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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bird Flu isn't just China's problem anymore

Via Time, excerpt :

" As the first human cases of H7N9 bird flu infection outside of China begin to emerge—in Taiwan and Hong Kong—health officials around the world are preparing for a potentially perfect storm for a massive flu outbreak. On Thursday, billions of Chinese will be on the move to celebrate the Lunar New Year, creating ripe conditions for the spread of the influenza virus from those already infected. And many of those celebrations will include chickens, the primary carriers of H7N9. In addition, with the Winter Olympics, one of the world’s largest sporting events, just two weeks away, the virus could find the ideal conditions for breaking out.

And that means the next plane could bring a pandemic to the U.S. or anywhere else around the world. “The bottom line is the health security of the U.S. is only as strong as the health security of every country around the world,” says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. “We are all connected by the food we eat, the water the drink and the air we breathe.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hong Kong reports third H7N9 death

Via NST, excerpt :

" Hong Kong Wednesday reported its third death from H7N9 bird flu — an elderly man who had visited mainland China — a day after authorities culled 22,000 birds to curb the disease.

The 75-year-old man had previously travelled to the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen and died Wednesday morning, a Department of Health spokesman confirmed to AFP without elaborating.

Fears over avian flu have grown following the deaths of two men from the H7N9 strain of the virus in Hong Kong since December.

A 65-year-old man with H7N9 died on January 14 and an 80-year old man died on Boxing Day last year. Both had recently returned from mainland China.

The latest case comes a day after the city culled thousands of birds, mainly chickens, following the discovery of infected poultry imported from the mainland."

Confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong under CHP investigation

From CHP :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (January 29) investigating a confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a man aged 75.

The patient, with multiple underlying illnesses, lived in Tin Shui Wai. He developed cough with sputum in Shenzhen on January 26 and attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) last night (January 28) for fever and shortness of breath. He was subsequently transferred to the isolation ward. His condition deteriorated and he passed away this morning.

His nasopharyngeal aspirate was positive for avian influenza A(H7) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by TMH and was confirmed as H7N9 upon further testing by the CHP's Public Health Laboratory Services Branch.

Initial epidemiological investigations by the CHP revealed that the patient had travelled alone to Baoan, Shenzhen, from January 20 to 26 and had stayed in his relative's residence close to a live poultry market.

The patient's five home contacts in Hong Kong (regarded as close contacts) have remained asymptomatic. They will be admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital for testing and observation.

Further investigations into his travel and exposure history are ongoing, in parallel with tracing of other contacts of the patient, including four patients who stayed in the same cubicle with the patient in TMH, healthcare workers of TMH and the ambulance service, who will be put under medical surveillance.

The CHP will liaise with relevant Mainland health authority to follow-up the patient's contacts during his stay in Shenzhen."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chicken off menu as Hong Kong culls 20,000 birds

Via Channel News Asia :

" A cull of 20,000 chickens was under way in Hong Kong on Tuesday after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was found in poultry imported from mainland China, days before Lunar New Year.

Fears over avian flu have grown following the deaths of two men from the H7N9 strain in Hong Kong since December. Both had recently returned from mainland China.

The number of human cases in China this month is 102 with 22 deaths, according to an AFP tally, and the worst-hit province of Zhejiang has closed live poultry markets in major cities there.

Officials wearing masks and protective suits piled dead chickens into black plastic bags at Hong Kong's Cheung Sha Wan market on Tuesday, where the virus was found, television footage showed."

Korea boosts quarantine efforts as AI spreads

Via Korea Herald :

" South Korea’s agriculture minister called for all-out efforts to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza Tuesday, following a series of new suspected cases in areas close to the capital.

“The government has so far put its utmost efforts into preventing the spread of AI and eradicating the animal disease at an early date,” Lee Dong-phil, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said at a press briefing.

Lee, however, noted that government efforts alone may not be enough. “We may be able to eradicate AI sooner if we all work together,” he said.

The minister asked poultry farm owners to continue their quarantine efforts and continue sterilizing their facilities to prevent any inflow of AI virus into their farms.

He also asked that people avoid visiting areas, such as reservoirs, that serve as homes for migratory birds, especially during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday that begins Thursday.

