News Pouch: 19 May 2017





WHO: Ebola vaccine could be deployed within a week
Though the DRC has strong experience with Ebola, the location is very remote and officials don't know the full extent of the outbreak.

As DRC Ebola cases grow, expert sees parallels to Guinea
CIDRAP, 17 May
In an external situation report released today, the World Health Organization (WHO) said two new suspected Ebola cases are being investigated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and a US expert says events are unfolding in ways reminiscent of Guinea in 2014 at the onset of a massive West Africa outbreak.


Tackling Ebola Outbreak in Remote Congo Presents Huge Challenge: WHO
Reuters, 18 May
An Ebola outbreak affecting up to 20 people in an extremely remote area in the Democratic Republic of Congo presents a high risk at a national level, the WHO said on Thursday. In an update on an outbreak that officials believe began in late April, the UN health agency said there were 2 confirmed and 18 suspected cases of Ebola infection.

Ebola Congo Outbreak: Here Are the Challenges Ahead
Time, 18 May
Ebola is back and more than 400 people may be affected in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.


Suspected Cases of Ebola Rise to 29 in Democratic Republic of Congo
NY, 18 May

Medical workers treating a patient suspected of having Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007. Credit Ascale Zinten/Doctors Without Borders, via ...


Sustainability of High-Level Isolation Capabilities among US Ebola Treatment Centers
CDC EID, June 2017
To identify barriers to maintaining and applying capabilities of US high-level isolation units (HLIUs) used during the Ebola virus disease outbreak, during 2016 we surveyed HLIUs. HLIUs identified sustainability challenges and reported the highly infectious diseases they would treat. HLIUs expended substantial resources..

Ebola Virus Imported from Guinea to Senegal, 2014
CDC EID, June 2017
In March 2014, the World Health Organization declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea. In August 2014, a case caused by virus imported from Guinea occurred in Senegal, most likely resulting from nonsecure funerals and travel. Preparedness and surveillance in Senegal probably prevented secondary cases.


OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks



Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China
WHO, 18 May
On 5 May 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of 24 additional laboratory-confirmed human infections with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in China.

Analysis of H7N2 from NY vet shows mild infection, low spread in ferrets
CIDRAP, 18 May
Experiments with the H7N2 virus linked to a recent outbreak in shelter cats, which resulted on one infection in a veterinarian, revealed mild illness and poor transmission in small mammals, scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday in the Journal of Virology.

Health worker survey reveals many work during flu illness
CIDRAP, 17 May
An Internet survey of healthcare workers during the 2014-15 flu season found that about 40% of them worked while they were sick with influenza-like illness (ILI). A research team led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported its findings yesterday in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Stockpiling Ventilators for Influenza Pandemics
CDC EID, June 2017
In preparing for influenza pandemics, public health agencies stockpile critical medical resources. Determining appropriate quantities and locations for such resources can be challenging, given the considerable uncertainty in the timing and severity of future pandemics. We introduce a method for optimizing stockpiles of mechanical ventilators, which are critical for treating hospitalized influenza patients in respiratory failure.

Influenza A(H9N2) Virus, Myanmar, 2014–2015
CDC EID, 2017
Routine surveillance of influenza A virus was conducted in Myanmar during 2014–2015. Influenza A(H9N2) virus was isolated in Shan State, upper Myanmar. Whole-genome sequencing showed that H9N2 virus from Myanmar was closely related to H9N2 virus of clade 4.2.5 from China.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus (H5N8) Clade Infection in Migratory Birds, Egypt
CDC EID, June 2017
We isolated highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N8) of clade from the common coot (Fulica atra) in Egypt, documenting its introduction into Africa through migratory birds. This virus has a close genetic relationship with subtype H5N8 viruses circulating in Europe. Enhanced surveillance to detect newly emerging viruses is warranted.

Russia's Bird Flu Reports Continue
Avian Flu Diary, 17 May
Over the past few weeks we've seen a series of Russian bird flu reports--both official, and in the media--involving both 'infected' meat entering the food chain, and fresh outbreaks in poultry.



Report describes rapid Zika spread, impact of control steps in Singapore
CIDRAP, 18 May
In the first-of-its-kind comprehensive review of a Zika outbreak in Asia, researchers from Singapore yesterday reported how easily the virus can be introduced and spread even when vector control programs are good, adding that response measures had a measurable impact on curbing the disease. Writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases yesterday, the team described an outbreak that began in August 2016.

