V, No. 05~ EINet News Briefs ~ March
8 , 2002
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In this edition:
- Infectious disease information
- Journal Articles
- How to join the EINet listserve
1. OVERVIEW OF INFECTIOUSDISEASE INFORMATION
Below is a semimonthly summary of AsiaPacific emerging infectious diseases.
China (Hong Kong) Variant CreutzfeldtJakob Disease
A 35yearold woman with the first case of variant CreutzfeldtJakob
disease (vCJD) in China died on 20 Feb 2002. Doctors believed the
woman contracted the disease when she lived in Britain from 1985 to
1992 and again from 1997 to 2001. She returned to Hong Kong for medical
treatment in January 2001.
Japan (Seoul) Food Poisoning
As of 03 March 2002, 53 Japanese tourists staying at a Seoul hotel
were hospitalized after developing foodpoisoning symptoms. The patients,
employees of a Japanese cosmetic company, were on a fourday training
and sightseeing trip in South Korea. According to reports, they ate
Koreanstyle barbecued beef together on 02 March 2002 in Seoul.
US (South Dakota) Chronic Wasting Disease
The first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a deadly disease
that causes brain damage in deer and elk, was announced on 03 March
2002 in a deer in Fall River County of South Dakota, United States.
The disease, which is contagious, but cannot be transmitted to humans
or animals other than deer and elk, has previously been detected in
Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Due to reports of CWD in a Nebraska
region 10 miles near the South Dakota border, officials had anticipated
the occurrence of CWD in their state and have been monitoring the
situation closely for several months. The infected deer was one of
77 to be tested for CWD in Fall River County. An additional 50 to
100 deer in the area will be collected and tested. States with identified
CWD cases have not closed down deer or elk hunting seasons and have
used informed hunters in a number of deer management units.
Gabon Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Gabonese Ministry
of Public Health and Population reported on 04 March 2002 that 60 cases
of Ebola hemorrhagic fever had been confirmed in Gabon. Fortynine of
those cases have died. Followup continues.
[World Health Organization http://www.who.int/diseaseoutbreaknews/n2002/march/6march2002.html
China (Hong Kong) Avian Influenza
Avian influenza was confirmed on 03 March 2002 in a chicken farm located
in Pak Sha, an area outside the Kam Tin quarantine. Officials began
slaughtering chickens after 100 were confirmed to have died of H5
influenza. Officials will depopulate the farm in order to prevent
the spread of the virus. Twentythree farms were previously placed
under quarantine in the Kam Tin area on 05 Feb 2002 following an outbreak
where health workers destroyed 860,000 birds in an effort to prevent
the spread of avian influenza disease. The department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Conservation will continue to monitor chicken farms
in the Pak Sha area as well as those in other parts of Hong Kong.
[Promed 02/24/02; 03/05/02]
United States Unexplained Rash
Health departments in the United States have been investigating the
occurrence of an unexplained rash that began on 04 Oct 2001 and has
been seen in 14 states. The number of affected children ranges from
10 to approximately 600 in each of the 14 states. The US Center for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the cause of
the rash is still unknown. Although still under investigation, CDC
officials believe that a common cause of the rashes is unlikely. The
rash has been described by the CDC as consisting of reddened spots
on the face, neck, hands or arm, sometimes in a networklike pattern.
It has been reported to last from a few hours to two weeks and has
not accompanied other signs of illness.
The majority of cases have been seen in school children between five
and 10 years of age, although a few teachers and school staff have
been affected. Investigations at five schools have not revealed any
environmental sources, but several children were relieved of the rash
when they left school and acquired it again when returning. There
are no reports from states that document a common cause or demonstrate
existence of the same rash. State and local health departments, in
collaboration with CDC, continue to investigate reports of rashes
among groups of schoolchildren. It possible that an increase in rashes
may be due to increased surveillance, but no comparable data is available
prior to October.
[Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2002;51:161𤪔 Reuters Health
Effectiveness of Diluted Smallpox Vaccine
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and
Infectious Diseases, stated on Sunday 3 Mar 2002 that a study of diluted
smallpox vaccines indicates that they are effective. In 1980 the World
Health Organization (WHO) had announced that smallpox had been eradicated
from the world and recommendations were given to cease vaccination. However,
the issue of smallpox vaccination has been reexamined after concerns
that smallpox, caused by the variola virus, could be used in a bioterrorist
threat. The smallpox virus is easily transmittable and 30 percent of those
Researches have been studying the effectiveness of diluted smallpox vaccines.
The study has been completed, but results have not been published or presented
publicly. According to reports, the current U.S. vaccine supply of 15
million doses can be diluted to 150 million doses and retain effectiveness.