The government has pointed to migratory birds as the original source of bird flu after the virulent H5N8 strain of bird flu was identified in a group of wild ducks found dead on Jan. 17 at a reservoir near the duck farm that first reported AI."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Man dies from H7N9 in E China

Via Xinhua :

" A 38-year-old man died from H7N9 bird flu on Friday in east China's Fujian Province, the provincial health and family planning commission confirmed in a statement.

The man, surnamed Zeng, was from Hui'an County of Quanzhou City. He was confirmed to be infected with the virus in the early morning of Friday and died in hospital in the morning, according to the statement.

He was admitted to hospital on Wednesday.

This was the first human case of H7N9 in Fujian this year.

Human cases of the bird flu virus have also been reported in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong so far this year."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Health chief says it's possible more Hongkongers have H7N9 bird flu

Via South China Morning Post, excerpt :

Food and Health Secretary Dr Ko Wing-man on Thursday did not out the possibility that more Hongkongers might be have the deadly H7N9 virus after a Hong Kong patient came down with the avian flu following a mainland trip.

The patient, a 66-year-old man with no history of consuming or coming in contact with live poultry, was diagnosed with bird flu after “passing by” a wet market in Shenzhen.
The man, who is in critical condition, is in isolation and getting intensive treatment at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam.
“In the past, the virus has been detected in many samples taken from the environment. It means people should be careful when visiting wet markets, especially where live poultry is on sale,” Ko said. “The risk for people who suffer from chronic illness to visit the wet market is also higher.”
Ko noted that the patient with H7N9 was already suffering from long-term illness and required regular hemodialysis, a process for cleansing the blood of toxins.
Ko said experts have warned that the virus could be more active in winter, and believed more cases would emerge around Guangdong province and other southern Chinese regions."

Belize : Five people die from Leptospirosis, is the Ministry of Health launching an investigation?

Via Channel 5 News, excerpt :

Tonight there are unconfirmed reports that the Ministry of Health has launched an investigation into five deaths, allegedly caused by an infectious bacterial disease known as leptospirosis. Lepto occurs in dogs, rodents and other mammals, but can be transmitted to humans, mainly through the urine or feces of infected animals. 

News Five has been able to confirm one death by leptospirosis, which tragically occurred on New Year’s Day. Michael Lewis was a popular traffic officer in Belize City. 

He passed away from the disease at just after eight pm on January first, one week after he was admitted to the K.H.M.H. Today, his sister-in-law, Noellee Swift-McField, told News Five that the medical personnel confirmed the cause of death, and also confirmed that Lewis was the fifth case they had treated."

Third confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong under CHP investigation

Press release from CHP :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (January 8) investigating an additional confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong affecting a man aged 65.

The patient, with underlying medical condition, lives in Sham Shui Po. He presented with fever, coughing and shortness of breath since January 3 and attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) on January 7. He was admitted for chest infection. As his condition deteriorated, he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit on the same day. 

His nasopharyngeal aspirate tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon laboratory testing by the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch of the CHP today.

The patient is currently under isolation for further management in QMH in critical condition.

Initial investigation by the CHP revealed that the patient had travelled to Shenzhen with his family member from January 1 to 2. They passed by a wet market in Shenzhen on January 1. In Hong Kong, the patient did not go into wet markets, but he may sometimes walk pass the entrance of Pei Ho Street Market in Sham Shui Po in the morning.

Enquiries also indicated that his close contact has remained asymptomatic so far and will be put under quarantine for 10 days since last contact with the patient. Contact tracing for his other contacts including patients in QMH who stayed in the same cubicle with the confirmed patient as well as healthcare workers in QMH and relevant hospital visitors are underway. They will be put under medical surveillance."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Singapore : Woman in her late 50s becomes first dengue death this year

Via Straits Times :

" Singapore has had its first dengue death this year. The victim, a woman who had been transferred from Changi General Hospital to Gleneagles Hospital under an existing agreement between the two, died on Wednesday.

The woman, believed to be in her late 50s, was moved to the private hospital at the end of last year. Her condition deteriorated and she was moved to intensive care. She died of dengue hemorrhagic fever."

S China's Guangdong reports 10th H7N9 case

Via Xinhua :

" The southern city of Foshan in Guangdong Province reported a new human H7N9 case on Wednesday, raising the total number of such cases in the province to 10 since August.

