News Pouch: 12 May 2017





OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks



Biological characterisation of the emerged highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H7N9) viruses in humans, in mainland China, 2016 to 2017
Eurosurveillance, 11 May
With no or low virulence in poultry, avian influenza A(H7N9) virus has caused severe infections in humans. In the current fifth epidemic wave, a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7N9 virus emerged...

See also:

Analysis highlights human threats from high-path H7N9 in China
CIDRAP, 11 May
Highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza, detected in people for the first time in China in 2013, have a slightly increased binding preference for human airway receptors compared with the low-pathogenic form, a research team from China reported today in Eurosurveillance.

Bangladesh reports pair of H5N1 outbreaks; more H5N8 in Germany
CIDRAP, 11 May
Bangladesh reported two recent highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu outbreaks, and Germany reported one more H5N8 outbreak in poultry, according to the latest notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

China: HPAI H7N9 Expands Its Range
Avian Flu Diary, 11 May
The full significance and ultimate impact of the recently emerged HPAI (highly pathogenic) strain of H7N9 - first recorded in January of this year - remains unknown. But any hopes that it might quickly fall by the wayside - unable to compete with more established strains - are quickly fading as this new strain continues to spread across China.

With Bird Flu Surging, US Needs to Do More to Prevent Possible Pandemic, GAO Says
Washington Post, 11 May
If the US were suddenly facing a potential avian influenza pandemic, just one US manufacturer could be counted on to make human pandemic flu vaccine here. And although the chickens that lay the eggs used in the process are themselves susceptible to the virus, until an emergency arises only voluntary and often inadequate measures by poultry producers...

Nipping Flu Pandemics in the Bud
Science Daily, 10 May
The threat of a major flu pandemic is a perennial concern. Now scientists have developed a fast and easy-to-use point-of-care diagnostic test that could one day help doctors and hospitals head off the rapid spread of the flu. They report their new device in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry.



VLP Zika vaccine successful in preclinical study
CIDRAP, 10 May
A novel virus-like particle (VLP) Zika vaccine elicited high titers of virus-neutralizing antibodies in mice, according to the vaccine's manufacturer, TechnoVax. The results of the study were published earlier this week in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

See also:

Zika virus-like particle (VLP) based vaccine
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 8 May
Here we describe a novel strategy to assemble Zika virus-like particles (VLPs) by co-expressing the structural (CprME) and non-structural (NS2B/NS3) proteins, and demonstrate their effectiveness as vaccines.

Zika virus: Brazil says emergency is over
BBC News, 12 May
Brazil has declared an end to a national emergency over the Zika virus after a sharp decrease in cases. The number of cases dropped 95% between January ...

US may be severely underestimating Zika's potential impact; costs could be in the billions
CNBC, 11 May
The Zika virus stands to cost the United States billions of dollars, even if few people are infected. Researchers from several American institutions have calculated that the "virus from Hell" could result in total costs ranging from $183 million to...

Zika's Economic Burden
The Scientist, 11 May

Depending on the rate of Zika infections in at-risk states, the virus could end up costing society as much as $10.3 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity, according to a study published today (May 11) in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. At the low end, Zika infections could cost $183 million.

New Data Reevaluates Zika Infection Risk for U.S. Women
MPR, 10 May
U.S. women traveling to areas where the Zika virus is circulating might be less likely to be infected than expected, but risk remains, ...



- WHO MERS-CoV Disease Outbreak News full archive here 
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia and Qatar - 27 April
- WHO: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) maps and epicurves - May 2017
- Saudi Arabia MOH Statistics 
- FAO’s MERS-CoV monthly update


MERS-CoV Situation update on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
WHO EMRO, April 2017
At the end of April 2017, a total of 1950 laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), including 714 deaths (case–fatality rate: 36.6%) were reported globally; the majority of these cases were reported from Saudi Arabia (1586 laboratory-confirmed cases, including 640 deaths with a case–fatality rate of 40.4%).



