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Thailand Lymphatic Filariasis
Thailand's Public Health Department recently surveyed migrant workers
and found that an unusually high percentage of the cases tested positive
for lymphatic filariasis. Filariasis is a mosquito borne disease. Elephantiasis,
a filarial clinical entity, can be a disfiguring disease that causes
arms, legs, and genital organs to swell several times their normal size.
According to Krit Hiranus, chief of the Health Department, 26 (5.05
per cent) of the 515 random blood tests for elephantiasis in workers
in Bangkok returned positive results. Although many in Bangkok have
positive for the disease, the number of patients being treated is low
because symptoms can take as long as five years to manifest themselves
the majority of infected people are asymptomatic. The workers in the
survey who tested positive have been treated.
In 1997 the World Health Organization began an effort
to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, a disease caused by the parasitic
bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and B. timori. The disease does not often
result in death, but is a major cause of morbidity. According to WHO,
more than 1.1 billion people live in areas at risk of infection and
about 120 million people in tropical and subtropical areas of the world
infected. For more information about elephantiasis please visit http://www.filariasis.org/index.shtml.
[Promed 12/17/01; World Health Organization]
New Zealand Sparrow Salmonella Outbreak
According to New Zealand health officials, "Sparrow salmonella"
(Salmonella typhimurium type 160) accounted for 47 per cent of all
gastroenteritis cases during the month of November. This strain of bacterial
disease was previously recorded in only two humans in New Zealand (during
1998 and 1999), but affected 1,802 people in the year 2000 and 2,275
people during 2001 as of 14 Dec. The strain causes fever,
diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, lethargy, and vomiting in humans.
According to Dr. Bob Boyd, the national Health Ministry's
chief public health adviser, early results of a study of S. typhimurium
type 160 in 117
cases between April and August have reinforced the need to follow food
safety and hand hygiene recommendations. Salmonella is enterically
communicable. The study found that cases were four times more likely
than the noninfected people to have had contact in the previous month
with someone suffering from vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, cases
were 30 times more likely than controls to have touched wild birds within
three days before their illness. It has been reported that the epidemic
of S. typhimurium type 160 in humans has followed the emergence of infections
and subsequent deaths among birds and animals in New Zealand.
Cook Islands Dengue Fever
Three cases of dengue fever have been reported between 26㪴 Nov 2001
in the Cook Islands, an island group in the South Pacific Ocean. According
to reports, the three cases contracted the illness in the capital city
of Rarotonga. Tupu Araiti, the Secretary of the Ministry of Health,
has said diseasecarrying mosquitoes on the island has been discovered
almost a month after the hospitalization of two tourists with the illness
from French Polynesia. This is the second time during 2001 that local
cases have been reported after imported cases were discovered. A total
of nine cases has been reported to authorities in the Cook Islands during
2001 and five of these have been imported from abroad. Other parts of
the Pacific have experienced high levels of the potentially fatal disease
this year, but the outbreak in the Cook Islands is considered minor.
Gabon Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 27 confirmed cases
of Ebola haemorrhagic fever, including 18 deaths, have been reported
in Gabon as of 23 Dec 200. In addition, seven suspected cases are under
investigation. Fifteen of the 27 cases were detected in Gabon and 12
were detected in neighboring villages of the Republic of the Congo.
As of 23 Dec 2001, a total of 203 persons who have had either direct
or suspected contact with the blood or other body fluids of a case are
being closely monitored for signs or symptoms of Ebola for 21 days.
Ninetyfour contacts are being followed up in the Republic of Congo
and 109 contacts are being followed up in Gabon. An international team
is working closely in the field with the teams from the Congolese and
Gabonese Ministries of Health on outbreak control interventions. For
more information, please visit http://www.who.int/homepage/.
[World Health Organization]
Japan Cow Suspected to Have BSE Tests Negative
According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, the
fourth cow suspected to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
has tested negative. The three other cases of BSE have been confirmed.
Japanis the only nonEuropean country where local cattle have been found
infected with BSE.
Chronic Wasting Disease Test
For the first time, a live animal test has been developed to detect chronic
wasting disease (CWD) a disease related to bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE). Chronic wasting disease and BSE are thought to be
caused by infectious proteins known as prions and infect the brains of
animals, causing them to become thin, display abnormal behavior, lose
bodily functions, and die. Currently, there is no test for BSE in live
animals, but a test has been devised recently by the Colorado Division
of Wildlife (DOW) to detect chronic wasting disease (CWD) in live and
dead deer. The Colorado DOW, working with Colorado State University and
the University of Wyoming, began a research project in 2001 to determine
if the live test would be accurate and effective. The test for CWD utilizes
samples of tonsil tissue from live mule deer and is more sensitive than
the current standard test for CWD, which involves examining the brain
tissue of animals killed by the illness. This is because prions congregate
in the tonsils early in the disease's development.
As there is no cure for either BSE or CWD, the new test provides an important
mechanism for preventing the spread and reducing the prevalence
of the disease in wild and captive deer herds. Testing of tonsil tissue
is equally effective in both live deer and expired deer, but the test
effective for elk due to the differences of disease development in the
two species. As of yet, there is still no live test for elk.
APEC Network of Networks Meeting
A meeting of Asia pacific disease alert and surveillance networks is to
be held in Seattle, 28㪶 Jan 2002. The meeting will bring together
infectious diseases electronic networks throughout the Asiapacific region
and focus on innovation and collaboration across networks. The meeting
is by invitation, but proceedings will be made available through the EINet
Preliminary program information is now available online for the International
Conference on Emerging Infection Disease. The meeting,
hosted in Atlanta by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
will be held in March of 2002 in order to bring together public health
professionals to discuss scientific and public health information on global
emerging infectious disease issues. For more information, please
Thailand Asia's First Global HIV/AIDS Forum
On 17 Dec 2001 around 3,000 HIV and AIDS activists, experts, and health
officials from around the world met in Chiang Mai, Thailand for Asia's
first global HIV/AIDS forum. The Fifth International Conference on Home
and Community Care for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS focused on medical
treatment and social care for HIV/AIDS patients worldwide. The fourday
conference discussed access to medical care in developing countries, clinical
treatment, international research and discrimination against people with
[Associated Press 12/17/01]
United States Anthrax Vaccine
On 20 Dec 2001 the United States Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) reported that around 3,000 people, members of the United States
congress and others who may have been exposed to anthrax, will be offered
a controversial anthrax vaccine. The vaccine, which was developed for
use only by military personnel, will be administered as part of an experimental
The study is experimental because the vaccine was developed only to protect
people who are immunized before exposure. It is thought that the
vaccine will stimulate the creation of antibodies to provide shortterm
protection from anthrax. The possible risks of the vaccine will be explained
to the individuals and will only be given with full informed consent.
Some mild side effects of the vaccine include redness and
swelling at the site of injection. Those receiving the vaccine will be
asked to take part in a followup study to determine the effectiveness
the vaccine when given after exposure.
According to the HHS, the vaccine is normally given in a series of six
injections over 18 months, but will be given to volunteers in three doses
over a fourweek period. The vaccine dosage is based on studies done with
monkeys and is thought to be enough to stimulate antibody production.
Anyone accepting the vaccine will also be required to take antibiotics
for an additional 40 days. The HHS feels the chance of developing anthrax
this long after exposure is very low.
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