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Vol. IV, No. 18 ~ EINet News Briefs ~ Nov. 16, 2001

****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. Notices
  3. Journal articles
  4. How to join the EINet listserve

Below is a semi–monthly summary of Asia–Pacific emerging infectious diseases.


China (Beijing) — First National AIDS Conference
On 13 Nov 2001 China held its first national AIDS/STD (sexually transmitted diseases) conference. The four–day conference drew 2,000 participants and featured celebrity AIDS Prevention spokespersons. The number of HIV–infected people in China is increasing rapidly, with the number of infections reported in the first half of the year being 6.4 per cent higher than in the same period last year. While 28,133 people officially are registered to have contracted the HIV virus as of September of this year, Chinese health officials estimate the figure to be 600,000. The United Nations, however, estimates that China has roughly one million HIV carriers. Health Minister Zhang Wenkang said the Chinese Government would invest more money on efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS over the next five years. The Chinese government has vowed to do more to control the spread of HIV/AIDS by ensuring the safety of blood donations, increasing AIDS education, improving the training of health workers, and developing reliable HIV monitoring systems. Dai Zhicheng, the secretary–general of the conference, has said the conference is to be held every two years.
[Reuters 11/13/2001; Associated Press 11/14/2001]

China (Jiangsu) — Flamingo Chlamydiosis
An ecological tourism company in East China's Jiangsu Province imported 100 flamingos from the Netherlands in late September. Six died during the transportation and the remaining 94 were found to be infected with chlamydiosis, which can be easily transmitted to humans. Quarantine officials destroyed the 94 flamingos and the place where the flamingos briefly stayed has been disinfected. Chlamydia psittaci causes psittacosis in humans and an avian strain causes chlamydiosis in birds. The disease can be passed to humans, but the risk is low. Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath and a prominent headache is common.
[PROMED 11/07/2001]


US (New York, Connecticut) — West Nile Viral Encephalitis
Four human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) encephalitis or meningitis were reported in New York and one case was reported in Connecticut during the week of 31 Oct to 06 Nov 2001. During the same period, WNV infections were reported in 255 crows, 22 other birds, and 11 horses in the United States. However, no WNV–positive mosquito pools were reported. During 2001, 10 human cases of WNV encephalitis or meningitis have been reported in Florida, 10 in New York, six in Connecticut, six in Maryland, six in New Jersey, three in Pennsylvania, and one in Georgia. In addition, 4,251 crows and 1,459 other birds infected with WNV have been reported in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Reports of WNV infection also have been found in horses.

Birds infected with WNV have also been found in Canada. As of 08 Nov 2001, 122 birds have been confirmed to be infected with WNV in Ontario.
[PROMED 11/08/2001 11/10/2001]

US (Connecticut) — Poultry Avian Influenza

On 05 Nov 2001 officials discovered avian influenza virus at a Scotland poultry farm in Connecticut. As a result, the state Department of Agriculture ordered the destruction of 16,000 chickens at the farm. On 12 Oct 2001 the state quarantined the site and began destroying the birds the following day. Tests taken from flocks in the nearby area have been negative, but all poultry owners in New England were informed on how to protect their flocks.
[PROMED 11/07/2001]


Australia — Botulism Outbreak in Chickens
An outbreak of botulism on a farm near Brisbane, the first big case recorded on a Queensland farm, has killed 14,000 chickens. The infected birds of the 96,000 chicken farm died over a 20–day period. Scientists have traced the outbreak to litter in the sheds of the farm and believe it is an isolated case. Dr. Ron Glanville, of Queensland's Department of Primary Industries (DPI), said he did not believe the outbreak would spread. The dead birds have been buried and the farm is in the process of being cleaned. The DPI will continue to monitor the farm.
[PROMED 11/06/2001]

Unexplained Dialysis Deaths
The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the deaths of at least 53 dialysis patients from around the world who used Baxter International products called dialyzers. This product of Baxter International, a company based in Deerfield, Illinois, filters toxins out of the blood of patients whose kidneys have failed. Baxter became aware of the possible problems with the filters after several patients died in Spain in mid–August 2001. The FDA is reviewing 21 deaths in Croatia, 10 in Spain, seven in Taiwan, five in Germany, four in Italy, two in Columbia and four in the United States.

The dialyzers were made by a Baxter acquired company, Althin Medical, at a factory in Ronneby, Sweden and were distributed from January 1998 to 15 Oct 2001 to dialysis facilities in more than 50 countries. After research of the product, Baxter has said that a fluid chemical used to manufacture some of the filters for dialysis patients might have played a role in the deaths. Director of the FDA's center for devices and radiological health, Dr. David W. Feigal, has also said that the source of the problem may be this chemical, perfluorohydrocarbon. A spokeswoman for Baxter, Sally Benjamin Young, has reportedly said the fluid was used in the filters set aside after they failed a quality control test. This is approximately 10 percent of all the filters.
Evidence of multiple–organ failure was found from autopsies of five of the deceased. Most of the dialysis patients who died experienced shortness of breath, chest tightness, cardiac arrest or stroke symptoms within hours of being dialyzed.

The company voluntarily recalled the filters worldwide on 18 Oct 2001 and said that it had decided to permanently cease manufacturing the dialyzers. Baxter has also planned to compensate the families of patients who died.
[PROMED 11/07/2001]

Related News

India — Deaths Follow Polio Campaign
At least 10 children have died and more than 500 children have been admitted to hospitals in India's northeastern state of Assam due to side effects of a polio vaccine. On 10 Nov 2001, thousands of children throughout India were administered a polio vaccine as part of a massive polio immunization campaign run by the state government. A day later, large–scale side effects in and around the city of Silchar in southern Assam were reported. While officials have not announced possible causes of the side effects, non–governmental organizations in Silchar, who assist the government in this campaign, say outdated vaccines were possibly supplied in some areas.
[British Broadcasting Company 11/12/2001]


Asean to Begin Safe Sex Campaign
On 05 Nov 2001, at a session of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Brunei Darussalam, the heads of government adopted the7th ASEAN Summit Declaration on HIV/AIDS and a four–year work program on HIV/AIDS to halt the spread of AIDS in ASEAN countries. Prevention as well as treatment, care, and support for those infected are part of the program and declaration. In addition, the program and declaration will include government efforts to collaborate with NGO's and communities and government leaders hope to provide strong leadership, political foresight and commitment for the HIV/AIDS effort. Southeast Asian AIDS activists have applauded the declaration.

On the last day of the summit, 06 Nov 2001, ASEAN announced that it plans to begin a campaign promoting condom use in an effort to fight HIV/AIDS. The countries plan to provide condoms for citizen use and to promote a "100% condom policy" in brothels, hotels, and massage parlors. While Thailand's Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said that his country's 100 percent condom policy at sex outlets will prevent customers from purchasing sexual services unless they use a condom, ASEAN notes that "cultural and religious sensitivities and the reluctance of men to use condoms" may be an obstacle to the program's implementation.
[ASEAN Press Release 11/05/2001; Reuters 11/06/2001]

Network of Networks Meeting
A meeting organized by the APEC Emerging Infections Network, "The Network of Networks Meeting", will be held by invitation from 28 Jan. to 30 Jan. 2002 in Seattle, Washington, US. The meeting will include participation by key individuals working in electronic networking from around the region, representatives from the World Health Organization, and interested national partners identified at the APEC Industry, Science and Technology Working Group (ISTWG) meeting. Individuals will convene to discuss the development of an integrated disease surveillance and alert network in the Asia Pacific Region. Aims include enhancing geographic coverage of communication about infectious disease, assuring accuracy and completeness of content about emergent infectious disease, and assuring timeliness of information access about epidemic disease activity in the region. For more information, please contact Alicia Silva at: apecein@u.washington.edu.

Novartis to Start Center to Study Tropical Diseases
Novartis announced a decision to establish a $122 million tropical–disease research facility, the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, in collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). The institute, which will be located in Singapore, will concentrate on dengue fever and tuberculosis (TB) in an effort to address the health needs of less–developed countries. It will employ 60 full–time scientists and technicians to investigate new treatment methods and vaccines against the two diseases. Information will be exchanged with Novartis research facilities as well as other tropical–disease organizations. The Singapore location was chosen because of the intellectual and financial backing of the EDB, which has developed a fund of $551.7 million to promote ventures such as this.
[National Network for Immunization Information 11/09/2001; Associated Press 11/08/2001]


North American Mosquitoes as Vectors for West Nile Virus
Researchers have evaluated the West Nile Virus (WNV) vector potential of several North American mosquito species. Mosquitoes were evaluated because of possible or known roles in the spread of eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), and WNV. All mosquito species examined in this study were susceptible to infection with WNV and developed disseminated infections. Overall, results of the paper stated that two efficient laboratory vectors include two species from which WNF was isolated in New York in 2000, Culex restuans and Cx. salinarius. Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. nigripalpus from Florida were considered moderately efficient laboratory vectors and Coquillettidia perturbans was determined to be an inefficient vector. This study enhanced the list of potential North American mosquito vectors of WNV.
[Sardelis MR, Turell MJ, Dohm DJ, O'Guinn ML. Vector competence of selected North American Culex and Coquillettidia mosquitoes for West Nile Virus. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2001;7(6). http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no6/sardelis.htm]

Biochips that Detect Bacteria
Scientists at the University of Rochester have created a tiny device that emits faint light of two colors in response to the presence of Gram–(–) and Gram–(+) bacteria. Currently, the color changes are not yet detectable by the naked eye, but can still be used to differentiate Gram–(–) bacteria from Gram–(+) bacteria. This method of detection makes use of chemically prepared, porous silicon and old staining techniques. When exposed to Gram–(–) bacteria, the silicon chip color is slightly altered, but when exposed to Gram–(+) bacteria, the chip does not change. While the sensitivity of the "biochip" has not been completely determined, preliminary experiments suggest that 1.7µg of bacteria is detectable. Researchers hope that a fully developed sensor will ultimately generate an instant and easily recognizable array of colors that detect dangerous or antibiotic–resistant strains of bacteria.
[Chan S, Horner SR, Fauchet PM, Miller BL. Identification of gram negative bacteria using nanoscale silicone microcavities. Journal of the American Chemical Society. in press (2001); Nature 07/11/2001]

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 apec–ein@u.washington.edu. Further information about the APEC Emerging Infections Network is available at http://www.apec.org/infectious.

Nov. 20, 2001

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© 2001, The University of Washington