The 51-year-old female patient, surnamed Cui, was sent to hospital on Jan. 1. She is now in a critical condition, said the provincial health and family planning commission.

Cui bought a live chicken at a market and slaughtered it at home.

No abnormal conditions have been found in the 21 people who were in close contact with the patient.

Guangdong confirmed its first human case of H7N9 on Aug. 10. Two of its 10 cases were uncovered in Shenzhen, two in Foshan, one in Huizhou, two in Dongguan and three in Yangjiang."

New H7N9 case reported in east China

Via Xinhua :

" A new case of human contraction of H7N9 bird flu has been confirmed in east China's Jiangsu Province, provincial health authorities revealed on Wednesday.

The patient is a 54-year-old woman in Nanjing, the provincial capital. Provincial medical experts confirmed late on Thursday that she had been infected.

She is being treated in a hospital in Nanjing.

Human cases of H7N9 have been reported in Zhejiang, Guangdong and Shanghai in January."

Nepal : Joint secy dies of swine flu virus

Via The Himalayan Times :

A government secretary died of swine flu virus today. Bhawa Krishna Bhattarai was joint secretary at the National Planning Commission. He died at Norvic Hospital in Kathmandu this morning.

Dr Baburam Marasini, Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, said Bhattarai was given Tamiflu after he was diagnosed with an influenza pandemic. 

However, there was no official confirmation to this effect from the hospital. Dr Marasini said his office had asked the hospital to forward details (relating to death) to the Department of Health.

A source at the hospital told this daily that Bhattarai had recently returned from the United States and was admitted to the hospital a week ago. 

When in the hospital, tests conducted on him confirmed that he was infected with H1N1 virus. Dr Ramesh Chokhani was attending to Bhattarai."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Concern over rare strain of Dengue fever in Fiji

Via Radio Australia :

The World Health Organisation says it's concerned about a strain of Dengue fever affecting people in Fiji.

The World Health Organisation says it's concerned about a strain of Dengue fever affecting people in Fiji, which hasn't been seen there for 20 years.
It's believed the strain could have been spreading with people as they have moved from urban to rural areas during the festive period.
Since the start of November last year, 406 cases of dengue have been reported.
The strain of dengue fever seen most often in Fiji is strain 1.
The strain 3, found in Fiji over the past few months, has in the past been found in Solomon Islands and French Polynesia.

Canada : H1N1 Flu In Alberta Causes 10 Deaths

Via The Huffington Post :

Ten people between the ages of 18 and 64 have died from flu, Alberta health officials said Monday.

Of the 300 people now in hospital, 40 are in the intensive care unit.
Some of the people who died had underlying health conditions. 
Dr. James Talbot, the chief medical officer of health for Alberta Health, said the outbreak is not a pandemic, but H1N1 is the recurring strain people are getting this year. 
"Virtually all of the influenza that we're seeing in the province this year is H1N1," he said. 
More people have been immunized at this point than last year, Talbot added. 
Over the past few days, the escalation in flu cases has prompted health officials to urge people to get a flu shot. Long lineups have been reported outside of clinics operated by Alberta Health Services."

Monday, January 6, 2014

WHO : Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – update

Press release from WHO :

" On 18 and 19 December 2013, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China notified WHO of two new laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

The first patient is a 62 year old man from Guangdong Province. He became ill on 11 December 2013 and was admitted to hospital on 16 December 2013. He is currently in critical condition. He has a history of exposure to live poultry.

The second patient is 38 year old man from Guangdong Province. He became ill on 9 December 2013 and was admitted to hospital on 18 December 2013. He is currently in critical condition."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

China : Goose meat tests positive for H7N9 in Chinese city

Via Xinhua :

" Samples of goose meat taken from a Guangzhou market in south China's Guangdong Province have tested positive for H7N9 avian influenza.

Two goose meat samples and one sewage water sample from two poultry booths in a wet market in Zengcheng, a satellite city of Guangzhou, tested positive, Guangdong Provincial Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) confirmed on Sunday.

"It's serious that the water sample test is positive, because it means all the birds inside coops have the possibility of being infected with H7N9 avian influenza. The longer they stay in the coops, the risk of being infected rises," said Yang Zhicong, deputy chief of the Guangzhou municipal CDCP. The city government of Guangzhou, the provincial capital, is tracking the poultry source. The market was shut down on Saturday for three days so disinfection and cleaning can take place.

