throat pain last Saturday.

Director Datuk Dr Lailanor Ibrahim said the boy was earlier warded at one of the private specialist hospitals here after developing fever and throat pains last Monday.

The boy was referred to the Penang Hospital three days later but died of pneunomia on Saturday at 3pm.

Dr Lailanor said a pathologist report revealed that the victim died from lung complications but laboratory tests on signs of adenovirus or the influenza virus - including H1N1 - turned out negative.

"Following the death, the department conducted tests on all individuals who came in contact with the boy and they were given a clean bill of health.

"The kindergarten where the child was enrolled, was also ordered closed temporarily for disinfection works which is part of precautionary measures," Dr Lailanor said in a statement today.

He also urged parents to practice good hygiene and seek immediate treatment for similar symptoms.

Meanwhile, state health, agricultural and agro-based industry and rural development committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the confirmation could only be known from the official results of the test on samples taken from the victim.

"We are waiting for an official report from the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur.

"At the moment pneumonia is believed to be the cause of death due to bacterial infection," he said in a text message to the media."

USA : 4 contract swine flu at Grant Co. fair

Via Wish TV :

" Four people contracted swine flu after visiting the Grant County Agricultural Fair last week, according to state health officials.

Grant County Health Department officials say all individuals visited the fair prior to the illness and at least two had contact with swine.

The State Board of Animal Health found 13 pigs that test positive for the H3N2v strain of the virus, known as swine flu."

Singapore : Indonesian man treated for dengue dies; likely contracted dengue from overseas

Via Channel News Asia :

" An Indonesian man who was being treated for dengue in Singapore has died.

A joint statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the 68-year-old man had most likely contracted dengue while travelling in Indonesia from June 10 to June 21 this year.

The man developed a fever on June 20 and suffered two days of vomiting and diarrhoea before being admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital's emergency department on June 23.

The patient was diagnosed with dengue, acute renal failure and severe liver inflammation.

He was admitted for treatment and close monitoring.

MOH said his condition deteriorated despite blood transfusions and other supportive treatment.

He died on June 25."

Hong Kong : Cluster of Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci cases in Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital

From CHP in Hong Kong :

" A 63-year-old male patient of a surgical ward of PYNEH was confirmed to be a Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) carrier on June 18.

In accordance with the prevailing infection control guidelines, screening of contacts was performed. Five more in-patients (four male and one female, aged 43 to 78) were confirmed as VRE carriers but without clinical symptoms.

One of the patients had passed away due to underlying illness while another four have been discharged. The remaining patient is still hospitalised under medical surveillance and isolation with stable condition."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

China : Shanghai reports 1 H7N9 death

Via Xinhua :

" A man died from the H7N9 strain of bird flu in east China's Shanghai Municipality on Wednesday, local health authorities said.

The Shanghai native surnamed Gu, 56, died early Wednesday morning, the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission said.

It was confirmed that Gu was infected with the H7N9 virus on April 11.

Shanghai has so far reported 33 human infections. Fifteen of these patients have made full recoveries and been discharged from hospitals, 16 died and the remaining two are still being treated, the commission said."

Brazil : State increases confirmed cases of the H3N2 Influenza

Machine translated article from Campo Grande News :

Campo Grande has recorded two deaths caused by H1N1 and four others are being investigated. According to epidemiological bulletin released on Tuesday (25) by the State Department of Health, 98 cases were reported in the Capital. The numbers correspond to the period from January 1st until this Tuesday (25).

The figures released Tuesday also show that ten cases of H1N1 have been confirmed in every state. Four in Campo Grande, four in Sonora and two in Bela Vista and Três Lagoas.
The report also shows an increase in cases of influenza H3N2 viruses. Ten were confirmed in Mato Grosso do Sul, Campo Grande in only five, four and one Sidrolândia in Marazion.
On notifications after Campo Grande, Sidrolândia appears with 23 confirmed cases of H1N1, then Three Ponds, already recorded 18 cases."

Thailand : 40,000 Bangkokians infected with dengue, 1 dies

Article via National News Bureau of Thailand :

Over 40,000 people in Bangkok are now suffering from the deadly dengue virus, while 120,000 people nationwide have come down with the fever. 

According to Bangkok Governor M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, this year's dengue situation is very severe given around 120,000 to 150,000 people have reportedly been infected with the virus, 50 of whom have already died. Meanwhile, 40,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported, with one fatality, in the capital city. The number of infections in Bangkok accounts for 10 percent of the infections nationwide. 

The governor has instructed all related agencies to keep a close watch on the dengue situation and to step up prevention measures like cleaning all water containers and sewers in order to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. The BMA has also ordered 200,000 of larvicidal abate sand in order to prevent an outbreak of dengue fever."

US : Three countries halt poultry imports from Arkansas over bird flu

Via The Cabin :

" Three countries have stopped importing poultry from Arkansas because of an outbreak of avian flu in one commercial chicken house in Scott County, a possible blow to the state’s economy, a state agriculture official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Livestock and Poultry Commission Director Preston Scroggin said the outbreak of avian flu, discovered June 16 on a farm in the Boles Community, was contained to one chicken house and testing of all poultry within a 6.2 mile radius has been negative.

Scroggin said he hoped the three countries — China, Japan and Russia — will resume importing Arkansas poultry soon after a quarantine of all poultry within the affected area has been lifted, within about 90 days.

The last avian flu outbreak in Arkansas occurred in 2008, and China resumed accepting Arkansas poultry shipments just last year, he said."

Singapore reports third death from dengue this year

Via Xinhua :

" Singapore has reported the third death from dengue this year amid an epidemic in the city state.

The patient was an 86-year-old man, the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

The patient sought help at a local hospital on June 22 with a one-day history of fever and was found to have low blood pressure. He was admitted on the same day and subsequently diagnosed to have dengue shock syndrome with kidney failure and liver inflammation.

The patient died on Tuesday afternoon.

The number of dengue cases reported in Singapore continued to rise recently, with a total of 11,217 cases as of Wednesday morning. 

