Identified Bio-Outbreaks (2011)

BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: The following outbreaks occurred within the calendar year of 2011. While some of the following reports may have been legitimate outbreaks, most if not all of them appear to be generated man-made outbreaks with the overall goal of convincing American and the world that it is on the precipice of a major pandemic. The fact that these outbreaks exists in mass confirms that an upcoming bio-terror attack is in the cards and may be played in a last ditch effort to regain political, economic and militarial control of society.

Title: Measles Outbreak In Europe, Especially France
Date: April 21, 2011
Source: Huffington Post

Abstract: Europe, especially France, has been hit by a major outbreak of measles, which the U.N. health agency is blaming on the failure to vaccinate all children.

The World Health Organization said Thursday that France had 4,937 reported cases of measles between January and March – compared with 5,090 cases during all of 2010. In all, more than 6,500 cases have been reported in 33 European nations.

"This is a lot of cases, to put it mildly. In past years we've had very few cases," said Rebecca Martin, head of WHO's office in Copenhagen for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization.

"There's been a buildup of children who have not been immunized over the years," she said. "It's almost like a threshold. When you have enough people who have not been immunized, then outbreaks can occur."

WHO has found that young people between 10 and 19 have not been getting immunized as they should, she said.

To prevent measles outbreaks, officials need to vaccinate about 90 percent of the population. But vaccination rates across Europe have been patchy in recent years and have never fully recovered from a discredited 1998 British study linking the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella to autism. Parents abandoned the vaccine in droves and vaccination rates for parts of the U.K. dropped to about 50 percent.

The disease has become so widespread in Europe in recent years that travelers have occasionally exported the disease to the U.S. and Africa.

Around Europe, Spain reported more than 600 cases in Andalusia in two outbreaks since October in Sevilla and Granada. Macedonia reported 400 cases this year with the capital, Skopje, most affected.

WHO said outbreaks and rising case numbers also were reported in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia and Switzerland.

"One of the problems is that people have fear of the vaccine more than the disease," Martin said. "People forget how severe measles can be."

WHO officials are examining immunization coverage data and plan a workshop with French, German, Belgian and Swiss officials later this month.

Measles symptoms include fever, cough, spots on the cheek and a rash. It is spread through close contact including coughing and sneezing and is especially serious in babies and people with weak immune systems. Health officials estimate complications affect one in every 15 children infected, including pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis (Huffington Post, 2011)

Title: First Case Of Bubonic Plague In 2011 Appears In New Mexico
Date: May 10, 2011
Source: TIME

Abstract: Turns out, the plague isn’t just ancient history. New Mexico health officials recently confirmed the first human case of bubonic plague — previously known as the “Black Death” — to surface in the U.S. in 2011.

An unidentified 58-year-old man was hospitalized for a week after suffering from a high fever, pain in his abdomen and groin, and swollen lymph nodes, reports the New York Daily News. (Officials declined to say when the man was released from the hospital.) A blood sample from the man tested positive for the disease.

Santa Fe officials said they are still investigating how the man contracted plague. Flea bites are the most common method of transmission to humans; in this case, doctors suspect a flea bit the man on his left leg.

Bubonic plague tends to create panic in areas where it appears. That’s understandable, given that it’s best known for having wiped out more than a third of the medieval population of Europe. Today, some 1,000 to 3,000 cases arise globally each year. Countries such as Australia and Europe are plague-free, but regions in Africa, Asia and the Americas have experienced epidemics in recent decades. Most cases occur in small towns and villages or agricultural areas, rather than in developed towns and cities.

In the U.S., plague cases are rare and relatively isolated; 10 to 20 human cases of plague are reported each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They typically appear in two general areas: one region includes northern New Mexico, northern Arizona and southern Colorado; the other spans California, southern Oregon and far western Nevada.

Of those states, New Mexico has the highest domestic plague incidence with 65 of the 134 cases reported in the U.S. since 1990, according to a health department report.

Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which lives in rodents, and is transmitted by flea bites. The Los Angeles Times‘ Booster Shots blog reports:

The fleas feed on wild rodents, such as the rock squirrel in the Southwest and the California ground squirrel in the Pacific states. Prairie dogs, wood rats, chipmunks and, less commonly, rabbits have also been known to carry infected fleas.

