Bi-weekly News Pouch: 24 March 2017





OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks



WHO: Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China - Disease outbreak news
WHO, 23 Mar
On 17 March 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of 22 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in mainland China.

CIDRAP Flu Scan - 23 Mar
  • Alabama reports one more low-path H7N9 avian flu outbreak
  • Study shows 3-strain flu vaccine yields better immune response in lab


Avian flu threat re-emerges as new outbreaks are reported in US flocks, 21 Mar

Infection with North American strains of low-pathogenic avian flu is a common natural occurrence in wild birds, such as ducks and geese, which usually show few or no symptoms, Wallner-Pendleton explained.

HK researchers identify mutation in H7N9 virus
Shanghai Daily, 22 Mar
A mutation in H7N9 avian flu virus that can enhance the ability of the virus to infect humans was identified by researchers from the University of Hong Kong, ...

An NS-segment Exonic Splicing Enhancer Regulates Influenza A Virus Replication in Mammalian Cells
Nature Communications, 21 Mar
Influenza virus utilizes host splicing machinery to process viral mRNAs expressed from both M and NS segments. Through genetic analysis and functional characterization, we here show that the NS segment of H7N9 virus contains a unique G540A substitution...

Single nucleotide change responsible for allowing H7N9 flu to jump from birds to humans found, 23 Mar
In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the team describes their efforts in searching for the factors involved when avian flu jumps to ...



WHO Zika Situation Report - 10 Mar
- 10 Mar 



Establishing a Timeline to Discontinue Routine Testing of Asymptomatic Pregnant Women for Zika Virus Infection — American Samoa, 2016–2017
CDC MMWR, 24 Mar
Information on Zika virus transmission from the existing enhanced surveillance in American Samoa and current CDC guidance were used to develop criteria for calculating an end date (October 15, 2016) for active mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus and to propose a timeline for discontinuation of routine screening of asymptomatic pregnant women in American Samoa.

Study: South America Zika attack rates lower than in French Polynesia
CIDRAP, 22 Mar
A study yesterday in Scientific Reports found that attack rates of Zika varied from 78% in French Polynesia to 21% in Colombia and 32% in the state of Bahia, Brazil. Scientific Reports study

Zika mosquito genome mapped – at last
Nature, 23 Mar
As the Zika virus raced across the Western Hemisphere in 2015 and 2016, geneticists eager to battle the outbreak felt crippled. The genome sequence of the ...

Genetically modified mosquito use under consideration in Houston
CBS News, 21 Mar
Officials are considering releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in Houston as part of the fight against the insects known to carry diseases such as the Zika ...

Blood, Sweat, and Tears? The Presence of Zika in the Eye
Medscape, 21 Mar
With its recent downgrading by the World Health Organization from acute outbreak to a chronic problem, Zika has faded somewhat from the spotlight. Yet every ...



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

Qatar reports its first MERS case of 2017
CIDRAP, 22 Mar
The case, involving a 62-year-old man, is likely locally acquired, and Saudi officials, meanwhile, report MERS in 4 camel herds.

Immunogenicity of Candidate MERS-CoV DNA Vaccines
Nature, 23 Mar

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging zoonotic pathogen recovered first from a fatal human case in Saudi Arabia in 20121 and continued to infect almost 1800 people in over 25 countries.


Evaluating Novel Diagnostics in an Outbreak Setting: Lessons Learned from Ebola
Journal of Clinical Microbiology, March 2017
Inadequate access to rapid testing for Ebola virus disease during the 2014-16 outbreak led to an explosion in the development of diagnostics that could be performed at or near the point-of-care and by less experienced operators, leading in turn to an acute need for novel test evaluation. Here, we present the challenges to novel diagnostic development and evaluation in an emergency setting...

Interferon Drug Shows Promise in Treating Ebola
Science Daily, 21 Mar
A pilot study of a class of drugs used to treat hepatitis and some forms of multiple sclerosis has been shown for the first time to ease symptoms of Ebola patients, while also increasing their survival.

Rebuilding Health Care in the Shadow of Ebola - Sierra Leone
Reliefweb, 24 Mar

Painted warnings about the Ebola virus are fading from walls as life slowly returns to normal across Sierra Leone, but Princess Koroma's scars remain as vivid ...

Silence is golden: Suppressing host response to Ebola virus may help to control infection
Science Daily, 22 Mar
The Ebola virus causes a severe, often fatal illness when it infects the human body. Initially targeting cells of the immune system called macrophages, white ...


Doctors in Liberia test new Ebola vaccine, 23 Mar
It has been three years since the United Nations declared an Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa. Yet doctors still do not know how the virus was passed from ...


WHO EMRO: cholera cases in Yemen, 21 March
WHO, 21 Mar

The Ministry of Public Health and Population in Yemen has released updated figures for the ongoing outbreak of cholera. During the week of 6–12 March 2017, 88 new suspected cases of cholera and 2 deaths have been reported, mainly from Hajjah, Al Bayda and Sana’a governorates.

Chikungunya Virus: An Update on the Biology and Pathogenesis of this Emerging Pathogen
The Lancet - Infectious Diseases, April 2017
Chikungunya virus continues to cause large epidemics worldwide, with no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to prevent infection. In this Review, we provide an update on chikungunya virus with regard to its epidemiology, molecular virology, virus-host interactions, immunological responses, animal models of disease, and potential antiviral therapies and vaccines. 

Rio de Janeiro State Reports Yellow Fever, Ecuador Confirms 1st Case in 5 Years
Outbreak News Today, 20 Mar
Last week, the state of Rio de Janeiro reported its two first confirmed autochthonous yellow fever cases in the municipality of Casimiro de Abreu, located 135 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Facing Significant Yellow Fever Outbreak, Brazil Appeals for More Vaccine
STAT, 21 Mar
Brazil, in the grips of an unusually large yellow fever outbreak, has asked for millions of doses of vaccine from an international emergency stockpile.

UN Accepts Blame but Dodges the Bill in Haiti
New York Times, 21 Mar
Today's lesson in evading moral responsibility comes to us from the UN. The organization says it is terribly concerned about the cholera epidemic in Haiti and wishes to eliminate it. But it has not figured out when and how this is going to happen, and with what money.

Peru's deadly floods ring alarm bell for Latin America cities
Reuters, 23 Mar
Surging urban populations across cities in Latin America - a result of mass migration from rural to urban areas - make them vulnerable to floods...


Resilience Action Planning: Implementing the Sendai Framework at the Local Level - Online course
27 Feb 2017 - 02 Jun 2017 | Online Event
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); UNISDR Office for Northeast Asia and Global Education and Training Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction at Incheon (UNISDR ONEA-GETI)