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Identified Bio-Outbreaks (2012) 1/4

BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: The following outbreaks occurred within the calendar year of 2012. 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.

Identified Bio-Outbreaks (January, 2012 - June, 2012)

Title: Anthrax Found In 26 Drinking Wells In India
Date: January 10, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: A group of students from Palamur University in Andhra Pradesh, India, found deadly anthrax bacteria in the ground water of more than 26 habitations during research for a project.
 
Pawan Kumar, the head of the department of microbiology, sent the students to nearby villages to obtain water samples of colored water from open water bodies to test in the laboratory. After examining the water, Kumar suspected that the samples contained Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax. The Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology confirmed his fears, the Deccan Herald reports.
 
“The water has Bacillus anthracis bacteria which causes anthrax, a zoonotic disease that is transmissible to humans through handling or consumption of contaminated animal products,” Kumar said, according to the Deccan Herald.
 
The water samples were collected from Kodangal, Midjil, Papireddyguda, Khillaghanapuram, Atmakur, Aamanagallu, Lingala, Devarakonda and Alampur. The water had been contaminated from raw sewage, animal and blood products.
 
“The villagers in these places, even in a tourist spot such as Alampur, drink this water day in and day out," Venkat Reddy, a student, said, the Deccan Herald reports. "They are suffering from unknown diseases, many with ulcers so we want to go further and seek protected water for our people."
 
Humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products or consuming undercooked meat from infected animals. Infections can also occur from inhaling spores in contaminated anthrax products or in the intentional release of spores during a bioterrorist attack (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Anthrax Outbreak Hits National Park In Zimbabwe
Date: January 10, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: More than 165 animals are believed to have recently died in an ongoing anthrax outbreak in a Zimbabwe national park.

Caroline Washaya-Moyo, a public relations manager for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said that dozens of elephants, buffaloes and hippos have died in the Mana Pools National Park, according to AllAfrica.com.

"Our Chinhoyi office has since confirmed the anthrax outbreak following the death of the animals in Mana Pools,” Washaya-Moyo said, AllAfrica.com reports. "The Authority engaged the Vet Offices who later collected samples from hippos for lab testing. The lab test confirmed that 88 hippopotamus died of anthrax."

Washaya-Moyo said that the situation was now under control, but also expressed concern that the outbreak might have spread to other areas of the protected reserve, which lies around the lower Zambezi River, according to DailyMail.co.uk.

Dr. Chris Foggin, a veterinary officer in the Department of Veterinary Services (Wildlife), confirmed the outbreak and detailed some of the measures that are being taken.

"A number of animals have died, but we have visited the area and we sealed it off and we are burning the carcasses to prevent any further spread, an action well considered now that the lab reports confirmed anthrax as the culprit," Dr Foggin said, AllAfrica.com reports (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Fears Over Outbreak After 12 Infected With New Swine Flu Strain In U.S.
Date: January 12, 2012
Source: Daily Mail

Abstract: Twelve Americans have been reported infected with a mutating and now possibly human-to-human transmitted form of the H1N1 Swine Flu virus called H3N2v.

An investigation undertaken by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that human infections of these viruses followed contact with swine as well as through 'limited human-to-human transmission.'

'While there is no evidence that sustained human-to-human transmission is occurring, all influenza viruses have the capacity to change and it's possible that this virus may become widespread,' the CDC explained through their website.

Two of the 12 reported have been in Indiana, three in Iowa, two in Maine, three in Pennsylvania, and two in West Virginia.

Out of 10 diagnosed with the virus excluding West Virginia's two victims  - reported in the CDC's November report - three were hospitalized.

The CDC stated that the severity in illness following diagnosis with the virus has been found similar to previous flu virus infections with mild illness.

In a report released by the CDC on November 22, the three Iowa victims were identified as three children, explained as all having the virus with the same 'matrix gene segment' that was in the previous H1N1 virus.

'Prior to the three cases in Iowa, most human infections with this virus were associated with exposure to swine,' the CDC's report reads.

'In Iowa, however, no swine exposure has been identified. At this time, it appears that unsustainable human-to-human transmission may have occurred,' it explains.

While those three children, who were described as in close contact to one another, recovered from the virus, the CDC cautioned in their later 2011 report that, 'These viruses are substantially different from human influenza A (H3N2) viruses, so the seasonal vaccine is expected to provide limited cross-protection among adults and no protection to children.'

During the H1N1 outbreak between 2009 and mid-2010, over 17,000 victims died worldwide.

The swine flu strain's catastrophic impact deemed it a pandeA second Alamance County school may have a case of whooping cough, school system officials said Thursday.

This new suspected case involves a student at Western Middle School in Elon, school officials said.mic by the World Health Organization.

With the H1N1 virus, most of those hospitalized were younger adults and children rather than the elderly (Daily Mail, 2012).

Title: Possible Whooping Cough Case Found At Second Alamance Co. School
Date: January 12, 2012
Source: Fox 8 News

Abstract: A second Alamance County school may have a case of whooping cough, school system officials said Thursday.

This new suspected case involves a student at Western Middle School in Elon, school officials said.

The case has not yet been confirmed by lab results, but doctors told school system officials they're confident it is a pertussis case.

The case involves a girl who had contact with a confirmed pertussis case outside the school system, officials said. She rides a bus that is shared with Western High School, school system officials said.

The school system is contacting parents whose children may have been exposed at the school.

That news came on the same day Alamance County Health Department officials announced three more confirmed pertussis cases at B. Everett Jordan Elementary School, bringing the total to eight.

The first case was reported at the elementary school Dec. 14, and more than 600 people were interviewed and given antibiotics.

Health officials said there were also 23 probable pertussis cases at the elementary school. The "probable cases" are those showing symptoms similar to pertussis but have not been confirmed by testing.

Health officials said they will never know if those people were actually infected (Fox News 8, 2012).

Title: Elderly Canadian Woman Is Oldest Patient With Baylisascaris Infection
Date: January 23, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Infection with the ‘
raccoon roundworm’,Baylisascaris procyonis, although a very rare infectious disease with no more than a couple dozen cases reported, it is incredibly devastating and responds very poorly to treatment.

The infection is primarily reported in very young children ;< 2 years of age or in older children and young adults with developmental delay.

In a Letter to the Editor published Sunday in the February 2012 issue of the journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, the authors from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia report the case of a 73-year-old woman who was discovered to have the roundworm during autopsy. She is the second reported case of Baylisascaris infection in Canada.

She is the oldest known person with confirmed B. procyonis neural larva migrans (NLM). According to the letter, the only previously reported case of B. procyonis NLM in an adult was in a developmentally disabled 21-year-old adult known to exhibit geophagia and pica.

The authors describe the case in the letter:

We report the case of a 73-year-old female nursing home resident with a 10-year history of moderately severe Alzheimer-type dementia. She was well-educated, had no other medical problems, and had previously resided with her husband in a rural part of British Columbia. Apart from mild confusion and poor memory, she was in good health and able to ambulate and communicate. There had been no recent change in her medical condition, and she voiced no concerns about medical problems before dying suddenly of cardiopulmonary arrest.

Microscopic examination of the brain showed Alzheimer-type pathology that was sufficiently severe to account for the patient’s dementia. In addition to this finding, lesions were seen with the larval nematode surrounded by inflammation.

The authors suggest that the woman’s dementia may have masked any neurological symptoms of this apparent mild infection with the parasitic infection.

They also suggest that her dementia may have contributed to her acquiring the infection:

The combination of confusion and poor hygiene and ambulatory state in the patient may have predisposed her to acquiring B. procyonis roundworms through ingestion of contaminated soil (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Study Of Freakish Mystery Illness Finds No Cause
Date: January 26, 2012
Source: Guardian

Abstract: Imagine having the feeling that tiny bugs are crawling on your body, that you have oozing sores and mysterious fibers sprouting from your skin. Sound like a horror movie? Well, at one point several years ago, government doctors were getting up to 20 calls a day from people saying they had such symptoms.

Many of these people were in California and one of that state's U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein, asked for a scientific study. In 2008, federal health officials began to study people saying they were affected by this freakish condition called Morgellons.

The study cost nearly $600,000. Its long-awaited results, released Wednesday, conclude that Morgellons exists only in the patients' minds.

"We found no infectious cause," said Mark Eberhard, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who was part of the 15-member study team.

The study appears in PLoS One, one of the Public Library of Science journals.

Sufferers of Morgellons (mor-GELL-uns) describe a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, erupting sores, crawling sensations on their skin and — perhaps worst of all — mysterious red, blue or black fibers that sprout from their skin. Some say they've suffered for decades, but the syndrome wasn't named until 2002, when "Morgellons" was chosen from a 1674 medical paper describing similar symptoms.

Afflicted patients have documented their suffering on websites and many have vainly searched for a doctor who believed them. Some doctors believe the condition is a form of delusional parasitosis, a psychosis in which people believe they are infected with parasites.

Last May, Mayo Clinic researchers published a study of 108 Morgellons patients and found none of them suffered from any unusual physical ailment. The study concluded that the sores on many of them were caused by their own scratching and picking at their skin.

The CDC study was meant to be broader, starting with a large population and then went looking for cases within the group. The intent was to give scientists a better idea of how common Morgellons actually is.

They focused on more than 3 million people who lived in 13 counties in Northern California, a location chosen in part because all had health insurance through Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, which had a research arm that could assist in the project. Also, many of the anecdotal reports of Morgellons came from the area.

Culling through Kaiser patient records from July 2006 through June 2008, the team found — and was able to reach — 115 who had what sounded like Morgellons. Most were middle-aged white women. They were not clustered in any one spot.

That led to the finding that Morgellons occurred in roughly 4 out of every 100,000 Kaiser enrollees. "So it's rare," Eberhard said.

Roughly 100 agreed to at least answer survey questions, and about 40 consented to a battery of physical and psychological tests that stretched over several days.

Blood and urine tests and skin biopsies checked for dozens of infectious diseases, including fungus and bacteria that could cause some of the symptoms. The researchers found none that would explain the cases.

There was no sign of an environmental cause, either, although researchers did not go to each person's house to look around.

They took fibers from 12 people, which were tested at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Nothing unusual there, either. Cotton and nylon, mainly — not some kind of organism wriggling out of a patient's body.

Skin lesions were common, but researchers concluded most of them were from scratching.

What stood out was how the patients did on the psychological exams. Though normal in most respects, they had more depression than the general public and were more obsessive about physical ailments, the study found.

However, they did not have an unusual history of psychiatric problems, according to their medical records. And the testing gave no clear indication of a delusional disorder.

So what do they have? The researchers don't know. They don't even know what to call it, opting for the label "unexplained dermopathy" in their paper.

But clearly, something made them miserable. "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," said Felicia Goldstein, an Emory University neurology professor and study co-author.

She said perhaps the patients could be helped by cognitive behavioral therapy that might help them deal with possible contributing psychological issues.

The study is not expected to be the last word on the subject.

Among those with additional questions is Randy Wymore, an Oklahoma State University pharmacologist who for years was the most reputable scientist to look into it and who has concluded Morgellons is not a psychiatric disorder.

On Wednesday, Wymore said he had not seen the CDC paper and was unable to comment on it. But when the study began, he questioned whether Kaiser patients with Morgellons would participate, especially if they were unhappy with how they were previously handled by their Kaiser doctors.

"There is always the question: How many of the study participants actually have Morgellons Disease?" he said, in an email.

The CDC is not planning additional study, however. The agency's expertise is in infectious diseases and environmental health problems, and the researchers saw no evidence of that.

"We're not mental health experts," one CDC spokeswoman said (Guardian, 2012)

Title: Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found In 37 U.S. States
Date: January 31, 2012
Source: U.S. News

Abstract: Half a world away, doctors in India are fighting outbreaks of bacterial infections that are resistant to more than 15 types of antibiotics. But closer to home, a similarly scary bug is making the rounds in intensive care and other long-term units of American hospitals.

In at least 37 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, doctors have identified bacteria, including E. coli, that produce Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase, or KPC—an enzyme that makes bacteria resistant to most known treatments. It's much more prevalent in America than bacteria that produce NDM-1, the enzyme that has Indian doctors "hell scared," and, according to Alexander Kallen, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the final outcome isn't much different: superbacteria that are hard to kill.

"It's got a slightly different structure than [NDM-1]," he says of KPC. "But the bottom line is they're two different ways to produce bacteria that are resistant to a wide range of antibiotics."

That's bad news for infected patients—the mortality rate for patients infected with KPC-producing bacteria has been estimated to be as high as 50 percent. Doctors are advised to do their best to keep the bacteria from spreading, which explains why the problem is most prevalent in hospitals and other close-quarter medical units. Infected patients are often isolated.

KPC has been seen in a wide range of bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, and K. pneumonia, which often affects hospitalized patients.

These superbugs are resistant to nearly every weapon doctors can throw at them, including carbapenems, a class of antibiotic that the CDC calls the "last line of defense" against infections that are resistant to other types of antibiotics. There are a couple antibiotics that have been shown to kill these superbugs, but often at great risk to patients. In fact, the FDA has associated the use of these effective antibiotics with an "increased risk of death" in patients with pneumonia.

That leaves many doctors scratching their heads. KPC-bacteria often grow on medical equipment such as catheters and ventilators, so doctors can sometimes remove that equipment or perform surgery to try to eliminate the infection from a patient's body.

CDC researchers, including Kallen, say that hospitals who haven't been vigilant about isolating patients with KPC-producing bacteria may have missed their chance. According to a paper co-authored by Kallen released last year, "failure to recognize CRE infections when they first occur in a facility has resulted in a missed opportunity to intervene before these organisms are transmitted more widely."

The good news is that, at least for now, KPC-producing bacteria generally only infects people who already have compromised immune systems. "It can move into the wider community," says Kallen, "but we haven't seen much of that yet" (U.S. News, 2012).

Title: Vietnam Reports 2nd Bird Flu Death In A Month
Date: February 1, 2012
Source: Fox News

Abstract:  Vietnam has confirmed its second human death from bird flu in nearly a month, after going nearly two years with no reported fatalities.

The director of the Health Department in southern Soc Trang province said Thursday that test results confirm that a 26-year-old woman died of the disease Jan. 28 after being hospitalized in the provincial hospital three days earlier.

Truong Hoai Phong says the woman, who recently had a baby in another hospital, had slaughtered and eaten dead chickens the family raised. He says dead and sick poultry were reported in the woman's neighborhood.

Phong says the woman's house has been disinfected and samples from poultry and people who were in contact with the woman were being tested (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Taco Bell Linked To Oct. Salmonella Outbreak
Date: February 1, 2012
Source: Reuters

Abstract: Yum Brand Inc's Taco Bell chain has been linked to a salmonella outbreak that sickened 68 people in 10 states late last year.

Taco Bell said in a statement on Wednesday that investigators found that some of the people who became ill ate at Taco Bell, while others did not.

"They believe that the problem likely occurred at the supplier level before it was delivered to any restaurant or food outlet. We take food quality and safety very seriously," Taco Bell said, echoing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Jan. 19 final report on the outbreak.

The cluster of illness from salmonella enteritidis infections is believed to have begun in mid-October and ended by the time CDC issued its final report. Illnesses were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee.

CDC said 31 percent of patients were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

The outbreak had an air of mystery about it because CDC's final report said it was linked to a Mexican-style fast-food chain identified only as "Restaurant A."

Food Safety News was the first to identify Taco Bell as Restaurant A, citing a document from the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Acute Disease Service.

Taco Bell has been tied to two other outbreaks in the last six years.

In 2006, CDC identified contaminated lettuce served by Taco Bell restaurants in the northeastern United States as the source of an outbreak of a virulent strain of E. coli O157 that sickened 71 people.

Four years later, CDC confirmed that Taco Bell was linked to two outbreaks of rare strains of salmonella that made at least 155 people sick in 21 states. CDC originally linked that outbreak to an unnamed Mexican-style fast-food restaurant chain.

News of the 2011 outbreak comes as Taco Bell works to fully recover from a bogus, but ultimately sales-denting lawsuit over the contents of its seasoned ground beef.

Salmonella infections often cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The illness usually last four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

CDC estimates that one in six people in the United States gets sick from eating contaminated food each year. Food-borne illnesses are blamed for about 3,000 deaths annually (Reuters, 2012).

Title: Flesh-Eating Bug That You Can Catch On The Bus Or Train Is Spreading In The UK
Date: February 2, 2012
Source: Daily Mail

Abstract: A flesh-eating form of pneumonia that is easily passed between healthy people on public transport is spreading across the UK, experts have warned.

The deadly strain of MRSA called USA300 passes easily through skin-to-skin contact. It can also survive on surfaces and so has the potential to be picked up on crowded buses and tubes.

It was first seen in the U.S but cases are now being reported in the community and not just hospitals in Britain.

Dr Ruth Massey, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, said extra vigilance was required around this and similar MRSA bugs known as PVL-positive community acquired strains.

USA300 is resistant to treatment by several front-line antibiotics and can cause large boils on the skin. In severe cases, USA300 can lead to fatal blood poisoning or a form of pneumonia that can eat away at lung tissue.

Dr Massey said there were 1,000 cases of PVL-positive community acquired MRSA in England in the last year, of which 200 were USA300 strains.

'These community-acquired strains seem to be good at affecting healthy people - they seem to be much better than the hospital ones at causing disease.

'They don't rely on healthcare workers moving them around, which the hospital ones seem to.'

Dr Massey said USA300 is 'a really big issue in the U.S. and it's starting to emerge here.

'But hopefully because we are aware of it and are working to understand it, it won't become as big of a problem (in the UK).'

In a new research paper published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Dr Massey and colleagues analyse the way community-acquired MRSAs are able to adapt and fine tune themselves to spread outside of hospitals.

MRSA bacteria in hospitals has not been able to migrate into the community in the same way.

Dr Massey said: 'Our research found that the composition of the cell wall of the bacteria is critical to the community-acquired bacteria being more toxic.

'The ability of the MRSA bacteria to secrete toxins is one of the main ways it causes disease.

'Using a sensing system, it carefully controls when it switches on its ability to do this, so as not to cause disease until it is firmly established within the human.

'Many antibiotics target the cell walls of harmful bacteria, and to resist this, the bacteria have to make changes to their cell wall.'

Community-acquired MRSA strains have cell walls that are different to those seen in hospitals, allowing them to sense their environment and switch toxin expression on at the right time.

Justine Rudkin, a PhD student working on the project, said: 'The community-acquired bacteria has evolved further, and is able to maintain a higher level of toxicity while also resisting treatment from antibiotics, making it a much larger problem.'

She added: 'While we are constantly learning more about MRSA, there is a serious threat posed by this newer strain of bacteria capable of causing disease and even death in perfectly healthy people.

'We need to respond seriously to this threat as it reaches Britain from the United States.'

Chris Thomas, professor of molecular genetics at the University of Birmingham, said: 'The key message is that strains of MRSA that are spreading in the community are better able to infect the young and healthy, precisely because they are not actually trying so hard to be resistant as the bugs that have been encountered in hospitals for many years.'

He said there was now a 'need to worry about community super bugs that are fine tuned to spreading outside of hospitals and we all need to be extra vigilant about hygiene and unnecessary use of antibiotics.'

A spokeswoman for the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said: 'The paper highlights some important observations which helps us understand at the molecular level why hospital strains of MRSA are less virulent than the so-called community MRSA strains.

'We have known about community MRSA for over a decade and, whilst they are responsible for a high burden of disease in North America, this is not the case in the rest of the world.

'In England we have seen sporadic cases of this type of MRSA most often causing boils and abscesses, but it has not emerged as a major public health issue in this country.

'The HPA are carrying out active surveillance of this type of bacteria and advise healthcare professionals on correct infection control procedures to reduce the likelihood of spread' (Daily Mail, 2012).

Title:
Malaria Deaths Hugely Underestimated - Lancet Study
Date:
February 3, 2012
Source: BBC

Abstract: Worldwide malaria deaths may be almost twice as high as previously estimated, a study reports.

The research, published in the British medical journal the Lancet, suggests 1.24 million people died from the mosquito-borne disease in 2010.

This compares to a World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate for 2010 of 655,000 deaths.

But both the new study and the WHO indicate global death rates are now falling.

The research was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It used new data and new computer modelling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010.

The conclusion was that worldwide deaths had risen from 995,000 in 1980 to a peak of 1.82 million in 2004, before falling to 1.24 million in 2010.

The rise in malaria deaths up to 2004 is attributed to a growth in populations at risk of malaria, while the decline since 2004 is attributed to "a rapid scaling up of malaria control in Africa", supported by international donors.

While most deaths were among young children and in Africa, the researchers noted a higher proportion of deaths among older children and adults than previously estimated. In total, 433,000 more deaths occurred among children over five and adults in 2010 than in the WHO estimate.

"You learn in medical school that people exposed to malaria as children develop immunity and rarely die from malaria as adults," said Dr Christopher Murray of the University of Washington in Seattle, who led the study.

"What we have found in hospital records, death records, surveys and other sources shows that just is not the case."

The researchers also concluded malaria eradication was not a possibility in the short-term.

"We estimated that if decreases from the peak year of 2004 continue, malaria mortality will decrease to less than 100,000 deaths only after 2020," they write.

Disturbing Numbers

The Lancet's editor, Richard Horton, told the BBC: "Right now we don't actually have any reliable primary numbers for malaria deaths in some of the most malarious regions of the world, so what numbers we have come from estimates.

"What this paper reports is a new way of estimating the number of malaria deaths, where they've used additional data sets and improved mathematical models from calculating mortality."

But despite what he calls the "disturbing" number of deaths recorded, he believes the underlying message of the report is that the disease can and is being controlled.

"Since 2004, the number of malaria deaths has dropped by about a third, and that's really been the time when the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has swung into action" he said.

"Over the past decade, 230 million cases of malaria have been treated and the same number of bed nets have been distributed to people at risk of malaria, and the result of that has been this huge downturn. So what we know is that we're actually able to turn off malaria with our existing interventions."

Commenting on the new study, Professor David Schellenberg of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the researchers had "gone to great lengths to assemble information from a range of sources and to make adjustments for the inadequate data quality".

"We can argue about the strengths and weaknesses of their approach but should not be distracted by the details of the methods: however you look at it, far too many people are dying from malaria.

"The introduction of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, recommended by the WHO in 2010 and increasingly available in endemic countries, affords an unprecedented opportunity to take the guesswork out of malaria diagnosis and to improve the reliability of information," he added.

The new survey involved a range of measures to try and obtain a better estimate of global malaria deaths. New data sets were examined and computer models built which factored in a host of elements such as transmission rates, healthcare access, drug resistance and bednet coverage.

The work also involved trying to judge the impact of the misclassification of deaths in the affected regions. This readjustment alone generated a rise of 21% in the number of malaria deaths (BBC, 2012).

