News Pouch: 11 August 2017





OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks


Study: Change in inhaled flu vaccine did not help in 2015-16
CIDRAP, 10 Aug
Overall flu vaccine effectiveness was 48%, but a change in the 2009 H1N1 vaccine strain didn't fix the problem with the inhaled vaccine's effectiveness in children.

Avian flu outbreaks hit farms in Italy and Taiwan
CIDRAP, 10 Aug
Italy today reported two more highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu outbreaks in commercial poultry, both in Lombardy region where other outbreaks were recently reported, according to a notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

H9N2 avian influenza case reported in Chinese baby
Outbreak News Today, 10 Aug
A 2-month old female child who lives in Guangdong Province, China was confirmed positive for A(H9N2) influenza in June, according to the World Health ...


International Atomic Energy Agency, 9 Aug

Scientists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have identified a new outbreak of avian influenza using highly specific and sensitive ...

Philippines reports first avian flu outbreak
Xinhua, 11 Aug
The Philippines reported on Friday its first outbreak of bird flu in a poultry farm in Pampanga, a province in the Philippine main ...

Improving Regional Influenza Surveillance Through a Combination of Automated Outbreak Detection Methods: the 2015/16 Season in France
Eurosurveillance, 10 Aug
The 2014/15 influenza epidemic caused a work overload for healthcare facilities in France. The French national public health agency announced the start of the epidemic - based on indicators aggregated at the national level - too late for many hospitals to prepare.




Lives and Livelihoods: The Economic Impact of Ebola in West Africa
International Affairs Review, 9 Aug
The Ebola epidemic ravaged West Africa in 2014; 28,600 people were infected and 11,300 died. The virus not only caused a public health crisis, but also crippled the affected countries' economies. During the outbreak, the international community responded too late and initially provided insufficient funding.

Ebola virus VP24 interacts with NP to facilitate nucleocapsid assembly and genome packaging
Nature, 9 Aug

Ebola virus (EBOV), which belongs to the family Filoviridae and the order Mononegavirales, is the causative agent of severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and has been responsible for several large outbreaks throughout Africa, with case fatality rates reaching as high as 90%1.

Implementing Clinical Trials during Epidemics: The Ebola Experience
CGDEV, 9 Aug

The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic broke out and affected thousands of people at a time when there were no medicines approved to treat or prevent Ebola.




Texas data reveal 8% rate of Zika-linked birth defects
CIDRAP, 10 Aug
Data on infants born to women suspected of having a Zika virus infection in Texas show higher-than-average rates of birth defects and suboptimal levels of testing, according to a report today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Notes from the Field: Zika Virus-Associated Neonatal Birth Defects Surveillance — Texas, January 2016–July 2017
CDC MMWR, 10 Aug
On November 28, 2016, the Texas Department of State Health Services (Texas DSHS) reported its first confirmed case of local mosquitoborne Zika virus transmission in the city of Brownsville, located in south Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border. Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to adverse congenital outcomes including microcephaly, neural tube defects, early brain malformations, structural eye abnormalities, congenital deafness, and limb contractures...

First plant-based Zika vaccine developed
Arizona State University (ASU) researchers have developed a new Zika vaccine candidate using tobacco plants. The first plant-based Zika vaccine has the potential to be both low-cost and easily reproduced, the researchers write in a study published in Scientific Reports.

Virus-like particles that display Zika virus envelope protein domain III induce potent neutralizing immune responses in mice
Scientific Report, 9 Aug
Several Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine candidates have recently been described which use inactivated whole virus, DNA or RNA that express the virus’ Envelope (E) glycoprotein as the antigen. These were successful in stimulating production of virus-targeted antibodies that protected animals against ZIKV challenges, but their use potentially will predispose vaccinated individuals ...





Saudi Arabia confirms 2 more healthcare workers infected with MERS-CoV
CIDRAP, 10 Aug
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported that two more healthcare workers have contracted MERS-CoV in Dumah Al Jandal, the site of a growing hospital-based outbreak. 

Rapid Risk Assessment: Public health risks related to communicable diseases during the Hajj 2017, Saudi Arabia, 30 August – 4 September 2017
ECDC, 10 Aug
Due to the vaccination requirements prior to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and the preparedness plans addressing the management of health hazards during and after the Hajj, the overall risk of acquiring infectious diseases during the Hajj 2017 in Saudi Arabia is considered to be low.

Symptom overlap makes MERS tests crucial for differential diagnosis
Patients critically ill with MERS-CoV infections have symptoms and risk factors similar to those of people severely ill with other types of respiratory infections, a research team from Saudi Arabia recently reported in an early online edition of Critical Care Medicine.


OpenWHO is WHO’s new interactive, web-based, knowledge-transfer platform offering online courses to improve the response to health emergencies. OpenWHO enables the Organization and its key partners to transfer life-saving knowledge to large numbers of frontline responders.OpenWHO is WHO’s new interactive, web-based, knowledge-transfer platform offering online courses to improve the response to health emergencies. OpenWHO enables the Organization and its key partners to transfer life-saving knowledge to large numbers of frontline responders.

Cholera in Yemen: War, Hunger, Disease--and Heroics
Lancet: Infectious Disease, Aug 2017
The harms done by war are many and complex. Death, injury, and displacement are the most obvious, but infection is also closely intertwined with conflict. Across the Middle East and Africa, outbreaks of infection have occurred as a direct effect of war, compounded by food and water shortages, displacement, and damage to infrastructure and health services. Nowhere is this web of interconnections more clear than in the cholera epidemic in Yemen.

Eritrea, Tanzania: Only African countries ready to face global pandemics

Africanews, 9 Aug

Only two African countries are fully prepared to face a global pandemic if one should break out. The two – Eritrea and Tanzania – are joined by four other ...

A landscape approach for disaster risk reduction in 7 steps
Care, 2017
The use of a landscape approach, although not new, is gaining prominence as an approach to effectively reduce disaster risk, adapt to climate change and enhance community resilience.