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Revised:
Nov. 7, 2000

Vol. III, No. 14 ~ EINet News Briefs ~ November 7, 2000


****A free service of the APEC Emerging Infections Network*****

The EINet listserv was created to foster discussion, networking, and collaboration in the area of emerging infectious diseases (EID's) among academicians, scientists, and policy makers in the Asia–Pacific region. We strongly encourage you to share their perspectives and experiences, as your participation directly contributes to the richness of the "electronic discussions" that occur. To respond to the listserv, use the reply function.


In this edition:

  1. Infectious disease information
  2. Updates from previous bulletins
  3. Notices
  4. How to join the EINet listserv


1. OVERVIEW OF INFECTIOUS–DISEASE INFORMATION FROM PROMED  
Below is a bi–monthly summary of Asia–Pacific emerging infectious diseases.

ASIA

Researchers have identified another enterovirus, Echovirus 7 (echo 7), as contributing to the most recent outbreak of Hand, foot and mouth disease in Malaysia. Echo 7 was isolated from a fatal case and has been associated with outbreaks involving central nervous system disease in the past. While echo 7 is a relatively rare strain, it has resulted in severe and fatal cases. This is the first time that echo 7 has been identified in Malaysia. Other enterovirsuses isolated during the recent outbreak include Coxsackie A16, enterovirus 71, Coxsackie B, and herpes simplex
.[PROMED 10/26/00]

PHILIPPINES SCHISTOSOMIASIS
Government health officials reported alarming levels of schistosomiasis among residents of Davao del Sur, located on Mindanao, the southernmost of the large Philippine islands. The rise in cases has been attributed to constant flooding and poor sanitation. Health officials plan to destroy all breeding centers of the parasite and initiate an intensive information campaign to promote proper sanitation.Schistosomiasis is a tropical disease caused by the parasitic worm schistosoma. Infection occurs as a result of contact with contaminated fresh water in which snails that carry the schistosomes live. Fresh water becomes contaminated by Schistosoma eggs when infected people urinate or defecate in the water.
[PROMED 10/22/00; www.cdc.gov]


AMERICAS

USA (LOUISIANA) EIGHT AT RISK FOR CREUTZFELDT–JAKOB DISEASE
Eight patients may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) after undergoing brain surgery that involved some of the same instruments used on a person who was later found to have died of CJD. Normal sterilization protocols reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of transmission, as the agent that causes the disease is resistant to standard sterilization procedures. CJD leads to progressive dementia and loss of physical functions and inevitably results in death. The only proven way to contract the disease is through iatrogenic transmission and an autopsy is required for a positive diagnosis. Previous cases of CJD have been linked to specific products that are believed to have increased the risk of transmission. For example in 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that at least 61 cases of CJD worldwide were associated with a single brand of dura mater grafts produced by a German company since 1979.
[The Times–Picayune 10/27/00; MMWR 1997;46:1066㫝 www.cjdfoundation.org]

USA WEST NILE VIRUS: SUMMARY AND FINDINGS
According to surveillance reports, there were 18 human cases, including one death, of West Nile virus in the U.S. in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut during 2000. The death occurred among an 82 year–old New Jersey man. The virus has been detected as far south as North Carolina, where a dead crow was found to be infected. Below 55 degrees Fahrenheit the virus stops spreading, but it can resume when mosquitoes become active in the spring and when birds carry the virus as they migrate.

A recent experiment by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that West Nile virus can be transmitted from bird–to–bird in a confined laboratory setting. In the experiment, infected crows were placed in the same biocontainment aviary as healthy crows, and nearly all of the initially healthy birds became infected and died. While mosquito bites are the primary means of transmission of the virus between birds and to humans, this experiment reveals that bird–to–bird transmission can occur.
[PROMED 10/20/00, 10/26/00; REUTERS 10/24/00]


OTHER

RUSSIA TYPHOID FEVER
Twelve confirmed and seven suspected cases of typhoid fever have been reported in the Tula region of Russia. This is the first time in nearly 50 years that typhoid has been reported here. While the source of the outbreak is not known, typhoid is typically transmitted by contaminated food and water. Symptoms of typhoid include a sustained fever, weakness, stomach pains, and occasionally a rash and diarrhea. Without appropriate antibiotic treatment, typhoid can be fatal.
[PROMED 10/31/00]