Title:
100 Cruise Passengers Struck By Norovirus
Date: February 4, 2012
Source: Boston.com

Abstract: Officials with Princess Cruise Lines say a stomach virus affected nearly 100 passengers on a ship that arrived in South Florida. Meanwhile, passengers on another ship were complaining of gastrointestinal illness.

A total of 92 passengers and 13 crew members on the Ruby Princess were affected by the Norovirus, which causes vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. The ship returns to South Florida on Sunday.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal illness among passengers on Crown Princess, which docked Saturday at Port Everglades.

Spokeswoman Julie Benson says the cases do not appear to be related. The cause of the illness has not yet been determined.

All cabins and public areas on the ships are being disinfected, which will delay their next departures (Boston.com, 2012).

Title:
2 Florida Bound Cruise Ship Liners Hit By Fast Spreading Virus
Date: February 4, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract:
Passengers on board two different Florida-bound cruise ships have been hit by a fast spreading norovirus, The Miami Herald reports. 

The gastrointestinal sickness struck two Princess Cruise Lines ships, the Ruby Princess and the Crown Princess, both en route to Fort Lauderdale. 

Ahead of the liners next departures this weekend, the cruise companies sent out an “emergency notification” to passengers notifying them that their trip will be delayed due to a norovirus attack.

“It will be necessary for the ship to undergo a prolonged and additional disinfection in Port Everglades on Sunday,” the line said in its message to passengers, The Miami Herald reports.

Aboard Crown Princess, a total of 140 passengers and 18 crew have been affected by the illness. A total of 81 passengers and nine crew  have been affected by the illness aboard Ruby Princess, according to Karen Candy, manager of media relations for Princess, in an e-mailed statement Friday afternoon, The Miami Herald reports.

“The ship continues to undergo the highest level of sanitation to stop the spread of illness, and a comprehensive disinfection of the ship’s public areas and all passenger cabins will occur during turnaround this Sunday using additional cleaning crew who will be brought aboard. As a result, passenger embarkation will be delayed until 2 p.m” (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Virus Strikes Cruise Ship Out Of New Orleans
Date: February 5, 2012
Source: CBS

Abstract: A stomach virus outbreak delayed the departure of the cruise ship "Voyager of the Seas" from New Orleans in one of three outbreaks of illness aboard U.S.-based cruise ships reported over the weekend.

The 15-deck, 3,100-passenger Royal Caribbean Cruises ship was delayed in leaving Saturday for a seven-day trip by a couple of hours, Port of New Orleans spokesman Chris Bonura. He referred other questions to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which did not answer a call and email Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified Louisiana on Friday that a cruise ship might be coming in with a norovirus outbreak, state epidemiologist Raoult Ratard said Sunday.

The CDC did not say how many passengers were ill, Ratard said. "They let us know, but that's it. They don't give us details or anything. And we really don't need" details about norovirus, he said.

Agency spokesman Tom Skinner said he could not comment immediately because the CDC inspector who had been on the Voyager on Saturday was busy checking a cruise ship in Florida on Sunday. That ship was one of two homeported in Florida where weekend outbreaks were reported.

WDSU-TV reported that about 200 passengers on the New Orleans ship became ill from the virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea and spreads rapidly in close quarters such as cruise ships and nursing homes.

To put things into perspective, Ratard said, on any given day about 10,000 people in the New Orleans area are likely to have diarrhea, about 30 percent of them — 3,000 — because of norovirus.

"In a closed space like a cruise ship, in a nursing home, in a hospital, you want to be extra careful. But the 3,000, they're all over the place," Ratard said (CBS, 2012).

Title: Chicken Salad Sandwiches Recall: 2,800 Sandwiches Have Possible Listeria Contamination
Date: February 7, 2012
Source: Huffington Post

Abstract: A South Carolina company is recalling about 2,800 of its chicken salad sandwiches because of concerns about possible listeria contamination.

The sandwiches, from the Grand Strand Sandwich Co. of Longs, S.C., were distributed in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. They carried the following labels: Grand Strand Sandwich, Lunch Box Sandwiches and Country Harvest Sandwiches, and came in 4.5 ounce and 5 ounce packaging.

According to the company, the sandwiches may contain eggs that were part of a previous recall from Michael Foods in Minnesota. The company that made the chicken salad for Grand Strand bought some of the hard cooked eggs from Michael Foods and isn't sure whether they were used in the Grand Strand Sandwiches.

"Just to be safe," Grand Strand said it was recalling some of its sandwiches.

The company says it is likely that some of the sandwiches may have already been consumed. There are no reports of illnesses in connection with the sandwiches.

Consumers can call Grand Strand Sandwich at 800-758-0476 with questions (Huffington Post, 2012).

Title: Mugabe Calls Typhoid Outbreak “Biological Warfare”
Date: February 8, 2010
Source:
Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has blamed a typhoid fever outbreak that has impacted 1,500 people in the country’s capital Harare on biological warfare.

Claudious Mutero, a spokesperson for Zanu-PF, made the claim in Harare. Meanwhile, Henry Madzorera, the Health and Child Welfare minister, cautioned that the outbreak would spread to other areas due to collapsing sewer and water infrastructure, Africa Review reports.

“The sanctions induced typhoid does not discriminate whether one is MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) or Zanu-PF as it attacks all people irrespective of their sex, ethnic or religious background,” Mutero said, according to Africa Review. “We suspect biological warfare by imperialists who are using nationals worldwide as conduits. Councilors must unite and call for the removal of these sanctions.”

Mugabe blamed the sanctions imposed on his inner circle for Zimbabwe’s economic collapse and said that the West was interested in re-colonizing the continent. Critics of Mugabe said that these claims of renewed imperialism are attempts to mask a failed land grab that ravaged the country’s economy, which is based on agriculture.

“This is not the first time that Zanu-PF has made ridiculous claims against foreign countries,” Madzorera said, according to Africa Review. “A few years ago, the struggling party alleged that the foreign countries were responsible for the abnormal rainfall in the country.”

Madzorera said that the government must put more money into sanitation and water to prevent recurring outbreaks.

“As a country, we should not be suffering from medieval diseases,” Mazdorera said, Africa Review reports. “The problem is that we are receivers of a failed economy” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: With 40% Of Tests Positive For Latent TB, All Of Longmont High Will Be Tested
Date: February 9, 2012
Source:
Denver Post

Abstract: About 40 percent of Longmont High School students and staff tested for tuberculosis have had positive results, a Denver Public Health official said Wednesday.

Dr. Randall Reves, director of the Denver Metro Tuberculosis Control Program, said that rate is unusual, but not unheard of.

Latent TB, unlike active TB, is not contagious. So far, the original case -- which was made public in early January -- is the only active case found in the school, Reves said.

TB cannot be transmitted unless a patient is actively ill, he said.

Because the rate of latent TB being found at the school has been higher than expected in the first two groups of students and staff tested, Reves has decided to test everyone at the school (Denver Post, 2012).

Title: Unusual Rate Of Latent TB Prompts More Testing At Longmont High School
Date: February 9, 2012
Source: Times Call

Abstract: About 40 percent of Longmont High School students and staff tested for tuberculosis have had positive results, a Denver Public Health official said Wednesday.

Dr. Randall Reves, director of the Denver Metro Tuberculosis Control Program, said that rate is unusual, but not unheard of.

"It just reflects that (the student's) particular case of TB was more infectious than average," Reves said.

Some types of sputum carry more bacteria than others, making those patients more contagious, he said.

Latent TB, unlike active TB, is not contagious. So far, the original case -- which was made public in early January -- is the only active case found in the school, Reves said.

TB cannot be transmitted unless a patient is actively ill, he said.

"They cough the bacteria into the air," Reves said. "It takes a lot of bacteria being coughed into the air to cause infection."

Because the rate of latent TB being found at the school has been higher than expected in the first two groups of students and staff tested, Reves has decided to test everyone at the school.

Beginning next week, public health officials will start testing ninth- and 10th-graders. To speed up the testing, skin tests will be given to most people, he said.

The following week, officials will test the 11th- and 12th-graders who have not yet been tested, he said.

Rob Spear, whose child transferred to Longmont High School a week ago, said talking to his family doctor eased his concerns, but thought testing all the students was a good idea.

Some parents, however, are not happy that the entire school population wasn't tested immediately after the first student was diagnosed with active TB.

"Why wasn't it done before?" asked parent Janet Sena, who worries about a 2-year-old grandchild at home. "They made it seem like it was nothing."

Testing all students in January would not have been productive, Reves said, because the body needs time to develop the antibodies needed to react to the tests. The students who were first tested will have to be re-tested later this month; had more students been tested early, more would have to be re-tested, he said.

Usually, when an entire school population is tested, few people are found to be infected, he said.

"You then spend a tremendous amount of resources testing people who are not at risk," Reves said.

Another complication of testing large groups of people is that about half the skin or blood tests show false-positive results, he said. That means more people have to be X-rayed or undergo other tests to see if they have latent TB, he said.

Reyne Messer, who has two children attending Longmont High School, said she feels school district and health officials didn't take the TB threat seriously.

"TB's not something to laugh about; it's dangerous," Messer said Wednesday afternoon as she waited to pick her children up from school.

She is afraid that even latent TB will spread -- something Reves said is not possible -- and has considered pulling her children out of school, she said.

"To put my kids in danger, it wasn't fair," Messer said (Times Call, 2012).

Title: Nine People Test Positive For ‘Monkey Disease’ In India
Date: February 11, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Shimoga district officials reported Friday that nine people have tested positive for Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or Monkey Disease in Thirthahalli during the past two weeks.

According to an IBN news report out of India, after a meeting with health officials, Shimoga Zilla Parishad CEO Sanjay Bijjur told the media that nine of the 89 samples sent to virus testing laboratory in Bangalore tested positive for the virus. He has also ordered staff to vaccinate all villagers in all three Primary health division’s covering Konandur, Hombuja and Rippenpet in the taluks before next week.

Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) is caused by Kyasanur forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae, the same family that yellow fever and dengue fever belongs.

Although the Karnataka state in India is the endemic focus and place where KFD originally was isolated, a KFD virus variant, Alkhurma virus, was isolated in Saudi Arabia.

Although small rodents are the main hosts for the virus, shrews, bats, and monkeys may also carry the virus. People are infected with KFDV, albeit rarely (~450 cases annually), a tick bite or by contact with an infected animal like a sick monkey.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of KFD include:

After an incubation period of 3-8 days, the symptoms of KFD begin suddenly with fever, headache, severe muscle pain, cough, dehydration, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding problems. Patients may experience abnormally low blood pressure, and low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell counts. After 1-2 weeks of symptoms, some patients recover without complication. However, in most patients, the illness is biphasic and the patient begins experiencing a second wave of symptoms at the beginning of the third week. These symptoms include fever and signs of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). KFD has a fatality rate of less than 5%.

There is no specific treatment for KFD; however, treating dehydration and bleeding disorders are important.

The experts at ProMed state that there is a safe and effective inactivated vaccine available in India.

Thirthahalli is located in the Shimoga District of the state of Karnataka, India (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Flu Outbreak Hits More Than 2.11 Million Nationwide
Date: February 12, 2012
Source:
Japan Today

Abstract: The flu epidemic sweeping across Japan has now affected people in all 47 prefectures, but the epidemic may not have peaked yet, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Saturday.

The institute said that as of Feb 5, the number of flu patients in Japan topped 2.11 million, an increase of 380,000 over the previous week.

The number of patients visiting hospitals and clinics for flu treatment has now exceeded that during the peak week of the swine flu outbreak in 2009, when 1.89 million patients sought medical help, NHK reported.

The institute says its figures are estimates based on data sent by 5,000 medical institutions across the country at regular intervals. The data show that most patients tested were found to have been infected by the A strain of the virus, known in Japan as the “Hong Kong” strain.

The institute’s estimates suggest that although patient numbers decreased in 11 prefectures, it increased in 36 others.

“In previous years, this time of year would have marked the peak of the virus, but this year we are preparing for the possibility that the infection rate will continue to climb,” NHK quoted an institute spokesperson as saying.

The institute added that it believes one of the causes of the large number of infections this year may have been the unusually high number of low-humidity days, which create conditions in which it is easier for the virus to attach itself to the mucous membrane in the throat (Japan Today, 2012)

Title: CDC Warns Untreatable Gonorrhea Is On The Way
Date: February 13, 2012
Source:
U.S. News

Abstract: Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, is increasingly showing resistance to one of the last known effective antibiotic treatments, leading researchers from the Centers for Disease Control to "sound the alarm" about potentially untreatable forms of the disease.

"During the past three years, the wily gonococcus has become less susceptible to our last line of antimicrobial defense, threatening our ability to cure gonorrhea," Gail Bolan, director of the CDC's sexually transmitted disease prevention program, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine last week.

According to the CDC, gonorrhea has a long history of developing immunity to antibiotics, but doctors have always had a stronger medicine up their sleeves to treat patients. Not anymore—about 1.7 percent of gonorrhea is now resistant to cephalosporins, the last line of defense against gonorrhea. That might not seem like much, but it's a 17-fold increase since 2006, when about one tenth of one percent of gonorrhea was believed to have resistance to cephalosporins.

According to Bolan, the strains are showing up most often in the western states, where 3.6 percent of gonorrhea has shown resistance to cephalosporins, and in men who have sex with men, with nearly 5 percent of gonorrhea showing resistance.

The disease has been estimated to affect 600,000 Americans annually, causing burning with urination, abdominal pain, itching, and genital discharge.

Nikki Mayes, a spokesperson for the CDC, wrote in an email that by using a combination of cephalosporins and other antibiotics, American doctors have been able to prevent anyone from getting a completely untreatable case of gonorrhea. But she says it's only a matter of time.

"The trends in decreased susceptibility that we're seeing, coupled with the history of emerging resistance and reported treatment failures in other countries point to the likelihood of treatment failures on the horizon," she writes.

Not much help is on the way, according to both Mayes and Nicole Mahoney, senior officer of the antibiotics and innovation project at PEW Charitable Trusts.

"As far as gonorrhea goes, I'm not aware of any new drugs in the pipeline," says Mahoney. "This is just one more example of a bigger problem—bacteria are developing resistance faster than we're inventing new medicines to fight them."

Mahoney says Congress and the Food and Drug Administration should encourage and reward pharmaceutical companies to devise new antibiotics. According to a PEW report, only two new classes of antibiotics have been introduced since 1968 because antibiotics are difficult to produce and are less profitable than other drugs.

Bolan writes in the medical journal that a vaccine to prevent gonorrhea "remains key to prevention and control," but that it is a "distant goal."

"The threat of untreatable gonorrhea is emerging rapidly," she adds (U.S. News, 2012).

Title: German Health Experts Left Baffled By Village Where Almost Every Household Has Resident Suffering Cancer
Date: February 13, 2012
Source: Daily Mail

Abstract: Health experts in Germany are baffled by a small village where cancer has hit almost every household.

Wewelsfleth, which has a population of 1,500, has been labelled the ‘village of the damned’ as new cancer cases are 50 per cent above average.

Researchers from the University of Lubeck who investigated the phenomenon, which includes breast, lung, oesophageal, womb and stomach cancers, could find no defining cause – although residents are blaming three nearby nuclear power plants and a shipyard where vessels used to be sprayed with highly toxic paint.

The villagers are now demanding a government inquiry. They think authorities over the years have remained silent as wind and rain blew in cancer-causing particles into their homes.

But experts say this is not the case. Research by academics at the University of Lübeck probed the various cancers that had struck down the villagers.

As well as probing the nuclear plants it also looked into the nearby shipyard, asbestos sheeting used on garage roofs, electro-smog from power lines and the lifestyle of those who fell victim to the cancers.

The study could find no defining link to any one cause. The villagers are now asking health authorities in Berlin to commission another study to get to the bottom of the ‘plague of cancers,’ as they call it.

Wewelsfleth mayor Ingo Karstens, who lost both of his wives to cancer, said: ‘It feels like a curse’ (Daily Mail, 2012).

Title: Rio Faces Dengue Epidemic: Brazil Health Minister
Date: February 16, 2012
Source: France 24

Abstract: Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilla on Thursday warned that Rio de Janeiro faced a major dengue epidemic, although he said the virus strain prevalent was not fatal.

"I believe that Rio could this year face one of the worst dengue epidemics in its history, in terms of number of cases," he said in a television interview.

Padilla said the dengue virus strain prevalent in Rio was not the most serious and was not fatal.

The official Agencia Brasil said since the start of the year, 3,499 dengue cases have been recorded in Rio, compared with 2,322 last year, but none were fatal.

The government said that nationally cases dropped 62 percent this year to 40,486.

Dengue affects between 50 and 100 million people in the tropics and subtropics each year, resulting in fever, muscle and joint ache.

But it can also be fatal, developing into hemorrhagic fever and shock syndrome, which is characterized by bleeding and a loss of blood pressure.

The news comes as Carnival frenzy sweeps Brazil and the South American powerhouse prepares for a week of sizzling samba dancing, glittering parades and unabashed merry-making in Rio and other cities (France 24, 2012).

Title: First Case Of Legionnaire's Disease Found At A Dentist
Date: February 17, 2012
Source: GMA

Abstract: Doctors on Friday reported the first known case of Legionnaire's disease, a rare infection usually linked to faulty air conditioning and hot-water systems, that was caused by a visit to the dentist.

The case report, published in The Lancet, describes an unnamed 82-year-old woman in Rome who was hospitalized with fever and breathing problems in February 2011.

Swiftly diagnosed with infection by the Legionella pneumophila germ, she died two days later of septic shock despite being given heavy doses of antibiotics.

During the two- to 10-day time it would have taken for the bacteria to incubate, the patient had only left her house twice, both times to attend appointments at the dentist.

Samples of water were taken from the dentist's tap, from the waterline—the tube that supplies water to tooth scalers and handpieces used by the dentist—and from the high-pressure pump supplying the waterline itself.

All three sources tested positive for L. pneumophila, but especially in water taken from the pump.

Genetic sequencing found that the germs there matched the bacteria which killed the patient. The bug turned out to be a particularly virulent sub-strain called Benidorm.

After cleaning with hydrogen peroxide solution and bleach, the water unit was free of contamination.

The case is unusual, as outbreaks of Legionnaire's disease are generally caused by air-conditioning systems, hot-water systems, spas and fountains that are not properly cleaned or maintained.

Warm temperatures and periods of water immobility provide a breeding ground for the bacteria. Distributed in fine droplets by a spray, the bacteria are then breathed in. Elderly people or individuals with poor immune systems are those most at risk.

 Previous research has shown that dental waterlines can be contaminated by the germ, but this is the first known case where illness has occurred.

 "As far as we are aware, no case of Legionnaire's disease has been associated with this source of infection," says the report, headed by Maria Luisa Ricci at the Istituta Superiore de Sanita in Rome.

 "The case here shows that the disease can be acquired from a dental unit waterline during routine dental treatment. Aerosolized water from high-speed turbine instruments was most likely the source of the infection."

The case report puts down a series of recommendations, including use of filters, continuous circulation of disinfected water and using sterile water instead of tap water (GMA, 2012).

Title: Vampire Bats And Rabies Killing Children In Native Communities In Peru
Date: February 19, 2011
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: So far in the month of February, at least six children have perished to 
rabies in Amazonas region of Peru according to the Ministry of Health. The children range in age from 1 to 14 years of age and all were bitten by vampire bats.

The children are from the native communities of San Ramon and Yupicusa in the Bagua province which borders Ecuador.

According to Dr Peter Quintanilla, director of health of Chachapoyas,” We have reports of 6 dead children due to an outbreak of sylvatic rabies in the region."

One of the problems health officials there are having is many of the indigenous peoples affected are seeking the care of folk healers, blaming the rabies on witchcraft, instead of seeking vaccination.

The Ministry of Health has sent workers to administer rabies vaccinations to these remote populations which can take 15 hours on rivers through the rainforests.

Many of the indigenous peoples in these remote villages live in dwelling that are relatively open, making it easy for vampire bats to feed on people when they sleep when preferred food sources are unavailable. The preferred hosts for blood meals are cattle and horses (Examiner, 2011)

Title: NC Reports First Flu-Related Child Death Of Season
Date: February 20, 2012
Source: WGHP 8 News

Abstract: North Carolina has reported its first flu-related child death for the season.

A six-year-old died of complications from an influenza infection on Feb. 4, state health officials said Monday.  The child, whose identity will not be released, was at-risk for complications from the flu due to underlying medical conditions, officials said.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to the family on the loss of their child,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, NC Health Director. “Unfortunately, this reminds us that flu is a serious illness and can be potentially devastating to people at any age.”

Influenza kills an estimated 25,000 in the U.S. each year and causes more than 220,000 hospitalizations.

Officials said about 1/2 of the children who died last season as a result of the flu were not at-risk for complications.

Officials said flu activity across the state has been mild for the season, although there has been a recent increase in the number of infections reported.

Most infections can be prevented with a flu vaccine, which is recommended for anyone over six-months-old (WGHP 8 News, 2012).

Title: Duke Reports Several Cases Of Norovirus
Date: February 20, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Just three weeks after the North Carolina Division of Public Health 
issued a norovirus advisory for the state, over in Durham, Duke University is now reporting several cases among employees and students.

In a Duke news release Monday, Dr. George Jackson, co-director of Employee Occupational Health and Wellness said in light of the reported infections, "All students, faculty and staff are advised to practice effective hand hygiene to limit the spread of the virus. The best way to prevent infection is by washing hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may not be effective against noroviruses."

Noroviruses are easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface as well as by direct contact or by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with the virus.

The symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days.

NC State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies said there is no specific medications to treat norovirus, but infected people should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost through vomiting and diarrhea to prevent dehydration.

Dr. Davies recommends following the steps below if you suspect norovirus:

1. Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after toilet visits and before preparing, serving or eating food or drink. Hand sanitizers are not as effective against norovirus.

2. Clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated with vomit or diarrhea immediately using a bleach-based household cleaner, or dilute household bleach 1:10 in water (must be mixed fresh daily; never use undiluted bleach).

3. Stay home when sick.

4. Do not prepare food for other people when sick and for at least three days afterward.

University officials said any suspected cases of a norovirus infection should be reported to either Student Health (919-681-9355) or the Employee Occupational Health and Wellness(EOHW) hotline (919-684-8115) for monitoring of a potential outbreak on campus. All healthcare workers and dining employees with symptoms of a norovirus infection must contact the EOHW hotline to be clear to return to work. Any students who become dehydrated as a result of a norovirus infection should visit the Student Health Center and employees experiencing dehydration should visit their primary care physician or an urgent care facility (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Experts Fear Diseases 'Impossible To Treat'
Date: February 20, 2012
Source: Independent

Abstract: Britain is facing a "massive" rise in antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning caused by the bacterium E.coli – bringing closer the spectre of diseases that are impossible to treat.

Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance now poses as great a threat to global health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu.

Professor Peter Hawkey, a clinical microbiologist and chair of the Government's antibiotic-resistance working group, said that antibiotic resistance had become medicine's equivalent of climate change.

The "slow but insidious growth" of resistant organisms was threatening to turn common infections into untreatable diseases, he said. Already, an estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

"It is a worldwide issue – there are no boundaries," he said. "We have very good policies on the use of antibiotics in man and in animals in the UK. But we are not alone. We have to think globally." Between 2005 and 2009 the incidence of E.coli "bacteraemias" [the presence of bacteria in the blood] rose by 30 per cent, from 18,000 to over 25,000 cases. Those resistant to antibiotics have risen from 1 per cent at the beginning of the century to 10 per cent.

"Only one in 20 of infections with [resistant] E.coli is a bacteraemia, so the above data are only the tip of an iceberg of infected individuals," says a report produced by Professor Hawkey's group, commissioned by the Department of Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dame Sally Davies, the Government's chief medical officer, has pledged £500,000 to fund research into the threat. Drug companies have lost interest in developing new antibiotics because it is increasingly difficult to find new agents and it is not commercially viable – antibiotics are taken for a few days, compared with, say, a heart drug which may be taken for life.

"There are only so many antibiotics available and as we lose them it becomes more and more difficult to replace them," Professor Hawkey said.

The rapid rise in E.coli blood poisoning is thought to be linked with the ageing of the population. E.coli is a common cause of urinary-tract infections but may also cause wound infections following surgery or injury. These are regarded as minor conditions, but if they became untreatable they would be life-threatening.

E.coli infections pose a much bigger problem than MRSA because the bacterium is more common. Only one in 10 people is a carrier of MRSA, but E.coli is present in everyone. "Those who get ill [with E.coli] are rare – but because it is so common it is a big problem," Professor Hawkey said.

Using standard antibiotic regimens, there is a one in 10 chance that treatment of an E.coli infection will fail because the bug is resistant. But, as numbers of resistant infections rise, there will be increasing pressure to use more powerful antibiotics, called carbapenems, which are the last line available. And resistance to those is already emerging. "In the last two or three years we have seen [organisms] develop which destroy carbapenems. That is a great worry," Professor Hawkey said. The warnings follow increasing reports from Europe of patients with infections that are almost impossible to treat. In November, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said up to 50 per cent of cases of blood poisoning with the bacterium K.pneumoniae, a common cause of urinary and respiratory conditions, are resistant to carbapenems in some countries.

Across Europe, the percentage of carbapenem-resistant K.pneumoniae has doubled from 7 per cent to 15 per cent, the ECDC said. Marc Sprenger, the director, said: "The situation is critical. We need to declare a war against these bacteria."

Meanwhile, the UK Health Protection Agency warned doctors in October to abandon a drug usually used to treat a common sexually transmitted disease because it was no longer effective. The agency said that gonorrhoea – which caused 17,000 infections in 2009 – should be treated with two drugs instead of one.

Explained: how bugs adapt to beat antibiotics

Bugs are like all other life forms: they must adapt to survive. Unlike human beings, however, for whom evolution is measured in millennia, reproduction is so rapid among bacteria that they can change in months or years.

With the introduction of a new antibiotic, natural selection goes to work. Most bacteria are killed by the new drug but the natural variation that occurs in any species means a few examples may, by chance, have some quirk in their genetic structure that allows them to survive.

These bacteria are then selected out by the antibiotic, which kills the rest. The mutant bacteria grow in numbers until they become the dominant species (Independent, 2012).

Title: Hepatitis C Surpasses AIDS As Killer, Hitting Baby-Boom Generations Hardest
Date: February 21, 2012
Source: CBS


Abstract: new study indicates that one in every 33 baby boomers has the Hepatitis C virus, and many don’t even know they have this liver destroying disease.

Federal health officials say Hepatitis C is now killing more people than the AIDS virus, and most are over 45 years of age.

Dr. Robert Bettiker, associate professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Temple University School of Medicine, says that once symptoms appear, the liver is already damaged.

He says the major symptoms include “pain in the right upper quadrant (of your abdomen) that goes on for days or months. Your eyes might turn yellow, you might start bleeding a lot if you get a cut, and the veins in your esophagus can get really big and can rupture.”

Dr. Bettiker says if you had a blood transfusion before 1990 (when routine screening for hepatitis C in donated blood began) or have ever used intravenous drugs, you should tell your doctor. A blood test can determine if you’ve been exposed to the deadly virus, and early treatment could be effective (CBS, 2012).

Title: MRSA Staph Strain Developed Drug Resistance In Your Burger
Date: February 21, 2012
Source: U.S. News

Abstract: A bacteria strain that causes a hard-to-treat staph infection probably developed its antibiotic resistance in food animals, a team of scientists announced Tuesday.

The strain of staph, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA CC398, most often infects farm workers who come in contact with infected pigs, turkeys, or cows. The bacteria has been found in about half of meat samples taken throughout the country. The researchers say that the copious use of antibiotics in livestock used for food is to blame for the infection's drug resistance.

"We can't blame nature or the germs. It is our inappropriate use of antibiotics that is now coming back to haunt us," Paul Keim, one of the study's authors, said in a statement. The researchers believe the bacteria was originally a human strain that was easily treated with tetracycline and methicillin, antibiotics that are regularly pumped into farm animals. Once in the animals, it developed the resistance and was passed back to humans. 

The CDC has long said antibiotic use in livestock could be problematic, saying that "the food supply may be a source of antibiotic-resistant genes," but admitting that "quantifying the extent to which this contributes to a food safety problem is difficult." 

Now, the researchers seem to have confirmed that without a doubt. 

"We are watching this emerge in real time, and it's emerging really quickly," says Lance Price, lead author of the report that will be published in mBio. The strain is also showing the potential to pass from human to human, increasing the chance of an outbreak.

Price says it's unlikely this is the only strain that has developed an antibiotic resistance in animals. "I imagine this has happened multiple times in the past and it'll happen multiple times in the future," he says. 

Doctors are beginning to prescribe fewer antibiotics for fear of creating superbugs, but their use in food animals isn't any less important to drug-resistance development, Price says. 

"We have tons of messages out there to tell physicians to stop over prescribing, to tell parents not to ask for antibiotics every time their child has a stuffy nose," Price says. "Meanwhile, we're using 29 million pounds of antibiotics for food production. Those examples couldn't be more polar opposites." 

In 2006, the European Union banned the use of antibiotics in livestock for non-therapeutic uses. In the United States, antibiotics are routinely used on livestock to promote their growth and to preemptively treat potential diseases acquired from cramped living conditions. Scientists estimate that approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics are used on livestock. 

In Congress, Rep. Louise Slaughter has been pushing legislation that would regulate antibiotic use in animals to be used for food. "I cannot stress the urgency of this problem enough," she said in a statement last year. "When we go to the grocery store to pick up dinner, we should be able to buy our food without worrying that eating it will expose our family to potentially deadly bacteria that will no longer respond to our medical treatments." 

Last week, she reiterated the importance of using restraint, asking more than 60 fast-food companies to voluntarily disclose whether they raise their animals with antibiotics or not. 

"Very simply, consumers have a right to know what's in their food," she wrote. "It's like that old commercial, 'where's the beef?' We just want to know, 'what's in the beef?'" (U.S. News, 2012).

Title: Bird Flu Cases More Common Than Thought: Study
Date: February 23, 2012
Source: AFP

Abstract: Bird flu is believed to be a rare disease that kills more than half of the people it infects, but a US study out Thursday suggests it may be more common and less lethal than previously thought.

The research could help soothe concerns about the potential for a deadly pandemic that may kill many millions of people, sparked by the recent lab creation of a mutant bird flu that can pass between mammals.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York analyzed 20 previous international studies that tested the blood of nearly 13,000 participants worldwide, according to the study in the journal Science.

They found that between one and two percent of those tested showed evidence of a prior H5N1 avian flu infection, meaning millions of people may have been infected around the globe.

The World Health Organization's figures currently show just 573 cases in 15 countries since 2003, with 58.6 percent of those resulting in death.

The researchers said the WHO may be overlooking cases by focusing only on hospitalizations and severe illnesses, and recommended a new approach to calculating the true number of bird flu cases.

The findings could also mean that the death rate from bird flu is underestimated, largely because many of the people who get sick from it live in rural farming areas where medical care may be difficult to come by.

"We suggest that further investigation, on a large scale and by a standardized approach, is warranted to better estimate the total number of H5N1 infections that have occurred in humans," the authors wrote.

Researchers in the Netherlands and the United States have sparked international alarm with lab research that was successful in creating a mutant form of bird flu that was found to be transmissible among ferrets.

US health authorities have urged major science journals to publish only heavily edited forms of the studies in order to prevent the data from falling into terrorists' hands.

However, an international group of experts meeting at WHO headquarters in Geneva last week decided that the studies should eventually be published in full, but that a further risk assessment is needed before that can happen (AFP, 2012).

Title: More Than 80 Whooping Cough Cases In Alamance Co.
Date: February 23, 2012
Source: My Fox 8


Abstract: Twelve schools in the Alamance Burlington School System have confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough, or pertussis.

Alamance County health officials said they are looking at 82 cases in six elementary schools, six middle schools and two private child care centers.

The affected elementary schools are B. Everett Jordan, Audrey W. Garrett, Haw River, South Graham, Alexander Wilson and Eastlawn.

The affected middle schools are Western Alamance, Graham, Broadview, Turrentine, Hawfields and Woodlawn.

Health officials would not identify the two private child care centers.

The first confirmed case was reported Dec. 21 at B. Everett Jordan Elementary School. Health officials are still trying to figure out where the outbreak started.

The health department is now offering free Tdap vaccines, which normally cost $35. The department is open from 8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are allowing walk-ins.

Health department officials said they will probably offer the free vaccines for the next month.

A community-wide clinic will also take place at the Mebane Arts and Community Center on March 2 from 3-7 p.m.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that often starts with typical cold symptoms before turning into prolonged bursts of coughing, which sounds like whooping, in one or two weeks. Some may simply have a cough that lasts for several weeks (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Vietnam’s HFMD Outbreak Could Be Worse Than Last Year
Date: February 22, 2012
Source: 
Examiner

Abstract: In a large scale outbreak in Vietnam in 2011, more than 100,000 people were sickened by hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) with nearly 200 children dying from the common childhood infection.

As bad as it was, 2012 is showing early signs that the epidemic could be worse this year. According to Tran Thanh Duong, deputy head of the health department Tuesday, believes that a more complex and serious epidemic situation may be developing in Vietnam.

Statistics reported on the website Vietnam.net show, and I quote:

The number of cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in the first 6 weeks of the year has reached 6,328. The number is 7.3 times higher than in the same period of a year earlier, and 9 cases have been fatal, the Health Ministry’s Preventive Health Department reported.

The outbreak has been recorded in approximately 10 Central Vietnam provinces.

Alabama health officials report HFMD outbreak

One province hit hard was Can Tho where 600 kids have been admitted for the virus and three have died.

Although it has yet to be confirmed and reported, this outbreak, like last year is likely to be caused by the more virulent enterovirus-71 (EV-71).

EV-71 has been implicated in HFMD outbreaks in Southeast Asia over the several years. EV 71 is a non-polio enterovirus.

EV 71 is transmitted through direct contact with discharge from the nose and throat, saliva, fluid from blisters or the stools of an infected person. Cases are most infectious during the first week of acute illness but may continue to shed virus in stool for weeks.

HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles which generally persist for seven to 10 days and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.

However, complications associated with HFMD caused by EV-71 include encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, acute flaccid paralysis, pulmonary edema or hemorrhage and myocarditis. Most deaths in HFMD occur as a result of pulmonary edema or hemorrhage.

The Health Ministry in Vietnam will be sending teams to the towns and localities to assist in controlling and prevention of the outbreak.

According to the report, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the ministry will report the epidemic situation to the Government and propose that it establish an interdisciplinary steering board to fight the epidemic nationwide (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Mystery Virus Kills Thousands Of Lambs
Date: February 25, 2012
Source: Telegraph

Abstract: The Schmallenberg virus causes lambs to be born dead or with serious deformities such as fused limbs and twisted necks, which mean they cannot survive.

Scientists are urgently trying to find out how the disease, which also affects cattle, spreads and how to fight it, as the number of farms affected increases by the day.

So far, 74 farms across southern and eastern England have been hit by the virus, which arrived in this country in January.

A thousand farms in Europe have reported cases since the first signs of the virus were seen in the German town of Schmallenberg last summer.

The National Farmers Union has called it a potential “catastrophe” and warned farmers to be vigilant. “This is a ticking time bomb,” said Alastair Mackintosh, of the NFU. “We don’t yet know the extent of the disease. We only find out the damage when sheep and cows give birth, and by then it’s too late.”

It is unclear exactly how the disease arrived in Britain, but the leading theory is that midges carried the virus across the Channel or North Sea in the autumn. However, scientists cannot yet rule out transmission of the disease from animal to animal.

Infected ewes do not show any symptoms of the virus until they give birth, with horrific results. Farmers have described delivering the deformed and stillborn animals as heartbreaking.

The lambing season has only just begun, which means that the full impact of the disease will not be felt until the weather warms up and millions more animals are born.

On the Continent, some farms have lost half of their lambs. So far the worst hit in Britain have lost 20 per cent, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Approximately 16 million lambs are born in Britain every year and sell at market for about £100 each. The effect of the disease on farms that are already struggling in the downturn could be severe.

“For any business to lose 20 per cent of your stock would be a huge blow,” said Mr Mackintosh. “For a farmer to lose 20 per cent of your flock is catastrophic. If it was 50 per cent you would be put out of action.

“I was talking to one who has 10,000 sheep. If he loses even five per cent of the animals born this year, that’s a hell of a lot of lambs. I know another who says 10 per cent of his ewes have become barren. He has 6,000 ewes, so that is 600 animals producing nothing.”

The Food Standards Agency has sought to allay any fears about eating lamb, although little is known about the virus so far.

The Agency said: “Any risk to consumers through the food chain is likely to be low. No illness has been reported to date in humans exposed to animals infected with Schmallenberg virus.”

The worst affected counties are Norfolk, Suffolk, East Sussex and Kent, but the virus has spread all along the south coast to Cornwall.

Farmers fear the disease may spread to larger flocks in the north of England, Wales and Scotland. In Europe, Germany, Holland and France have suffered worst, while recent cases have been reported in Italy and Luxembourg.

John, a farmer from East Sussex who wanted to remain anonymous, said he had lost 40 out of 400 lambs so far, at a cost to his business of more than £4,000.

“I’ve had to put more lambs down in the past month than I have done in the past 20 years. Every one is a serious blow to our finances. But it’s an emotional thing too,” he said.

There are also fears that the virus may be seen later this year among cows, which have a longer gestation period.

Five of the British farms have seen cattle affected, with calves aborted at six months of pregnancy.

Cows are thought to be more robust than sheep and therefore more resistant, but Schmallenberg virus could still reduce milk yields and put pressure on a dairy industry that is already suffering, says Mr Mackintosh. “From what I hear, we are likely to see weak calves that take a lot of expense and nursing to get going again. Having to do that will hit a business hard.”

The last confirmed midge-borne virus to hit the British farming industry was bluetongue in 2007, but a series of trade restrictions and a vaccine averted disaster.

This time there is no vaccine, and Defra says a ban on imports would not work, because the disease “is already here”. A spokesman said: “Defra is taking this seriously. We track emerging diseases. There is work going on across Europe and the amount we know is improving rapidly. We are keeping everything under review.”

Its website says “farmers and vets should remain vigilant and report any suspicious cases to AHVLA [the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency] for testing as part of our enhanced surveillance”. However, farmers are not yet legally required to notify authorities of an outbreak, leading some in the industry to fear it may already be much more widespread than figures suggest.

Nigel Miller, the president of the NFU in Scotland said: “The escalation and range of cases is deeply concerning and some experts are now suggesting that the volume of cases being seen is an indication that this is, in fact, the second year of infection.

“If that is the case then it raises the worrying prospect that the virus may have an effective overwintering mechanism.”

The AHVLA identifies Schmallenberg as one of a group of viruses “typically primarily spread by biting insect vectors, such as midges and mosquitoes, although the routes of Schmallenberg virus transmission have not yet been confirmed. The potential for direct transmission (ie direct from one animal to another) is therefore, as yet, unknown.”

It said: “There is unlikely to be a risk to human health from Schmallenberg virus; but this is not yet certain” (Telegraph, 2012).

Title: Cold And Flu May Be Responsible For Peak Mortality
Date: February 26, 2012
Source: RTP

Abstract: For the third consecutive week Portugal recorded a mortality peak between 13 and 19 February there were over three thousand deaths, the majority of cases in people over 65 years. The flu epidemic and low temperatures are likely causes, but the health minister revealed that the authorities are already investigating the cause of this mortality peak.

"They are data revealed by the Instituto Ricardo Jorge, who plays tight monotorização these cases mortality. There is an increase year on year and the institute is falling deeper into monotorização to know the causes, it is cold or other abnormal situations, "said Paulo Macedo.

According to him, "the important thing is that the situation was detected, is being monitored and will be subject to a review, in order to discover the reasons that led to an abnormal peak of mortality in recent weeks."

According to the Daily News, citing data provided by Instituto Nacional Ricardo Jorge, in the last three weeks of February the death toll was much higher than normal for this time of year.

More than three thousand people died in the week between 13 and 19 February, 90 percent of them aged 65 years or more. A scenario that was similar in previous weeks, and a peak of mortality that is not watched since the flu epidemic in 2008. In Portugal, the average number of deaths associated with influenza is around two thousand, but at the time there was almost double.

The health authorities are examining the situation in the country, but throughout Europe related mortality exceed the flu this year, the average of 40 000 deaths from the flu.

Cases of pneumonia, hypothermia and cardiac complications have caused the rupture in many pre-hospital services, with runners served as shelter for many patients while health units have reorganized services for lack of beds for admission. Most had to open in other services and assistance to reorganize.

The World Health Organisation points out the social and economic inequality as a factor that exacerbates the situation, and points out the lack of heating their homes as a risk factor.

WHO data show that in Portugal 44 per cent of families with elderly people can not afford to keep homes heated properly (RTP, 2012).

Title: Frio E Gripe Podem Ser Responsáveis Por Pico De Mortalidade
Date: February 26, 2012
Source: RTP

Abstract
: Pela terceira semana consecutiva Portugal registou um pico de mortalidade, entre 13 e 19 de fevereiro registaram-se mais de três mil mortes, a maioria dos casos em idosos com mais de 65 anos. A epidemia de gripe e as baixas temperaturas são causas prováveis, mas o ministro da Saúde revelou que as autoridades já estão a investigar a causa deste pico de mortalidade.

“São dados revelados pelo Instituto Ricardo Jorge, que faz a monotorização apertada destes casos de mortalidade. Há um aumento em termos homólogos e o instituto está a descer mais a fundo na monotorização para sabermos as causas, se é do frio anormal ou de outro tipo de situações”, afirmou Paulo Macedo.

Segundo o governante, “o importante é que a situação foi detetada, está a ser acompanhada e vai ser alvo de uma análise, para que se descubram os motivos que originaram um pico anormal de mortalidade nas últimas semanas”.

Segundo o Diário de Notícias, que cita dados disponibilizados pelo Instituto Nacional Ricardo Jorge, nas últimas três semanas de fevereiro o número de mortes ficou muito acima dos valores normais para esta época do ano.

Mais de três mil pessoas morreram na semana entre 13 e 19 de fevereiro, 90 por cento dos quais idosos com 65 anos ou mais. Um cenário que foi semelhante nas semanas anteriores, e um pico de mortalidade a que não se assistia desde a epidemia de gripe em 2008. Em Portugal a média de mortes associadas à gripe ronda as duas mil, no entanto na altura registou-se quase o dobro.

As autoridades de saúde estão a analisar a situação em todo o país, mas por toda a Europa a mortalidade ligada à gripe deve ultrapassar, este ano, a média dos 40 mil óbitos associados à gripe.

Os casos de pneumonias, hipotermias e complicações cardíacas já provocaram a pré ruptura em muitos serviços hospitalares, com os corredores a serviram de abrigo a muitos doentes enquanto as unidades de saúde reorganizaram os serviços por falta de camas para internamento. A maior parte teve de abrir vagas em outros serviços e reorganizar a assistência.

A Organização Mundial de Saúde aponta as desigualdades sociais e económicas como em fator que agudiza a situação, e aponta a falta de aquecimento das casas como um fator de risco.

Dados da OMS revelam que em Portugal 44 por cento das famílias com idosos não tem dinheiro para manter as habitações aquecidas adequadamente (RTP, 2012).

Title: CDC: Fatal Brain-Eating Amoebas In Nasal Washes
Date: March 1, 2012
Source: 24 Medica

Abstract: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Jewish Health in Colorado both have issued a warning about nasal washes after two people have died from using tap water to do their sinus rinse.

Health experts say it’s safe to use nasal washes. It’s not about the rinse, it’s about the water. They warn that a mixture from a faucet could be fatal.

Reading, writing — and sinus rinses. They’re part of the curriculum for some students at Kunsberg School at National Jewish Health. Saltwater nasal washes can help asthma and allergy sufferers.

The saline rinses are highly recommended at National Jewish for children and adults.

“I do them at home if I have a bad cold,” said Marie Fornof, Certified Infection Preventionist.

But Fornof says not to use tap water. It’s because of a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. It’s common in warm rivers and lakes, but if it travels up the nose to the brain it’s usually deadly.

But somehow the US population is DrInKiNg this water?

“To give you perspective, over the past decade where the CDC has looked at it, the 32 cases they had 31 patients died,” Fornof said.

The brain infections caused by the amoeba are rare, but the two most recent deaths in Louisiana were tied to the use of tap water in “neti pot”s to flush sinuses (24 Medica, 2012).

Title: Cuddling Dying Pets Gives Owners Scary Infections
Date: March 2, 2012
Source: MSNBC

Abstract: Comforting dying pets through their last days turned out to be dangerous for animal owners who wound up with life-threatening infections from the close contact, a new report finds.

A dog owner who licked honey from the dropper she used to feed her pooch, and two cat owners who cuddled and kissed their kitties for days were hospitalized with respiratory illnesses linked to common bacteria the pets harbor in their mouths.

The case studies, reported in the latest issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, highlight the rare hazards of animal intimacy in a country where nine in 10 owners regard pets as members of the family, says the study’s lead author.

 “I suspect this happens more often than we know,” said Dr. Joseph Myers, chairman of the department of medicine at Summa Akron City Hospital in Akron, Ohio. “It’ll put it on the radar so that doctors will ask about it.”