West Africa Ebola vaccine trial aims to strengthen local health systems
Devex, 12 May
Health experts say they are confident that West African countries whose health systems were crippled by the 2014 Ebola crisis are able to conduct meaningful research in the phase two clinical trial of Ebola vaccine candidates, now underway.

Ottawa researchers to test Ebola vaccine in HIV-positive people
Ottawa Citizen, 11 May
The Ottawa Hospital's Dr. Curtis Cooper said that, while he has not started to recruit subjects for the Ebola vaccine study yet, people are already interested and ...


3, 900 Enroll Into Ebola Natural History Survivors Study, As PREVAIL Vaccine Outreach Enters Worhn In Margibi County
Global News Network, 11 May
At least 3,900 persons have now enrolled into the Ebola Natural History Study being conducted by PREVAIL. PREVAIL is the Partnership for Research on Ebola ...

Ebola virus RNA detection on fomites in close proximity to confirmed Ebola patients; N’Zerekore, Guinea, 2015
PLOS, 11 May

Health care workers (HCWs) in contact with patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD) are exposed to a risk of viral contamination. Fomites contaminated with the patient’s blood or body fluids represents this risk. Our study aims to detect Ebola virus (EBOV) RNA within the high- and low-risk areas of an Ebola treatment unit (ETU) located in inland Guinea during the 2014–2015 West African Ebola epidemics.


WHO says probe looking at other sources in Liberian illness cluster
CIDRAP, 10 May
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that Liberia's health ministry has informed it that samples from four people who died as part of an unexplained illness cluster tested positive for Neisseria meningitidis serotype C. It added that although the recent test results suggest meningitis as the likely cause of illness and death in those patients, an investigation is still under way to determine if the bacterium is responsible for other illnesses in the cluster. (WHO statement)

CDC: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Cholera Vaccine
CDC MMWR, 12 May
Cholera, caused by infection with toxigenic Vibrio cholerae bacteria of serogroup O1 (>99% of global cases) or O139, is characterized by watery diarrhea that can be severe and rapidly fatal without prompt rehydration. Cholera is endemic in approximately 60 countries and causes epidemics as well. Globally, cholera results in an estimated 2.9 million cases of disease and 95,000 deaths annually..

WHO calls for immediate action to save lives in Somalia
WHO, 11 May
GENEVA - WHO is concerned by the chronic shortage of funding for life-saving work in Somalia in response to the ongoing drought that has plunged the country further towards famine, disease, and health insecurity.

WHO responds to resurgent cholera in Yemen
WHO, 11 May
Sana’a, Yemen — The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are responding to an upsurge in cholera transmission in several parts of Yemen that has claimed 51 lives and caused around 2752 suspected cases since 27 April 2017.

The growing threat of pandemics: Enhancing domestic and international biosecurity
Texas A&M International University System (TAMIU), 2017
The threat posed by pandemics grows alongside increased globalization and technological innovation. Distant cultures can now be connected in a day’s time, and international trade links global health and economic prosperity. This report details nine priority areas and accompanying action items that will help to address current pandemic response problems. Developing centralized leadership; coordinating existing agencies and departments; reforming...


Open letter to WHO DG candidates: keep policy and priority setting free of commercial influence
The Lancet, 27 April
In May, 2017, WHO Member States will meet in Geneva for the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) and a new WHO Director-General (DG) will be elected. As public-interest non-government organisations (NGOs) involved in global health governance and the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, we believe that...

Estimates and 25-year trends of the global burden of disease attributable to ambient air pollution: an analysis of data from the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2015
The Lancet, 10 April
We estimated global population-weighted mean concentrations of particle mass with aerodynamic diameter less than  2·5 μm (PM 2·5) and ozone at an approximate 11 km × 11 km resolution with satellite-based estimates, chemical transport models, and ground-level measurements.


Organizer: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States of America
Date: 01-15 Jun 2017

Environmental data can be combined with public health information to predict and monitor potentially dangerous environmental health events, such as disease outbreaks, harmful algal blooms, excessive heat, airborne allergens, and low air quality. In this advanced webinar, participants will learn how to access and apply NASA data relevant to public health.