Meanwhile, 17 sales people working in nine poultry booths in the market are undergoing a week-long medical observation. So far, they have shown no signs of being infected with the bird flu, said Yang.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a contagious disease of animal origin caused by viruses that normally only infect birds and, less commonly, pigs. It can be fatal to humans.

Six human cases of H7N9 bird flu have been confirmed in Guangdong Province since August. None are from Guangzhou."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

China : Additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Shanghai verified by NHFPC

Press release from CHP :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (January 4) verified with the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Shanghai affecting a man aged 86.

The case was confirmed yesterday (January 3) and the patient is currently admitted to a local hospital for treatment.

To date, a total of 145 human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been confirmed in the Mainland, including Zhejiang (51 cases), Shanghai (34 cases), Jiangsu (28 cases), Guangdong (six cases), Jiangxi (six cases), Fujian (five cases), Anhui (four cases), Henan (four cases), Beijing (two cases), Hunan (two cases), Shandong (two cases) and Hebei (one case).

The CHP will follow-up with the Mainland health authorities for more case details.

"Locally, enhanced disease surveillance, port health measures and health education against avian influenza are ongoing. We will remain vigilant and maintain liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant health authorities. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO's recommendations," a spokesman for the DH remarked.

All border control points (BCPs) have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation."

Friday, January 3, 2014

Canada : Alberta’s H1N1 outbreak leads to rush in flu vaccinations

Via The Globe and Mail, excerpt :

Hundreds of Albertans are lining up to get flu shots as the number of confirmed cases of H1N1 climbs in the province, with residents saying they are getting vaccinated out of concern for little children.

The line at Calgary’s mass immunization clinic at the Brentwood Village Shopping Centre had people waiting for more than 45 minutes Thursday afternoon, with many adults bringing toddlers.
There have been 965 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Alberta as of Jan. 1, with the H1N1 strain representing 920 of those cases. The flu has hit 357 people in the Calgary zone, which extends beyond city limits, and 345 of those cases are H1N1, a strain that emerged in 2009. Influenza has sent 103 people to the hospital in the Calgary zone."

USA, Texas : Hidalgo County records six deaths from flu

Via My San Antonio, excerpt :

Influenza is on the rise across Texas, and Hidalgo County is witnessing the deadly consequences.

As of Thursday, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services reported six people have died, including a 7-year-old, from the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.
“While the deaths are certainly tragic, the number of cases falls within the average range of annual fatalities during flu season,” according to an HHS statement.
The five adults had pre-existing medical conditions, such as morbid obesity and diabetes, that made them more vulnerable, officials said. The number of deaths from flu in the county can usually range between 11 and 137."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Canada : Number of H1N1 cases in Edmonton rises to 236; unit closes at Stollery Children's Hospital

Via Edmonton Sun :

" A unit at the Stollery Children's Hospital had to be closed this week as Alberta Health Services confirms influenza cases have doubled once again.

Edmonton has seen 256 lab-confirmed cases of influenza — 236 of which were the dominant H1N1 flu strain — as of Dec. 27, said AHS chief medical health officer Dr. Gerry Predy on Tuesday.

"We have three different strains circulating but H1N1 is by far the most dominant one," he said, adding the season has caused some strain on the Stollery especially."

WHO reports UAE MERS case, confirms 5 Saudi cases

From Robert Roos at CIDRAP, excerpt :

" The wife of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) man who contracted Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is now infected but has no symptoms, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today as it confirmed the latest five cases reported in Saudi Arabia.

The six cases raise the WHO's MERS-CoV tally to 176 cases, including 74 deaths.

The new UAE case is in a 59-year-old woman from Sharjah who is married to a 68-year-old man whose case was reported earlier, the WHO noted. Despite having no symptoms, the woman is in isolation in a hospital.

She is reported to have no history of contact with animals or recent travel, the agency said. It also said other contacts of the couple have tested negative for the virus.

The woman's husband, who had been treated in an intensive care unit (ICU), has died, the WHO said. His illness was reported by the media on Dec 20 and noted by the WHO on Dec 22. He had diabetes and chronic kidney failure.

In confirming the five latest cases reported by Saudi Arabian authorities, the WHO added a little additional information. The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) said all five people are from Riyadh."