Myers believes he’s the first to report cases of Pasteurella multocida infections associated with palliative care by owners of dying pets. It’s rare, of course, but it was striking to encounter three such incidents all within a year, he said.

Typically, P. multocida bacteria live in the mouths of 80 percent of cats and about 60 percent of dogs, Myers said. The bacteria lurk in the oral cavities of many wild and domesticated animals. They’re usually passed along through bites, scratches or other unfriendly behavior, and are the most common cause of skin infections from such animal-related injuries.

It's not clear exactly how many infections occur each year, though health experts at the University of California at Los Angeles note that only about 5 percent of dog bites and 30 percent of cat bites become infected.

The infections can occur through normal affectionate interaction with animals, the routine licking or kissing that some pets and owners can't resist, Myers said. Babies, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk because their immune systems can't fight infections as well.

In the cases of the three pet owners in the study, all women in their 50s or 60s, they were previously healthy, but Myers suspects that the sustained close contact simply increased their chances of infection.

The bacteria targeted their respiratory tracts, attacking one woman’s epiglottis, another’s uvula and the lungs of the third.

They showed up at hospital emergency rooms reporting fever, chills, sore and swollen throats and difficulty swallowing and breathing. Quick administration of antibiotics helped, and all three got better within days.

The tricky part was figuring out what caused the unusual bacterial infections. It took careful questioning on the part of doctors to determine that the transmission had come through such close pet care. The pet owners weren't available for interviews, but Myers' study offered details of how they likely became sick.

In the case of the dog, “the patient had co-consumed honey with the dog by licking the same dropper used to comfort-feed the dog,” the report said.

Another patient “continuously held, caressed, hugged and kissed her cat during the last seven days of its life.” The third “had provided palliative care to her dying cat by holding, hugging and kissing the head of the cat and allowing the cat to lick her hands and arms.”

That doesn’t surprise Anthony J. Smith, a veterinarian who runs Rainbow Bridge Vet Services, a pet hospice and palliative services business in Hercules, Calif.

In a country where two-thirds of households have pets and nine in 10 owners say they regard them as family members, according to a 2011 Harris poll, it makes sense to care for the animals at the end of life.

More pet owners -- Smith calls them “pet parents” -- are seeking to make their pets' deaths more comfortable and meaningful, even when they can’t prevent them.

“There’s a general increase in the closeness between people and their pets,” said Smith, who treated 1,000 pet clients in the past two years. “They’re wanting the same kind of services that they want for their human family members.”

Smith, who helped co-found the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, understands the urge to closely care for pets and he doesn’t want people to avoid physical contact with their animals. Still, he advises common sense.

“When you start licking your cat or dog or you start sharing utensils with your dog, you put yourself at risk for those things,” he said. “Those probably weren’t the best ideas from a human health perspective.”

Myers,  the doctor who wrote the study, agreed. “I would not recommend that.”

But even Myers admitted the cases haven’t altered how he cares for his three dogs.

Would it have changed the behavior of the women who got sick?

“I don’t think so,” Myers said. “These pets are so ingrained into the family” (MSNBC, 2012)

Title: Glatt’s Kosher Meats Recalls Franks Due To Possible Listeria
Date: March 2, 2012
Source: 
Examiner

Abstract: Canadian food inspection officials and the Montreal-based Glatt’s Kosher Meat Products 
announced Thursday, a voluntary recall of jumbo franks because of possible contamination with the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes.

The affected product, which was sold in Quebec and Ontario provinces, is Glatt's brand Beef Frankfurters Jumbo BBQ. It is sold in 375 g packages bearing UPC 0 55627 00203 6 and a Best Before date of 12AL21.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is overseeing the recall.

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem. . The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Liverpool, England Measles Outbreak Infects Dozens
Date: March 3, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Parents in the Liverpool area are being advised to ensure their children are vaccinated against measles in light of an ever-growing outbreak.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said in a press release late last week that there are 36 laboratory confirmed measles cases in and around the Liverpool area. In addition, at least 35 probable cases are under investigation.

The majority of the cases are in Liverpool, with less than a dozen seen in surrounding areas.

The HPA also notes that the majority of cases involve children under the age of five who were not vaccinated at the optimum age of 13 months and babies and toddlers who are too young to be vaccinated. A small number of adults have also been affected.

The HPA advises parents to check with your physician to ensure your children are vaccinated or get them vaccinated if required. They also recommend you or your children avoid school, nursery or work until at least four days have elapsed since the rash developed.

Avoiding contact with the most vulnerable, i.e. pregnant women and infants, is also critical.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known. Measles is a virus that mainly spreads by direct contact with airborne respiratory droplets.

Measles begins with an increasing fever, then coughing, runny nose, redness of the eyes, and finally, a rash breaks out. The rash usually starts on the head and then spreads to the rest of the body. Fever can persist, reaching extremely high temperatures, rash can last for up to a week, and coughing can last about 10 days.

According to Dr. Kathleen Gallagher of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Measles ranges from a pretty uncomfortable disease to a very serious one. For example, for every 1,000 children who get measles in a developed country like the United States, 1 to 3 of them dies, despite the best treatment” (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Toronto Reports A Spike In Salmonella Cases This Year
Date: March 4, 2012
Source: 
Examiner

Abstract: It seems Salmonella is always rearing its ugly head in the headlines; it may be related to peanut butter, Taco Bell, pet frogs or a plethora of other reasons.

Now just north of the border, the booming city of Toronto is seeing a significant increase in cases thus far in 2012 as compared to previous years.

In a Toronto Public Health Surveillance News published Friday, health officials report receiving of 114 cases of salmonellosis in 2012 (as compared to the previous 10-year average of 70 cases for the same period).

Authorities point out three known clusters of the infection attributing to the increase:

1. A large catered event in York Region on February 11 that resulted in transmission of S. typhimurium to numerous attendees who continue to report illness since that time;

2. An outbreak of a less common species of Salmonella (S. heidelberg) across the GTA. This is under investigation by Public Health Ontario;

3. An increase of S. enteriditis (the most common strain of Salmonella reported in Toronto) linked to recent travel to Cuba.

An increase of the infection in the public generally coincides with a increased person-to-person transmission of the bacterium.

Toronto Public Health offers health care professionals advice on diagnosing salmonellosis , discussing prevention techniques with patients and appropriate stool collection methods for culture confirmation.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Salmonellosis is a reportable disease in Toronto (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Bangladesh IEDCR: Two More Human Infections With Bird Flu Detected
Date: March 5, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Just a week after a 
40-year-old male was confirmed positive for H5N1 avian influenza (bird flu); the Bangladeshi Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed Monday two additional cases according to Bangladesh news source, bdnews24.com.

This comes in light of test results which show the virus present in a crowded Dhaka live-bird market. With the presence of the virus in the market only means the potentially lethal pathogen is that much closer to the human population.

IEDCR Director, Prof Mahmudur Rahman has recommended immediate disinfection of the wet markets. All three bird flu patients are live-bird market vendors.

Earlier this year, infectious disease experts warned that if sick poultry birds were supplied to the markets it would create a severe health hazard to the people in and around the markets.

The warning was issued due to the concern that farmers might sell sick birds to the markets because of inadequate government compensation.

The number of chickens culled in Bangladesh exceeded 50,000 this past January, plus thousands of eggs were destroyed because of a bird flu outbreak.

Dr. Rahman noted that the strain of avian influenza that is circulates in Bangladesh is less virulent than others; however, they fear that could change in the future.

These latest two infections are the fifth and sixth cases in Bangladesh since the first case was detected in 2008.

The condition of the patients as of this writing is unknown (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Update: Number Of People Affected By Cebu Typhoid Outbreak Over 500
Date: March 5, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: In an 
update from a Saturday report, officials from the Department of Health Region 7 (DoH7) office in Cebu report Monday that the typhoid outbreak in Tuburan, Cebu has grown to over 500 cases with more cases expected.

In addition to the large increase in typhoid patients in the northwestern Cebu town, one more patient died from the bacterial infection bringing the total fatalities to four to date.

Outgoing DoH7 regional director, Dr. Susana Madarieta told the Manila Bulletin that as many as seven patients with typhoid with complications were admitted at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City.

The source of the outbreak is contaminated water which has demonstrated fecal contamination according to testing. There is speculation that pipes were damaged during the strong 6.9-magnitude earthquake which struck the area a month ago.

Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district said he asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) district office to check the water lines in Tuburan for signs of contamination.

Dr. Madarieta assured the public that there were enough medical supplies to provide care to all that need it (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Auckland Hepatitis A Cases Continue To Rise
Date: March 6, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: In an update to a story Friday, the 
Auckland Regional Public Health Service reported a total of 31 confirmed cases of hepatitis A on Monday, an increase of 12 cases over the weekend.

Health officials say they expected the increase; however, they still have not pinpointed the source of the outbreak that has mostly affected schoolchildren. The youngest is a 1-year-old baby and the oldest is 19.Health officials believe that the source of the infection was brought back by someone traveling overseas.

Students at up to nine schools in Auckland have been infected with hepatitis A and health officials are calling on parents to stress to children the importance of hygiene to slow the spread of the virus, which is excreted in the feces.

Dr. Shanika Perera, Medical Officer of Health said in a Monday press release, “This is an evolving situation and an increase in cases was expected following the assessment of close contacts. We are continuing to work with the all cases to contain this outbreak.”

Although the cases are expected to rise, Dr. Perera calms parent’s fears saying, "It really is important to stress to parents that they don't have to be concerned in general, because the risk is assessed as being low."

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, may occur a few days after symptoms appear. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider. The incubation period, or time between exposure and symptoms, is typically 28 days. It is possible for hepatitis A to be active but not show symptoms for up to 7 days. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks but can last longer. Young children with hepatitis A often have no symptoms.

Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person and through a fecal-oral transmission route, and typically occurs when a person eats food or drinks a beverage contaminated by someone with the virus. The virus is not spread by coughing, sneezing or by casual contact. Severe complications from hepatitis A are rare and occur more often in people who have liver disease or a weakened immune system.

Thorough hand washing after visits to the restroom, before touching food or drink and after changing a diaper are the best way to control the spread of hepatitis A (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Bataan Sees Big Increase In Dengue Fever
Date: March 7, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The Bataan province on the Philippine island of Luzon has seen an increase of nearly 60 percent the first two months of this year as compared to 2011 according to health authorities Monday.

According to a GMA News report, Dr. Rosanna Buccahan, PHO officer-in-charge, said 364 cases of dengue fever were recorded from January to February this year compared to 214 for the same period last year. No fatality was reported.

Although there is the large increase in cases, Dr. Buccahan says there is not an outbreak of dengue on the peninsula.

Currently the Bataan hotspots are Balanga City, Abucay, Hermosa, Limay, Mariveles, Pilar and Orion. According to Dr. Buccahan, a town is declared a hotspot when there is an increase in the number of cases for two consecutive weeks.

Health officials in Bataan are stressing health education, environmental cleanup and conducting search and destroy activities to get the dengue fever situation under control.

Bataan is a province of the Philippines occupying the whole of the Bataan Peninsula in central Luzon. The peninsula faces the South China Sea to the west and Subic Bay to the north-west, and encloses Manila Bay to the east.

According to the WHO, dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses. It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Symptoms appear 3-14 days after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children and adults.

Symptoms range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue. It is important to maintain hydration. Use of acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. aspirin) and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen) is not recommended.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding) is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children. Early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses increase survival of patients (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Cebu Typhoid Cases Climb To 900, Health Officials Implement Measures
Date: March 7, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health officials from the Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas office report that the number of typhoid cases in the town of Tuburan, Cebu is now at 900, according to 
an ABS-CBN report Wednesday.

The head of the DoH 7 Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said Wednesday the outbreak in Tuburan town may still last for a few more days before it is contained as health experts are implementing measures to disinfect the water sources believed to have caused the disease.

Testing of the drinking water in Tuburan showed it to be positive for Salmonella.

To help combat the spread of typhoid, health officials have distributed chlorine-like hyposol to more than 600 households in Poblacion to be used in purifying water for drinking while the town’s water source is still under observation.

In addition, the Provincial Water Task Force has conducted chlorination at the main source of Tuburan’s water supply by “shock-dosing”.

The DOH is also conducting an education campaign about sanitation and hygiene, including chlorinating water, with local residents.

Tuburanis a 2nd class municipality in the province of Cebu, Philippines. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 53,663 people (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Anthrax Outbreak In Peru
Date: March 9, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Thirteen people in the Otuzco province of the La Libertad region of Peru have contracted the bacterial infection, anthrax 
according to a report in La Republica.

The form of anthrax, cutaneous anthrax was confirmed Tuesday in the patients at a clinic in the small Andean town of Sinsicap.

At the time of this report, the source of the anthrax has yet to be determined, but it is believed to have been contracted after handling a diseased animal.

The report notes that there is no known anthrax vaccination program for cattle in the town.

La Libertad is a region in northwestern Peru.

Anthrax is found worldwide; however, there is more risk in countries with less effective public health programs.

Areas currently considered high risk are South and Central America, Southern and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Anthrax is a pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and deers.

It infects humans primarily through occupational or incidental exposure with infected animals or their skins. Recently someone was infected by handling imported animal skins to be used for a drum set. The animal skin was contaminated with anthrax spores.

In recent decades, human anthrax has declined due to anthrax vaccines for people who work in high risk industries, decreased importation of potentially contaminated animal products and better animal husbandry practices.

Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. This spore forming bacteria can survive in the environment for years because of its ability to resist heat, cold, drying, etc. this is usually the infectious stage of anthrax.

When conditions become favorable, the spores germinate into colonies of bacteria. An example would be a grazing cow ingests spores that in the cow, germinate, grow spread and eventually kill the animal.

The bacteria will form spores in the carcass and then return to the soil to infect other animals. The vegetative form is rarely implicated in transmission.

The organism also produces some dangerous toxins and proteins.

There are no reports of person to person transmission of anthrax. People get anthrax by handling contaminated animal or animal products, consuming undercooked meat of infected animals and more recently, intentional release of spores.

There are 3 types of anthrax with differing degrees of seriousness:

Cutaneous anthrax: this occurs when the spore (or possibly the bacterium) enters a cut or abrasion on the skin. It starts out as a raised bump that looks like an insect bite. It then develops into a blackened lesion called an eschar that may form a scab. Lymph glands in the area may swell plus edema may be present. This form of anthrax responds well to antibiotics. If untreated, deaths can occur if the infection goes systemic. 95% of cases of anthrax are cutaneous. The CDC states there are 1-2 cases annually in the US.

Gastrointestinal anthrax: this follows the ingestion of contaminated meats. It is characterized by stomach pain, severe bloody diarrhea, bloody vomit and an inflammation of the intestinal tract. Up to half of those infected will perish from this form of disease. This is a very rare type of anthrax.

Inhalation anthrax: also known as “woolsorter’s disease”, happens due to inhaling the spores. After incubating for less than a week; fever, aches, vomiting are early symptoms. After the initial symptoms, a short period of improvement (less than a day) may occur. It then progresses to severe respiratory distress. Shock and death soon follow. Later stages of this infection have nearly a 100% chance of death even with antibiotics. In the US this form is also very rare.

Diagnosis of anthrax is made on culture of the bacteria. There are also molecular and serological methods available. Chest X-ray can also help in the diagnosis of inhalation anthrax.

Anthrax can be treated with antibiotics with varying rates of success based on how quickly treatment starts and the type of anthrax. Ciprofloxacin, doxycycline and penicillin are FDA-approved for the treatment of anthrax in adults and children (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Measles Outbreak Spreads Beyond Liverpool, University Advises Students
Date: March 9, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The measles outbreak declared last month in the British city of Liverpool is growing in numbers and spreading beyond the outskirts of the city according to UK Health Protection Agency (HPA).

The total confirmed cases are at least at 50, with approximately 150 suspected cases pending. Besides the major metropolitan boroughs of Merseyside, authorities say that probable cases are popping up in the neighboring county of Cheshire.

In Liverpool, university officials at Liverpool Johns Moore University sent out a news update Friday for the student population saying, The University would like to ensure that all students are aware that there is currently a measles outbreak in Liverpool, and recommend that all students ensure that they have had the appropriate two doses of the MMR vaccination.

Most cases seen to date are among unvaccinated children young children; however, the HPA is starting to see an increasing number of cases in older children and young adults 15 years and over.

The HPA advises parents to check with your physician to ensure your children are vaccinated or get them vaccinated if required. They also recommend you or your children avoid school, nursery or work until at least four days have elapsed since the rash developed.

Avoiding contact with the most vulnerable, i.e. pregnant women and infants, is also critical.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Montana Health Officials Report First Hantavirus Case Of 2012
Date: March 10, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Montana generally reports a couple of cases of the rodent borne virus annually and 
is second only to New Mexico for the potentially lethal disease when adjusted for the state’s population.

On Friday, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has confirmed the first case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) in a Montana resident in 2012.

The man from Ravalli County reportedly contracted the disease while working out-of-state and is expected to make a full recovery according to KAJ18.com.

DPHHS director Anna Whiting Sorrell warned residents, "Montanans should be aware of the precautions they can take to avoid Hantavirus and the rodents that can carry it. People may be at risk when they come into contact with small rodents and their waste."

People contract Hantavirus, which causes the disease Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), when they come into contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings and breathe in the aerosols. It is not transmitted person-to-person.

Early symptoms of HPS include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups-thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders.

Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath as the lungs fill with fluid. HPS is a potentially fatal disease. There is no specific treatment for Hantavirus.

According to DPHHS State Medical Officer Dr. Steven Helgerson, "Early recognition and immediate medical care are key to surviving the illness. If someone is exposed to rodents and experiences symptoms- especially severe shortness of breath, they need to seek treatment right away."

The DPHHS says the best way to prevent Hantavirus transmission is by controlling rodent populations in areas where one lives and works. When cleaning areas where rodents may nest, the following precautions should be followed:

1. Wear rubber or plastic gloves
2. Thoroughly spray/soak area with a disinfectant or mixture of bleach and water to reduce dry dusty conditions in the area being cleaned
3. Wipe or mop the area with a sponge or paper towel (throw away items after use)
4. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after removing gloves
5. Never sweep or vacuum in these areas as this can stir up dust and aerosolize the droppings
(Examiner, 2012)

Title: Thirteen People Contract Anthrax In Peru
Date: March 12, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch


Abstract: Thirteen people in Peru have contracted anthrax after people in the area handled a diseased animal.

The infection occurred in the Otuzco province of the La Libertad region of Peru. The confirmation of cutaneous anthrax infection, which occurs when anthrax comes into contact with the skin, happened on Tuesday at a clinic in the town of Sinsicap, the Examiner reports.

There is currently no known anthrax vaccination program for cattle or other animals in the town.

Anthrax can be found worldwide and is particularly problematic in countries without effective programs for public health. The areas that are high risk for anthrax are the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe, and Central and South America.

Anthrax is caused by the Bacillus anthracis spore-forming bacterium, which affects wild animals and livestock such as cattle, deer, camels, horses, goats and sheep. Humans are infected primarily through incidental or occupational exposure with infected animals or their skins.

Anthrax infection can also occur when people consume undercooked meat of infected animals and when spores of the bacterium are intentionally released in an act of bioterrorism.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are one to two cases of cutaneous anthrax annually in the United States (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Human Infections With H5N1 Avian Influenza Reported In Indonesia And Vietnam
Date: March 12, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The World Health Organization (WHO) updated the 
cumulative numbers of human cases of avian influenza, or as it is more commonly known as, bird flu Monday.

As of today, there have been 18 cases of human infection with bird flu in six different countries reported to the WHO in 2012. Of these cases, 10 of them ended as fatalities.

Two of the cases were reported on the WHOs Global Alert and Response (GAR) Monday, one in Indonesia and one in Vietnam.

In the Indonesian case, the Ministry of Health of Indonesia reports of a 24-year-old female from Bengkulu Province who developed fever on 23 February 2012 and was hospitalized on the following day. She had breathing difficulty, her condition deteriorated and she died on 1 March 2012. She was the fourth case and fourth fatality from the virus this year in Indonesia.

Avian influenza was confirmed by the National Institute of Health Research and Development in Jakarta.

An investigation of the case reveals the victim had exposure to a potentially contaminated environment where sudden deaths of poultry had recently occurred.

As of today, Indonesia has reported 187 cases of human infection with bird flu since 2005, of that total, 155 have died.

Public awareness of bird flu in Indonesia is a priority for the Ministry of Health, particularly with Indonesia having such a high fatality rate.

An Avian Flu Talk show was broadcast on Public Corner Metro TV several weeks ago to discuss the crucial points in terms of the importance of prevention and treatment of disease caused by this H5N1 virus.

Also on Monday, a GAR was issued concerning an avian influenza case in Vietnam.

The case, laboratory confirmed by the Pasteur Institute Ho Chi Minh City, is a 31 year-old male from Dak Lak province. He developed symptoms on 29 February 2012 and sought health care on the same day. On 4 March 2012, he was admitted to a hospital and was diagnosed with viral pneumonia. He was transferred to a referral hospital on 5 March 2012, where he is currently being treated.

An investigation of the source of the infection shows that the man was involved in the slaughter and consumption of sick poultry.

He is the fourth case of bird flu in Vietnam in 2012. Two of the cases in Vietnam were fatal (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Suspected Polio Case Appears In India
Date: March 13, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: On Feb 25, 2012, the World Health Organization director general, Dr. Margaret Chan notified India's minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad that 
India was officially removed from the list of polio-endemic countries after successfully remaining polio free for one year.

However, the good news in India may be short-lived. On Monday, Mar 12, it was reported that an 18-month-old girl was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata showing symptoms of paralysis resembling polio according to Hindustan Times report.

The report says the mother said her daughter began dragging her feet after she was given routine vaccination, not polio, at a primary health center in February. She was later admitted with symptoms of paralysis with disability in movement and fever.

The child's stool samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and School of Tropical Medicine in Kolkata for testing to determine if it is indeed the paralysis is caused by a wild poliovirus, or hopefully, a non-poliovirus associated acute flaccid paralysis.

Health authorities in India will set up an intensive surveillance program in the child’s village of Indrabala in light of the girl’s mother saying that other children are suffering the same symptoms.

The last confirmed case of polio in India was on Jan 13, 2011 in a 2-year-old girl from the West Bengal state (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Suspected Polio Case Endangers India's Eradication Record
Date: March 13, 2012
Source:
Guardian

Abstract:
India's removal from the list of "polio endemic" countries has been threatened by a suspected case of the disease in the east of the country.

A year without a recorded new case of polio – a major step towards its total eradication in India – was celebrated as a major success in the battle against the disease worldwide when it was announced last month.

On Tuesday, however, medical authorities were investigating a case of paralysis in a poverty-stricken area in the state of West Bengal.

