Bi-Weekly News Pouch: 7 March 2017






H7N9 sickens 21 more in China over past week
CIDRAP, 3 March
Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) said today that from Feb 24 to Mar 2 the mainland reported 21 more H7N9 avian influenza cases. Earlier this week Chinese health officials said the cases in the fifth and biggest wave of H7N9 have peaked and are declining.

Increase in Human Infections with Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Virus During the Fifth Epidemic — China, October 2016–February 2017
CDC MMWR, 3 March
During March 2013–February 24, 2017, annual epidemics of avian influenza A(H7N9) in China resulted in 1,258 avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infections in humans being reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and other regional sources...

Greek H5N6 virus appears distinct from Asian strain
In international avian flu developments, scientists said an early look at the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain found recently in Greece suggests that it is different than the one triggering poultry outbreaks in Asia. Elsewhere, agriculture officials in several countries reported more outbreaks involving a variety of subtypes.

Rosselkhoznadzor: Avian Flu Outbreak in Moscow Region
Avian Flu Diary, 6 Mar
Late yesterday Russian language media began talking about an outbreak of avian flu at a large poultry production facility near Moscow. This morning we have two official reports confirming the outbreak, along with some less-than-official media reports suggesting some number of exposed workers have been hospitalized with 'flu-like' symptoms.

Evaluating the Impact of Pharmacies on Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Administration
Cambridge: Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 21 Feb
The objective of this study was to quantify the potential retail pharmacy vaccine administration capacity and its possible impact on pandemic influenza vaccine uptake.

Continual Antigenic Diversification in China Leads to Global Antigenic Complexity of Avian Influenza H5N1 Viruses
Nature, 6 Mar
The highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus poses a significant potential threat to human society due to its wide spread and rapid evolution. In this study, we present a comprehensive antigenic map for HPAI H5N1 viruses including 218 newly sequenced isolates from diverse regions of mainland China, by computationally separating ...



WHO Zika Situation Report - 2 Feb
- 9 Feb 
WHO: Quarterly update of the Strategic Response Plan 28 October 2016



Florida confirms 3 more local Zika cases; CDC reports more birth defects
CIDRAP, 3 March
The Florida Department of Health (Florida Health) yesterday reported three more locally acquired Zika cases, all involving samples collected a few months ago. In other US developments, the CDC yesterday said four more babies have been born with Zika-related defects, raising the total to 47.

Zika virus in Canadian patients 'more severe' than expected
BBC, 7 Mar

The impact of the Zika virus on infected Canadian travellers was "more severe" than expected, say researchers. ... They say they found a higher rate of complicated illness than anticipated in Zika patients. ... Researchers found that 10% of patients with the virus had severe complications.

Zika Virus Infection and Prolonged Viremia in Whole-blood Specimens
Emerging Infectious Diseases, May 2017
We tested whole-blood and plasma samples from immunocompetent patients who had had benign Zika virus infections and found that Zika virus RNA persisted in whole blood substantially longer than in plasma. This finding may have implications for diagnosis of acute symptomatic and asymptomatic infections and for testing of blood donations.

What rubella vaccine can teach us about fighting Zika virus
CBC, 6 Mar

Science writer Meredith Wadman says the race to develop the rubella vaccine holds some important lessons for the world today, just as the need to treat the Zika ...


A cluster of Zika virus infection in a Chinese tour group returning from Fiji and Samoa
Nature, 7 Mar

Zika virus is currently causing extensive outbreaks in a number of countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean and has been associated with ...



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

Three new Saudi MERS cases hint at hospital outbreak
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) reported three new cases of MERS-CoV yesterday and today in Wadi ad-Dawasir in south central Saudi Arabia.

Surveillance and Testing for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Saudi Arabia, April 2015–February 2016
CDC EID, April 2017
Saudi Arabia has reported >80% of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases worldwide. During April 2015–February 2016, Saudi Arabia identified and tested 57,363 persons (18.4/10,000 residents) with suspected MERS-CoV infection; 384 tested positive. Robust, extensive, and timely surveillance is critical for limiting virus transmission.



The Ebola suspect's dilemma—what to do when seeking treatment is more likely to harm than to help
Medical Xpress, 7 Mar
The height of the Ebola outbreak sweeping the region. A person experiences sudden onset of fever, vomiting, diarrhea—textbook early symptoms of Ebola. But there's a catch. A person with those symptoms is just as likely to have malaria as Ebola, creating a potentially deadly dilemma, said the authors of a newly published essay in The Lancet Global Health.

Vaccination of health care workers to control Ebola virus disease
Crofsblogs, 7 Mar

Background: Health care workers (HCW) are known to be at risk of infection during Ebola virus disease outbreaks, particularly during the early phase when the ...

Ghana Health Service condemns false Ebola outbreak report
Ghanaweb, 3 Mar

The Ghana Health Service has debunked information circulating on social media, suggesting that there is an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Ghana.


PAHO's weekly report says yellow fever cases on decline
CIDRAP, 3 March
Despite reporting cases in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia so far this year, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in its weekly report yesterday that the current yellow fever outbreak in South America is waning. (PAHO report)

Yellow fever in Brazil - Disease outbreak news
WHO, 6 Mar
Updates on yellow fever vaccination recommendations for international travellers related to the current situation in Brazil - As of 3 March 2017, yellow fever virus transmission continues to expand towards the Atlantic coast of Brazil in areas not deemed to be at risk for yellow fever transmission prior to the revised risk assessment...

A Race against Time: Responding to Cholera Outbreaks in Ghana
Global Communities, 7 Mar
When Cholera strikes, it is devastating. It moves quickly, infecting people who unknowingly pass it on to others. High-density communities around city centers are often the hardest hit by an outbreak, and efforts to contain the disease become a race against time. Since the early 1970s, Ghana has reported intermittent Cholera outbreaks, with significant epidemics in the recent past. In 2014, 60 percent of Ghana’s districts reported Cholera infections and in 2014 and 2015 combined, nearly 30,000 new cases and over 250 deaths were reported.

In Somalia, UN chief Guterres urges global support to avert famine and curb spread of cholera
UN News, 7 Mar
Visiting Somalia, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged international support to avoid a famine in the drought-hit African country and curb the spread of cholera while also highlighting some hopeful developments there.


Famine warning signs were clear – so why are 20 million lives now at risk?
The Guardian, 7 Mar
This year could be the most deadly from famine in three decades. The lives of more than 20 million people are at risk in four countries. Large areas of South Sudan have already been declared a famine zone. Five years after a famine that claimed a quarter-of-a-million lives, Somalia is back on the brink of catastrophe: 6 million people are in need of assistance. Both north-east Nigeria and Yemen face real and present risks of famine.

TC Enawo set to affect 1.4 million people in Madagascar
IFRC via ReliefWeb,
The cyclone will trigger life-threatening storm-surge flooding, damaging winds, dangerous surf and mud/rockslides near and along the northeast coast of Madagascar starting Tuesday.

Environmental pollution kills 1.7 million children each year
WHO, 6 Mar

Environmental risks cause more than 1 in 4 deaths in children aged under 5 years every year, according to 2 new reports from WHO. Children are especially vulnerable to pollution due to their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways. The most common causes of death – diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia – are preventable with safe water and clean cooking fuels.


Internship Opportunity at Global Development in Geneva (For Graduate International Students)
Position: Internship at Global Development – Advising the Leaders (GD)