In addition, a new vaccine from a tissue cell culture will be made by
Acambis Inc. in collaboration with Baxter International. It has yet to
be determined if or when the general U.S. population would be vaccinated
and with what version of vaccine would be used.
[Associated Press 03/03/02]
Development of Ebola Virus Test
A team of scientists from Africa and Europe has developed a new test for
Ebola. The test, which can detect the Ebola virus within hours, can be
used in the field and may help contain future outbreaks. It is as sensitive
as existing laboratory methods and is based on detection of viral genomes
in the blood of a suspected case. The virus genes are retained, whereas
the virus is inactivated. The test has been tested during epidemics of
other tropical diseases such as yellow fever and Lassa fever. Use of the
new test is predicted to prevent secondary infection through isolation
of infected patients, impede the spread of the virus, and lead to significant
reductions in Ebola infection rates.
The Ebola virus was first identified in Africa in 1976 after epidemics
in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Ebola, one of the deadliest
viral diseases, spreads through bodily fluids and causes bloody diarrhea
and vomiting. Fifty to 90 percent of those who contract it usually die
within two weeks.
[Reuters Health 02/26/02]
Lyme Disease Vaccine to be Pulled from Market
GlaxoSmithKline, a drug company based in the United Kingdom, announced
on 26 Feb 2001 that it is taking its Lyme disease vaccine, Lymerix, off
the U.S. market due to a decline in sales. Lymerix is the only vaccine
approved in the United States. for preventing Lyme disease. Infections
from Lyme disease, which is caused by the tickborne bacterium Borrelia
burgdorferi, have been increasing in the United States in recent years.
Despite an increase in infections, sales of Lymerix have been declining
since its first year on the market in 1999 when it earned $40 million
in peak sales. This is attributed to a reduction in demand for Lyme disease
prevention. Glaxo projected that less than 10,000 people would choose
to get the vaccine in 2002.
[02/26/02 Reuters Health]
HIV/AIDS Conference in Seattle, Washington
The Ninth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections convened
in Seattle, Washington, United States during 24 to 28 Feb 2002. The conference
was organized by the Foundation of Retrovirology and Human Health, the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the U.S. Center
for Disease Control and Prevention. Topics discussed include virology;
immunology; vaccines; pathogenesis; primary, acute and opportunistic infection;
hostvirus interactions; antiretroviral therapy; hepatitis virus coinfections;
epidemiology and infection control; pediatrics and maternalfetal studies;
HIV infection in women/women's health; diagnostics; microbicides; clinical
pharmacology. Posters and Web casts are now available online at http://188.8.131.52/2002/default.htm
OIE Extends its Activities in Food Safety and Animal Welfare
The Office International des Epizooties (OIE), an intergovernmental organization
created by the International Agreement of 25 Jan. 1924, is broadening
and reinforcing its field of activities in relation to food safety and
animal welfare. The OIE is a leading international organization that sets
standards for animal health and diseases transmissible to humans.
The director general of the OIE will meet with an ad hoc group of worldrenowned
specialists in order to make appropriate proposals concerning food safety
to the OIE member countries. An event in which the OIE feels intervention
is necessary may be when an animal disease influences food products for
consumption. In addition, an OIE ad hoc group appointed by the director
general and comprised of specialists from five continents will meet from
2נ April 2002 in order to discuss the role of OIE in the domain of animal
welfare. This includes establishing norms for animal protection at the
farm, during transport and at the time of slaughter.
4. JOURNAL ARTICLES
A multicenter research team in Queensland, Australia has recently reported
in the Medical Journal of Australia the identification of a novel virus
found in Australian children with respiratory ailments. Presence of the
virus, known as human metapneumovirus (hMPV), was previously described in
Dutch children. Dutch researchers have shown that the virus has existed
for at least 20 years through antibody tests on stored blood samples. Infections
with the virus show similar clinical symptoms as in respiratory syncytial
virus (RSV), but generally cause milder lower respiratory tract infections
than RSV. RSV can result in pneumonia and is the leading cause of hospital
admissions in young children in Australia. Dr. Nissen, director of the Infectious
Diseases at the Royal Children's Hospital in Queensland and lead author
of the article, hypothesizes that the virus could have crossed from birds
to humans. There is no known therapy for the virus and approximately 80
percent of positive tests come from 0 to 5 year olds. Human MPV may go unrecognized
because it is a very slow growing virus and difficult to grow in culture.
In addition, it is nearly indistinguishable clinically from hRSV infection.
While there is currently no routine lab testing for the virus, a rapid test
is being developed.
[Medical Journal of Australia 2002;176:188 ; 03/01/02 Reuters Health; Promed
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