"It is a suspected case of polio. In medical parlance, the symptoms are called acute flaccid paralysis. The patient is under observation," Kumar Kanti Das, superintendent of Baruipur subdivisional hospital, told the local Hindustan Times newspaper.

The mother of the affected child – an 18-month-old girl – was reported as saying that several other children in her neighbourhood had shown similar symptoms.

The case occurred not far from where the last identified new polio victim was found in January 2011.

With no new cases since that identification, India was taken off the list of "polio endemic countries" in late February by the World Health Organisation.

Another two years are needed to pass without a case of the disease before the country of 1.2bn inhabitants would formally be declared free of the disease.

India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, hailed the passing of a year without a case as giving "hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the face of the entire Mother Earth".

However, the new case will raise fears that the fight against polio in India is yet to be won.

Last year, Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK's former chief medical officer who now chairs the independent monitoring board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, said the final success of the eradication campaign, which has seen cases reduced by 99% in 20 years, was "on a knife-edge". In some places, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, polio has even made a comeback. Other countries where the disease is still endemic include Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In India, a mass vaccination campaign involving more than a million volunteers reduced cases nationally by 94% between 2009 and 2010, from 741 to 42, and down to the single case last year.

The success was attributed to a combination of highly motivated local workers, philanthropy, the involvement of international health bodies and support of local government (Guardian, 2012)

Title: Peru: Dengue Fever Cases Double In Cajamarca
Date: March 13, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health officials in the northern highlands region of 
Cajamarca report a doubling of dengue fever cases so far this year compared to the same period in 2011.

According the news source, Peru21, the Diresa (Health Department) reported Tuesday nearly 1,200 cases of dengue. During the same time frame last year, the number of cases reported was 587.

In addition, there have been two fatalities this year, a 26-year-old woman and a six-year-old child.

Alberto Sanchez, general doctor of Jaen’s hospital, the province most affected, said the dengue virus in the area was of the more aggressive American/Asian genotype. He also notes that since February the disease intensified.

In addition to Jaen province, Tembladera, Cutervo, and San Ignacio regions are also strongly hit by the dengue outbreak.

Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called “break-bone fever” because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking.

Dengue fever of multiple types is found in most countries of the tropics and subtropics particularly during and after rainy season.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 100 million cases annually worldwide and in recent years there have been increased amounts of epidemics in many parts of the world.

There are four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4.

People get the dengue virus from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It is not contagious from person to person.

There are three types of dengue fever in order of less severe to most: the typical uncomplicated dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHS) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

The symptoms of classic dengue usually start within a week after being infected. They include very high fever, up to 105°F, severe headache, pain behind the eye, severe joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting and a rash.

In cases of DHF and DSS, all four types can be the cause in descending order of frequency; type 2, 3, 4 and 1.

There is evidence that types 2 and 4 need to be secondary infection to cause DHF, while primary infection with types 1 and 3 can cause DHF.

Symptoms of DHF include all the symptoms of classic dengue plus severe damage to the blood vessels. Bleeding from the nose, gums or under the skin are common. This form of dengue can be fatal.

Symptoms of DSS include all of the above symptoms plus; fluid leaking outside of blood vessels, massive bleeding and shock. This form of the disease usually happens in children experiencing their second infection.

Two-third of all fatalities occurs among children.

Diagnosis of the disease is often through typical signs and symptoms. Lab tests can be useful. Detection of the virus in acute phase serum within 5 days of onset or specific antibodies in convalescent serum obtained 6 days after onset of illness.

There is no treatment for dengue, just treat the symptoms. Persons who think they have dengue should use analgesics (pain relievers) with acetaminophen and avoid those containing aspirin. They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a physician.

There is not a vaccine for dengue fever (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Greece On The Breadline: HIV And Malaria Make A Comeback
Date: March 15, 2012
Source: Guardian

Abstract: The incidence of HIV/Aids among intravenous drug users in central Athens soared by 1,250% in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year, according to the head of Médecins sans Frontières Greece, while malaria is becoming endemic in the south for the first time since the rule of the colonels.

Reveka Papadopoulos said that following savage cuts to the national health service budget, including heavy job losses and a 40% reduction in funding for hospitals, Greek social services were "under very severe strain, if not in a state of breakdown. What we are seeing are very clear indicators of a system that cannot cope."

The heavy, horizontal and "blind" budget cuts coincided last year with a 24% increase in demand for hospital services, she said, "largely because people could simply no longer afford private healthcare. The entire system is deteriorating."

The extraordinary increase in HIV/Aids among drug users, due largely to the suspension or cancellation of free needle exchange programmes, has been accompanied by a 52% increase in the general population.

"We are also seeing transmission between mother and child for the first time in Greece," she said. "This is something we are used to seeing in sub-Saharan Africa, not Europe. There has also been a sharp increase in cases of tuberculosis in the immigrant population, cases of Nile fever – leading to 35 deaths in 2010 – and the reappearance of endemic malaria in several parts of Greece, notably the south."

According to Papadopoulos, such sharp increases in communicable diseases are indicative of a system nearing breakdown. "The simple fact of the reappearance of malaria, with 100-odd cases in southern Greece last year and 20 to 30 more elsewhere, shows barriers to healthcare access have risen," she said. "Malaria is treatable, it shouldn't spread if the system is working."

MSF has been active in Greece for more than 20 years, but until now has largely confined its activities to emergency interventions after natural disasters such as earthquakes, and providing care to the most vulnerable groups in the community, including immigrants.

It is now focusing on supporting the public health sector, providing emergency care in shelters for the homeless and improving the overall response to communicable diseases. Papadopoulos, who spent 17 years abroad with MSF and returned to her native Greece three years ago, sees hope among the rubble. "What keeps me going is an increasingly strong sense of solidarity among the Greek people," she said. "Donations to MSF, for example, have of course gone down with the crisis, but donors keep giving, they remain active."

She sees a refreshing new phenomenon of self-organisation and social action. "In the past year of this crisis I have seen really encouraging, really exciting things happening – people are seeing the power of organising themselves. We have to support them" (Guardian, 2012).

Title: CDC: US Illness Outbreaks From Imported Food Have Risen
Date: March 15, 2012
Source: Fox News

Abstract: Outbreaks of illness linked to imported food have risen since the late 1990s, casting a spotlight on federal inspection standards for fish, produce and other foods brought in from abroad.

The 39 outbreaks from imported food reported between 2005 and 2010 represent a small fraction of total cases of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or E. coli, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented Wednesday.

But the rise in imported-food outbreaks -- mostly from fish and spices -- highlights gaps in the food safety system that a sweeping new law is intended to address.

CDC researchers found 6.5 outbreaks from foreign foods a year, on average, between 2005 and 2010 -- more than double the average of 2.7 outbreaks annually between 1998 and 2004.

Of the 39 outbreaks between 2005 and 2010, nearly half -- 17 -- occurred in 2009 and 2010.

The foods, including fish, oysters, cheese, sprouts and seven other types of products, were shipped from 15 countries. Nearly 45 percent of those foods originated from Asia. Most people were sickened with salmonella or histamine fish poisoning, a bacterial disease contracted from eating spoiled dark-flesh fish that causes rashes, diarrhea, sweating, headaches and vomiting. The outbreaks led to 2,348 cases of illness, the CDC said.

Among the largest of those outbreaks was one in 2008 linked to jalapeno and serrano peppers from Mexico contaminated with salmonella. More than 1,400 people were sickened and more than 280 were hospitalized with salmonella in 43 states.

Other major outbreaks reviewed in the study were a 2007 recall of Veggie Booty, a puffed rice snack that was found to contain contaminated raw materials from China that led to 52 cases of salmonella in 17 states, and a 2010 outbreak of typhoid fever tied to frozen fruit pulp that originated in Guatemala.

The number of outbreaks reported is likely underestimated because of inconsistent country-of-origin labeling, Hannah Gould, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study, said in a phone interview. "We don't always know where food comes from," Gould said.

The full study will be published later this year (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Foot-And-Mouth Disease Spreads In Egypt; Thousands Of Cattle Dead
Date: March 16, 2012
Source: Washington Post


Abstract: Egypt’s veterinary authorities say foot-and-mouth disease has left more than 2,000 young cattle dead.

Egypt’s local press on Friday quoted veterinary official Essam Abdel-Shakour as saying that 24,500 livestock have been infected with the disease over the past two weeks. Most of the infections have come in the Nile Delta provinces in northern Egypt.

Agriculture Minister Mohammed Ismail told parliament this week that the ministry has ordered the isolation of infected animals, the closure of cattle markets across the country and is working on providing a new vaccine for the highly contagious disease.

Egyptian farmers have accused the government of incompetence, and have thrown dead cows in front of the governors’ offices during protests.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed (Washington Post, 2012).

Title: Berea Villages Quarantined Following Anthrax Outbreak
Date: March 16, 2012
Source:
Public Eye

Abstract: The Lesotho Veterinary Services have quarantined Thupa-Khubu and Ha-Popa villages in Masaleng, Berea District following an outbreak of anthrax that resulted in last week’s death of more than 20 cattle, several donkeys used to ferry the dead cattle and dogs that ate the animals’ carcasses.

The Director General for Veterinary Services, Dr Malefane Moleko, on Wednesday this week told Public Eye the isolation also included a 10km-radius around the affected villages.

“We are working around the clock to control the situation. The quarantine would be followed by the “ring” vaccination soon. We also have suspected cases of Lumpy Skin disease, which affects cattle in the area,” he said.

According to Dr Moleko, controlling the disease was critical before goat-shearing starts in May.

“District Veterinary Officers are working closely with local chiefs to ensure there is no movement of livestock in and out of the affected areas to prevent the spread of the disease to other areas.

“The bacteria that causes anthrax can be found on the animals’ fur, wool and skin. It can also live in the soil, hence the need to properly bury affected animals six metres deep and also disinfecting the area.”

The Vet Department, he added, was working “flat out” to identify all areas where the dead animals were buried to ensure they are properly buried.

Dr Moleko warned people against eating, touching and opening up carcasses of animals whose cause of death was unknown.

Five people died last week, three from Thupa-Khubu and two from Ha-Popa, after eating meat from among the 20 aforementioned cattle that had died of anthrax.

However, a strange phenomenon happened in Maseru on Thursday last week—a day after the bodies of two women from Thupa-Khubu had been brought to MKM Funeral Services.

Some mortuary staff dressing the two bodies noticed 10 other corpses occupying the same morgue now had bloated faces and blisters—just like the two brought from Thupa-Khubu village.

“We did not know what it was so we notified the bereaved families and the Maseru City Council’s Health Department,” Ms Lerato Liboti, a Manager at MKM said on Tuesday this week.

The MKM workers were expected to undergo medical checkup since they had not taken any appropriate precautionary measures when they received the bodies.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Principal Health Officer, Mr Themba Fobo, said his department had since disinfected the mortuary and temporarily quarantined the area while awaiting results of the tests conducted.

The Maseru City Council spokesperson, Mrs Lintle Moerane has, meanwhile, warned the public against buying meat from ‘dubious’ outlets.

Moerane also expressed concern about some food outlets,  particularly those operating along the streets, that she said were suspected of selling uninspected meat.

“Owing to rampant stock-theft and the sale of uninspected meat in Maseru, we are all at risk if precautionary measures are not taken,” Moerane said. “People should report all suspicious cases of infection if they notice symptoms such as swollen skin, fever and cough, loss of appetite, nausea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and swollen neck” (Public Eye, 2012).

Title: Mysterious Nodding Disease Debilitates Children
Date: March 19, 2012
Source:
CNN

Abstract: Pauline Oto still wears her faded yellow and green school dress, but she hasn't been to school for years and she can't comprehend what to do with the pen the community nurse has just given her.

"Write on my hand," says the nurse. Pauline just sits on the reed mat, her legs pulled to one side, and stares. She has just had an attack and can't speak. She struggles to comprehend her surroundings.

Pauline, 13, has been struck by the dreaded nodding disease. Her mother, Grace Lagat, says it will take her at least four hours to recover from the seizures, and after each attack she seems less like the daughter she remembers.

"Her personality has changed greatly from before. She was normal when they were born. Now she just moves around and serves no purpose," Lagat says.

Pauline, like more than 3,000 other children in Northern Uganda, has been struck by the mysterious syndrome that has doctors and scientists puzzled and has shattered lives in this rural community.

Nodding disease gets its name from the strange nodding-like symptoms that children display in the first stages of a seizure. But doctors on the ground and at the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that is the least profound effect.

Severe epilepsy-like seizures grip the children, they struggle to eat, and they become shells of their former selves. It is a progressive and debilitating syndrome that robs children of their future.

The seizures are triggered in strange ways, say community members, such as when unfamiliar food is brought to the children or when the weather changes.

There are other bizarre symptoms. Often the children will wander off by themselves and get lost in the bush. And other children will start fires, according to parents and medics in the field. Others appear confused and traumatized.

We were told that several houses in areas we visited had been burnt down by children suffering from nodding disease. More than 200 deaths have been reported from these 'secondary' incidents.

Once, Pauline vanished for five days. Now, to protect her children Lagat ties them up when she leaves.

She pulls Pauline and her brother, Thomas, who also suffers from nodding disease, inside her hut and ties them with a colorful, local fabric. First, she ties their legs to a wooden pole and then their hands together like handcuffs. Thomas tears at them with his teeth.

"When I am going to the garden, I tie them with cloth. If I don't tie them I come back and find that they have disappeared," she says.

Liberia, Sudan, and Tanzania have all suffered outbreaks of nodding disease over the years, but it first came to the attention of Ugandan authorities in 2009.

A team from the World Health Organization team visited the region of Gulu and Kitgum and noticed a high incidence of the disturbing symptoms.

"It was quite desperate, I can tell you," says Dr. Joaquin Saweka, the WHO representative in Uganda. "Imagine being surrounded by 26 children and 12 of them showing signs of this. The attitude was to quickly find a solution to the problem."

Saweka and the Ugandan government mobilized teams from WHO, CDC, and local health teams.

Right now there is no real solution. Nodding disease leads to epilepsy like symptoms, says the World Health Organization, but the cause is unknown and there is no cure.

But there are clues. WHO officials say 93 percent of cases are found in areas also with the parasitic worm Onchocerca Volvulus, which causes river blindness and is carried by the Black Fly. And many cases show a deficiency in Vitamin B6. Nutrition also seems to play an important role.

"At first we cast the net wide. We ruled out three dozen potential causes and we are working on a handful of probabilities," says Dr. Scott Dowell, director of global disease detection and emergency response at CDC.

While nodding disease hasn't triggered the response that, say, an outbreak of Ebola would, the CDC has conducted field investigations and extensive lab work, says Dowell.

This outbreak in Uganda is confined to the north and is not believed to be contagious, but from a public health standpoint it still has to be taken seriously.

"We know from past experience an unknown disease could end up having more global implications," says Dr. Dowell.

For Ugandan children in the region it is having massive implications.

In the first three days of registering children at the Atanga health center in Pader district last week, more than 400 possible cases showed up. One extended family had seven children afflicted with Nodding Disease -- all of them severely stunted physically and mentally.

Nodding disease seems to only affect children between 1 to 19 years, with the worst affected at ages 3 to 11, based on anecdotal evidence gathered by health workers.

It is unclear how many fatalities have been caused by the disease itself, but its victims are left unable to function in any meaningful sense and profoundly dependent on others for care.

And all this is in a region where many families suffered for decades from the brutality of the Lord's Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, which abducted thousands of children and pushed civilians into mass camps.

Almost every household in Pader district seems to be affected. We follow the nurse into cluster of huts, where another child, Francis, has just passed out. He lies in a pool of his own urine, saliva pouring out of his mouth, still twitching from the last affects of a seizure.

The nurse tries not to touch him and doesn't want to take his pulse. There is just too much mystery surrounding the illness.

"I feel, because I don't know what causes it, I don't even know how it transmits, when I touch them I feel that I can also get the infection because I don't know what causes it," says Elupe Petua, a local nursing officer.

So Francis is left alone. Only his mother, Agnes Apio, helps to clean him up with a bucket of water and waves away flies from his face.

"I feel dark in my heart. This boy has become nothing," she says. Francis can only move by dragging himself along the dirt, but she still ties him up when she leaves the homestead.

"Everyone is affected. In the household everyone and in the larger community setting the whole community is also suffering, trying to understand why them at this particular time," says Simon Anyanzo, of the Ugandan Red Cross.

Doctors are using drugs for controlling epilepsy with some limited success. But they say it only slows the progression of symptoms, rather than stops them.

After months of delay, Uganda did last week begin the drive to register cases.

One health outpost in the Pader told CNN they hadn't received anti-epilepsy drugs for four months and they had been forced to turn away desperate families. Now the health center has received drugs, but they fear the high number of cases could overwhelm them.

One local member of parliament was so desperate to get attention for the disease that in early March he transported 25 suspected cases by bus to Kampala for treatment at the country's main referral hospital.

Uganda's health ministry says they are doing enough. They say they have switched to a more effective epilepsy drug and they are training local health workers to deal with the disease.

Saweka says: "People complain that it looks like the lives in developing countries have less value than the lives in the western countries. When you know the root cause, you address the cure. Now you are just relieving the symptoms. We don't expect to cure anybody" (CNN, 2012)

Title: Egypt Reports Third Bird Flu Death Of 2012
Date: March 20, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: A confirmed case of H5N1 avian influenza in Egypt has taken the life of a woman from Dakahlia Governorate according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO said Monday; the Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt notified the global health body about the new case of human infection with bird flu.

According to the WHOs Global Alert and Response, the victim was a 40-year-old female who developed symptoms on 6 March 2012, was hospitalized on 12 March 2012. She was in critical condition and received oseltamivir upon admission. She died on 15 March 2012.

Like so many avian influenza patients, the woman was exposed to sick backyard poultry according to the investigation into the case.

Laboratory confirmation of H5N1 avian influenza was performed by the Central Public Health Laboratories(NIC).

This is the sixth case of human infection with bird flu in Egypt this year, and the third case to be fatal.

Since the first cases were reported in 2006, there have been 164 cases confirmed to date in Egypt, 58 (35%) have been fatal (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Baffling Illness Strikes Africa, Turns Children Into Mindless "Zombies"
Date: March 20, 2012
Source:
Daily Tech

Abstract: It's called the "nodding disease" and it's a baffling illness that has 
struck thousands of children in northern Uganda.  The illness brings on seizures, violent behavior in some(debated), personality changes, and a host of other unusual symptoms.

I. Mental Degradation: Child Victims Have no Cure, no Future
Grace Lagat, a northern Uganda native, is mother of two children -- Pauline Oto and Thomas -- both of whom are victims of the disease.  For their safety, when she leaves the house, she now ties them up, using fabric like handcuffs.  She recalls, "When I am going to the garden, I tie them with cloth. If I don't tie them I come back and find that they have disappeared."

Reportedly the children gnaw at their fabric restraints, like a rabid animals -- 
or "zombies" of popular fiction -- in an attempt  to escape.  (This is based on CNN's commentary.)

(Jason Oh points out that the restraints are intended to protect the chidlren from harm, and from starting fires.)

The effort to restrain the children is not unwarranted.  In one of the most bizarre symptoms of this tragic illness, children with the disease are reportedly setting fire to buildings in their communities.  Coupled with the aimless wandering this disease provokes in victims, this is a deadly combination.  More than 200 people have been killed in fires believed to be set by the zombified children.

(According to Jason Oh, there have been few reports of violent behavior.  It is unclear where our primary source CNN received this information, though a reader suggested that a CDC report indicated that 10 to 15 percent of children were found to exhibit increased aggression.  We were unable to locate this report.)

The disease is not new.  It popped up in the 1960s in Sudan.  From there it slowly spread to Libya and Tanzania.  

The Uganda infections, though, are a new outbreak -- a troubling sign.  The jump into a new region could be pure coincidence, or it could indicate the disease has become more virulent or found a new transmissions vector.
Infected children typically have regular seizures, which are proceeded by a repetitive nodding of the head.  This characteristic symptom has given rise to the unofficial title for the malady.

II. World Medical Organizations Racing for a Cure
The 
Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have been tracking the spread of this frightening ailment.  Dr. Joaquin Saweka says the scene in Uganda is horrific, stating, "It was quite desperate, I can tell you.  Imagine being surrounded by 26 children and 12 of them showing signs of this. The attitude was to quickly find a solution to the problem."

Yet the WHO and CDC are not fully sure what is causing the illness, which cripples children and turns them into mindless, violence-prone zombies.  The best clue they have is that most of the cases occur in regions inhabited by "Black flies", which carry the parasitic wormOnchocerca Volvulus.  That worm is responsible for another dangerous disease dubbed "river blindness", the world's second leading cause of infectious blindness.

(Jason Oh states that CNN misunderstood this reference.  While it's true the cause of the disease is unknown and the literature papers on the topic indicate an overlap with part of the river blindness afflicted regions, but he feels this reference was only intended to "state the obvious", not hypothesize causation.)

However 7 percent of infected children live in regions not inhabited by the Black fly, so a link is speculative at best.

Children with the disease also frequently exhibit vitamin B6 deficiency, leading medical experts to believe that the disease may be nutrition related.  However, infections by microbes, parasites, fungi, or even fungi/microbes carried by a parasitic host, can all lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Dr. Scott Dowell, director of global disease detection and emergency response at CDC, says the race is on to determine the cause and a cure.  He states, "At first we cast the net wide. We ruled out three dozen potential causes and we are working on a handful of probabilities.  We know from past experience an unknown disease could end up having more global implications."

In the current cases children as old as 19 have been found to be stricken, with the majority of the worst symptoms being spread over the 3-11 age range.

One mystery surrounding the disease is the seizures themselves.  While typically seizures are either randomly occurring or follow some singular cue/pattern, the nodding disease seems to have multiple triggers, including eating new foods, changing weather, and other changes.

(Jason Oh says CNN reporters messed up and that it's familiar foods trigger the seizures, not unfamiliar ones like bars of chocolate.)

Seizure often leave the children soiled with urine and drooling.  Local nurses are afraid to touch the infected.  States local nurse Elupe Petua, "I feel, because I don't know what causes it, I don't even know how it transmits, when I touch them I feel that I can also get the infection because I don't know what causes it."

III. Medication is Ineffective
Anti-epileptic medication slows the onset of symptoms, but is unable to stop the progression of the disease.  The seizures eventually leave many children unable to walk, only able to drag their bodies along the ground as flies tried to attack them.

(Jason Oh says that the diseases offers a tragic, slow mental degradation, taking years to develop.  Affected children, embarassed about the nodding and afraid of infecting classmates often drop out of school, while still mentally capable.  Eventually the seizures lead to the more severe symptoms mentioned in the intro -- loss of speech, partial paralysis, personality changes, and -- according to CNN -- violence.)

The government of Uganda has come under criticism for not being vocal enough in addressing the tragedy and demanding foreign aid/research expertise.  Local politicians have taken to transporting victims from affected villages by bus to city hospitals in order to force the issue into the eyes of the more affluent city-dwellers.

(Jason Oh adds some perspective writing, "Uganda had asked the CDC to investigate in 2009.  Most of the backlash against the government is because the Ministry of Health has been slow to use emergency funds that the Parliament made available.  They've established many local centers for Nodding Syndrome, but they are under-staffed and under-equipped.  The kids are being referred to and transported to Mulago Hospital (famous for being in The Last King of Scotland) so the top doctors at Makerere University and in Kampala can monitor them.")

The issue is yet another woe for a nation in which the impoverished majority was terrorized for years by warlord Jospeph Kony's militia, dubbed the "Lord's Resistance Army."

Mr. Kony is 
currently wanted by the International Criminal Court on multiple counts of violent war crimes, including rape and murder.  These offenses are punishable by death (life in prison), if he is ever brought to trial. (Jason Oh clarified that under the new Rome Statute of 2002, the ICC is not allowed to seek the death penalty, even in murder cases.)

IV. What if the "Nodding Disease" Found a Way to Reach the U.S.?
Dr. Saweka says that for all the hand-waving by the government about using better anti-epileptics and offering more funding, he appreciates and shares in the villagers frustration.  He states, "People complain that it looks like the lives in developing countries have less value than the lives in the western countries. When you know the root cause, you address the cure. Now you are just relieving the symptoms. We don't expect to cure anybody."

While the "First World" may not be focused on -- or even aware of -- the zombification that is leaving children in these African nations violent (debated), crippled shells of their former selves -- tied like dogs -- it is an issue that must be addressed.  After all, viruses, bacteria, parasites thanks to the wonders of evolution can mutate and adapt to new environments and
new transmission vectors.

Thus this zombie virus  While reports of violence or strange behavior -- like biting -- are disputed, the disease is very serious.  It may seem like a foreign issue to regions like the U.S. and EU who are struggling with their own financial crisises.  But if the illness finds a way to broaden its spread, this outbreak could 
cripple children across the globe.

(A word of clarification... CNN has reworded their report slightly to tone down the suggestion of violent behavior.  The reports of fire starting stand, but in the new context it's possible these were just innocent accidents triggered by the childrens' loss of coordination
(Daily Tech, 2012)

Title: Meningitis Death Toll Climbs In Northern Ugandan Town Of Amuru
Date: March 22, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health authorities in the 
Amuru district of Northern Uganda report Thursday that the death toll has risen to eleven in the outbreak that started earlier in the month. In addition, it has been reported that at least 30 other patients are presenting meningitis-like symptoms.

Amuru deputy health officer, Mr. Charles Okwera said some the victims did not seek proper medical attention, with others blaming the illness on poisoning.

The district is on high alert with health officials educating people in the communities to seek medical attention if they experience a sudden spike in fever.

Along with the current meningitis outbreak, the Amuru district has also registered nearly 80 cases of the mysterious nodding disease.

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium,Neisseria meningitidis, which causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.

Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.

Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organisms and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Three Farm Workers Die Of Anthrax In Namibia
Date: March 28, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch


Abstract: Three farm workers from Farm Kroonster 448 in Namibia’s Omaheke Region died from an anthrax-related illness in the Gobabis State Hospital last week.

It is believed that five workers from the farm contracted anthrax after eating meat of a cow that passed away on the farm. Two of the five workers are still being treated at the hospital for an anthrax-related disease, Nampa reports.

The two farm workers are still in critical condition and all movements from the ward have been restricted.

“You can confirm this with the hospital matron,” a registered nurse from the hospital speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, according to Nampa. “Even the remains of the deceased three farm workers are still being kept here in our mortuary for further laboratory investigations.”

George Ruhumba, the region’s chief animal health technician, said that the business at Farm Kroonster is under restriction for 21 days after a request from the Ministry of Health and Social Services to enact a ban. He said there is a suspected anthrax case at the commercial farm, which is located 100 kilometers east of Gobabis. While veterinary services has tested all 19 livestock at the farm and all tests came back negative, the restriction orders are still active.

The workers were said to have complained of stomach pains after eating the meat of a cow that had died in early March (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Three Farm Workers Die Of Anthrax In Namibia
Date: March 28, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch


Abstract: Three farm workers from Farm Kroonster 448 in Namibia’s Omaheke Region died from an anthrax-related illness in the Gobabis State Hospital last week.

It is believed that five workers from the farm contracted anthrax after eating meat of a cow that passed away on the farm. Two of the five workers are still being treated at the hospital for an anthrax-related disease, Nampa reports.

The two farm workers are still in critical condition and all movements from the ward have been restricted.

“You can confirm this with the hospital matron,” a registered nurse from the hospital speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, according to Nampa. “Even the remains of the deceased three farm workers are still being kept here in our mortuary for further laboratory investigations.”

George Ruhumba, the region’s chief animal health technician, said that the business at Farm Kroonster is under restriction for 21 days after a request from the Ministry of Health and Social Services to enact a ban. He said there is a suspected anthrax case at the commercial farm, which is located 100 kilometers east of Gobabis. While veterinary services has tested all 19 livestock at the farm and all tests came back negative, the restriction orders are still active.

The workers were said to have complained of stomach pains after eating the meat of a cow that had died in early March (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Anthrax Toll Rises To Five In Namibia
Date: March 29, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: Five people have now died in the Omaheke region of Namibia from an illness that is believed to be either anthrax or Congo fever.

Initial test results proved to be inconclusive and new samples have since been sent to South Africa for more extensive analysis, according to Namibian.com.na.

Dr. Jack Vries, the chairperson of the Namibian National Health Emergency Management Committee, said that he expects the results of the second round of testing within a week.

“We don’t know whether it is anthrax or not,” Vries said, Namibian.com.na reports.

Vries said that the victims had intestinal symptoms that included diarrhea and vomiting, which is atypical of anthrax.

Two of the victims worked together at a dairy farm and died after eating beef from the same cow. The owner of the farm, Japie Engelbrecht, said that his farm is doing poorly in the wake of reports about the outbreak. The dairy is currently under quarantine and Engelbrecht is denying reports that he might not have vaccinated his animals against anthrax.

Dr. John Shoopala, the acting chief veterinary officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, said that an investigation showed Engelbrecht had not properly vaccinated his livestock.

“They are lying,” Engelbrecht said, Namibia.com.na reports (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Bristol Myers-Squibb Recalls Viaspan Over Potential Bacillus Contamination
Date: March 30, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Pharmaceutical giant, Bristol Myers-Squibb (BMS) 
announced Thursday a global recall of the sterile organ storage fluid, Viaspan after bacterial contamination was discovered on the production line at a manufacturing facility in Austria.

The bacterium, Bacillus cereus was found in fluid used to test the sterility of the Viaspan production line. Batches of Viaspan are now being tested for contamination.

Viaspan is a fluid used to preserve organs, primarily the liver, pancreas and bowel, after removal from the donor until transplant into the organ recipient.

The recall applies to 10 countries where there are alternative storage solutions: Australia, Italy, Estonia, Slovenia, Argentina, Chile, Germany, France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

BMS is also working with health officials in 11 other European countries and New Zealand that use Viaspan but do not have alternative solutions.

BMS spokesman, Ken Dominski told AFP that the company does not sell Viaspan in the United States or Asia.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that BMS is performing tests to determine where the leak in the production line is located. A faulty pressure gauge is thought to be the problem.

In the UK, where there are about 800 liver, 250 pancreas and 30 to 40 bowel transplants each year, they will continue to use Viaspan as there is currently no evidence of any problems in patients who have recently had transplants where Viaspan has been used according to Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

Patients that did present with an infection with Bacillus cereus could be treated with antibiotics.

Bacillus cereus is an aerobic, spore-forming bacterium found in the soil and the environment worldwide.

The organism is a well-recognized and common cause of food poisoning worldwide.

Bacillus cereus made the news last year when alcohol pads produced by the Triad Groupwere found to be contaminated with the spore-forming bacteria. The contaminated pads were implicated in the death of a 2-year-old boy (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Halal Beef Recalled Due To Possible Listeria Contamination
Date: April 1, 2012
Source:
Outbreak News

Abstract: The Chicago-based establishment, Mosul Kubba, is recalling 1,100 lbs. of stuffed, layered beef products after the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes was discovered during routine Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) testing.

According to an FSIS news release Thursday, the fully cooked, ready-to-eat, halal beef products were produced on March 20, 2012, and then shipped to a single distributor in Detroit, Mich.

The products subject to recall are 2-lb vacuum-packed packages containing two, 10-inch pieces of “Kubba of wheat”; and 20-lb cases, each containing 10, 2-lb packages of “Kubba of wheat.” The packaging may bear the case code 12082 and establishment number “EST. 21576″.

There have been no reports of illness.

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem. . The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, however, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth (Outbreak News, 2012).

Title: Whooping Cough Epidemic
Date: April 4, 2012
Source:
Science Based Medicine

Abstract: The Washington State Department of Health
 has released a statement stating that they are in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic, which will likely reach its highest levels in decades. So far this year there have been 640 cases, compared to 94 cases over the same time period last year. This is a dramatic increase. Whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease, and so the resurgence of this infection raises questions about the efficacy of the vaccine program – specifically, to what extent is this increase due to vaccine refusal vs waning efficacy of the vaccine itself?

Background
Whooping cough is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium (a Gram-negative, aerobic coccobacillus, for those who are interested), which produce a toxin that paralyzes respiratory cells and causes inflammation. The result begins like an ordinary upper respiratory infection (a common cold) but then develops into a severe cough which can last for weeks. The name of the disease, whooping cough, comes from the sound made by the sudden inhalation after a sustained cough. 
The disease can be severe at any age, but is especially pernicious in infants, in whom it can cause apnea, or brief pauses in breathing. In infants less than 1 year of age half will need to be hospitalized and 1 in 100 will die.

The pertussis bacterium was first isolated in 1906 by Belgian scientists Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou. In 1939 researchers at the Michigan Department of Public Health demonstrated the efficacy of a vaccine against Bodetella pertussis. The vaccine reduced the incidence of whooping cough from 15.1 to 2.3% and reduced the severity of the illness in those who contracted it. In 1948 the whole cell pertussis vaccine was combined with vaccines for diptheria and tetanus to make the DTP vaccine.

In the 1990s the DTP vaccine was replaced with the DTaP vaccine, which is still used. The whole cell pertussis component was replaced with a acellular vaccine. In the whole cell version the entire Bodetella pertussis bacterium is included in the vaccine in an inactivated state. The acellular vaccine contains only components of the bacterium. The change was made because the acellular vaccine has fewer side effects. However there was also unsubstantiated concerns about the risks of the whole cell pertussis vaccine that may have contributed to the decision to change. Both versions of the vaccine are effective, but some studies suggest that the acellular version provides less immunity than the prior whole cell vaccine. Today there is also the Tdap vaccine, which is intended as a booster vaccine for adolescents and adults.

Historically the introduction of the pertussis vaccine resulted in a 92% decrease in morbidity and 93% decrease in mortality from whooping cough.

The Return of Pertussis
Up until a few years ago pertussis was under good control in developed countries with a vaccine program. Pertussis has not known host outside of humans so it is even possible to achieve eradication. But in the last decade pertussis has been making a comeback. There is likely no single cause for this, but several can be identified.

There is evidence that the bacterium is evolving new strains that are less well covered by the DTaP vaccine. A recent study, for example, found that a new strain is emerging in Australia that is not well covered by the vaccine and is therefore spreading, because the existing strains are being selected against by the vaccine. The study also found that the older whole cell version of the vaccine produced wider coverage (better coverage for different strains) than the newer acellular vaccine. So it is possible that the return of pertussis is partly due to the narrowing of coverage that is allowing for the spread of newer strains.

To the extent that this is true it implies that we need to update the vaccine to cover the newer strains. This, however, may be only a temporary fix and still more strains may develop. Therefore we either need to chase new strains as they emerge, or we need to develop a pertussis vaccine that has broader antigen coverage, more similar to the older whole cell vaccine, but without the increased side effects.

Another contributing factor is the waning immunity provided by either infection or vaccination. Antibodies against pertussis do not last a life time, so adults who were either infected or vaccinated as children may have lost their immunity. They then provide a vector for the infection of young infants who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated. For this reason the CDC is recommending booster vaccines for teens and adults, especially health care workers and those exposed to young children.

Finally there are serious concerns about vaccine refusal as a contributor to the resurgence of whooping cough. Thanks to the anti-vaccine movement there is unsubstantiated fear about the safety of vaccines. In particular there are pockets of vaccine refusal resulting in a loss of herd immunity. Herd immunity results when enough of the population is immune so that an infectious disease cannot spread, so cases become isolated and do not cause an epidemic. Without herd immunity pertussis infections can spread through a population.

The evidence indicates that unvaccinated children are at higher risk of developing whooping cough than vaccinated children. Existing herd immunity is not sufficient to protect the unvaccinated, even in areas of high vaccine compliance. Further there is early evidence that whooping cough is spreading the most in counties that have a high vaccine refusal rate. The correlation between whooping cough and vaccine refusal needs to be studied in more detail, but certainly vaccine refusal is not helping and is contrary to the goal of increasing coverage to achieve herd immunity.

Conclusion
Historically controlled infections, like whooping cough, have the potential to make a comeback. There is a certain amount of complacence today toward diseases that are thought to be largely a thing of the past. However we are now experiencing a resurgence of some of these diseases, like whooping cough, and while the causes are complex and need to be teased apart, they are worsened by vaccine refusal which in turn is spawned by an anti-vaccine movement that is spreading misinformation and unwarranted fears.

With regard to the current whooping cough epidemic, the CDC has many specific recommendations for the public and health care workers. In short – vaccinate your children and get a booster (Science Based Medicine, 2012)

Title: Tuna Linked To Salmonella Outbreak In 20 States
Date: April 13, 2012
Source: NPR

Abstract: A yellowfin tuna product used to make dishes like sushi and sashimi sold at restaurants and grocery stores has been linked with an outbreak of salmonella that has sickened more than 100 people in 20 states and the District of Columbia, federal health authorities said Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration said 116 illnesses have been reported, including 12 people who have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., also known as MMI, is voluntarily recalling 58,828 pounds of frozen raw yellowfin tuna. It was labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA when it was sold to grocery stores and restaurants and is scraped off the fish bones and looks like a ground product.

The product is not available for sale to individual consumers but may have been used to make sushi, sashimi, ceviche and similar dishes available in restaurants and grocery stores. Many of the people who became ill reported eating raw tuna in sushi as "spicy tuna," the FDA said.

Reports of the foodborne illness caused by Salmonella bareilly have mainly come from the Eastern Seaboard and South, though cases have been reported as far west as Missouri and Texas.

As of Friday, illness had been reported these states and the District of Columbia: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), As Georgia (5), Illinois (10), Louisiana (2), Maryland (11), Massachusetts (8), Mississippi (1), Missouri (2), New Jersey (7), New York (24), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (5), South Carolina (3), Texas (3), Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (12).

The memo notes there is likely a 30-day lag time between when people become sick and when cases are reported to health officials.

The raw yellowfin tuna product may have passed through several distributors before reaching the restaurant and grocery market and may not be clearly labeled.

Previous outbreaks of salmonella bareilly have been linked to bean sprouts, which are grown in warm, damp conditions.

The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours of eating the contaminated food. The illness can be severe or even life-threatening for infants, older people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

The FDA recommended that people be cautious about eating raw seafood, inquire about the source and "when in doubt, don't eat it" (NPR, 2012).

Title: Scores Of Afghan Schoolgirls Poisoned In Suspected Taliban Attack
Date: April 17, 2012
Source: 
RT

Abstract: About 150 Afghan schoolgirls have been poisoned at a high school in the country's north after drinking contaminated water. Officials suspect conservative radicals, who oppose female education.

"We are 100 per cent sure that the water they drank inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or irresponsible armed individuals," Reuters quoted Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

The girls suffered from headaches and vomiting. Some were in critical condition, while others were sent home after treatment in hospital.

"This is not a natural illness. It's an intentional act to poison schoolgirls," said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar's public health department.

Since the Taliban was toppled in 2001 females have returned to schools, especially in the country’s capital, Kabul.

However, attacks on female schools still occur, especially in the more conservative south and east of the country.

Afghan authorities said last year that the Taliban no longer opposes to female education as it is trying to advance exploratory peace talks,

But the movement has never confirmed this officially. Education for women was outlawed by Taliban between 1996 and 2001. 

The Afghan Education Ministry report for 2006 shows that about 20 teachers were killed and more than a 100 schools set on fire in different parts of Afghanistan (RT, 2012).

Title: FDA: Ultrasound Gel Contaminated With Pseudomonas And Klebsiella
Date: April 18, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting health care professionals and facilities to NOT use certain lots of Other-Sonic Generic Ultrasound Transmission Gel as it was discovered to be contaminated with two bacterial pathogens.

The non-sterile gel, used in ultrasound procedures, is manufactured by Newark, NJ company, Pharmaceutical Innovations

According to a FDA Medical Device Alert Wednesday, the alert affects the following lots of the non-sterile gel manufactured from June to December 2011: 060111, 090111 and 120111. They are sold in 250 mL bottles and 5 liter dispensing containers.

The alert says the agency received a report from a hospital that 16 patients had developed colonization or infection with the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Each of these patients were examined with transesophageal ultrasound probes using Other-Sonic Generic Ultrasound Transmission Gel. Upon investigation, the ultrasound gel was found to be contaminated with the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella oxytoca.

The FDA collected and tested unopened bottles from the reporting hospital and Pharmaceutical Innovations microbial testing revealed significant amounts of Pseudomonas aeruginosa andKlebsiella oxytoca. This result suggests that the source of this contamination occurred during the manufacturing process.

US Marshalls, on behalf of the FDA, seized all lots of the gel product manufactured between June 2011 and December 2011. The seizure was performed because the ultrasound gel presents serious health risks to patients, particularly vulnerable ones.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a free-living bacterium, commonly found in soil and water.Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen, meaning that it exploits some break in the host defenses to initiate an infection.

It can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory system infections, dermatitis, soft tissue infections, bacteremia, bone and joint infections, gastrointestinal infections and a variety of systemic infections, particularly in patients with severe burns and in cancer and AIDS patients who are immunosuppressed.

Klebsiella species are normally found in the intestinal tract. They can cause serious infections like pneumonia, wound infection and bloodstream infections (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Emmanuel Mutai To Compete In Marathon Despite Recent Typhoid Infection
Date: April 19, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: What does it take to keep a champion athlete down? One might think a potentially deadly bacterial infection would do it- but then again, not if you’re Kenyan runner Emmanuel Mutai.

It was reported Wednesday, the 2011 winner of the Virgin London marathon is returning this weekend to defend his title Sunday even though he just battled typhoid fever.

Mutai is quoted on the running website, competitor.com as saying:

“I had a fever a few weeks ago and was under medication,” Mutai admitted. “But I am feeling better now and my recovery has been good. I will have to try my best.”

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. Salmonella Typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S.Typhi in their feces.

You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. Typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Red Cross: Vietnam HFMD Outbreak Now At 28,000 Cases, 18 Dead
Date: April 19, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The virulent strain of the childhood disease, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) called EV71 continues to spread in Vietnam and fears of record childhood fatalities are concerning public health officials.

According to a statement from a senior official from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in AlertNet Wednesday, the disease has already infected over 28,000 children in the Southeast Asian country this year, killing 18.

This is up from the 21,000 cases and 16 deaths reported a week ago.

The IFRC reports eighty percent of the children who died from the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) disease are under three the Red Cross said. Sixteen of the children are from the south of the country.

In a large scale outbreak in Vietnam in 2011, more than 100,000 people were sickened by hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) with nearly 200 children dying from the common childhood infection.

HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.

The strain of HFMD in the Vietnam epidemic, EV71, can be fatal and is spreading among children under five according to the World Health Organization.

EV-71 has been implicated in HFMD outbreaks in Southeast Asia over the several years. EV 71 is a non-polio enterovirus.

Complications associated with HFMD caused by the more pathogenic EV-71 strain include encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, acute flaccid paralysis, pulmonary edema or hemorrhage and myocarditis. Most deaths in HFMD occur as a result of pulmonary edema or hemorrhage (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Measles Cases Reached 15-year High In 2011: CDC
Date: April 20, 2012
Source: Reuters

Abstract: Measles cases in the United States hit a 15-year high in 2011, with 90 percent of the cases traced to other countries with lower immunization rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

There were 222 cases of measles in the United States last year, more than triple the usual number, the CDC said. There had been only about 60 cases per year between 2001 and 2010.

No one has died of the disease in the United States since 2008. But approximately 20 million people contract the measles virus each year worldwide, and about 164,000 die from it, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the health agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The agency said in 2000 that home-grown measles had been eliminated, but cases continued to arrive in the United States from abroad.

There have been more than 25 measles cases reported so far in 2012, most of them imported, the CDC said. The virus can easily enter the country through foreign visitors or Americans traveling abroad who bring the disease back with them.

Measles is highly contagious and is transmitted when an infected person breaths, coughs or sneezes, Schuchat said. The disease can be spread even before an infected person has developed the rash from the virus.

"You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been even after that person has left the room," Schuchat said on Thursday.

Measles cases were found in 31 states in 2011. Last year's count marked the highest number of cases since 1996, when there were 508 cases in the United States.

All but 22 of the 222 cases last year involved patients who had been infected overseas or caught the virus from someone who had been abroad, the CDC said. The source of the other 22 cases could not be determined.

Many of the cases were traced to Europe, where in some countries immunization rates are lower than in the United States. Europe suffered an outbreak of the disease in 2011, reporting more than 37,000 measles cases.

France, Italy and Spain, popular destinations for U.S. tourists, were among the hardest hit, said Schuchat.

"It's very important for travelers heading off to Europe to make sure they are up to date on their immunizations and that their children are too," she said.

Those who have already had measles or have been inoculated are not considered at risk of contracting the virus, the CDC said. The CDC recommends children receive two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine starting at 12-15 months of age.

More than 90 percent of U.S. children have been vaccinated against measles, the CDC said.

"We don't have to have this much measles," Schuchat said. "Measles is preventable. Unvaccinated people put themselves and other people at risk for measles and its complications" (Reuters, 2012).

Title: Oregon E. Coli Outbreak Now At 19, Four Children Hospitalized
Date: April 22, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The 
E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Oregon, which has been linked to raw milk from a Clackamas County farm, is now at 19 victims according to Oregon health officials.

According to an Oregon Health Authority news release Friday, as of April 20, 2012, the Foundation Farm raw milk-associated Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak has sickened 19 persons. Of these 11 have culture-confirmed E. coli O157 infections; 15 of the 19 cases are in children <19 years of age. Four children have been hospitalized with kidney failure.

