Bi-weekly News Pouch: 10 March 2017





OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks



Asian Lineage Avian Influenza A (H7N9) Virus | Avian Influenza (Flu)

CDC, 9 March

Most human infections with avian influenza viruses, including Asian H7N9 virus, have occurred after exposure to poultry; Asian H7N9 viruses continue to circulate in poultry in China. Most reported patients with H7N9 virus infection have had severe respiratory illness (e.g., pneumonia).

Flu shows slow retreat in Northern Hemisphere
CIDRAP, 8 March
Flu activity is still elevated in many Northern Hemisphere countries but has already peaked in parts of East Asia and Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest global flu update.

FAO H7N9 situation update
FAO, 8 March
Situation: Influenza A(H7N9) virus with pandemic potential.
Country: China; three human cases originated in China and were reported in Malaysia (1) and Canada (2).
Number of human cases: 1292 confirmed; 435 deaths (since February 2013)

Malaysia reports first H5N1 outbreak in nearly 10 years
CIDRAP, 8 March
Elsewhere, more H5N8 avian flu has been detected in Poland and Australia.


CDC Media statement: Outbreak of North American Avian Influenza A(H7N9) in Poultry Poses Low Risk to People
CDC, 8 March
CDC is working closely with USDA APHIS and the Tennessee Department of Health to minimize any human health risk posed by the avian influenza outbreak in Lincoln County, Tennessee.

Avian influenza global spread raises concern for next human pandemic and poultry production
ABC Online, 10 March
In South Korea 35 million poultry have been destroyed following the worst outbreak of avian influenza ever seen in the country. Various strains of the virus have ...



WHO Zika Situation Report - 2 Feb
- 9 Feb 



Evidence of Zika found in up to 16% of African non-human primates
CIDRAP, 9 March
A study today in Clinical Science and Epidemiology measured the seroprevealnce of Zika virus in wild African green monkeys and baboons and found that up to 16% of these non-human primates had been exposed to the virus. The authors said their study will help provide more information about how Zika is spread among animals before it appears in human populations.

Zika virus linked to heart problems in some adults, 9 March
Many people infected with Zika will have no or only mild symptoms, such as fever, aches, an itchy rash or red eyes. But the virus has caused an epidemic of birth ...

5 Zika Health Problems Experts Say Could Affect Anyone
TIME, 9 March
March isn't mosquito season in much of the United States, but scientists are still busy studying the various health problems caused by the mysterious mosquito-borne Zika virus. While experts know more about the virus than they did over a year ago, and ...


Use of Blood Donor Screening Data to Estimate Zika Virus Incidence, Puerto Rico, April-August 2016
CDC EID, March 2017
Puerto Rico has been heavily impacted by Zika virus, a mosquitoborne flavivirus that emerged in the Americas during 2015. Although most persons with Zika virus show no symptoms, the virus can cause neurologic and other complications, including fetal microcephaly. Local Zika virus transmission in Puerto Rico has been reported since December 2015.

Assessing Sensitivity and Specificity of Surveillance Case Definitions for Zika Virus Disease
CDC EID, March 2017
We evaluated performance of 5 case definitions for Zika virus disease surveillance in a human cohort during an outbreak in Singapore, August 26-September 5, 2016. Because laboratory tests are largely inaccessible, use of case definitions that include rash as a required clinical feature are useful in identifying this disease.

Zika and Ebola affected women worse than men
SBS, 10 March

The Zika and Ebola outbreaks in West Africa disproportionately affected women, particularly pregnant women.




WHO MERS-CoV Disease Outbreak News full archive here 
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia - 10 Feb
WHO: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) maps and epicurves - Feb 2017
Saudi Arabia MOH Statistics 
FAO’s MERS-CoV monthly update


WHO: MERS situation update, January–February 2017
WHO, 9 March
At the end of February 2017, a total of 1916 laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), including 702 deaths (case–fatality rate: 36.6%) were reported globally...

See also:

WHO: Saudi MERS this year higher than same period a year ago
CIDRAP, 9 March
In an epidemiologic update on MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia today, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that there were more cases in the first 2 months of 2017 than during the same period last year. The WHO also said its scientists are seeing younger women with the coronavirus, but that much of the disease's demographics haven't changed.

