News Pouch: 5 May 2017





OIE reports on ongoing outbreaks



More H5N8 detections in Europe as Vietnam reports H5N1 outbreaks
Two European countries—Italy and Russia—reported new highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu outbreaks, and Vietnam reported five H5N1 events that were detected back in February, according to the latest notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Study probes H9N2 and 2009 H1N1 reassortants in pigs
A study of an avian H9N2 and 2009 H1N1 flu virus reassortant in pigs found that after seven serial passages, it gained the ability to transmit more efficiently. Belgian scientists and US researchers from Kansas State University published their findings yesterday in Scientific Reports.

Hong Kong CHP Reports A Late Season Flu Surge
Avian Flu Diary, 4 May
Hong Kong often sees a biphasic or 'double peaked' flu season, with their heaviest activity usually from February-April and (a less severe) season in June through August, as was described in the 2008 PLoS One research paper Seasonality of Influenza A(H3N2) Virus: A Hong Kong Perspective (1997-2006).

Vaccine, May 2017
This study investigated the role of non-traditional locations in the decision to vaccinate for seasonal flu. We measured individuals' preferred location for seasonal flu vaccination by examining the National H1N1 Flu Survey conducted from late 2009 to early 2010.


Monitoring Influenza Virus Susceptibility to Oseltamivir Using a New Rapid Assay, iART
Eurosurveillance, 4 May 2017
A new rapid assay for detecting oseltamivir resistance in influenza virus, iART, was used to test 149 clinical specimens. Results were obtained for 132, with iART indicating 41 as 'resistant'. For these, sequence analysis found known and suspected markers of oseltamivir resistance, while no such markers were detected for the remaining 91 samples.

Mexico reports H7N3 bird flu outbreak on commercial farm: OIE
Reuters, 4 May
In March, a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu was found in a chicken breeder flock on a Tennessee farm contracted to Tyson Foods Inc, the first discovered in ...

UK: Bird flu found at Lancashire farm, 4 May
The H5N8 strain of avian flu was confirmed in a small backyard flock of chickens at the farm near Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire. A spokeswoman for the ...



MRI series explores Zika exposure in the womb
Also, reseachers identify a Zika antibody that might open up new therapy and vaccine possibilities.

New Zika test streamlines detection, offers new outbreak response tool
A new test that doesn't require costly reagents can accurately and quickly detect Zika in human samples and in mosquitoes, an international team led by researchers from Colorado State University reported today in Science Translational Medicine.

Rapid and specific detection of Asian- and African-lineage Zika viruses
Science, 3 May
Understanding the dynamics of Zika virus transmission and formulating rational strategies for its control require precise diagnostic tools that are also appropriate for resource-poor environments. We have developed a rapid and sensitive loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay that distinguishes Zika viruses of Asian and African lineages.

Rapid Assessment Zika Virus Knowledge Among Clinical Specialists in Singapore: A Cross-sectional Survey
PLOS: Currents Outbreaks, 3 May
Between June 6 and June 19, 2016 we conducted an online survey of doctors working in obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatology and paediatrics in Singapore. The survey included 15 multiple choice questions to measure respondents' knowledge of Zika virus in 4 domains covering clinical and public health.

Assessing Real-time Zika Risk in the United States
BMC Infectious Diseases, 4 May
We found that counties most likely to detect cases are not necessarily the most likely to experience epidemics, and used our framework to identify triggers to signal the start of an epidemic based on a policymaker's propensity for risk.

Estimated Incubation Period for Zika Virus Disease
Emerging Infectious Diseases, 14 April
Information about the Zika virus disease incubation period can help identify risk periods and local virus transmission. In 2015–2016, data from 197 symptomatic travelers with recent Zika virus infection indicated an estimated incubation period of 3–14 days. For symptomatic persons with symptoms >2 weeks after travel, transmission might be not travel associated.



- WHO MERS-CoV Disease Outbreak News full archive here 
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia and Qatar - 27 April
- Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia - 24 April
- Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Qatar - 4 April
- WHO: Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) maps and epicurves - April 2017
- Saudi Arabia MOH Statistics 
- FAO’s MERS-CoV monthly update


MERS patient in critical condition after indirect camel contact
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) said there was a new case of MERS-CoV today linked to indirect camel exposure.


Opening remarks at the Ebola vaccines for Guinea and the world event by Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization - Conakry, Guinea
WHO, 4 May
Excellencies, honourable ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
I have come here to thank the governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, your health care workers, scientists and your people for triumphing over the Ebola outbreak that so severely devastated your countries for so long. I also thank your international partners for their support and collaboration.

Leaders gather in Guinea to celebrate Ebola vaccine successes
WHO, 4 May 2017
“The world is far better prepared for another Ebola outbreak,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, today at a celebratory event to recognize the Governments and people of the three most-affected countries for their contribution to the control of the Ebola outbreak in 2014-15.

'You Can't Bomb Ebola': How Nations Should Respond To the Next Pandemics
TIME, 3 May
The Ebola outbreak of 2014 infected more than 28,000 people in West Africa and killed more than 11,000. It also exposed gaps in the world's ability to respond ...

What We Can Learn From the Ebola Outbreak
Fortune, 4 May
What We Can Learn From the Ebola Outbreak. May 4, 2017, 12:09 PM EDT. E-mail; Tweet; Facebook; Linkedin. Share icons ...


Learning from the Ebola Response in cities: Communication and engagement
ReliefWeb, 3 May
This paper explores the urban-specific challenges of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa, focusing specifically on community engagement.


Somalia launches second cholera vaccination campaign in Baidoa
WHO, 3 May
WHO and the Federal Ministry of Health of Somalia launched the first round of a preventative oral cholera vaccination campaign (OCV) in Baidoa at the Baidoa Regional Hospital, targeting 224 000 persons aged 1 year and older. The vaccination campaign is in response to a major cholera outbreak in Somalia that began in January 2017.

Liberia: Pathologist Expected - May 3
Barely a week after a 'strange disease' was reported in Greenville, Sinoe County, the disease is said to have now reached Monrovia, Liberia's capital. More than ten persons died from the 'strange ... George clarified that all of the tests conducted so ...

Poisoning appears cause of mystery Liberia illness: WHO
Medical Xpress, 5 May
... on April 23, triggering memories of the devastating West African Ebola epidemic ... Liberia after the Ebola crisis prompted fast action following the recent deaths. ... coastal Sinoe County and has since been registered in the capital Monrovia.


Worse Than Ebola: US Not Preparing for the Next Bio-Threat
NBC News, 1 May
The US government is slacking off on preparing for the next big pandemic or biological terrorism attack and is not only endangering its citizens but also missing out on a great opportunity to score political points, experts said Monday.

Health Workers Attacked in 23 Countries Last Years
NPR, 3 May
On November 18 last year, as fighter jets roared overhead, explosions ripped through the Omar bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Aleppo Syria. The airstrikes destroyed the last operating hospital in the eastern part of the city. This wasn't a rare event. Three other hospitals in Aleppo were bombed on that day, too.

WHO Health emergency highlights - latest issue (link to the newsletter)
WHO, 4 May
WHO answers the question "Health security: is the world better prepared?"  Read about the health situation in Yemen where millions are at risk. WHO and partners open a trauma field hospital in Iraq; conduct a joint cholera review mission in Somalia; and vaccinate Syrian children with the support of new technology.  We are calling for increased support for the fuel and electricity crisis in Gaza and monitoring outbreaks and other emergencies in the African Region.  We have snapshots of what partners are doing to support mental health services during emergencies and the Global Health Cluster strategy 2017 - 2019.