Cats and, less often, dogs can transmit the plague to humans as well — by carrying fleas into the house or by contracting the plague themselves (through flea bites or by eating plague-infested rodents) and then biting or scratching humans. Very rarely, a cat can develop plague pneumonia and spread the disease by coughing.

Onset of plague usually occurs two to six days after exposure. Symptoms include fever and headache, followed by pain and swelling in the lymph nodes. About 1 in 7 cases is fatal, but the disease can be treated with antibiotics (TIME, 2011).

Title: Rare, Aggressive Fungus Strikes Joplin Tornado Victims
Date: June 10, 2011
Source: CBS St. Louis

Abstract: A Joplin doctor said Thursday his hospital treated five Joplin tornado victims for a rare, aggressive fungal infection sometimes found in survivors of other natural disasters.

Dr. Uwe Schmidt, an infectious disease specialist at Freeman Health System in Joplin, said three of those patients who contracted zygomycosis have since died, but he stopped short of blaming their deaths specifically on the infections.

“These people had multiple traumas, pneumonia, all kinds of problems,” Schmidt said. “It’s difficult to say how much the fungal infections contributed to their demise.”

Zygomycosis, now known as mucormycosis, is a fungal infection that spreads rapidly and can be caused by soil or vegetative material becoming embedded under the skin. It’s more prevalent in people with weakened immune systems or untreated diabetes but can affect healthy people who suffer trauma and are injected with contaminated soil.

Dr. Benjamin Park with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who have had a traumatic skin injury that is not improving should seek medical attention immediately so the infection can be identified and treated promptly.

Here is a portion of the memo from health care authorities:

“Dear Greene County Medical Providers,

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department was made aware of medical concerns associated with tornado victims. Please see the statement below:

All Medical Providers Caring for Joplin Tornado Victims

Several patients have been identified recently with aggressive fungal soft tissue infections. These patients were transferred in from the field and had lacerations that were closed at the scene. These patients have developed cellulitis followed by aggressive necrotizing soft tissue infection. Despite aggressive surgical debridement, the wounds have continued to advance. Microscopy demonstrates invasive fungal elements with capillary thrombosis. Grossly, the wounds have a cellulitic appearance with necrosis of the deeper aspect of the wound. The fat has a saponified appearance. In some cases gross fungal elements are visible with the naked eye. Despite aggressive surgical debridement, the necrosis reoccurs within 24 hours. Treatment currently consists of aggressive serial surgical debridement with IV amphotericin therapy.”

“These fungal infections are usually quite serious, and often have a case-fatality rate of 50 percent or higher,” Park said in an email to The Associated Press. “Although persons with weakened immune systems and those with diabetes are the most common risk groups, otherwise healthy people can develop infection, particularly after a traumatic wound. Skin infection usually occurs following traumatic inoculation of the fungal spores into the skin.”

Schmidt said he had seen only two cases of zygomycosis in his 30 years of practice, and both of those cases involved people with untreated diabetes.

“I never have seen personally this kind of fungal infection of the skin,” he said.

Stacy Fender, a spokeswoman for CoxHealth, said Cox South hospital in Springfield has one patient who may have a fungal infection. Overall numbers weren’t available. The health department in Springfield-Greene County, where some patients were treated, declined to release information about patients sickened by the fungus, citing patient privacy concerns.

The Springfield News-Leader reported the department sent a memo Monday to area health providers warning them to be on the lookout for the infections.

Kendra Williams, the administrator of community health and epidemiology for the health department, said the fungus likely came from soil or vegetative materials imbedded in the skin by the tornado.

In the aftermath of the tornado, Freeman Health System treated more than 1,700 patients. Doctors from St. John’s Hospital, which was hit by the twister, treated patients at makeshift facilities. Schmidt said some wounds that were stitched up had to be reopened because they weren’t adequately cleaned.

“These were very extensive wounds,” Schmidt said. “They were treated in the emergency room as quickly as possible.”

A week after the tornado patients began arriving with fungal infections.

“We could visibly see mold in the wounds,” Schmidt said. “It rapidly spread. The tissue dies off and becomes black. It doesn’t have any circulation. It has to be removed.”

Schmidt said the infection is sometimes seen in survivors of mass trauma such as the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.