The only common food item that all cases reported consuming was raw milk produced by Foundation Farm; none of the other food items reported was consumed by all the cases; and the households reported buying their food from a variety of stores.

Health officials say pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) test results show a single molecular pattern for eight of the human cases (three others are pending). The same molecular type was identified in samples from the farm (10 animal manure; two cattle rectal swabs; one swab of the milking station) and from one from the leftover milk samples recovered from a case-household.

Symptoms of the diseases caused by E.coli O157:H7 include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that may in some cases progress to bloody diarrhea. The infection may lead to a life-threatening disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by acute renal failure, hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. It is estimated that up to 10% of patients with E.coli infection may develop HUS, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 3% to 5% (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Tampa Whooping Cough Outbreak Linked To Unknowingly Infected Adults
Date: April 23, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Pertussis, or whooping cough 
has hit some areas of the US hard during the first quarter of this year with Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin and especially Washington State experiencing outbreaks in 2012.

On Monday, officials from the Florida Department of Health reported 35 cases of the bacterial disease in Hillsborough County since the beginning of the year. Statewide, Florida has seen a higher than normal 112 cases so far this year.

According to a TBO.com report:

The Hillsborough cases cropped up in the homes of seven local families, said Warren McDougle, epidemiology program director at the Hillsborough County Health Department. In one case, an adult infected six children in the family who did not have vaccinations, he said.

"Pertussis has gotten in the adult population … and for them the experience is not unlike other respiratory illnesses where they cough and cough," he said. "It's not as severe as it is for children."

Whooping cough is caused by the bacteria, Bordetella pertussis. This vaccine-preventable disease is spread through direct contact with respiratory discharges via the airborne route. Pertussis goes through a series of stages in the infected person; initially a irritating cough followed by repeated, violent coughing. The disease gets its nickname by coughing without inhaling air giving the characteristic high-pitched whoop. Certain populations may not have the typical whoop like infants and adults.

It is highly communicable, especially in very early stages and the beginning of coughing episodes, for approximately the first 2 weeks. Then the communicability gradually decreases and at 3 weeks it is negligible, though the cough my last for months.

This very serious disease can be fatal, though this is not common. Complications to pertussis include hypoxia, seizures and pneumonia. Most deaths occur in infants under 6 months who have not completed primary immunizations.

Pertussis is an endemic disease found worldwide. According to the CDC, outbreaks in this country, occur approximately every 3-5 years.

Those that are not immunized are susceptible to this disease. Young infants and school-aged children (who are frequently the source of infection for younger siblings) are at greatest risk (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Anthrax Outbreak Kills Two In Ghana
Date: April 24, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch


Abstract: An anthrax outbreak in the Upper East region of Ghana has led to two deaths after the victims consumed a dead animal that may have been infected with the deadly disease.

The incident occurred in the community of Googo. Thomas Anyarikeya, the regional veterinary officer, said that anthrax particularly affects ruminants and can be transmitted to humans from them. Ruminants are a type of mammal and include goats, sheep and cattle, GBC Ghana reports.

Anthrax is a lethal disease caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacterium. The bacterium forms dormant spores that can come to life when surrounded by the proper conditions. The three types of anthrax are cutaneous, inhalation  and gastrointestinal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Humans can be infected by anthrax from handling products made from infected animals, by breathing in anthrax spores from animal products and by eating undercooked meat that comes from infected animals.

In 2001, anthrax was deliberately used as a weapon when it was spread through the United States postal service shortly after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The letters were laced with anthrax-containing powder and infected 22 people. Five people died as a result of the attacks, which targeted government and media offices (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Vietnam Mystery Disease Concerns WHO, Australian Virologist Believes It’s HFMD
Date: April 24, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Although they have not been asked to help in the investigation of the “mystery disease” that has killed 19 people in one Vietnamese province, officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) say they are concerned over the situation.

Wu Guogao, the WHO’s chief officer in Hanoi told the AFP Monday, "We are concerned about this. WHO is very aware of this case". He goes on to say, "It is difficult to say the exact cause at this stage".

The mysterious disease, which causes a horrible rash on the hands and feet and causes liver failure in about 10% of those afflicted, has reemerged in the mountainous areas of Quang Ngai province. In total, over 170 people have been infected.

However, not everyone thinks this is such a mystery.

Queensland University of Technology virologist, Prof John Aaskov said it’s almost certainly hand, foot and mouth disease caused by enterovirus 71 (EV 71) or coxsackie virus type A.

Dr. Aaskov said this during an interview Monday with Liam Cochrane on ABC Radio Australia.

The infectious disease expert says the fatality rate seen matches with the fatality rate of EV 71 and the virus has been an issue in Vietnam and China for many months.

Locals in Quang Ngai province have resorted to other means to protect themselves from the disease such as rituals and such. Villagers have even resorted to barricading those infected in their homes to prevent spread. Aaskov compares these actions to what was seen during the plague in Europe centuries ago.

He said improving hygiene is the key to preventing the disease.

As far as getting the WHO involved, Aaskov said it would probably not achieve very much, but it will cost a lot of money.

He believes the Vietnamese will get a handle on the situation (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Mad Cow Disease Found In California Dairy Cow
Date: April 24, 2012
Source: LA Times


Abstract: Federal officials say a case of mad cow disease has been found in a dairy cow in the Central Valley.

The animal was found at a rendering facility, John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian, told reporters Tuesday in a briefing in Washington. Its meat did not enter the food chain and the carcass will be destroyed, Clifford said.

This is the fourth confirmed case of the brain-wasting disease in the U.S. cattle herd since the first case was discovered in December 2003 in an animal that came from Canada.

[Updated at 1 p.m.: The carcass “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” Clifford said in a statement.]

Mad cow disease, which humans can get by eating beef from infected cattle, has killed 171 people and been responsible for the deaths of more than 4 million cattle, slaughtered in attempts to eradicate the disease.

Officially known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the infection is caused by prion proteins that cause the brain to start breaking down (LA Times, 2012).

Title: Mad Cow Reemergence May Hamper California's Beef, Dairy Industries
Date: April 24, 2012
Source: LA Times


Abstract: The reemergence of mad cow disease, discovered in a California dairy cow, could have major implications for the state’s meat industry, even though officials have said that the human food supply is unaffected.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy hasn’t been found in U.S. since 2006 and was discovered in only three instances before then. But the disease has dealt a crippling blow to the industry in the past, especially when foreign countries refused to import American beef when mad cow was first uncovered in 2003.

The U.S. Department of Agriculturetests about 40,000 cows a year in its effort to catch the disease.

In California, private and public ranching takes up about 38 million acres, according to the California Cattlemen’s Assn. There are about 620,000 beef cows on 11,800 California ranches. The state also hosts 1.84 million dairy cows, according to information compiled by the California Beef Council.

The sale of cattle and calves was a $1.82-billion industry in California 2008 and fifth among the state’s top 20 commodities. Beef cattle are raised in nearly every California county.

Nationally, California ranks behind Texas, Kansas and Nebraska in total cattle numbers.

Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, quickly issued a statement stressing that mad cow “is not transmitted through milk.” She also pointed out that “milk and beef remain safe to consume.”

But food-related scares, such as the recent uproar over pink slime and various fruit and vegetable recalls, can be a publicity nightmare.

Americans are exceedingly sensitive about what they eat, and the perception of risk often exceeds the real danger, experts have suggested  (LA Times, 2012)

Title: Clostridium Perfringens The Cause Of Grand Rapids Jail Food Outbreak
Date: April 26, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The cause of a food poisoning outbreak that struck down at least 250 inmates at a 
Grand Rapids, Michigan jail two weeks ago has been revealed according to a WZZM.com report Wednesday.

The outbreak that occurred the weekend of April 15 at the Kent County Jail has been determined to be caused by the bacterium, Clostridium perfringens.

The implicated food is rice and cheese from a taco-type meal served that weekend.

This organism most frequently associated with gas gangrene is also a major cause of food poisoning. However, this intoxication is a little different than those caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus where the ingestion of preformed toxin causes the illness.

With C. perfingens intoxication is due to a toxin mediated infection where the ingested bacteria colonize in the intestinal tract and subsequently produce their toxin.

Almost all outbreaks are associated with inadequately heated or reheated meats, usually stews, meat pies, and gravies made from beef, turkey or chicken.

Outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning are usually trace to catering firms, restaurants, cafeterias and schools with inadequate cooling and refrigeration facilities for large-scale service.

After a period of 8 to 22 hours, this intestinal disease is characterized by a sudden onset of colic followed by diarrhea and nausea. Vomiting and fever are not usually present.

It is generally a mild disease lasting about 24 hours or less. It is rarely fatal in otherwise healthy people.

However there is a more severe disease caused a different strain of C. perfringens (type C strains). This disease can cause necrotic enteritis which is frequently fatal. Also known as pig-bel syndrome, this strain can cause necrosis of the intestine and can go septic.

In order to prevent getting Clostridium perfringens food poisoning the following steps should be taken:

• Serve meat dishes hot or cool them by refrigerating till serving.
• Large cuts of meat must be thoroughly cooked. 
• For more rapid cooling of large dishes like stews, divide the stew into several smaller, shallower containers and refrigerate
(Examiner, 2012).

Title: Illinois Swine Match 2011 Human H3N2v
Date: April 26, 2012
Source: Recombinomics


Abstract: The USDA has released another series of swine sequences from collections in late 2011 / early 2012.  Included were five isolates (A/
swine/Illinois/A00857138a/2011, A/swine/Illinois/A00857138b/2011, A/swine/Illinois/A00857300/2011, A/swine/Illinois/A00857304a/2012, A/swine/Illinois/A00857304b/2012) which were collected on October 20, 2011, November 28, 2011, and January 5, 2012, respectively, from lung tissues.  

Like the two earlier matches from New York and Iowa (A/
swine/NY/A01104005/2011 and A/swine/Iowa/A01202640/2011), the collections were after the spread of H3N2v in humans in 2011 and all matches are with the first 10 human isolates in 2011.  Thus, there still have been no swine matches with the three most recent H3N2v human isolates (A/West Virginia/06/2011, A/West Virginia/07/2011, A/Utah/10/2012) which have an N2 from swine H3N2v.

The recent  swine matches indicate this constellation is spreading in swine in Illinois, and increase concerns that these sequences have adapted to humans, and like H1N1pdm09, have jumped back to swine and are becoming increasingly common (Recombinomics, 2012)
 

Title: Singapore Battling Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease Epidemic
Date: April 27, 2012
Source: 
Examiner

Abstract: Vietnam is not the only Asian country dealing with an 
epidemic of the viral childhood disease, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) as reports out of Singapore have shown the number of cases growing dramatically.

The Singaporean Ministry of Health (MoH) reported Friday that there were 1,394 cases last week, a 19-per-cent spike from the previous high reported the preceding week. The latest figures bring the total number of HFMD cases this year to 13,289.

A spokesperson for the MoH said the HFMD cases are not the enterovirus 71 (EV71) strain (the pathogenic virus that is implicated in serious complications).

Health officials are working closely with educational institutions to ensure high standards of hygiene and to check on the health of kids daily upon arrival. If kids arrive at school sick, they should be referred to a health care provider.

HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Multistate Salmonella Tuna Outbreak Now At 200 Cases, Second Organism Identified
Date: April 27, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The number of cases in the 
salmonella outbreak linked to raw scraped ground tuna, often used for sushi, is now at 200 according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Wednesday.

The outbreak, which has been seen in 21 states and the District of Columbia, has hospitalized 28 people to date.

While the vast majority of cases were due to the strain, Salmonella bareilly, the federal health agency reports that 5% of patients were infected with a different strain, Salmonellaserotype Nchanga.

According to the CDC:

A total of 200 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly orSalmonella Nchanga have been reported from 21 states and the District of Columbia.

  • 190 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly have been reported from 21 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (8), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Illinois (15), Louisiana (3), Maryland (20), Massachusetts (24), Mississippi (2), Missouri (4), New Jersey (18), New York (33), North Carolina (3), Pennsylvania (7), Rhode Island (6), South Carolina (3), Texas (4), Virginia (9), Vermont (1), and Wisconsin (15).
  • 10 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga have been reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga identified in each state is as follows: Georgia (2), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1).

No deaths have been reported from this outbreak.

The outbreak has been linked to frozen raw yellowfin tuna product from Moon Marine USA Corporation. The tuna product was recalled two weeks ago (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Salmonella Paratyphi B Outbreak In North Carolina
Date: April 28, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health officials in western North Carolina are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella that has sickened at least 29 people as of Friday.

According to a Buncombe County Department of Health (BCDOH) news release Friday, Communicable Disease Nurses and Environmental Health Specialists are conducting interviews with people who currently have or have had the infection, reviewing laboratory reports and inspecting food sources that may be linked to the outbreak.

The outbreak strain has been identified as Salmonella Paratyphi B. The source of the outbreak is still unknown.

Communicable disease experts from the NC Division of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as food specialists from the NC Department of Agriculture are assisting with the investigations.

According to the release, all cases appear to have been associated with residence or travel to Buncombe County since February 28, 2012.

According to a 7 On Your Side news report today, state health officials say the outbreak is only going to get worse.

"We very likely have not seen the peak of this outbreak yet," says Gibbie Harris, Buncombe County Health Director.

Harris also said there have also been cases confirmed in other parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York.

Salmonella Paratyphi B can be spread from person to person or by eating food or water contaminated with the feces of a person ill with Salmonella Paratyphi B infection or a person who carries this infection in their body.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

BCDOH health officials say taking the following steps can help prevent infection with this bacterium:

· Good hand washing: wash hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper; or before you fix, serve or eat food.

· Cook all foods fully and as directed to kill germs.

· Keep uncooked meats, poultry and eggs away from fruits and vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

· Wash counters, cutting boards and utensils with soap and water after they have been incontact with raw meat, poultry or eggs.

· Rinse all fruits and vegetables with running water before you eat them.

A Hotline will be operational after 1:00 p.m. today to offer people a way to call for accurate information about this outbreak. The Hotline  828.250.5300 will have an automated message and a phone number for people with symptoms to talk with a Communicable Disease Nurse. Information is also available on the buncombecounty.org website.

Buncombe County is located in western North Carolina. Asheville is the county seat (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Milwaukee Health Officials Confirm German Measles Case, Issue Health Alert
Date: April 28, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The Milwaukee Health Department is alerting the public to a serologically confirmed case of German measles, or Rubella, in a city resident.

According to a City of Milwaukee Health Department health alert Thursday, the case was in taxi driver with American United Taxi Cab who was considered infectious between 4/13/12 through 04/27/12.

Health officials say anyone who rode in an American United Taxi Cab between 04/13/12 and 04/21/12 between the hours of 8:00 pm and 8:00 am may have been exposed.

In addition, anyone concerned they were exposed to Rubella should assure that they have received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Rubella is highly contagious and spread through respiratory droplets. They can be passed through coughing, sneezing, or even talking in close proximity.

Rubella or German measles is a mild, febrile viral disease characterized by a rash and fever. The rash is clinically indistinguishable from those produced by measles, parvovirus B19 and scarlet fever. This highly communicable disease is contagious from about 1 week before and four days after onset of the rash.

Rubella is important because of its ability to cause problems with the developing fetus. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) can cause miscarriage; and developmental delay, deafness or cataracts and other birth defects in the newborn.

If you have any questions concerning rubella, or if you suspect a patient may be a contact to the case described above, please contact the Milwaukee Health Department at  (414) 286-3521. All suspect cases should be reported to patient’s local health department. In Milwaukee County, call SurvNet at  414-286-3624 during normal business hours of 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Please contact the City of Milwaukee City Hall Operator at  414-286-3200 after hours (Examiner, 2012). 

Title: Philippines: Contaminated Water Suspected In Eastern Samar Typhoid Outbreak
Date: April 28, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: A typhoid fever outbreak in the Eastern Samar town of Maydolong has sickened approximately 100 people according to Philippines Department of Health (DoH) officials.

The outbreak is suspected to have originated from Barangay Maybucog.

Health officials from DoH-8 said Thursday that vast number of patients were treated at health facilities in Maydolong, Borongan City and as far away as Tacloban City in Leyte province.

Roderick Boyd S. Cerro, DoH-8 regional sentinel nurse said the source of the outbreak must be contaminated drinking water in the barangay. The drinking water there is not chlorinated.

Cerro told Business World, "There is no other possible cause of the outbreak except the contamination of water system in Barangay Maybucog. A team from the regional epidemiology center has already conducted water tests to verify contamination and results will be out very soon," Mr. Cerro said.

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. Salmonella Typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S.Typhi in their feces.

You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. Typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.

Maydolong is the third largest municipality of Eastern Samar with a population of approximately 13,000 (2007 census), and is split up into 20 barangays (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Fiji: Leptospirosis Outbreak Claims Seven Lives Post-Floods
Date: April 29, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Some of the effects from the 
massive flooding that struck the Pacific island nation in January are still making itself known.

The Fiji Ministry of Health advised the public Friday, anyone experiencing the symptoms of leptospirosis need to seek medical attention immediately. This comes after reports of seven confirmed fatalities from the bacterial disease.

In addition, there are 13 other deaths, although not confirmed, that is suspected to be due to the pathogenic organism.

National adviser communicable diseases Dr. Mike Kama said, 279 people have contracted leptospirosis since the January floods and 85 per cent of these are from the Western Division.

Other post-flood diseases being watched by government health officials include typhoid and dengue fever.

Increases in leptospirosis frequently follow heavy rainfalls and typhoons when flooding of fresh water occurs and rats search for higher ground.

Leptospirosis is a spirochetal bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Leptospira interrogans. Exposure to fresh water and wet soil contaminated by the urine of an infected animal, rats are most common, is where humans typically pick up the infection.

It is commonly considered an occupational disease for those who work outdoors or with animals. Recreational activities, which involve exposure to fresh water contaminated with infected animal urine, are also a risk for leptospirosis (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Montana Pertussis Outbreak Nearing 100 Cases
Date: May 2, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The outbreak of whooping cough in Big Sky Country keeps increasing with 93 cases reported since January 2012. For the same period last year, there were only fifty cases confirmed.

According to a Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) press release Monday, local and state public health officials are concerned that the number of reported cases will continue to increase unless people take action to protect themselves and others, in other words, get vaccinated.

Ravalli County has reported 34 cases with Lewis and Clark and Dawson Counties each reporting 17 cases each.

With an outbreak comes laboratory confirmation testing that will be requested. According to a report in the Missoulian Wednesday, the number of test requests for whooping cough has skyrocketed to the point that the Montana State laboratory had to suspend testing because they ran out of reagents.

“We have some (reagents) that are being overnighted to us, and we will be back up and running (Wednesday),” said Jim Murphy, chief of the department’s Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Bureau.

There is no doubt Montana health officials are watching their neighbor to the west, Washington State, who have reported 1,132 cases of pertussis as of April 28. During the same 17 weeks in 2011, Washington only reported 117 cases (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Pueblo Caterer Cited, Shut Down After Food Poisoning Outbreak
Date: May 2, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: After a food poisoning outbreak left 35 people sick during a luncheon in late April, Pueblo, Colorado health officials performed an inspection on the caterer, which resulted in six critical violations and a temporary shutdown of the food company.

The Pueblo City-County Health Department has temporarily closed All Seasons Catering of 2800 N Elizabeth St in Pueblo Tuesday following a Clostridium perfringens outbreak at the Pueblo Community Health Center's annual meeting and luncheon, which sickened 35 individuals.

According to a Chieftain.com report Tuesday, based on interviews with everyone who became ill, the department found a statistical association in several foods that could have been the culprit: a beef-and-gravy dish, butter, tomatoes and lettuce served at the luncheon.

After interviewing the victims of the outbreak, health officials inspected All Seasons Catering and found 6 critical violations. The violations include observing an employee eating from pasta bowl while prepping to observing an employee "trying" to check temperature of pasta with bare hands, not using a thermometer to improper cooling time/temperature for the food.

According to the Pueblo City-County Health Department, All Seasons Catering was given a Public Health Order and a Notice of Temporary Suspension of City Food Dealer Permit and Order of Closure due to food borne illness outbreak directly associated with food served, this order is to protect the public health from cause of epidemic and communicable disease.

All Seasons Catering cannot reopen until they satisfy the following requirements:

· Creation of written procedures to include cooling, reheating, final cook temperatures, hand-washing and sick employee policies.

· Proof of proper equipment and food cooling procedures.

· Must maintain temperature logs of all foods and refrigeration equipment.

· Employees must participate in a food-safety class and pass a written exam as well as demonstrate knowledge regarding proper food safety practices/procedures.

· Submission of a written request for reinspection.

Clostridium perfringens is an organism most frequently associated with gas gangrene is also a major cause of food poisoning. However, this intoxication is a little different from those caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus where the ingestion of preformed toxin causes the illness.

With C. perfingens intoxication is due to a toxin mediated infection where the ingested bacteria colonize in the intestinal tract and subsequently produce their toxin.

Almost all outbreaks are associated with inadequately heated or reheated meats, usually stews, meat pies, and gravies made from beef, turkey or chicken.

Outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning are usually trace to catering firms, restaurants, cafeterias and schools with inadequate cooling and refrigeration facilities for large-scale service.

After a period of 8 to 22 hours, this intestinal disease is characterized by a sudden onset of colic followed by diarrhea and nausea. Vomiting and fever are not usually present.

It is generally a mild disease lasting about 24 hours or less. It is rarely fatal in otherwise healthy people.

However there is a more severe disease caused a different strain of C. perfringens (type C strains). This disease can cause necrotic enteritis which is frequently fatal. Also known as pig-bel syndrome, this strain can cause necrosis of the intestine and can go septic.

In order to prevent getting Clostridium perfringens food poisoning the following steps should be taken:

• Serve meat dishes hot or cool them by refrigerating till serving.
• Large cuts of meat must be thoroughly cooked. 
• For more rapid cooling of large dishes like stews, divide the stew into several smaller, shallower containers and refrigerate
(Examiner, 2012)

Title: Indonesia Reports Latest Bird Flu Death From Riau
Date: May 2, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: A 2-year-old boy from Siak, Pekanbaru, Riau is the latest human fatality from 
avian influenza in Indonesia this year.

According to an Indonesia Ministry of Health statement Tuesday, the boy developed a fever on April 17 and was rushed to a private hospital on the night of April 20 because his condition had not improved.

The next day the child was treated at a different hospital where doctors reported the case to the Riau Health Agency’s post command. He was referred to a state hospital, where he later died on April 27.

The epidemiologic investigation into the case revealed that he might have had contact with quails’ eggs because his parents sold them.

This case is the 189th human case of avian influenza reported in Indonesia since 2005. Of the 189 cases, 157 people have died.

According to the statement, Director general Dr. Tjandra Yoga Aditama has reported this case to the World Health Organization.