This is far more than what had been reported in the same period time in past years, though news of the epidemic has been out of the spotlight recently as the trans boundary haze resulting from the illegal practice of clearing land by fire for farming made headlines in the region and beyond."

China : H7N9 cases found by routine surveillance trended younger, milder

From Lisa Schnirring at CIDRAP :

" A report on five Chinese H7N9 cases that were detected during routine flu surveillance reveals that the patients had milder infections and were younger than most, shedding new lighton the spectrum of illness and the challenges officials could face in controlling the disease.

China is thought to have a good influenza surveillance system, and the report yesterday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) provides a useful look behind the curtain on how they monitor flu, especially during an outbreak of an emerging infections.

The five surveillance detections were included in the 130 H7N9 infections reported by China as of May27. The country reported 131 cases overall, and Taiwan has reported one infection, putting the total outbreak number at 132. So far 39 patients have died from their illnesses.

China's national sentinel surveillance system includes 554 hospitals across the mainland's 31 provinces. Influenza-like illnesses are reported weekly to the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). At each site, 10 to 15 nasopharyngeal swabs are collected weekly in convenience sampling of patients who have had flu-like illness with fever for no longer than 3 days and have not had antiviral drugs.

Outpatient clinics and emergency departments are the first step for sick patients, because of China's national health insurance coverage and the lack of stand-alone clinics, according to the report.

Three of the five H7N9 patients were young children, and the ages ranged from 2 yearsbto 26 years. Four were male, and all lived in urban areasin three provinces. Their symptom onsets ranged from Mar 17 to Apr 26. Four had been exposed to live animals, including chickens.

All of the patients had fever and upper respiratory tract infections, and all had mild-to-moderate H7N9 infections and quickly recovered. Two patients were hospitalized, one of whom had pneumonia that didn't require intensive care. Close-contact monitoring turned up no additional cases."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hong Kong : Case of NDM-1 Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae under CHP investigation

From Hong Kong's CHP :

" The Public Health Laboratory Services Branch (PHLSB) of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health confirmed today (June 25) a case of New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in a 15-month-old baby boy.

The boy, with good past health, lives in Guangzhou. He presented with fever, running nose and cough on June 8, and developed convulsion on June 11. He was admitted to a hospital in the Mainland and was subsequently admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital on June 16. He was diagnosed as having pneumonia and febrile convulsion. His condition has been stable all along, and he was discharged on June 19.

The patient's rectal swab yielded NDM-1 Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae as confirmed by the PHLSB.

His family contacts are asymptomatic. Investigations by the CHP are under way.

This is the 30th detected case of NDM Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in Hong Kong."

Dengue death toll hits 44 in Laos

Via The Nation :

Dengue fever has claimed 44 lives so far this year in Laos, which is expecting one of its worst outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus, news reports said Tuesday.

Laos’ National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology recorded at least 11,260 dengue cases from January 1 to June 23, of whom 44 died, the Vientiane Times reported.

The centre’s director, Phengta Vongphachanh, predicted that this year’s dengue outbreak would be worse than that of 2010, when almost 23,000 people were infected, and 46 people died.

Phengta urged the public to use mosquito nets when taking daytime naps."

Dengue cases continue to increase in Singapore

Via Xinhua :

" A total of 853 new cases of dengue infections were reported in Singapore last week, the highest weekly number of new dengue cases ever, Minister of Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on his Facebook page on Monday.

There were 73 new cases of dengue on Monday, bringing the total number of cases so far this year to 11,098, which is far more than what has been reported in the same period time over past years.

However, news of the epidemic has been out of the spotlight recently as the transboundary haze resulting from the illegal practice of clearing land by fire for farming made headlines in the region and beyond.

Balakrishnan there is no basis for the theory that haze would reduce the mosquitoes, and there is a need to focus on both problems simultaneously."

Saudis, WHO report 8 asymptomatic MERS cases

From Robert Roos at CIDRAP :

" Saudi Arabia reported nine new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases in the past 3 days, including six cases that were asymptomatic.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Jun 22 that two Saudi MERS cases that had been announced earlier were also asymptomatic. The Saudi and WHO reports offered the clearest evidence yet of such cases, which suggest the possibility that people can unknowingly carry and spread the virus.

Also over the weekend, the WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) appealed for fast, complete reporting of MERS-CoV cases, in the wake of a meeting in Cairo of public health experts from all countries that have had cases.

New Saudi cases

The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) announced the latest cases and deaths in statements on Jun 21 and 23.

The Jun 21 announcement reported the illness in a 41-year-old woman in Riyadh and a 32-year-old Saudi citizen in the country's Eastern region. The woman is a contact of a previous case-patient and was in stable condition, while the 32-year-old had cancer and was in an intensive care unit. The statement also noted the death of a previously reported patient but gave no details.

The MOH's Jun 23 statement announced the six asymptomatic cases and one symptomatic one. Four of the silent cases were in children between the ages of 7 and 15, all of whom had contact with other cases in Riyadh and the Eastern region.

The other two symptom-free cases involved female healthcare workers (HCWs in the Eastern region and Al-Ahsa. The MOH did not specify if the two HCWs were exposed to MERS patients, but it seemed likely, since Al-Ahsa was the site of recent hospital outbreaks." 

Malaysia :Dreaded haze heading north with air quality dropping in Malacca, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Penang

Via The Star :

The wind is blowing the haze up north towards Malacca, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Penang and causing worsening air quality.

The Department of Environment (DOE) said that this north-blowing wind was variable while a southwesterly wind, which was carrying thick haze from Riau, continued to blow towards the middle and south of the west and the east coasts of the peninsula.
The DOE said the haze, which initially blanketed the southern peninsula, had moved towards the north.
“At the same time, the haze has reached the east coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan,” it said in a statement yesterday.
The DOE said this was according to the map released by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre on Sunday.
The DOE said that the centre also reported that the number of hotspots in Indonesia had increased from 118 on Saturday to 227 on Sunday.
It was reported that Muar and Ledang districts in Johor were under a “haze emergency” after the Air Pollutant Index readings surged over 700 in these areas on Sunday, but dropped to 125 yesterday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the emergency declared for Muar and Ledang was over following an improvement in air quality."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hong Kong : Two linked imported cases of dengue fever under CHP investigation

From Hong Kong's CHP :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 24) investigating two imported and related cases of dengue fever, and hence urged members of the public to take precautions against the disease while they travel, especially to areas where dengue fever is prevalent.