“This fungus invades the underlying tissue and actually invades the underlying blood vessels and cuts off the circulation to the skin,” Schmidt said. “It’s very invasive” (CBS St. Louis, 2011).

Four More Anthrax Cases In Bangladesh
June 16, 2011
Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: Four additional people were diagnosed with anthrax in Kenai village in the Faridpur upazila of Pabna, Bangladesh, on Wednesday, which brings the total number of infections to 14 during the last three days.

Dr. Khalilur Rahman, the upazila health and family planning officer, said that the four infected individuals arrived at the health complex on Wednesday afternoon for medical care. Three of the infected are in their 30s while one is a teenager, The Daily Star reports.

The four new infections resulted from the handling of raw meat of a diseased cow that was slaughtered on June 9. On June 11, 10 people from the same village contracted anthrax, which has infected a total of 31 people in the upazila in the past two months, Khalil said, according to the The Daily Star.

Cutaneous anthrax, the anthrax skin infection, infects humans when handling products from infected animals. This can become inhalation anthrax by breathing in anthrax spores from infected animal products or gastrointestinal anthrax by eating undercooked meat from infected animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anthrax is classified as a Category A weapon of bioterrorism by the CDC. Anthrax was intentionally spread through the postal system by sending letters laced with powder containing anthrax in the United States in 2001, leading to 22 cases of anthrax infection (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

Title: Shiga Toxin-Producing E. Coli (STEC): Update On Outbreak In The EU
Date: July 27, 2011
Source: ECDC

Abstract: In the EU/EEA, only two non-HUS STEC cases were reported to have fallen ill within the last 10 days (17 July – 26 July), all in Germany. These are two probable cases, not yet confirmed with STEC O104. The last known date of illness onset in a patient with confirmed STEC O104 was 7 July 2011 (see text below). The last reported date of illness onset among all (probable and confirmed) cases was 17 July 2011.

As of today, the cumulative number of confirmed STEC cases in the EU/EEA is 941. This includes 264 HUS STEC cases and 677 non-HUS STEC cases. Additionally, there are 518 probable HUS STEC and 2 451 probable non-HUS STEC cases, with no confirmation of STEC O104 at present time. In total, in the EU, 46 persons have died of confirmed or probable STEC infection. Of these, 29 were HUS STEC cases and 17 were non-HUS STEC cases. The table below shows the distribution of cumulative probable and confirmed STEC cases per country.

The Robert Koch Institute declared on 26 July the outbreak in Germany as officially over, as the last date of onset for a case with an epidemiological link, was 4 July, three weeks ago. Since the last update on 26 July, Germany has reported nine non-HUS STEC cases and one HUS STEC case. Cases reported with onset after 4 July are considered by Germany as having no epidemiological link with the initial outbreak or for which no laboratory confirmation is available. Other Member States have not reported any new cases since the last update (ECDC, 2011)

Title: Cambodia Reports H5N1 Death, Zoo Outbreak
Date: July 29, 2011

Abstract: Cambodia's health ministry today announced today that a 4-year-old girl died from an avian influenza infection, a day after the country's animal health officials reported that the virus struck a zoo in a different province.

The girl, from Banteay Meanchey province in the northwestern part of the country, died Jul 20, the ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a joint statement, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Her death is Cambodia's seventh this year and pushes its number of H5N1 cases to 17, including 15 deaths.

The report did not mention if the girl had been exposed to sick or dead birds, but Cambodia's health minister, Mam Bun Heng, warned parents and guardians to keep children away from them, according to the AFP report.

Yesterday Cambodia's agriculture ministry reported an H5N1 outbreak that killed 19 wild birds at a Phnom Tamao zoo in Takeo province, located in the southern part of the country, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The bird deaths started Jul 13 at the zoo's rescue center, where workers feed the wild birds fish distributed on the banks of a pond during the rainy season (June through December). Zoo workers originally suspected Newcastle disease or fowl cholera, and they buried the carcasses and disinfected the area.

The virus killed 19 birds, and 10 more sick ones were destroyed to control the spread of the virus, according to the report.

Investigators aren't sure where the birds are from, but they suspect the Tonle Sap River, which expands into a large lake during the rainy season, flooding nearby fields and forests. A team from the National Veterinary Research Institute and the zoo conducted an investigation and surveillance in neighboring villages (CIDRAP, 2011).

