News Pouch: 29 September 2017





Red Cross says cholera cases in Yemen could hit 1mn by year-end
RT, 29 Sept
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday described the humanitarian situation in Yemen as a “catastrophe,” saying cholera cases there ...


Could Recent Hurricanes Cause Reemergence of Cholera in Puerto Rico?
Baylor College of Medicine, 27 Sept
The emergence of cholera in Haiti in 2010 is a poignant reminder that the Caribbean remains susceptible to outbreaks. Specifically with respect to Puerto Rico, there are several potential concerns. A 1989 study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found Vibrio cholerae bacteria in the Mameyes River, a tropical rain forest watershed on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico. Presumably V. cholerae could be recovered elsewhere on the island, although I'm not aware of studies that differentiate between pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains of the bacterium.

Cholera, Diarrhea & Dysentery Update (106): Asia (Yemen) New Record
ProMed, 28 Sept
Yemen's 5-month old cholera crisis is now the world's largest outbreak since records began, Oxfam said today, 28 Sep 2017, as the number of suspected cases rose to over 755 000. The Yemen outbreak has overtaken the 754 373 suspected cases recorded in Haiti in the 6 years between 2010 and 2015. Over 2100 people have already died from cholera, and while the spread of cholera has slowed slightly, it is still spreading fast and at current rates of increase, the number of suspected cases would reach a million by November 2017.

MSF Treats 17,000 People in One of the Largest National Cholera Outbreaks
H5N1, 27 Sept
Since the cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo was declared on 9 September, Médecins Sans Frontières has treated 17,000 people after setting up around 30 units and treatment centres. The outbreak has already spread across 20 provinces, a situation never seen before in the country, and has not yet been brought under control.


OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks


Officials highlight flu vaccination gaps, progress ahead of season
CIDRAP, 28 Sept
In an annual event to build support for flu vaccination and take stock of the nation's uptake trends, federal officials said today that vaccination rates rebounded slightly last season, led by better coverage in adults over age 50, but immunization reached only 46.8% of the population.

WHO swaps out H3N2, B strains in Southern Hemisphere flu vaccine
CIDRAP, 28 Sept
At their meeting this week in Melbourne, Australia, World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine advisors today recommended changing two of three components for trivalent vaccines that pharmaceutical companies will produce for the Southern Hemisphere's 2018 flu season.

USA: Maryland and Delaware report 6 more H3N2v flu cases
CIDRAP, 28 Sept
Maryland health officials yesterday announced five more presumed variant H3N2 (H3N2v) illnesses in people who had close contact with pigs at county fairs in two different counties, and the Delaware announced a H3N2v illness in a resident of that state who had contact with pigs at a Maryland fair.

H5N6 strikes again in Vietnam; H7N7 found South Korea
CIDRAP, 27 Sept
Animal health officials in Vietnam have detected a highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu outbreak in poultry, and South Korean authorities have found the H7N7 strain in wild bird droppings at a location in the south, according to media reports flagged by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.

Seasonal Influenza Circulation Patterns and Projections for Sep 2017 to Sep 2018
bioRxiv, 26 Sept
This report details current seasonal influenza circulation patterns as of Sep 2017 and makes projections up to Sep 2018 to coincide with selection of the 2018 Southern Hemisphere vaccine strain. This is not meant as a comprehensive report, but is instead intended as particular observations that we've made that may be of relevance.


NIH awards $6 million to develop 3-strain Ebola vaccine
CIDRAP, 28 Sept
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded researchers at the University of Hawaii, the University of Texas Medical Branch, and three biotech companies $6.3 million to develop a trivalent Ebola vaccine, the University of Hawaii said in a news release yesterday.

Ebola Virus Binding to Tim-1 on the T Lymphocytes Induces a Cytokine Storm
mBio, 26 Sept
Ebola virus disease results from an exacerbated immunological response that is highlighted by a burst in the production of inflammatory mediators known as a "cytokine storm." Previous reports have suggested that nonspecific activation of T lymphocytes may play a central role in this phenomenon.



Single mutation tied to Zika's ability to cause microcephaly, GBS
CIDRAP, 28 Sept
One genetic mutation in 2013 allowed the virus to become more infective and cause birth defects, a new study suggests.

Rapid Antigen Tests for Dengue Virus Serotypes and Zika Virus in Patient Serum
Science Translational Medicine, 27 Sept
The recent Zika virus outbreak demonstrates that cost-effective clinical diagnostics are urgently needed to detect and distinguish viral infections to improve patient care. Unlike dengue virus (DENV), ZIKV infections during pregnancy correlate with severe birth defects, including microcephaly and neurological disorders. Because ZIKV and DENV are related flaviviruses, their homologous proteins and nucleic acids can cause cross-reactions and false-positive results in molecular, antigenic, and serologic diagnostics.




WHO: Countries agree next steps to combat global health threat by MERS-CoV
WHO, 27 Sept
Critical next steps to accelerate the response to the global public health threat posed by Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been agreed by representatives from the Ministries of Health and Ministries of Agriculture of affected and at risk countries, and experts. The virus, which circulates in dromedary camels without causing visible disease, can be fatal for humans.



New lab will boost UN efforts to keep harmful insects at bay
UN News, 25 Sept
25 September – The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today opened the doors of a new laboratory to help countries use a nuclear technique to keep harmful insects, such as mosquitoes and fruit flies, at bay.

Nigeria launches yellow fever vaccination campaign
CIDRAP, 27 Sept
A Nigerian news report flagged by ProMED Mail, an infectious disease news message board, reported the beginning of a yellow fever vaccination campaign in Ifelodun, Nigeria, in response to a yellow fever case diagnosed there 2 weeks ago. Ifelodun is located in Kwara state.

3 Storms, 3 Responses: Comparing Harvey, Irma and Maria
CNN, 27 Sept
Almost a week since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the US recovery efforts there have been markedly different from the recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Fewer FEMA personnel are in place. Grassroots donations from fellow Americans are much smaller. The US territory still remains without power. And President Donald Trump has yet to visit.

Rapid Assessment Tools for Responders to Address Needs of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness During Disasters
ASPR Blog, 19 Sept
Natural disasters and emergencies--such as hurricanes, flooding and other extreme weather conditions--create challenges and significantly impact communities. The recent destruction and devastation caused by this year's hurricanes highlight concerns for the addressing the disaster needs of impacted populations.

Emergency response after Mexico's earthquakes
The Lancet, 28 Sept
After successive earthquakes hit Mexico, volunteers organise to provide help and support. Barbara Fraser and Fabián Carvallo-Vargas report ...

A public health disaster in Puerto Rico (Video and transcript)
Harvard, 28 Sept
The biggest priorities for first responders and relief agencies right now would be to get people clean, safe water, electricity that’s needed for hospital medical interventions, and clean, safe food...


On World Day, UN announces global initiative to end deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030
UN NEWS, 28 Sept
The largest global anti-rabies initiative to end human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030 was announced, today, World Rabies Day, making it a priority disease for key international organizations and governments, according to the United Nations health age


CDC: Infographic: Rabies

VIDEO: World Rabies Day 2017

Human Deaths from Canine Rabies: Zero by 2030
CDC, 28 Sept
September 28 is World Rabies Day, a global health observance started in 2007 to raise awareness about the burden of rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide. While rabies is a 100% preventable disease, an estimated 59,000 people die from the disease around the world each year. Most affected are countries in Africa and Asia, and almost half of the victims are children under the age of 15.