Saudi Arabia: MERS cases up in 2017 to date
Outbreak News Today, 10 March
... at the end of February 2017, a total of 1916 laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), including 702 deaths ...


However Much Trump Spends on Arms, We Can't Bomb Ebola
New York Times: Opinion, 2 March
The administration plans a $54 billion increase in military spending, financed in part by a 37% cut in the budgets of the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. It's sometimes true that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, as Chairman Mao said, but it also emerges from diplomacy, foreign aid and carefully cultivated good will.

Ebola vaccine shows promise for gorillas and chimps
BBC News, 10 March
A small trial suggests that a vaccine against Ebola could protect gorillas and chimps from the deadly disease. Past outbreaks have devastated great ape ...


Producing Ebola: Creating Knowledge in and About an Epidemic (PDF)
Anthropological Quarterly, March 2017
Try to remember what it was like during the fall of 2014. Ebola was always in the news, the virus was spreading and people were dying at an increasing rate in West Africa. Although there should have been ways to stop it, more and more people were falling ill. In the US, there was near panic about the possibility of it coming here.

Ebola Vaccine Tested on Humans in UK Trials (BBC) Researchers in UK are currently part of a worldwide effort to develop a vaccine for Ebola, so that it's ready should another outbreak occur. Victoria Derbyshire reporter Catrin Nye went to visit the Oxford Vaccine Group - a place where they are constantly looking for volunteers to trial new vaccines.


Yellow fever in Brazil raises worries of a new Zika-like threat
CIDRAP, 9 March
What started as a jungle-related outbreak is now pushing toward urban areas.

Yellow Fever -- Once Again on the Radar Screen in the Americas
NEJM, 8 March
Over the past several weeks, a fifth arbovirus, yellow fever virus, has broken out in Brazil, with the majority of the infections occurring in rural areas of the country. In this ongoing outbreak, health authorities have reported 234 confirmed infections and 80 confirmed deaths as of February 2017.

Strengthening Global Health Security: A 17-Year Partnership
Public Health Emergency, 8 March
In 2009, the influenza virus called H1N1 emerged in the US and swiftly worked its way around the world, creating the first pandemic in decades. From that global response as well as other nations' responses to emerging infectious diseases and man-made terrorism -- from bombings to chemical weapons - we've seen the advantages in collaborating with partner countries.

Report: Environmental Hazards Kill 1.7 Million Kids Under 5 Each Year
Goats and Soda, 7 March
According to 2 new WHO reports, about 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die each year because of environmental hazards. It's the first such estimate of the child death toll from environmental causes.

Cholera cases soar as Somalia spirals towards famine
Save the Children via reliefWeb, 10 March
Save the Children's health and nutrition clinics are reporting ‘all the early warnings signs’ of an avoidable catastrophe, with deaths from cholera and acute watery diarrhoea rising sharply.

See also:

Sri Lanka hit by worst drought in decades
Save the Children via reliefWeb, 10 March
Drought conditions now exist in all but two of the country’s 25 provinces, and more than 1.2 million people are affected, including over 600,000 children.


Trump's foreign aid proposal rattles global health advocates
The Lancet, March 2017
The Trump administration's proposal to cut foreign aid signals a substantial shift away from a US leadership role in global health—even if Congress tempers the policy. Sam Loewenberg reports.

Offline: Planetary health—the great acceleration
The Lancet, March 2017
“Eviscerate it!” Laurie Garrett was at her most pugnacious. She was speaking last week at the New York headquarters of the Rockefeller Foundation. Her subject was Planetary Health 2.0 and her target was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), specifically its work on health.

Interim leader appointed as Global Fund election restarts
The Lancet, March 2017
The Global Fund has appointed an interim head and reopened its search for a permanent leader after initial recruitment efforts were clouded by controversy.

Scholarship fund for young African scientists facing demise
The Lancet, March 2017
A UK-Japanese scholarship for young African researchers, which has been running since 2008, will end this year if new sources of funding are not forthcoming.

The US immigration ban: implications for medical education and the physician workforce
The Lancet, March 2017
On Jan 27, 2017, a presidential executive order, which was later suspended, halted entry to the USA for 90 days for immigrant and non-immigrant persons from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen).