Friday, October 25, 2013

WHO Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - update October 24, 2013

The National Health and Family Planning Commission, China notified WHO of a new laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.
The patient is a 67-year-old man from Zhejiang Province. He is a farmer, and has had contact with live poultry. He became ill on 16 October 2013, was admitted to a local township hospital on 18 October 2013, and was transferred to another hospital on 21 October 2013 as his condition deteriorated. He is currently in a critical condition.
To date, WHO has been informed of a total of 137 laboratory-confirmed human cases with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus infection including 45 deaths. Currently, four patients are hospitalized and 88 have been discharged. So far, there is no evidence of sustainable human-to-human transmission.
The Chinese government has taken the following surveillance and control measures:
  • strengthening of epidemic surveillance and analysis;
  • deployment of medical treatment;
  • conducting public risk communication and information dissemination;
  • strengthening international cooperation and exchanges; and
  • is continuing to carry out scientific research.
WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions. 

WHO Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - update October 24, 2013

WHO has been informed of two laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia on 18 and 19 October 2013, and three laboratory-confirmed cases on 18 September 2013.
Of the five laboratory-confirmed cases, two died. The ages of the five patients range from 35 to 83 years old; four men and one woman; two from Medinah and three Riyadh. Four patients had underlying medical conditions. Two patients reported having no contact with a laboratory-confirmed case or with animals prior to becoming ill. 

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 144 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 62 deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns. 

Health care providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.
Patients diagnosed and reported to date have had respiratory disease as their primary illness. Diarrhoea is commonly reported among the patients and severe complications include renal failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with shock. It is possible that severely immunocompromised patients can present with atypical signs and symptoms.
Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC). Health care facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors.
All Member States are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with MERS-CoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course. Investigation into the source of exposure should promptly be initiated to identify the mode of exposure, so that further transmission of the virus can be prevented.
WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.
WHO has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to advise the Director-General on the status of the current situation. The Emergency Committee, which comprises international experts from all WHO Regions, unanimously advised that, with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

#MERS #Coronavirus Saudi Arabia Dr. Memish: Pilgrims' Health Status Is Reassuring...No Epidemic Cases Detected

16 October 2013

The Deputy Minister for Public Health and the Head of the Hajj Curative Medicine Committee, Dr. Ziad bin Ahmed Memish, said that the health situation is reassuring, and there are no epidemic diseases among pilgrims thankfully so far.
In addition, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has not yet recorded any cases of meningitis or food poisoning in the Holy Sites, expressing his hope that the health situation continues as it is now so that the pilgrimage season passes safely without recording any epidemic or quarantine diseases.
Within the same vein, Dr. Memish announced at a news conference held on Tuesday that the Kingdom has updated its health requirements this year after following up and monitoring the global heath situation throughout the year in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research and diseases centers in America and Europe.
In addition, Dr. Memish underscored that the MOH has launched a huge awareness campaign targeting the countries from which the pilgrims come, adding that such campaigns focus on the pilgrimage ports and areas; contributing significantly to obtaining such good fruits so far.
Within the same vein, Dr. Memish pointed out that based upon the MOH’s accumulated experiences and study of cases with Coronavirus, the Ministry advices the elderly people, patients with chronic diseases, pregnant women and children to postpone the performance of Hajj, after founding that 75% of the Coronavirus deaths which are recorded locally and globally occur amidst such segments of people.
Moreover, Dr. Memish underscored that the Ministry is currently working on preparation and implementation of 10 studies expected to help in dealing with the pilgrims and contributing to the development of solutions to any emergent health problems, especially the infectious and epidemic diseases which attract the attention of the Ministry, noting that some of such studies are related to Coronavirus while others are related to meningitis and the other viruses widely spread in the world.
Furthermore, Dr. Memish mentioned that the study teams have ended the first phase, during which random samples were taken from pilgrims coming from abroad, noting that the second phase will kick off on Thursday 12/12/1434H (corresponding to 17/10/2013) by taking samples from the pilgrims before their departure to make sure that they are free from diseases and to recognize their health status.
Speaking of the ways of dealing with any Coronavirus case, Allah forbid, Dr. Memish said that the Ministry has a several-phase plan to face these potential cases; such a plan starts with diagnosing the case and testing the health practitioners, with isolation of the positive cases in rooms allocated for this purpose and examination of the close people, pointing out that the laboratories have already been equipped with equipments.

Flu virus wipes out immune system’s first responders to establish infection

October 19, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Revealing influenza’s truly insidious nature, Whitehead Institute scientists have discovered that the virus is able to infect its host by first killing off the cells of the immune system that are actually best equipped to neutralize the virus.

Confronted with a harmful virus, the immune system works to generate cells capable of producing antibodies perfectly suited to bind and disarm the hostile invader. These virus-specific B cells proliferate, secreting the antibodies that slow and eventually eradicate the virus. A population of these cells retains the information needed to neutralize the virus and takes up residence in the lung to ward off secondary infection from re-exposure to the virus via inhalation.
On the surface of these so-called memory B cells are high-affinity virus-specific receptors that bind virus particles to reduce viral spread. While such cells should serve at the body’s first line of defense, it turns out that flu virus exploits the specificity of the cells’ receptors, using them to gain entry, disrupt antibody production, and ultimately kill the cells. By dispatching its enemies in this fashion, the virus is able to replicate efficiently before the immune system can mount a second wave of defense. This seemingly counter-intuitive pathway to infection is described this week in the journal Nature.

“We can now add this to the growing list of ways that the flu virus has to establish infection,” says Joseph Ashour, a co-author of the Nature paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Member Hidde Ploegh.
“This is how the virus gains a foothold,” adds Ploegh lab postdoc Stephanie Dougan, also a co-author of the study. “The virus targets memory cells in the lung, which allows infection to be established—even if the immune system has seen this flu before.”