The patients are two women aged 40 and 43. They have developed fever, headache, myalgia and skin rash since June 17. They were admitted to a private hospital on June 22. They are currently in stable condition.

Their blood specimens tested positive for the dengue NS1 antigen.

Preliminary enquiries revealed that the two patients were travel collaterals who travelled to Bali, Indonesia, in mid-June. The other travel collateral is asymptomatic so far.

Investigations by the CHP are proceeding."

Malaysia : Increase In Haze-related Illness Cases Building By Over 100 Per Cent For Asthma - Health DG

Via Bernama, excerpt :

" There has been a marked increase in the number of asthma and other haze-related respiratory cases seeking treatment at the hospitals and clinics in Johor and Melaka.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said with regard to asthma cases, the increase had been more than 100 per cent since haze enveloped the two southern states.

"In Johor, the number of asthma cases increased by 122 per cent and in Melaka by 127 per cent," he told a news conference after launching the National-Level Patients Safety Campaign and Seminar, here, Monday.

He said upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) cases increased by 38.5 per cent in Johor and by 20.7 per cent in Melaka.

As for conjunctivitis cases, Melaka sees an increase of 63.6 per cent while there is no increase in Johor.

Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to reduce outdoor activities or use a face mask when outside the house.

He said in order to provide the best possible treatment for haze-related symptoms in the two worst affected states, the hospitals and clinics were now focusing on emergency cases."

China's bird flu ended with summer weather, but may return in fall

Article via UPI :

" Almost a third of the confirmed cases of bird flu in China are fatal and although the cases have ended, health officials say the virus may return in the fall.

Studies by China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 130 cases since the H7N9 influenza strain appeared in February, Thirty-seven patients died.

Researchers mined national surveillance data to conduct the analysis. In China, all hospitals were required to submit detailed medical reports on H7N9 cases to a central, government-run database.

Two studies, published in The Lancet, found a higher density of H7N9 in urban areas -- 72 percent in the cities versus the countryside.

Officials said the virus most likely jumped from chickens and ducks to humans. For both urban and rural locales, more than two-third of the cases were exposed to live poultry.

However, only 19 percent of the cases were linked to working with chickens via "occupational exposure" or raising backyard birds, but the most common context for exposure was visiting a chicken market at 33 percent."

7 killed by dengue hemorrhagic fever in Honduras

Via El Economista :

The Ministry of Health of Honduras confirmed the death of three people due to DHF with totaling seven so far in 2013.

The chairman of the Oversight Board that directs temporarily Health portfolio, Salvador Pineda, told reporters that the three new deaths from dengue hemorrhagic fever were confirmed last Friday, but did not specify details of the deceased, and his place of origin.

Pineda made a new appeal to all social sectors of the country to get involved in the campaign for the prevention and control of dengue.
The health authorities of Honduras declared Saturday "red alert" (emergency) in 28 of the 298 municipalities in the country because of the increase in cases of classic dengue and hemorrhagic suspicions.
On Friday, authorities had declared preventive health alert in 112 municipalities, about that next Tuesday, at the session of the Council of Ministers, to be held in the southern city of Choluteca, if passed will define "emergency" he said Honduran President Porfirio Lobo."

Malaysia : Two districts under ‘haze emergency’

Article via The Star, excerpt. Being a Malaysian and being in one of the areas affected by the haze, I would say that this is starting to pose serious health issues :

The Muar and Ledang districts in Johor are now under a “haze emergency” after the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings surged over 700 in these areas.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the emergency status would remain until further notice.
“However, it must be clarified that this does not involve a curfew and there will not be any change to the existing system of the ruling state and federal governments.
“All related ministries and agencies at the federal, state and district levels must plan and take action to ensure the safety and health of the public,” the Prime Minister said yesterday.
He urged the people to abide by the emergency guidelines issued by the National Security Council (NSC).
Under the guidelines, aimed at ensuring public safety and health, federal, state and district level natural disaster, management committees must advise the closure of schools and childcare centres, government and private sector offices and other work premises, including factories, plantations, construction sites, quarries and earthwork sites."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mers coronavirus that killed an Emirati man has origins in both the UAE and Qatar

Article via The National, excerpt :

" A Sars-like virus that killed an Emirati man has origins in both the UAE and Qatar, a report has revealed.

A 73-year-old Abu Dhabi man died in a hospital in Germany on March 26, 11 days after developing flu-like symptoms, which turned out to be the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV.

A report by experts published in the Lancet medical journal has now said the man died from a strain of the virus similar to that contracted by a man from Qatar, who was treated in Germany six months before the Abu Dhabi man.

Stool samples from the Qatari victim had shown he had a "clustering of viruses derived from Qatar and the UAE".

MERS-CoV has so far killed 38 people worldwide, most of those in Saudi Arabia, but the Health Authority Abu Dhabi has urged the public to remain calm.

One consultant and head of infectious disease at Mafraq Hospital, Dr Asim Malik, said in May: "Ever since we first got the reports of the first few cases in Saudi, we have worked in close collaboration with Health Authority Abu Dhabi and Seha.

"It's not just Mafraq Hospital but all Seha healthcare facilities, namely Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and Tawam.

"We met and developed … guidelines and protocols that were put in place in preparation and anticipation of suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus."

The Abu Dhabi victim had been transferred by air ambulance to the Klinikum Schwabing hospital in Munich from a hospital in Abu Dhabi on March 19.

He died of septic shock seven days later after his kidneys failed, becoming the 11th person to die from the virus."