Title: Death Toll Rises To 13 In Listeria Outbreak, The Deadliest In A Decade
Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Fox News

AbstractHealth officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday -- including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas -- surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.

The CDC said Tuesday that they have confirmed two deaths in Texas and one death each in in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Last week the CDC reported two deaths in Colorado, four deaths in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Maryland.

New Mexico officials said Tuesday they are investigating a fifth death, while health authorities in Kansas and Wyoming said they too are investigating additional deaths possibly linked to the tainted fruit.

Listeria is more deadly than well-known pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, though those outbreaks generally cause many more illnesses. Twenty-one people died in an outbreak of listeria poisoning in 1998 traced to contaminated hot dogs and possibly deli meats made by Bil Mar Foods, a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corp. Another large listeria outbreak in 1985 killed 52 people and was linked to Mexican-style soft cheese.

Listeria generally only sickens the elderly, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems. The CDC said the median age of those sickened is 78 and that one in five who contract the disease can die.

Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC says the number of illnesses and deaths will probably grow in coming weeks because the symptoms of listeria don't always show up right away. It can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating food contaminated with listeria.

"That long incubation period is a real problem," Tauxe said. "People who ate a contaminated food two weeks ago or even a week ago could still be falling sick weeks later."

CDC reported the 72 illnesses and deaths in 18 states. Cases of listeria were reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The most illnesses were reported in Colorado, which has seen 15 sickened. Fourteen illnesses were reported in Texas, 10 in New Mexico and eight in Oklahoma.

The outbreak has been traced to Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., which recalled the tainted cantaloupes earlier this month. The Food and Drug Administration said state health officials had found listeria in cantaloupes taken from grocery stores in the state and from a victim's home that were grown at Jensen Farms. Matching strains of the disease were found on equipment and cantaloupe samples at Jensen Farms' packing facility in Granada, Colo.

FDA, which investigates the cause of foodborne outbreaks, has not released any additional details on how the contamination may have happened. The agency says its investigation is ongoing.

The Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms were shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10 to Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

The recalled cantaloupe may be labeled "Colorado Grown," `'Distributed by Frontera Produce," `'Jensenfarms.com" or "Sweet Rocky Fords." Not all of the recalled cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker, the FDA said.

Unlike many pathogens, listeria bacteria can grow at room temperatures and even refrigerator temperatures. The FDA and CDC recommend anyone who may have one of the contaminated cantaloupes throw it out immediately and clean and sanitize any surfaces it may have touched.

About 800 cases of listeria are found in the United States each year, according to CDC, and there usually are three or four outbreaks. Most of these are traced to deli meat and soft cheeses, where listeria is most common.

Produce has rarely been the culprit, but federal investigators say they have seen more produce-related listeria illnesses in the past two years. It was found in sprouts in 2009 and celery in 2010.

While most healthy adults can consume listeria with no ill effects, it can kill the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It is also dangerous to pregnant women because it easily passes through to the fetus. Dr. Tauxe of the CDC said the type of listeria linked to the cantaloupes is not one that is commonly associated with pregnancy-associated illnesses, however. State and federal health authorities have not definitively linked any miscarriages, stillbirths or infant illnesses to the current outbreak.

Symptoms of listeria include fever and muscle aches, often with other gastrointestinal symptoms. Victims often become incapacitated and unable to speak.

Debbie Frederick said her mother knew something was wrong when her father, 87-year-old William Thomas Beach, collapsed at his home in Mustang, Okla. and couldn't get up. He died a few days later, on Sept. 1. The family later learned his death was linked to eating the cantaloupe and sued Jensen Farms.

"First you just kind of go into shock," said Frederick. "Then it settles in that he would still be alive if this hadn't happened. It's a life, for what?" (Fox News, 2011).

Title: Listeria Outbreak Expected To Cause More Deaths Across US In Coming Weeks
Date: September 29, 2011
Source: Guardian

AbstractAn outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe melons in the US may cause more illness and deaths in coming weeks, say health officials.

So far, the outbreak has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths, in 18 states, making it the deadliest food outbreak in the country in more than a decade.

The Colorado farm where the potentially deadly cantaloupes were traced to, Jensen Farms in Holly, says it shipped fruit to 25 states, and people with illnesses have been discovered in several states that were not on the shipping list.