Severe Neurologic Disorders in 2 Fetuses with Zika Virus Infection, Colombia
CDC EID, June 2017
We report the results of pathologic examinations of 2 fetuses from women in Colombia with Zika virus infection during pregnancy that revealed severe central nervous system defects and potential associated abnormalities of the eye, spleen, and placenta. Amniotic fluid and tissues from multiple fetal organs tested positive for Zika virus.

Zika Virus–Associated Cognitive Impairment in Adolescent, 2016
CDC EID, June 2017
Incidence of neurologic manifestations associated with Zika virus infection has been increasing. In 2016, neuropsychological and cognitive changes developed in an adolescent after travel to a Zika virus–endemic area. Single-photon emission computed tomography and neuropsychological testing raised the possibility that Zika virus infection may lead to neuropsychiatric and cognitive symptoms.

Could Zika virus hold the key to fighting brain tumours?
The Telegraph, 18 May
Zika virus could destroy brain tumours, scientists hope, as they launch the first trial to test whether the devastating disease could cure cancer. The University of Cambridge is to trial Zika on glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumour, which affects 2,200 ...

Creeping paralysis: Possible link to Zika virus
BBC News, 17 May
The Zika virus has moved north to Colombia where it is being linked by some doctors to cases of paralysis.



- 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


Two more MERS cases linked to hospitals in Saudi Arabia
CIDRAP, 17 May
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) said today two more cases of MERS have been detected in patients who had been exposed at healthcare facilities in Bishah and Riyadh.

Hospital Outbreaks of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Daejeon, South Korea, 2015
CDC EID, June 2017
From May through July 2015, a total of 26 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome were reported from 2 hospitals in Daejeon, South Korea, including 1 index case and 25 new cases. We examined the epidemiologic features of these cases and found an estimated median incubation period...

Domestic Pig Unlikely Reservoir for MERS-CoV
CDC EID, June 2017
We tested the suitability of the domestic pig as a model for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. Inoculation did not cause disease, but a low level of virus replication, shedding, and seroconversion were observed. Pigs do not recapitulate human MERS-CoV and are unlikely to constitute a reservoir in nature.


UN Aids Yemenis in Embattled Mokha; Warns of Cholera's Spread Amid Crippled Health Systems
UN News Centre, 16 May
The US refugee agency today confirmed that for only the third time this year, its field teams were able to distribute humanitarian aid in the embattled district of Mokha, in Yemen's Red Sea governorate of Taiz.

Cholera outbreak could be "last straw" for starving Yemen
IRIN, 17 May
Hilal al-Asri brought his wife to a hospital in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, nearly two weeks ago, expecting her cholera would be cleared up quickly and they’d be on their way. Today, three of his five children share a bed next to hers, all of them hooked up to fluid drips in a makeshift ward hastily assembled to deal with an outbreak that has killed 206 and is suspected to have infected more than 17,200 since 27 April, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest count.

Knowledge Transfer - A weapon for fighting epidemics
UN Special, 19 May
Knowledge exists for battling many known disease outbreaks. The challenge is to get the latest science and knowledge into the hands and minds of decision-makers and front-line responders.

Experts race against clock to quell Ebola outbreak in remote DR Congo province
UN NEWS, 18 May
A race against the clock has begun to contain an outbreak of Ebola in a remote northern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

Financing of international collective action for epidemic and pandemic ...
The Lancet, 19 May

The World Bank's Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) is a proposed global insurance mechanism for pandemic emergencies. It aims to provide surge funding for response efforts to help respond to rare, high-burden disease outbreaks, preventing them from becoming more deadly and costly pandemics.


Health emergencies: a role for risk reduction
PreventionWeb, 18 May
Biological hazards are increasingly recognized as health emergencies, with Highly ... and large-scale epidemics and pandemics are considered low probability, ...


Seventieth World Health Assembly
WHO, 19 May
The seventieth session of WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, takes place on 22–31 May in Geneva, Switzerland. Attended by delegations from all Member States, the Health Assembly determines organizational policies and approves the proposed programme budget. This year Member States will elect a new Director-General on 23 May.

World Health Statistics 2017: Monitoring Health for the SDGs
ReliefWeb, 17 May
Almost half of all deaths now have a recorded cause, WHO data show..