Hong Kong : Cluster of Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci cases in Princess Margaret Hospital

From Hong Kong's CHP :

" A 63-year-old female patient of a medical ward in Princess Margaret Hospital was confirmed to be a Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) carrier on June 20. In accordance with prevailing infection control guidelines, the hospital has screened and found three more female patients (aged 64 to 94) in the same ward confirmed to be carriers of VRE. One of them has been discharged. The other confirmed cases have been transferred to isolation ward for further monitoring and treatment. They are in stable condition.

Admission to the ward has been suspended. The hospital has screened other patients who had stayed in the same ward. The hospital will follow up the condition of the discharged patient. There are clinical guidelines in public hospitals to ensure proper use of antibiotics, including Vancomycin, and management of VRE carriers. The hospital has stepped up the infection control measures according to established guidelines and is closely monitoring patients' health."

Malaysia : Haze - PM declares emergency status in Muar and Ledang

Via The Star :

" PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has agreed to declare emergency status on Sunday in Muar and Ledang with immediate effect after the API readings reached more than 750, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.

As of 7.00am Sunday, the air pollutant index (API) in Muar has spiked to 746, which is more than twice the standard hazardous levels according to the Department of Environment website.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported two cities in Malacca also were in hazardous API territory as at 7am Sunday namely Bandaraya Melaka and Bukit Rambai with readings of 357 and 334 respectively.

Palanivel said the highest API ever recorded in Malaysia was in Sarawak in 1997 with a reading of 860.

He also said that the National Security Council (NSC) would issue instructions for residents to stay indoors and direct schools in several states to remain closed.

"NSC should look at cloud seeding operations immediately," he said. -Bernama"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saudi Arabia : New death from SARS-like coronavirus MERS as health experts meet

Article via Reuters :

" Saudi Arabia said another person had died of the SARS-like coronavirus MERS, and six new cases were registered, in statements on Thursday and Friday as international experts gather in Cairo to discuss the epidemic.

Experts, including from the World Health Organisation, are nearing the end of a four-day meeting on the disease which has now infected 55 people, killing 33 of them, in Saudi Arabia.

Added to previous WHO numbers, the new Saudi announcement brings the total number of confirmed cases to 70 worldwide, of which 39 have died.

In July large numbers of pilgrims are expected to travel to the Saudi city of Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. In October millions are expected there for the annual haj pilgrimage.

Late on Friday the Saudi Health Ministry said a 41-year-old woman in Riyadh was in a stable condition with the disease, and that a 32-year-old with cancer was also being treated. It said another person, whose infection was previously announced, had died.

On Thursday, it confirmed four new cases, including three health workers, who have all recovered.

Researchers said Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, is even more deadly than SARS and is easily transmitted in healthcare environments.

The disease can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia and has spread from the Gulf to France, Germany, Italy and Britain."

Singapore : Dengue cases remain high, with 656 so far this week

Via Straits Times :

" DENGUE fever cases have remained high this week, with 656 people diagnosed with the disease till 3pm yesterday.

The total for this week is on course to be around those of the previous two, when cases hit 815 in the week beginning June 2 and 810 the week after.

However, it is unlikely that the figure will pass 1,000 cases this week. Experts have predicted that this is likely to happen before the epidemic is over.

The National Environment Agency has quashed talk that the haze could stem the spread of dengue, saying there is no link between the two. In fact, a spokesman said, "although a haze blanketed much of South-east Asia from late 1997 to early 1998, the number of dengue cases in Singapore during these years was the highest recorded in the 1990s".

There are now more than 60 active clusters. The biggest is still at Tampines. There have been more than 190 cases there in one cluster alone."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Malaysia : Seven deaths, 122 cases of rat urine infection so far in Kelantan

Via The Malaysian Insider, excerpt :

" There have been 122 cases of rat urine infection (leptospirosis)and seven deaths recorded in Kelantan June 10 this year, showing an increase over 2011 and 2012 figures.

Kelantan director of health Datuk Ahmad Razin Ahmad Maher said the number of deaths was the highest since the compulsory reporting of cases was gazetted in December 2010.

"Kota Baru recorded the highest number of cases at 24 this year, followed by Gua Musang (20 cases), Kuala Krai (14) and Pasir Mas (14)," he said in a statement in Kota Baru today.

Ahmad Razin said 20% of the cases involved those aged 13 to 19, and 60% were between 20 and 55 years old.

In 2011, only one death was reported out of 276 cases, and last year, four deaths out of 186 cases.

Bernama reported yesterday that Sheikh Mohd Alif Sheikh Mohd Fauzi, 17, a student of Maahad Tahfiz Darul Anuar, Pulau Melaka, who went camping at Bukit Bakar in Machang last month, died on Tuesday due to leptospirosis.

Referring to the case, Ahmad Razin said 285 students and 20 teachers from the school attended the camp at the Bukit Bakar Recreational Forest from May 14-16."

Malaysia : Health Clinics, Hospitals Ready For Rise In Haze-related Illnesses

Via Bernama, excerpt :

" All health clinics and hospitals in the country are on the alert and ready to handle haze-related illnesses following the worsening haze in the country, director-general of health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Friday.

He said the Health Ministry was monitoring the haze situation closely through its haze operations rooms throughout the country.

The number of respiratory infections, including upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and asthma, were on the rise, especially in Johor, the state worst hit by the haze, he said, adding that the situation was under control.

"We have alerted our clinics and hospitals to be ready to cater for this and we are worried the URTI and asthmatic attacks will become more frequent."

Thailand : Nearly 49,000 infected with dengue, 59 dead in Thailand

Article via Xinhua :

" Nearly 49,000 people in Thailand have been infected with dengue virus, 59 of whom died, Thai National News Bureau reported Friday.

According to Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong, dengue situation in Thailand is still of concern given nearly 49, 000 people have so far been afflicted by the disease. 59 patients have died of dengue fever since the beginning of 2013, and more than half of the number were children.

The minister has, therefore, urged all hospitals to diagnose their patients carefully and thoroughly."