A spokeswoman for Jensen Farms said the company's product is often sold and resold, so they do not always know where it ends up.

"If it's not Jensen Farms, it's OK to eat," said Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control. "But if you can't confirm it's not Jensen Farms, then it's best to throw it out."

The recalled cantaloupes may be labelled "Colorado Grown," "Distributed by Frontera Produce," "Jensenfarms.com" or "Sweet Rocky Fords" but not every recalled cantaloupe is labelled with a sticker, the US Food and Drug Administration said. The company said it shipped out more than 300,000 cases of cantaloupes that contained five to 15 melons each, meaning the recall involved 1.5m to 4.5m pieces of fruit.

Frieden and FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said that illnesses are expected for weeks to come because the incubation period for listeria can be a month or even longer. Jensen Farms last shipped cantaloupes on 10 September, and the shelf life is about two weeks. "We will see more cases likely through October," Hamburg said.

The FDA said Colorado health officials found listeria in cantaloupes taken from grocers' and from a victim's home. Matching strains of the disease were found on equipment and cantaloupe samples at Jensen Farms' packing facility in Granada, Colorado.

Sherri McGarry, a senior adviser in the FDA's office of foods, said the agency is looking at the farm's water supply and possible animal intrusions among other things in trying to figure out how the cantaloupes became contaminated. Listeria bacteria grow in moist, muddy conditions and often are carried by animals.

The health officials said this is the first known outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe. Listeria generally is found in processed meats and unpasteurised milk and cheese, although there have been a growing number of outbreaks in produce. Hamburg called the outbreak a surprise and said the agencies were studying it closely to find out how it happened.

Cantaloupe is often the source of other outbreaks, however. Frieden said CDC had identified 10 other cantaloupe outbreaks in the last decade, most of them salmonella.

Listeria is more deadly than well-known pathogens like salmonella and E coli, although those outbreaks generally cause many more illnesses.

Listeria generally affects only the elderly, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems. The CDC said the median age of those struck with illness is 78 and that one in five who contract the disease can die from it. Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, often with other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Unlike many pathogens, listeria bacteria can grow at room temperatures and even refrigerator temperatures. It is hardy and can linger long after the source of the contamination is gone; health officials say people who may have had the contaminated fruit in their kitchens should clean and sanitise any surfaces it may have touched (Guardian, 2011)

Title: Hospital Rooms Crawling With Drug-Resistant Germs: Study
Date: November 2, 2011
Source: U.S. News

Abstract: Nearly half of 50 hospital rooms tested by researchers were colonized or infected with a multidrug-resistant bacteria, a new study says.

University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found Acinetobacter baumannii (MDR-AB) bacteria on multiple surfaces, including bedrails, supply carts and floors. This species of bacteria, which has caused infection outbreaks in health care facilities over the last decade, can survive on surfaces for long periods of time. MDR-AB infections mainly occur in patients who are very ill, wounded or have weakened immune systems.

For the study, the researchers analyzed samples collected from 10 surfaces in each of 50 hospital rooms occupied by patients with a recent (less than two months prior to sampling) or remote (more than two months) history of MDR-AB.

The surfaces selected for sampling included bedrails, bedside table, door knob, vital sign monitor touchpad, nurse call button, sink, supply cart drawer handles, infusion pump, ventilator surface touch pad, and the floor on both sides of the bed.

The researchers found that 9.8 percent of the surface samples from 48 percent of the rooms showed evidence of MDR-AB. The surfaces most commonly contaminated were supply cart handles (20 percent), floors (16 percent), infusion pumps (14 percent), ventilator touchpads (11.4 percent), and bedrails (just over 10 percent).

These findings are a cause for concern because these surfaces are routinely touched by health care workers, the researchers said.

The study, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, also found that patients with a recent history of MDR-AB were no more likely to contaminate their hospital room than those with a remote history.

"For patients with MDR-AB, the surrounding environment is frequently contaminated, even among patients with a remote history of MDR-AB," the researchers concluded in a journal news release. "In addition, surfaces often touched by health care workers during routine patient care are commonly contaminated and may be a source of (hospital-based) transmission. The results of this study are consistent with studies of other important hospital pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus and Clostridium difficile."