ENVIRONMENTAL RISK OF VACCINE–RELATED POLIO
A team of Japanese researchers suggests that an environmental risk of vaccine–associated paralytic poliomyelitis will persist as long as live oral poliovirus vaccine is not replaced by inactivated vaccine. The investigators isolated poliovirus strains from samples of sewage and river water collected in Japan between 1993 and 1995. They found that these strains were vaccine–derived and more virulent than the attenuated virus used in the vaccine as a result of replication in the human gut and subsequent excretion into the environment.
[The Lancet 2000;356:1461�]


2.UPDATES

UGANDA EBOLA VIRUS
As of November 6, the Ugandan Ministry of Health reported a total of 281 cases of Ebola virus, including 91 deaths. The virus has now spread to the Mbarara district in the southwestern region of the country, where a soldier previously based in Gulu died of the virus. This was the first virologically confirmed case outside of Gulu, and two more have since been reported.
[www.who.int/disease–outbreak–news]


3. NOTICES

ITREID FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITIES — UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
The International Training and Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (ITREID) fellowship program at the University of Washington is accepting applications for fellowship positions starting in September 2001. ITREID is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to build international research collaborations in the area of infectious diseases. The objective of the program is to train exceptional international students who plan to return to their countries to build successful research programs. The application deadline is January 1, 2001. For more information, please visit http://depts.washington.edu/itreid/ or email itreid@u.washington.edu.

COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS — TROPICAL DISEASES
The UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is inviting scientists and research institutions from least developed disease–endemic countries to submit research proposals that focus on the following areas:

  • Determinants of inequality of access to prevention, therapy, and information
  • Implications of changing economic, social, political and civil structures for disease persistence, emergence, and resurgence

Grants with budgets normally not to exceed 25,000 US dollars per year for a period of one to two years will be awarded. The application deadline is March 23, 2001. Forms and information are available at www.who.int/tdr/grants/workplans/seb.htm.

FAO/WHO MICROBIOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT ACTIVITIES
The FAO and WHO have prepared scientific documents to address the issues of Salmonella spp in broilers, Salmonella enteritidis in eggs, and Listeria monocytogenes in ready–to–eat foods. The Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) requested that the FAO and WHO provide scientific advice on these three areas through expert consultation. The FAO and WHO are asking for interested parties to contribute to this work in the field of microbiological risk assessment by reviewing the documents and providing comments along with any relevant data. Comments must be received by Nov. 15, 2000.
www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/economic/esn/pagerisk/riskpage.htm
www.who.int/fsf/mbriskassess/index.htm
www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/economic/esn/pagerisk/call.htm

WEB–BASED TB OPERATIONS RESEARCH COURSE
Dr. Hans Rieder of the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (IUATLD) has developed a web site that offers a distance learning course in applied epidemiology for TB operations research. The course is accessible as a series of .pdf files and includes practical exercises using Epi Info.
www.tbrieder.org

WORLD MELIOIDOSIS CONGRESS, 2001
The next World Melioidosis Congress will be held in Perth, Australia, September 26㪵, 2001. Infectious disease specialists, microbiologists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, soil scientists, environmental health workers, and civil engineers are invited to attend. Topics of discussion will include recent developments in epidemiology, cellular and molecular pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment, prevention and containment, and public health implications. For more information and to complete an expression of interest, please visit www.e–tiology.com.

Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore's disease, is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Melioidosis is found in the tropics, particularly in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. Infection occurs as a result of direct contact with contaminated soil and surface waters and can result in both acute and chronic infections, often causing pneumonia–like symptoms with potentially fatal outcomes.


4. JOIN THE E–LIST AND RECEIVE EINet NEWS BRIEFS REGULARLY
The APEC EINet listserv was established to enhance collaboration among academicians and public health professionals in the area of emerging infections surveillance and control. Subscribers are encouraged to share their material with colleagues in the Asia–Pacific Rim. To subscribe (or unsubscribe), please contact apecein@u.washington.edu. Further information about the APEC Emerging Infections Network is available at http://www.apec.org/infectious.

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