Pakistan : 3 more children succumb to measles, toll rises to 170

Via Frontier Post :

" Three more children died of measles in Lahore on Friday, raising the death toll to 170.

According to Punjab health department, four-year-old Farhan from Bhawalpur, 10-month-old Huzaifa who belonged to Chiniot were admitted to hospital few days ago.

Meanwhile, the third victim was identified as sohail,7 was undergoing treatment but unluckily he could not survive.

It is worth mentioning that at least 170 children have fallen victim to this fatal disease in Punjab.

The sources revealed that about 235 new cases of measles were reported in Punjab within 24 hours.

Lahore, the provincial capital, has been affected the most by the disease where 21 new cases have been confirmed."

Hong Kong : CHP received notification of a human case of avian influenza A(H6N1) from Taiwan

From Hong Kong's CHP :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (June 21) received notification from the health authority of Taiwan of a human case of avian influenza A(H6N1) affecting a 20-year-old woman.

According to information provided by the health authority of Taiwan, the patient presented with fever, coughing, headache and myalgia on May 5. She was admitted to a hospital for management on May 8 for sustained fever and shortness of breath. Her chest X-ray indicated mild pneumonia. She was discharged on May 11 and has recovered.

Avian influenza A(H6N1) virus was isolated from the patient's respiratory specimen by the relevant authority.

Information of the Taiwan authority revealed that the patient had no recent travel history or poultry exposure. Among the 36 close contacts of the patient, four of them had developed influenza-like illnesses whose laboratory tests revealed the absence of avian influenza A(H6N1) virus. The H6N1 virus, a low pathogenic avian influenza virus, is commonly found in poultry. This is the first human case globally.

"The CHP has followed up with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Taiwan authority to obtain more information on the case. We will heighten our vigilance and continue to closely collaborate with the WHO and other health authorities. We will continue to maintain stringent port health measures in connection with the latest development," a DH spokesman remarked.

The spokesman said that avian influenza A(H6) is not a statutorily notifiable infectious disease in Hong Kong but the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP is capable to detect this virus."

Malaysia : Haze hits dangerous levels

Via The Star :

" THE haze in Malaysia has once again reached dangerous levels.

It has now left only 13% of the country with good air to breathe while many schools in Johor have closed as Malaysians there took in the worst of it, so far.

Yesterday, four areas in the state entered the “hazardous” and “very unhealthy” scales of the Air Pollutant Index (API).

Poor visibility at the Senai International Airport also forced two flights to be diverted.

In Kuala Lumpur, this Sunday's planned 2013 Olympic Day Run for 15,000 participants at Padang Merbok has been postponed, the co-organisers McDonald's Malaysia said.

The Department of Environment (DOE) said the country was on high alert due to the rapid deterioration in air quality over the past three days. It has alerted the National Security Council to activate the National Haze Action Plan nationwide, with a “3A Warning Level” (the highest level) issued for the worst-affected areas.

The DOE has also stepped up enforcement on the emission of smoke from vehicles and factories."

Saudis say 4 people beat MERS, but another 4 died

From Robert Roos at CIDRAP :

" Saudi Arabia announced today that four women have recovered from previously unreported cases of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), while another four people have died of MERS infections that were announced earlier.

With this news, the Saudi Ministry of Health's (MOH's) MERS-CoV count rose to 53 cases. However, the death toll listed on the MOH's MERS overview page remained at 32 at this writing.

If the new cases and deaths are added to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) global MERS tally, it will increase to 68 cases and 42 deaths. The current WHO count is 64 cases and 38 deaths.

The Saudi announcement closely followed the start of a 3-day meeting in Cairo at which health officials from the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe aim to develop a MERS-CoV response plan.

Also today, the WHO issued a summary of MERS-CoV developments over the past 3 weeks. The agency predicted, "It is likely that more sporadic cases with subsequent limited transmission will occur in the near future," a forecast that today's Saudi announcement seemed to fulfill.

The Saudi statement said the four new cases involved a 42-year-old Saudi woman in the Eastern region and three female healthcare workers, ages 45, 39, and 29, in Taif governorate, which is near Mecca in the western part of the country. 

The 42-year-old has been released from a hospital, and the other three have all recovered, the MOH reported. A total of 14 patients in Saudi Arabia now have recovered from MERS, the agency said." 

US: Mild strain of bird flu contained on Arkansas poultry farm

From Reuters, excerpt :

"  A low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza was found on an Arkansas poultry farm, but was quickly contained and did not appear to be a threat to other poultry farms in the nation's second largest chicken state, a state poultry official said.

"We're pretty certain this was isolated to just this one farm. USDA is there with us on hand as we work the next few weeks to make sure it's contained," said Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission director Preston Scroggin.  

The influenza is a milder strain of the flu that killed dozens of people in China and crippled its poultry industry.

Testing found about eight birds in the Arkansas flock of 9,000 were positive for the H7N7 low-pathogen avian flu, Scroggin said. The flock was humanly euthanized and buried and the eggs they produced were destroyed."

Saudi Arabia says MERS treatment delayed delayed

Via Al-Jazeera, excerpt :

" Saudi Arabia has accused a laboratory in the Netherlands of slowing down the development of a treatment for the MERS coronavirus that has so far killed 38 people.

The respiratory virus, which originated in the Middle spreads easily between people and appears appears more deadly than SARS according to doctors.

Saudi Arabia has said on Thursday that last year virologist Dr Ali Mohamad Zaki sent a sample to the Netherlands' Erasmus University.

The academic institution then identified the virus and applied for a patent on its genetic sequence before sharing the information and samples with other labs, under the condition it would retain rights on any discoveries.

The work done by Erasmus University was essential in the understanding and tracking of any virus, and ultimately in developing a vaccine, to which the university would also hold the rights.

With the number of cases increasing in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia raised questions over whether the public good was being put first and the Saudi government made its own sequencing of the virus public.