However, the study does not show which came first -- MDR-AB or environmental contamination.

Also, the researchers noted that since they conducted their study, new methods of reducing transmission of MDR-AB have helped decrease infections (U.S. News, 2011)

Title: St. Louis Area Reaches 27 Cases Of E. Coli
Date: November 5, 2011
Source: Fox News

Abstract: State health officials say there are now 27 E. coli cases in the St. Louis area outbreak.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services also said Saturday that one new case is from a Boone County resident who had recently been in St. Louis. The department is trying to determine if two other cases in Boone County are connected to the St. Louis outbreak.

No deaths or life-threatening illnesses have been reported since the first cases were reported last week in St. Louis city and St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties in Missouri and St. Clair County, Ill.

The health department also says that no food samples tested have had E. coli, a group of bacteria that can cause diarrhea and other illnesses (Fox News, 2011).

Title: Rift Valley Fever, Human - France: Ex Zimbabwe (Mashonaland East)
Date: November 29, 2011
Source: ISID (International Society for Infectious Diseases)

AbstractOn Thu 20 Oct 2011, a case of Rift Valley fever (RVF) imported into France from Zimbabwe was reported by ProMED-mail (Rift Valley fever, human - France: ex Zimbabwe (ME) 1st Archive Number: 20111020.3132). As reporting of RVF is mandatory in France, the patient's samples were sent to the National Reference Laboratory for Arboviruses for confirmation. 

The 1st serum, obtained at day 25 after symptom onset was reinvestigated for the presence of anti-arbovirus antibodies (i.e., Dengue; Chikungunya; West Nile; Rift Valley fever). Only a borderline IgM reactivity against RVF virus antigen was detected. A 2nd sample obtained at day 67 after onset was found negative for both IgM and IgG for all antigens tested. The lack of enhancement of IgM response and no IgG seroconversion led us to conclude that the transient IgM response in the initial sample was a non-specific reaction. 

Consequently RVF infection has been classifies as 'not confirmed.' Diagnosis of imported cases has proven to be valuable for the global surveillance of arboviruses. Thus, clinicians should be aware that pathologies (case definition; diagnostic procedures including interpretation criteria), especially where mandatory reporting at the national or the international levels, is required (ISID, 2011).  

Title: 30 Dead In Final Toll From Melon Listeria Outbreak
 December 9, 2011

 Fox News

Abstract:  Federal health authorities say the final death toll from an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe is 30.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued the final update Thursday and said the outbreak is over.

The agency said 30 people died, and a woman pregnant at the time of her illness had a miscarriage. Last month, the CDC put the death toll at 29.

The outbreak was the deadliest known case of foodborne illness in the U.S. in more than 25 years. It was worse than a 1998 spate of listeria infections, when 21 deaths were linked to tainted hot dogs and delicatessen meats.

A total of 146 people were sickened in 28 states, according to the agency.

The melons came from Jensen Farms in southern Colorado, which recalled the cantaloupes Sept. 14.

Symptoms of listeria can take up to two months to appear.

Four strains of listeria monocytogenes were traced to Rocky Ford melons produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.

Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's cantaloupe packing facility were probably to blame for the outbreak, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Government investigators found positive samples of listeria bacteria on equipment in the Jensen Farms packing facility and on fruit that had been held there.

In a six-page assessment of the conditions at the farm based on investigators' visits in late September, the FDA said Jensen Farms had recently purchased used equipment that was corroded, dirty and hard to clean.

The packing facility floors were also constructed so they were hard to clean, as pools of water potentially harboring the bacteria formed close to the packing equipment.

The equipment – purchased in July, the same month the outbreak started – was previously used for a different agricultural commodity, the agency said, and the listeria "could have been introduced as a result of past use of the equipment," according to the report.

The FDA said that samples of cantaloupes in Jensen Farms' fields were negative for listeria, but bacteria coming off the field may have initially introduced the pathogen into the open-air packing house, where it then spread. Listeria contamination often comes from animal feces or decaying vegetation.

The farm did not use a process called "pre-cooling" that is designed to remove some condensation, which creates moist conditions on the cantaloupe rind that are ideal for listeria bacteria growth. Listeria grows in cool conditions, unlike most pathogens.

Another possible source of contamination was a truck that frequently hauled cantaloupe to a cattle operation and was parked near the packing house.

