Vol. V, No. 01~ EINet News Briefs ~ Jan. 11 , 2002
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In this edition:
1. OVERVIEW OF INFECTIOUSDISEASE INFORMATION
Below is a semimonthly summary of AsiaPacific emerging infectious diseases.
Vietnam Dengue Fever
It has been reported that the number of dengue fever cases in Vietnam in 2001 have increased 62 percent from the previous year. According to reports, the number of people who contracted the viral illness in 2001 is 39,563. Currently there is no cure or vaccine for dengue. Reports have not given reasons for the rise of cases in Vietnam, but stated that the southern Mekong Delta region has the highest rate of the mosquitoborne disease and that the area is an ideal environment for mosquitoes to breed because many farmers in the area use containers to store rain water.
Although there has been an increase in the number of dengue fever
cases, there have been fewer cases of malaria reported in Vietnam.
According to reports, a total of 242,018 people contracted malaria
in 2001 (more than 2 percent less than last year). In addition, the
number of deaths from malaria has decreased by 45 percent (76 deaths).
Vietnam Return of Female Sex Workers from Cambodia
Although the number of female Vietnamese sex workers living in Cambodia
is reported to be around 60,000 by Vietnamese officials, other reports
give a much lower estimate. The lack of condom use in brothels and
similar settings as well as lack of prevention through education are
causing concern about a possible HIV/ADIS epidemic in Vietnam. Vietnamese
public health officials warn that the country's AIDS problem is growing
at an alarming rate and is rising among injection drug users, tuberculosis
patients, and female sex workers. According to a Reuter's report,
current HIV prevalence is estimated at 0.22 percent to 0.29 percent.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MOH) estimates that the number
of citizens currently infected with HIV is 120,000, out of a population
of over 76 million.
US Avian Influenza
According to the assistant vice president of the Poultry Council,
the Union County outbreak is likely connected to a virus found in
live bird markets in New York and New Jersey, where some Pennsylvania
farmers do business. The state veterinarian has said that the total
value of the destroyed chickens is approximately $120,000. Farmers
who were ordered to destroy flocks are eligible for reimbursement
of up to 66 percent of the value of each bird.
Republic of the Congo and Gabon Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
The government of Gabon has restricted access to a province affected by the virus and security and defense authorities helped local officials control movement in and out of Ogooue Ivindo, a northeastern province of Gabon. The border between Gabon and the Republic of Congo has been sealed and only medical specialists involved in the outbreak are able to cross. In addition, officials in the Republic of Congo have blocked off a 125mile region on their side of the border.
A committee created to deal with the Ebola outbreak reportedly includes
ministers of health, defense, transport and the interior and is under
the supervision of the Prime Minister. In addition, the Gabonese Red
Cross Society is carrying out health education activities in Gabonese
Brazilian Scientists Sequence Bacteria Genome
In early Dec 2001 it was announced that Brazilian scientists have sequenced the complete genome of Chromobacterium violaceum, a gramnegative bacterium found in the soil and water of subtropical regions and abundant in the Brazilian Amazon. A network of 160 researchers in 25 laboratories throughout Brazil worked in collaboration in order to sequence the bacteria's genome. C. violaceum is the first organism sequenced by Ministry of Science and Technology's Brazilian Genome Project (BRGene).
Researchers are interested in utilizing the bacterium and its products
through biotechnology. It is thought that genomic information about this
bacterium may be helpful in providing new treatments for diseases ranging
from cancer to Chagas disease. C. violaceum produces violacein,
a purple pigment known to produce antibiotics, antifungicides and a substance
that supresses tumors in mice. In addition, a product of the bacterium
could be used as an alternative to pesticides because it is highly toxic
to insects. For more information please visit http://www.brgene.lncc.br/index.html.
PAHO Celebrates its 100th Anniversary
APEC Network of Networks Meeting
4. JOURNAL ARTICLES
The Genetics of Avian Influenza Virus Transmission to Humans
According to a study published in the Jan 2002 issue of Journal of Medical Virology (J Med Virol 2002;66:107𤩢), the ability of avian influenza viruses A H5N1 and H9N2 to cause infection and disease in humans may be due to their shared gene constellations.
In 1997 an outbreak of febrile respiratory illness occurred in Hong Kong involving H5N1, an avian influenza virus, and H9N2, a closely related quail influenza virus. The ability of the avian virus to infect humans was not well understood and it was previously assumed that the major barrier preventing avian strains from infecting humans were the types of sugar molecules on the cell surface that the virus uses to bind to cells.
Dr. Michael Shaw from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and colleagues sequenced nine H5N1 and two H9N2 isolates in order
to identify molecular changes associated with avian to human transmission
of the viruses. The scientists found that the gene sequences of all isolates
showed more than 90 percent sequence homology with avian virus sequences
available in gene databases and that the viruses were most like the H5N1
and H9N2 viruses isolated in live poultry markets in Hong Kong in 1997.
In addition, the scientists discovered three distinct subgroups when analyzing
the nucleotide sequences of the 11 isolates. These subgroups appeared
to enable the virus to infect human cells even though they had avian virus
properties. However, the new genetic trait does not allow the virus to
spread from human to human.
© 2002, The University of Washington