Saudi Arabia’s deputy health minister told delegates at the World Health Assembly that under international law his country has sovereign rights to the virus."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Canada : Vancouver rats carry disease that can infect humans

Article via The Vancouver Sun :

" A groundbreaking study shows some rats in the Downtown Eastside are carrying a bacterial disease that can infect humans and, in severe cases, lead to kidney failure, bleeding in the lungs and meningitis.

The first results from the study, published Thursday in the journal PLoS ONE, found rats trapped over the course of one year tested positive for leptospirosis, a disease that mostly causes flu-like symptoms in humans and is commonly found in developing countries.

The results are the first definitive findings to come out of the Vancouver Rat Project, a three-year study helmed by Abbotsford-based researcher Dr. Chelsea Himsworth that aims to fill a knowledge gap about the characteristics of local rats, the pathogens they carry and the potential crossover to humans.

“There’s never been a comprehensive study of rats on any subject in Canada. Ever,” explains Himsworth, a veterinarian completing her PhD through the University of B.C.’s school of population and public health.

With a specialty in neglected zoonotic risks —diseases that spread from animals to humans — in urban centres, Himsworth embarked on the Vancouver Rat Project in 2011 to fill what she sees as a blind spot in the scientific research community.

“It really fascinates me that when you actually look into the scientific literature, we know a lot more about elephants and whales and grizzly bears than we do about rats,” she says.

Himsworth attributes that fact to the failure of the parasitic rodents to capture our collective imagination, in spite, or perhaps because of, their proximity to us."

Children suffer as Pakistan battles measles epidemic

Via Times of Oman, excerpt :

" In the intensive-care ward of Lahore's Mayo hospital, pale, spotty children cry in the intense heat of the Pakistani summer -- victims of a devastating measles outbreak.

Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province of which Lahore is the capital, has borne the brunt of the epidemic. It has 18,000 of the 25,000 cases reported around the country by provincial health authorities and more than 150 -- all children -- of the 495 deaths.

The province is the country's richest and most developed, but health experts say ineffective vaccination programmes and poor monitoring of the disease have led to the contagious disease running rampant.

"Initially people were unaware about this epidemic, so they tried to treat the disease at home and using local street doctors," doctor Iftikhar Mirza, a spokesman for Mayo, Lahore's main public hospital, told AFP. "They were even unaware about the vaccination. So, when they came to us, the children were in a critical condition and many had already died."

Asad Abbas, a labourer, tried to treat the disease, spread by droplets from the nose or mouth of infected people, with traditional methods and sought proper medical treatment only just in time."

Malaysia : Air quality in Johor the worst in years, haze-related health complaints increase

Via The Star :

" Air quality deteriorated rapidly overnight with Muar in Johor hitting hazardous levels for the first time with an Air Pollutant Index (API) reading of above 380, according to the Department of Environment (DOE).

This is the first time in years that air quality has dipped to hazardous level with conditions worsening in as dry weather persists and fires rage in Sumatra.

At 7am, the API was at 337 but it deteriorated to 383 just several hours later at 11am Thursday. A good API reading is from 0-50, moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-299) and hazardous (300 and above).

The air quality also worsened in Kota Tinggi which now records very unhealthy levels with an API of 232 as of 11am while Pasir Gudang had an API reading of 199.

As of 5pm Wednesday, seven areas recorded unhealthy, 39 moderate and five good air quality readings, but there were no very unhealthy or hazardous readings.

Aqua satellite images show 376 hotspots over Sumatra while the NOAA satellite shows 173 hotspots, with cloud cover preventing precise readings.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre, scattered hotspots with localised smoke plumes were detected mainly in central Sumatra."

67 die from dengue in Paraguay

Via People's Daily Online :

" The dengue fever in Paraguay has caused 67 deaths so far this year, the country's press said Wednesday.

According to reports in Asuncion, capital city of Paraguay, the Public Health Ministry said 47 of the victims were also suffering from other ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, morbid obesity or heart problems.

Several victims had risk factors, such as pregnancy or being younger than a year or older than 60.

More than 50 victims lived in the Central Department (state) or in Asuncion."

Philippines : 193 dengue deaths in PH since January


Seventeen-year-old Glency Mae has been confined at East Avenue Hospital for dengue. Her mouth and gums are bleeding and she is being treated through IV fluids.

Dr. Charee Taguba-Ong of East Avenue Medical Center said there are more dengue patients now that the rainy season has begun.

"Tumaas ang admission. At least 5 patients per day na since May to June compared to 1 to 2 patients per day from January to April," Taguba-Ong said.

Taguba-Ong added that since June, they had two mortalities -- children aged 4 and 7 who were brought to the hospital too late.

"Dumating po sila, 5 days nang nilalagnat. Pag ganun huwag ipasawalang bahala lalo na sa mga bata."

The Department of Health (DOH) reports there has been a total of 42,207 dengue cases nationwide from January 1 to June 8, 2013 with 193 deaths.

This is 1.07 percent lower compared to the same period last year with 42,663 cases and 285 deaths."

New MERS virus spreads easily, deadlier than SARS

Via News Straits Times, excerpt :

" LONDON: A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia.

More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organization in the past year, mostly in Saudi Arabia.  
So far, illnesses haven’t spread as quickly as SARS did in 2003, ultimately triggering a global outbreak that killed about 800 people.   
An international team of doctors who investigated nearly two dozen cases in eastern Saudi Arabia found the new coronavirus has some striking similarities to SARS. Unlike SARS, though, scientists remain baffled as to the source of MERS.  
In a worrying finding, the team said MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) not only spreads easily between people, but within hospitals. That was also the case with SARS, a distant relative of the new virus.   
“To me, this felt a lot like SARS did,” said Dr. Trish Perl, a senior hospital epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who was part of the team. Their report was published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.  
Perl said they couldn’t nail down how it was spread in every case — through droplets from sneezing or coughing, or a more indirect route. Some of the hospital patients weren’t close to the infected person, but somehow picked up the virus."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Indonesia : Boy in Bekasi Suspected Bird Flu Death

Machine translated article via Post Kota News, not a perfect translation but you get the basic info of the case :

" Children bodyguard Mayor of Bekasi, suspected of having the H5N1 virus (bird flu), died on Wednesday (19/6). Boy 2,5 years residents Housing BTN Masnaga, Village Jakamulya, District of Bekasi Selatan, Bekasi.