Contamination could have been tracked into the house by people or equipment, the report said (Fox News, 2011).

Title: Stomach Flu Outbreak At Japan Nuclear Plant
Date: December 17, 2011
The Hindu

Abstract: Dozens of workers at Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear power plant have come down with symptoms of stomach flu, halting a radioactive waste cleanup operation.

The operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant said on Saturday that a norovirus outbreak is suspected. Fifty-two workers assigned to the effort have been treated at a hospital over the past three days. Three of the workers have tested positive for the virus, a common form of flu.

The revelation comes a day after Japan declared stability at the plant, marking a milestone nine months after the March tsunami caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

The plant operator said the loss of the workers does not affect the plant’s essential reactor cooling functions (The Hindu, 2011)

Title: US Sailor Perishes After Bout Of Falciparum Malaria
Date: December 28, 2011

Abstract: A US sailor assigned to a humanitarian construction project in Monrovia, Liberia has succumbed to the deadly form of 
malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Dae-Ho Carrell, a builder assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, was transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on December 22 and he died 4 days later according to Stars and Stripes.

According to an Army epidemiologist, that was the only malaria related death in the past two years among US troops.

Navy officials did not say if Carrell had been taking anti-malarial medication.

It is estimated to be up to a half a billion cases of malaria annually with about 1 million deaths, particularly among young children.

The disease may manifest itself after an incubation of days to months. Once the parasites build up in the blood, symptoms are non-specific; fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting. At this point the only way to confirm is finding the parasites in blood. These early stages resemble many other febrile diseases.

Paroxysms (due to rupture and release of the parasite and metabolic products into the system), happen every 48-72 hours depending on the species.

There is a cold stage which leads to teeth chattering, shaking chills followed by a hot stage (fever) where temperatures may reach 106°F. Convulsions may develop particularly in children.

Untreated P. falciparum (the life-threatening species) can lead to severe malaria. Severe malaria is characterized by cerebral malaria, severe anemia, renal failure (black water fever), respiratory distress and bleeding disorders and shock.

Prompt treatment for falciparum malaria is essential because death from cerebral complications may occur (Examiner, 2011)

Title: Report: Chinese Man Dies Of Bird Flu
Date: December 31, 2011
Source: CNN

Abstract: A 39-year-old man in southern China died Saturday from what appears to be a contagious strain of avian flu, state media reported Saturday.

The man -- identified by Xinhua as a bus driver with the surname Chen -- was hospitalized in Shenzhen on December 21 as he battled a fever. He tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, the provincial health department said in a statement, according to the official news agency.

The man had not traveled out of the city of Shenzhen, nor did he have direct contact with poultry in the month before he came down with the fever, according to the department.

Shenzhen borders Hong Kong, where more than 17,000 chickens were ordered culled on the same day that Chen was hospitalized. That decision came after a chicken carcass tested positive for avian flu.

The territory's director of Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation declared the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market an infected place, the government said then in a statement.

Farmers were told they could not send chickens to the market for 21 days.

The Hong Kong government said it was working to trace the origin of the chicken, which was infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. But, as of December 21, authorities did not know the source.

Meanwhile, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has since suspended supplies of live poultry to Hong Kong, according to Xinhua.

As of mid-December, the World Health Organization calculated that 573 people had been infected -- and 336 had died -- after coming down with the H5N1 avian influenza virus since 2003. Twenty-six of those deaths had been in China, with the largest number of fatalities, 150, occurring in Indonesia. Vietnam and Egypt had more than 50 deaths each.

This summer, the United Nations warned of a possible resurgence of the virus -- which peaked in 2006, at one point infecting people in 63 countries -- saying there are indications a mutant strain may be spreading in Asia.

A variant strain of H5N1 -- which can apparently bypass the defenses of current vaccines -- had appeared as of late August in Vietnam and China, reported the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The group noted that the strain's movement around Vietnam threatened Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Japan and the Korean peninsula. By then, eight people in Cambodia alone had died this year after becoming infected this year, the agency added.

In addition to the health impact, the avian flu outbreaks have also come at a steep economic cost -- with the United Nations estimating earlier this year that it had contributed to the killing of over 400 million poultry and caused losses estimated at $20 billion (CNN, 2011)