Bi-weekly News Pouch: 31 March 2017





OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks



High-path avian flu strikes poultry in Nigeria, France, Taiwan
CIDRAP, 29 Mar
Nigeria, France, and Taiwan reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks, according to the latest updates from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

See also:

CIDRAP Flu Scan for 28 March

  • WHO adds details about two recent H5N1 cases in Egypt
  • H5N1 strikes Vietnamese poultry; H5N8 detections continue in Europe


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, located within a previously undefined exonic splicing...

US: Georgia Hit by Milder Avian Flu as Virus Spreads Through Southeast
Wall Street Journal, 28 Mar
The Georgia Department of Agriculture said Monday that a low pathogenic strain of avian influenza had been identified in a commercial flock in Chattooga ...


Avian flu hits Changhua poultry farm
Focus Taiwan News Channel, 30 Mar
This was the ninth poultry farm hit by avian influenza subtype H5 in the county this year, according to data released by the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture ...



WHO Zika Situation Report - 10 Mar
- 10 Mar 



Singapore: First Zika Cluster of 2017 Discovered in Hougang, Fogging Begins
International Business Times, 30 Mar
The confirmation of 2 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus at Simon Place, near Kovan in Hougang and the discovery of a cluster have triggered frenzy among people. Though MOH declined to reveal any information about the patients, who fortunately are not pregnant, it has ordered vector control operations in the area.

Zika Virus Infection and Associated Neurologic Disorders in Brazil
NEJM,29 Mar
Here, we use routinely collected surveillance data and medical records to show how the spread of ZIKV in Brazil was associated with an increase in the incidence of GBS and microcephaly during 2015 and 2016. We also highlight the limitations of routinely collected data, which cannot yet explain, for example, why there were many fewer cases of microcephaly than expected in 2016.

Why Didn't Zika Cause A Surge In Microcephaly In 2016?
NPR, 30 Mar
Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February ...


Dengue may bring out the worst in Zika
Science Magazine, 30 Mar
If such "antibody-dependent enhancement" (ADE) also takes place in people, it could have helped fuel Zika's recent explosion in Brazil, where more than 90% of ...


Zika virus: Cure steps closer with protein-mapping study
Medical News Today, 28 Mar
There is currently no vaccine or medicine against Zika - a mosquito-borne virus that causes birth defects and, in its recent outbreak, has infected more than 1 ...



- 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


MERS evidence found in camels from more African countries
CIDRAP, 30 Mar
Camels sampled in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Morocco show evidence of exposure to MERS, and scientists also see seropositivity patterns based on location, type of camel herd, and density of the herd. Researchers reported their findings today in the latest issue of Eurosurveillance.

, Volume 22, Issue 13, 30 March 2017
Research article

Understanding Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) transmission in dromedary camels is important, as they consitute a source of zoonotic infection to humans. To identify risk factors for MERS-CoV infection in camels bred in diverse conditions in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Morocco, blood samples and nasal swabs were sampled in February–March 2015.


EU Response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa - European (PDF)

EC, 28 Mar

The European Union, together with its Member States, made available close to €2 billion in financial aid to help West Africa contain and recover from the outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) that devastated the region in 2014-15.

Ebola: The great ape gamble
Nature, 29 Mar

Ebola could pose a grave health threat to gorillas in Africa. Vaccination seems like a smart solution, but dosing the animals in the wild poses major challenges.

Ebola crisis: How to improve the integrity of responses to public health emergencies?
Transparency International, 30 Mar
In a new report focusing on the Ebola crisis in Guinea, the global anti-corruption organisation found that supporting local healthcare capacities and investing in ...


Weekly update: cholera in Somalia, 26 March 2017
WHO, 26 Mar
The number of cholera cases reported by the Ministry of Health in Somalia has reached a cumulative 17 211 cases and 388 deaths with a case fatality rate of 2.25%, which is nearly 4 times as many as were recorded for the same period in 2016, and surpasses the total number of cases recorded in 2016. 

See also:

Somalia cholera outbreak spreads to inaccessible areas
CIDRAP, 30 Mar
The number of cholera cases this year in Somalia—a country grappling with political conflict and on the brink of another famine—has already passed the total number of cases reported for all of 2016, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) said in a recent update.

More than 18.8 million doses of yellow fever vaccine distributed in Brazil
CIDRAP, 29 Mar
According to an update yesterday from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), more than 18.8 million doses of yellow fever vaccine have been distributed in Brazil since January, in addition to routine immunization efforts. The massive campaign aims to quell the current yellow fever outbreak before it reaches the country's largest cities.

WHO Disease outbreak news: Yellow fever – Suriname
WHO, 28 Mar
On 9 March 2017, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands reported a case of yellow fever to WHO. The patient is a Dutch adult female traveller who visited Suriname from the middle of February until early March 2017. She was not vaccinated against yellow fever.

Pandemic research project presents recommendations to European Commission
PreventionWeb, 27 Mar
The European Union-funded pandemic project, Pandemic Risk and Emergency Management (PANDEM), has completed its research phase and produced a final report, identifying current needs and recommending innovative solutions to the European Commission.

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2016: a year of widespread damages
Swiss Reinsurance Company, 28 Mar
Globally there were 327 disaster events in 2016, of which 191 were natural catastrophes and 136 were man-made.

Assessing the climate change-migration nexus through the lens of migrants: the case of the Republic of Mauritius
International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2017
This report presents the findings of a survey and qualitative interviews conducted to investigate to what extent migration can be seen an adaptation strategy to environmental and climate change in the country. The survey reveals that migration is associated with...

Comparing Nonpharmaceutical Interventions for Containing Emerging Epidemics
PNAS, March 2017
Strategies for containing an emerging infectious disease outbreak must be nonpharmaceutical when drugs or vaccines for the pathogen do not yet exist or are unavailable. The success of these nonpharmaceutical strategies will depend on not only the effectiveness of isolation measures but also the epidemiological characteristics of the infection.