RBP's initials boy, died at Friendship Hospital around 08:00, "The victim, a doctor said Friendship Hospital, Jakarta, was sentenced positive for bird flu," said the victim's uncle, Tri Wahyono

According to him, the early symptoms of the disease casualties occurred on Saturday (15/6) when the body of the couple's son and Emmy Respati Seno Putro Diah Susanti, fever and shortness of breath. "The family took him to the hospital.

From the analysis of medical Hermina Prosperity, the victim's body indicated the bird flu, so refer to the Friendship Hospital in Jakarta, Wednesday (19/6). "On Friendship Hospital, the victim was diraw.

According to him, parties family has been agreed in order that the bodies of victims not interred at the funeral home because of considerations of her illness.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anne, Chief Medical Officer of Bekasi, when contacted Pos Kota said it was exploring the possibility of the occurrence of bird flu."

Hong Kong : Another fever patient with travel history tests negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

Another press release from the Centre for Health Protection :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) received notification from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) today (June 19) of a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting an 18-year-old man whose respiratory specimen tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

The patient, with good past health, has presented with fever and cough since May 26. He was sent to PMH upon his return to Hong Kong yesterday (June 18) and is currently under isolation for further management.

Initial investigations by the CHP revealed that the patient had departed Hong Kong for Europe with his family members on May 14 and took transit in Dubai on the same day.

The patient sought medical consultation during his stay in Europe and he has been in stable condition all along. He described no contact history with animals or patients during his trip. His travel collaterals have remained asymptomatic so far.

Preliminary laboratory testing on the patient's nasopharyngeal aspirate by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP yielded negative results for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus."

Hong Kong : Fever patient with travel history tests negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

From Hong Kong's CHP :

" A spokesman of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (June 19) provided an update on a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome affecting a 17-year-old man.

The preliminary laboratory test results by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP on his nasopharyngeal swab yielded negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. The patient has been in stable condition all along.

The CHP received notification from Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) yesterday (June 18). The patient, with good past health, has presented with cough, runny nose, fever and sore throat since June 16. He attended QEH upon his return to Hong Kong yesterday.

Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and the airport for any suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome."

Study reveals new details about H7N9 influenza infections that suddenly appeared in China

Via Health Canal :

" Researchers with the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute have revealed new information about the latest strain of type A influenza, known as H7N9, in a report in the journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks.

Since June 7, 132 confirmed cases of human infection with H7N9 have been reported in China and 37 people have died, according to the World Health Organization. It is the first time human infection with the avian influenza H7N9 subtype has been detected, and researchers fear that this strain may have pandemic potential.

Chickens in a Chinese live bird market

The possibility of an animal source of the infection is being investigated, as is the possibility of person-to-person transmission.

However, most people who contracted the disease reported having contact with live birds in a bird market prior to infection. Researchers at the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory found that younger women generally have the most contact with poultry, but it is older men who are experiencing the most infections.

The findings suggest that there is something unique about older men that makes them particularly susceptible to H7N9. Their greater risk of infection is not just because they tend to spend more time exposed to an avian source."

US : Scott County chicken tests positive for avian flu

Article via 4029 TV, excerpt :

" The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission received confirmation Tuesday that a chicken in a Scott County chicken house has tested positive for H7N7 Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

Thirty Livestock and Poultry personnel have quarantined all poultry within a 6.2-mile radius of the growing operation where the infected bird was located. They are coordinating their response and additional testing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only the USDA can officially confirm avian flu cases.         

Chickens tend to contract avian flu via infected waterfowl or water contaminated by waterfowl."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2 more die of swine flu in Vietnam

Article via Thanh Nien News :

" Two Mekong Delta women in their mid-forties who tested positive for swine flu have died.

Pham Thi Lai of Vinh Long Province and Phan Thi Thuy Trang of Ben Tre are the latest H1N1-related deaths in Vietnam, where 10 people have died so far this year.

Dr Nguyen Thanh Nhom, director of the Vinh Long General Hospital, said Lai, 45, was hospitalized on June 15 with high fever and respiratory failure.

She had been diagnosed with severe pneumonia, but doctors suspected that she had swine flu and sent her samples to the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh

According to Nhom, soon after Lai was admitted she showed signs of fatigue, and the next day she fell into a coma and died.

On June 17 the Pasteur Institute confirmed that she had the A/H1N1 strain of swine flu.

Vietnam News Agency Monday quoted Dr Nguyen Van Thang, deputy director of Ben Tre Province’s Department of Health, as saying that Trang, 47, was the province's first H1N1 death this year.

She fell sick on June 6 and received treatment at a

Four days later she was admitted to the Minh Duc General Hospital, and then transferred to Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital in HCMC on suspicion of some lung

She died two days later and her samples showed she had swine flu."

Hong Kong : Three additional overseas cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome closely monitored by DH

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

" The Department of Health (DH) is today (June 18) closely monitoring three additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

According to the WHO, the three patients, all with underlying illnesses, are respectively a 42-year-old man from eastern KSA, a 63-year-old woman from central KSA, and a 2-year-old child from western KSA. In addition, four previously confirmed cases have died.

This brings the latest global number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome to 64, including 38 deaths.

"The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH will seek more information on the cases from the WHO and the relevant health authority. The CHP will stay vigilant and continue to work closely with the WHO and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments of this disease," a DH spokesman said.

Locally, the CHP will continue its surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals, practising doctors and the airport for any suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome."

India : 580 new cases of dengue in 2 weeks

Via The New Indian Express :

" Karnataka has recorded 580 confirmed cases of dengue in just two weeks. Sudden bursts of rains across the state and poor water supply is said to have resulted in the sudden spurt.

The Health Department recorded figures of 805 confirmed cases on June 3. By June 14, the cases shot up to 1,385. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s home district of Mysore tops the list with 204 cases and two deaths, followed by Bangalore with 163 cases and Davangere with 113."

Hong Kong : Update on clusters of hand, foot and mouth disease and Rhinovirus cases at Tai Po Hospital

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The spokesperson for Tai Po Hospital made the following announcement today (June 17):

A total of five patients (aged 21 to 58) in a male psychiatric ward have presented with symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease since June 9. Appropriate tests were arranged for the patients and the test results of four of them were positive to Enterovirus. The patients are being treated under isolation and are in a stable condition. Restricted admission and visiting to the ward concerned have been imposed and transfer from the ward to other institutions has been suspended.

Regarding an earlier announcement on a cluster of patients and staff members confirmed with Rhinovirus in a male infirmary ward, two more patients (aged 46 and 80) tested positive to Rhinovirus today. The two patients are being treated under isolation and are in stable condition. Admission to and transfer from the ward concerned have been suspended and restricted visiting has been imposed.

Infection control measures at the wards have been stepped up according to the established guidelines. All other patients in the wards are under close surveillance."

Monday, June 17, 2013

More MERS virus deaths in Saudi Arabia

Via Al-Jazeera :

" Four more people have died from the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, bringing the death toll from the SARS-like virus in the health ministry like virus in the kingdom to 32, the health ministry has said.

A statement on the ministry's website said on Monday two people had died in the western city of Taif and the other two were pronounced dead in the Eastern Province, where most cases have been registered.

Two weeks ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had raised the global death toll from the SARS-like virus MERS to 31, after a new fatality in hard-hit Saudi Arabia. "

More news article can be found here and here.

US : Ohio cases of bad flu cases most since 2009

Via Dayton Daily News, excerpt :

Illnesses associated with the flu sent more than 5,000 Ohioans to the hospital over the winter and into the spring — the highest number of flu-related hospitalizations in a season since the state began keeping records, the Ohio Department of Health reported.
The tally was even higher than the 3,238 flu-related hospitalizations recorded in Ohio during the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, according to state health department statistics.
But unlike the swine flu outbreak, there was no evidence of a new virus that prompted the wave of hospitalizations this season.
And health officials say it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why the flu season was so brutal, hospitalizing 5,239 Ohio residents from September last year through May 18, the state health department’s final flu-activity report showed."

Malaysia : Haze situation expected to worsen

Article via The Star :

The haze, which is affecting several parts of the country, is set to worsen with hotter and drier weather expected over the next few months.
The air quality in six towns in the peninsula dropped to unhealthy levels, based on the Air Pollutant Index (API), compared with just three on Saturday.
The Department of Environment (DOE) detected unhealthy API readings of 100 and above in Malacca (161), Bukit Rambai (135), Port Klang (104), Port Dickson (120), Muar (125) and Kemaman (108).
However, the quality of air at most other places in the country was between good and moderate.
Under the air quality index, readings of between 0 and 50 are classified as Good, 51 to 100 as Moderate, 101 to 200 as Unhealthy, 201 to 300 as Very Unhealthy and 300 and above as Hazardous.
In Malacca, the haze caused the API reading to increase from 68 to 161 over the past three days, the highest recorded in the country."

Malaysia : Kelantan Health Dept Urges People To Report Death Of Fowls

This is an article from Bernama, a local news portal. I find this news quite odd just the fact that it makes me wonder why only 1 state in particular (located up North in Malaysia, currently ruled by the opposition political party) is sending out calls to the public to report unusual deaths among poultry. Maybe it's just me.

" The Kelantan Health Department urged the public to report unusually high numbers of death among chicken, ducks and birds to the nearest Veterinary Office to determine the type of virus contracted by the fowls.

It's director Datuk Dr Ahmad Razin Ahmad Mahir said the department was monitoring respiratory cases at local clinics and hospitals to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza.

Ahmad Razin said 132 cases of the disease have been detected in China as of May 29.

"So far there is no restriction of travel between Malaysia and China. But we advise travelers there to stay away from markets selling live fowls.

"And to seek immediate medical attention and wear a face mask if they experience respiratory infections upon their return," he said in a statement here Saturday.

He said 180 personnel from various government agencies took part in a simulation aimed at evaluating the preparedness of health facilities in handling a possible epidemic.

Avian Influenza or bird flu is a disease which is contagious among fowls such as chicken, ducks, geese and birds caused by the Type A influenza virus and has various sub-types, including H5N1 and H7N9.

The virus can spread to humans through direct and indirect contact with diseased fowls."

Hong Kong : Update on a Cluster of Influenza A Cases in Siu Lam Hospital

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

" Regarding recent confirmation of some patients infected with Influenza A in a male ward for the severely intellectual disabled, a spokesperson for Siu Lam Hospital (SLH) made the following update today (June 16):

One more 53-year-old patient in the ward had presented with respiratory symptoms. Appropriate viral tests had been arranged for the patient and his test result was positive to Influenza A. The patient is being treated under isolation and is in stable condition.

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

India : Delhi has most swine flu cases

Via Times of India, excerpt :

NEW DELHI: Delhi has had the highest number of swine flu patients this year while Gujarat has seen maximum deaths due to the disease among the states, according to official statistics

According to the health ministry, a total of 4,811 cases were reported in the country this year till June five with Delhi topping the list with 1,506 cases. Gujarat follows Delhi with 1,027 cases reported during the period followed by Punjab with 845.

Though Delhi registered the highest number of cases, the deaths were 16. Gujarat topped in this category with 194 deaths due to swine flu. A total of 597 people have died due to the deadly disease, a senior health ministry official said.

Rajasthan recorded the highest number of deaths after Gujarat with 162 followed by 83 deaths in Maharashtra.

The others states which recorded substantial number of cases included Rajasthan with 845, Haryana 448, Punjab 183 and Madhya Pradesh 103. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha and Tripura recorded zero cases.