According to the WHO, the primary risk factor for human infection with the virus appears to be direct or indirect exposure to infected live or dead poultry or contaminated environments.

They go on to say there is no evidence to suggest that the H5N1 virus can be transmitted to humans through properly prepared poultry or eggs. A few human cases have been linked to consumption of dishes made of raw, contaminated poultry blood. However, slaughter, defeathering, handling carcasses of infected poultry, and preparing poultry for consumption, especially in household settings, are likely to be risk factors (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Mad Cow Disease Investigation: USDA Quarantines Two Farms, Offspring Euthanized
Date: May 2, 2012
Source:
Huffington Post

Abstract:
Investigators looking into California's first case of mad cow disease say they have tracked down at least one of her offspring in another state.

Since there is no live test for the disease also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, it was euthanized and brain samples were sent to the national laboratory. The test was negative, officials said Wednesday.

The USDA announced April 24 that the nation's fourth case of mad cow disease was discovered in the 10-year-old cow. It had been euthanized at a Tulare County dairy a week earlier and sent to the Baker Commodities rendering plant near the Central California town of Hanford, where random testing happened to be taking place that day.

That dairy and another associated with it are under quarantine, which is standard procedure. The USDA has declined to name the dairies or the state where the offspring was found.

USDA officials also said on Wednesday that within the last two years, the diseased cow gave birth to a stillborn calf. They did not say how that carcass was disposed.

Officials also are investigating the calf ranch where the diseased cow was raised before she was sold into dairy productions. Investigators said they have been unable to locate for testing the cattle that were raised with the one who developed mad cow disease.

Mad cow disease is a deadly affliction of the central nervous system that can be transmitted to humans who eat meat from infected cows. The incubation period is two to eight years.

Cows can contract the disease by eating rendered remains from other sick cattle, which are processed into protein supplements. It's no longer legal to feed cattle to cattle, but rendered cattle are fed to chickens, and chicken droppings and spilled feed are rendered back into cattle feed.

The FDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture have been examining feed records at the affected dairy and have identified at least 10 suppliers.

The USDA tests 40,000 of the approximately 35 million cattle slaughtered annually for BSE. Baker Commodities is a voluntary participant in the testing program (Huffington Post, 2012)

Title: US Soldier Dies O Rabies After Dog Bite In Afghanistan
Date: May 3, 2012
Source: Fox News

Abstract: A 24-year-old American soldier died of rabies after being bitten by a dog last year in Afghanistan, US health officials said Thursday following an investigation into the rare case.

The otherwise healthy soldier started experiencing symptoms of shoulder and neck pain and tingling sensations in his hands soon after arriving at Fort Drum, N.Y., in mid-August 2011.

His condition escalated to include nausea, vomiting, anxiety and trouble swallowing. By the time he was admitted to an emergency room, he was dehydrated and hydrophobic, meaning he developed an intense fear of drinking liquids because of the painful muscle spasms he experienced while swallowing.

"He was lucid and described having received a dog bite on the right hand during January 2011 while deployed to Afghanistan," said the report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The soldier tested positive for a strain of rabies associated with dogs in Afghanistan and doctors attempted an experimental treatment to save him from certain death.

But within days, the patient was suffering from severe brain hemorrhaging and his family decided to take him off life support. He was the first US service member to die of rabies since 1974.

At the time of the bite, the soldier told family members and close friends that he had been bitten by a feral dog in Afghanistan and had sought medical treatment, "which he described as wound cleansing and injections," the report said.

But an investigation by the US Army turned up no documentation of a reported bite wound or treatment, nor any record of a dog tested for rabies, according to the report.

The soldier's case prompted a scare that he may have spread the disease other people and a CDC investigation tracked down about 190 individuals he interacted with while potentially infectious.

At least 22 of them received treatment as a preventive measure.

Rabies can spread through saliva, tears, spinal fluid or brain tissue that enters the body through a bite a broken skin. With the exception of transplantation, the CDC said "human-to-human rabies transmission has not been laboratory-documented" (Fox News, 2012)

Title: US Soldier Dies Of Rabies After Dog Bite In Afghanistan
Date: May 3, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: A 24-year-old American soldier died of rabies after being bitten by a dog last year in Afghanistan, US health officials said Thursday following an investigation into the rare case.

The otherwise healthy soldier started experiencing symptoms of shoulder and neck pain and tingling sensations in his hands soon after arriving at Fort Drum, N.Y., in mid-August 2011.

His condition escalated to include nausea, vomiting, anxiety and trouble swallowing. By the time he was admitted to an emergency room, he was dehydrated and hydrophobic, meaning he developed an intense fear of drinking liquids because of the painful muscle spasms he experienced while swallowing.

"He was lucid and described having received a dog bite on the right hand during January 2011 while deployed to Afghanistan," said the report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The soldier tested positive for a strain of rabies associated with dogs in Afghanistan and doctors attempted an experimental treatment to save him from certain death.

But within days, the patient was suffering from severe brain hemorrhaging and his family decided to take him off life support. He was the first US service member to die of rabies since 1974.

At the time of the bite, the soldier told family members and close friends that he had been bitten by a feral dog in Afghanistan and had sought medical treatment, "which he described as wound cleansing and injections," the report said.

But an investigation by the US Army turned up no documentation of a reported bite wound or treatment, nor any record of a dog tested for rabies, according to the report.

The soldier's case prompted a scare that he may have spread the disease other people and a CDC investigation tracked down about 190 individuals he interacted with while potentially infectious.

At least 22 of them received treatment as a preventive measure.

Rabies can spread through saliva, tears, spinal fluid or brain tissue that enters the body through a bite a broken skin. With the exception of transplantation, the CDC said "human-to-human rabies transmission has not been laboratory-documented" (Fox News, 2012)

Title: Ocala, FL Pharmacy Linked To Fungal Endophthalmitis Outbreak
Date: May 4, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: An Ocala, Florida pharmacy with a history of problems has been linked to an outbreak of a rare fungal eye infection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The outbreak that has affected at least 33 people in seven states is due to the dye, Brilliant Blue-G (BBG) and the drug triamcinolone, both used in eye surgeries, prepared at Franck's Compounding Lab in Ocala, Florida according to a report released yesterday, May 4, in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

According to the report:

As of April 30, a total of 33 confirmed and probable cases have been identified, with earliest onset of symptoms in November 2011. Of these, 20 cases (13 probable and seven confirmed) are associated with BBG dye use, and 13 (two probable and 11 confirmed) are associated with triamcinolone use. All BBG or triamcinolone products administered to patients reportedly were purchased from Franck's. All available isolates from the seven confirmed cases associated with BBG dye use were identified by culture or genetic sequencing as the mold Fusarium incarnatum-equiseti species complex. All available isolates from the 11 confirmed cases that occurred following intravitreal injection of triamcinolone-containing products have been identified as the moldBipolaris hawaiiensis. Both Fusarium and Bipolaris are ubiquitous molds present in air, soil, and water. Among the 30 patients for whom data are available, 23 (77%) have suffered some degree of vision loss, ranging from partial to severe, or worsened vision because of infection; 24 (80%) have required repeat ophthalmic surgery.

Microbiological testing of unopened BBG dye syringes revealed multiple bacterial and fungal species, including F. incarnatum-equiseti species, complex, Rhodotorula, Bullera, Pseudomonas, and Enterobacter species.

CDC officials said the investigation to identify the root cause is ongoing and warned doctors and patients to stay away from "compounded products labeled as sterile from Franck's".

Testing of the triamcinolone is in progress. Earlier this week, the Pharmacist-in-charge of Franck's Compounding issued a recall notice for triamcinolone acetonide P.F. 80mg/ml.

At the beginning of March, they did the same for the affected lots of Brilliant Blue G.

Certain formulations required for treatment of various ailments are not available from the pharmaceutical companies and are prepared using sterile ingredients at a compounding pharmacy such as Francks.

A Franck’s spokesperson said it has resolved the issue and made several changes, including hiring a new pharmacist to oversee quality assurance.

The pharmacy is cooperating fully with the investigation.

Franck’s previously was previously investigated in 2009 for its veterinary compounding which resulted in the death of 21 prize polo horses (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Salmonella In Dog Food Sickens 14 People In US
Date: May 4, 2012
Source:
CBS News

Abstract: Fourteen people in at least nine states have been sickened by salmonella after handling tainted dog food from a South Carolina plant that a few years ago produced food contaminated by toxic mold that killed dozens of dogs, federal officials said Friday.

At least five people were hospitalized because of the dog food, which was made by Diamond Pet Foods at its plant in Gaston, S.C., the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. No pets were sickened, according to the Meta, Mo.-based company.

“People who became ill, the thing that was common among them was that they had fed their pets Diamond Pet Foods,” said CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell.

Three people each were infected in Missouri and North Carolina; two people in Ohio; and one person each in Alabama, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the CDC said.

“Our folks are really wanting people to be aware of it. They want to be aware that this is causing people to get sick because they may have the product in their homes. For every one that is reported, there may be 29 others,” Russell said.

People can get salmonella by handling infected dog food, then not washing their hands before eating or handling their own food, health officials said.

The South Carolina plant temporarily was shut down April 8. Diamond Pet Foods has issued four rounds of recalls for food made at the plant, located outside of Columbia, S.C., between Dec. 9 and April 7. The latest recalls were announced Friday.

“We took corrective actions at the plant, and today the plant is up and running. Our mission is to produce safe pet foods for our customers and their pets in all Diamond facilities,” the company said in a written statement Friday.

In 2005, a toxic mold called aflatoxin ended up in food made at the same Diamond Pet Foods plant in South Carolina and dozens of dogs died. The company offered a $3.1 million settlement. The Food and Drug Administration determined the deadly fungus likely got into the plant when it failed to test 12 shipments of corn.

FDA officials were not immediately available for comment Friday on the most recent problems with the plant.

Agriculture officials in Michigan found the strain of salmonella during routine testing of dog food on April 2 and health investigators noticed there was a possible link to the food made by Diamond Pet Foods. An ill person still had some of the food, and authorities were able to link the cases to the food, the CDC said.

The recall covers a number of pet food brands made at the Gaston plant, including Canidae, Natural Balance, Apex, Kirkland, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health and Taste of the Wild (CBS News, 2012).

Title: Squirrel Tests Positive For Plague At California Campsite
Date: May 4, 2012
Source: Fox News       


Abstract: A ground squirrel trapped at a popular campground in southern California has tested positive for plague.

According to health officials, the rodent was tested during routine monitoring at the Cedar Grove Campground on Palomar Mountain, 75 miles (120km) northeast of San Diego.

The bacterial disease is sometimes carried by rodents, which can be transmitted to humans through infected flea bites, according to the Department of Environmental Health (DEH).

DEH officials downplayed any serious threat to campers, however, saying there had never been any known human cases of plague contracted anywhere near the site.

"It is not unusual to find plague in our local mountains in the summer months, so campers should always avoid contact with squirrels and their fleas," DEH Director Jack Miller told KGTV Friday. "Set up tents away from squirrel burrows, do not feed the squirrels and warn your children not to play with squirrels" (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Turks And Caicos Islands Report More Than 50 Cases Of HFMD
Date: May 7, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The Caribbean islands are experiencing an outbreak of the childhood viral disease, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) according to the Ministry of Health and Education (MOHE).

The MOHE reported Monday that there are now 53 cases on the islands including the first cases to be seen on Grand Turk. The vast majority of cases, approximately 92 percent, reside in the most populous city, Providenciales.

All of the cases reported have been in children under the age of eight.

HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists ofpapulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.

MOHE health officials have not reported what strain of the virus is circulating on the islands.

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are a British Overseas Territory consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the West Indies, the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Solomon Islands Rubella Outbreak Prompts Travel Alert For Upcoming Festival
Date: May 9, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health officials on the 
Solomon Islands have reported an outbreak of German measles, or rubella, which has prompted a call for vaccination as a Pacific Arts Festival approaches.

There have been six confirmed cases of the viral disease reported in the past two days. A warning was initially issued as the first case was reported Tuesday, May 8. Five additional cases were reported on Wednesday.

All the confirmed cases have been reported on children ages 6 to 15 from capital city of Honiara.

According to a Solomon Times report, Under Secretary Health Improvement Dr. Cedric Alependava said that rubella is dangerous for pregnant women. He said infection with rubella could result in birth defects and even death for a pregnant woman's unborn child.

The rubella outbreak comes ahead of the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, which starts July 1 in Honiara, has prompted a travel warning for visitors coming to enjoy the festivities.

Alependava is urging foreigners planning to attend the Festival this summer to ensure they are vaccinated against rubella or get vaccinated.

Rubella is highly contagious and spread through respiratory droplets. They can be passed through coughing, sneezing, or even talking in close proximity.

Rubella or German measles is a mild, febrile viral disease characterized by a rash and fever. The rash is clinically indistinguishable from those produced by measles, parvovirus B19 and scarlet fever. This highly communicable disease is contagious from about 1 week before and four days after onset of the rash.

Rubella is important because of its ability to cause problems with the developing fetus. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) can cause miscarriage; and developmental delay, deafness or cataracts and other birth defects in the newborn (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Oregon Norovirus Traced To Reusable Grocery Bag
Date: May 10, 2012
Source: Fox News

Abstract: Oregon investigators have traced an outbreak of norovirus to a reusable grocery bag that members of a Beaverton girls' soccer team passed around when they shared cookies.

The soccer team of 13- and 14-year-olds traveled to Seattle for a weekend tournament in October 2010.

At the tournament, one girl got sick on Saturday and spent six hours in a chaperone's bathroom. Symptoms of the bug, often called "stomach flu," include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. The chaperone took the girl back to Oregon.

On Sunday, team members had lunch in a hotel room, passing around the bag and eating cookies it held. On Monday, six girls got sick.

Oregon scientists determined they had picked up the norovirus from the grocery bag.

Tests turned up the virus on the sides of the bag below the polypropylene handle.

The results of the research have been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The authors are Kimberly Repp, epidemiologist for Washington County, and William Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health.

Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths a year in the United States. It caused 139 of 213 outbreaks of gastroenteritis in Oregon in 2010.

The germ can spread quickly in places like day care centers, nursing homes, and cruise ships.

Usually, it's transmitted by direct human contact, but can contaminate surfaces. Leafy greens, fresh fruits and shellfish are commonly involved in foodborne outbreaks.

An epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the work also shows how hardy the norovirus is and how difficult it is to control.

"What this report does is it helps raise awareness of the complex and indirect way that norovirus can spread," said Aron Hall, an epidemiologist with the Division of Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

His agency says the best way to fend off the virus is thorough hand-washing and cleaning contaminated surfaces with a bleach-based solution (Fox News, 2012).

Title:
CMU Freshman Dies From Bacterial Meningitis
Date: May 11, 2012
Source: Examiner

Abstract: For second time this week a college freshman from a U.S. university has died from meningococcal meningitis.

It was reported Wednesday that Central Michigan University freshman, 19-year-old, Nicholas Collins has contracted the serious bacterial infection.

According to a WXYZ.com report Friday, a spokesperson for a Livonia hospital says that Collins died Thursday night. The St. Mary Mercy representative was unable to disclose any other details.

CMU officials reported earlier that Collins was considered contagious for the disease from April 30 to May 7. He moved out of Trout Hall last Thursday.

CMU University Health Services says anyone who may have had contact with Collins or has questions about this case should contact the Wayne County Health Department at  (734) 727-7078 .

You can also call your local healthcare provider or CMU Health Services at  (989) 774-6577 .

Prophylactic antibiotics should be given to fellow students, or anyone who had close contact with Collins to prevent infection with the bacterium that causes meningococcal meningitis.

It was reported Wednesday that a Washington University in St. Louis freshman, Emily Benatar, also died from the very dangerous meningococcal meningitis (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Swimmers' Urine To Blame For 500 Fish Deaths, German Fishermen Say
Date: May 12, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: Swimmers have killed about 500 fish in a northern Germany lake, with their urine causing algae that poisons marine life.

The mass death in the past two weeks has occurred in Eichbaum lake, in the port city of Hamburg, The Local reported.

"Swimmers who urinate in the lake are introducing a lot of phosphate," fishermen's spokesman Manfred Siedler told Bild newspaper. "We're calculating half a liter [0.15 of a gallon] of urine per swimmer per day."

Applying anti-phosphate -- at a reported cost of $667,000 -- hasn't worked, fueling an ongoing feud between fishermen and those who swim in the lake.

Swimmers have been banned from the lake until the algae outbreak is addressed (Fox News, 2012)

Title: McArthur High School HazMat Situation: Students, Teachers Decontaminated After Breaking Out In Rash
Date: May 16, 2012
Source: 
Huffington Post

Abstract: Twelve students and 2 teachers at McArthur High School in Hollywood are being treated in a hospital decontamination area after breaking out in mysterious rashes -- a scare that saw a school building evacuated and a HazMat team arrive to investigate.

“Their arms and abdomens are covered in rashes,” Hollywood Fire-Rescue Division Chief Mark Steele told the Miami Herald. “It happened pretty quickly, so we believe that this is something that’s very acute.”

The itch began when a class of 21 students was walking from one classroom to another and almost all of them starting developing itchy rashes and hives inside a reading room, reports CBS Miami.

The Florida Public Health and Medical Department arrived at the school alongside fire departments. Those affected showered in an area set up outside the school before being transported in a plastic-lined school bus to Memorial Regional Hospital, reports the Miami Herald, where they walked through two inflatable halls by gender, showered again, and placed their clothing in orange bags.

Nadine Drew, spokeswoman for Broward County Schools, told HuffPost Miami that the last she spoke with the hospital, "everyone was considered stable" and that they had determined that this was not an infectious condition. Other than the itching rash, the group did not have any other symptoms.

What caused the rash is still a mystery, Drew said, as HazMat did not find anything suspicious in the school and gave it the all clear. Students who shared a building, but not the reading room, with the affected students were confined in the school gym and the rest of the day continued as usual.

As an extra precaution, the school has hired a team to conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire school this evening, especially the classrooms where the rashes occurred.

"There’s absolutely no answer," Drew told HuffPost Miami. "Nothing has surfaced and nothing has been identified for having been the cause for this. That’s still questionable."

School will open as usual tomorrow, Drew said (Huffington Post, 2012).

Title: Mysterious ‘Zombie’ Disease Is Afflicting Thousands Of Ugandan Children
Date: May 21, 2012
Source:
Business Insider

Abstract: Agnes Apio has to tie up her son Francis before she can leave the house. In his state, he is a danger to himself. 
Where once he walked and talked like a normal child, now he is only able to drag himself along in the dirt. Francis is suffering from “Nodding Disease,” a brain disorder that, according to CNN, afflicts at least 3,000 children in northern Uganda, leaving them physically stunted and severely mentally disabled.

“I feel dark in my heart,” Apio says as she waves flies away from her son’s face and mops up his urine after a seizure, “This boy has become nothing.”

“Reportedly the children gnaw at their fabric restraints, like rabid animals,” says The Daily Tech.  The article calls them “zombie children,” having “no cure” and “no future.”

First the victims become restless and can’t concentrate. They say they have trouble thinking. Then comes the nodding, an uncontrollable dipping of the head that presages the disease’s debilitating epilepsy-like seizures. It is this nodding motion that gives the illness its name.

Nodding Disease first attacks the nervous system, then the brain. As the seizures progress and worsen, the children become less and less like themselves, and more and more distant and blank. Eventually the brain stops developing and the victims’ bodies stop growing. So far, no patients have recovered.

Grace Lagat also has to tie up her children in order to leave the house. Daughter Pauline, 13, and son Thomas are bound hand and foot to keep them from shuffling away and getting lost. Pauline recently disappeared for five days.

Experts are baffled as to what causes the disease, which only occurs in children. Early findings suggest a confluence of the presence of the black fly-borne parasitic worm Onchocerca Volvulus, which causes river blindness, and acute vitamin B6 deficiency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, onset usually takes place at the age of five or six and progresses rapidly, leaving the victims severely mentally and physically handicapped within a couple of years.

Victims can wander off and disappear. Some 200 “secondary deaths” have occurred due to fires and accidents caused by children with the disease.

Physicians and workers with the Ugandan Red Cross are frustrated by what they see as a lack of urgency in the government’s handling of the disease. After months of lagging, officials have only begun an official tally of cases within the last two weeks.

The situation was already dire when a team from the World Health Organization visited northern Uganda in 2009. CNN quotes one doctor from the team, Dr. Joaquin Saweka, as saying, “It was quite desperate, I can tell you. Imagine being surrounded by 26 children and 12 of them showing signs of this. The attitude was to quickly find a solution to the problem.”

Solutions, however, have been slow in coming.

Doctors have been treating the seizures caused by the disease with epilepsy drugs, but their efficacy is limited. The drugs only slow the progression of the disease, but fail to stop it.

Currently, Ugandan government officials say that they are doing everything they can to fight the epidemic. They say that new epilepsy drugs are being tried and special training has been instituted for local health officials. This, they say, is as much as can be done for a disease whose cause and cure are largely unknown.

Saweka said, “When you know the root cause, you address the cure. Now you are just relieving the symptoms. We don’t expect to cure anybody” (Business Insider, 2012)

Title: More Than 120 Schoolgirls Poisoned In Afghanistan
Date: May 23, 2012
Source:
RT

Abstract: At least 120 schoolgirls and three teachers have been poisoned in Afghanistan, local police reported on Wednesday. The attack has been blamed on Taliban. The incident in the northern Takhar province is the second in several months.

The attack appeared aimed at shutting down schools educating girls and women, which radicals deem inappropriate.

Perpetrators reportedly used an unidentified toxic powder to contaminate the air in classrooms. Police say evidence suggests that the substance was sprayed. The poisoning left dozens of Bibi Haji school students unconscious.

Last month a similar poisoning attack in Takhar province affected 150 schoolgirls, who drank contaminated water.

Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), says the Taliban is behind such attacks and appears intent on closing schools ahead of a 2014 withdrawal by the NATO-led coalition.

"A part of their Al Farooq spring offensive operation is … to close schools. By poisoning girls they want to create fear. They try to make families not send their children to school," NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said as cited by Reuters.

Afghanistan's Ministry of Education said last week that 550 schools in 11 provinces where the Taliban have strong support had been closed down by insurgents.

Education was forbidden for women in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal. 

After the country was conquered by the US and its allies in 2001, females were allowed into school again.

But both students and teachers fall victim to radicals’ attacks, especially in the more conservative provinces of the country (RT, 2012)

Title: Experts Can't Explain Causes For Two Rash Outbreaks In Broward County Schools
Date: May 23, 2012
Source: 
Sun Sentinel 

Abstract: For the second time this month, a 
Broward County public school was locked down after students and a faculty member experienced mysterious rashes.

Officials say they don't know what's causing victims to itch or briefly have red skin or welts said to resemble ant bites.

No residue was recovered at either Lauderdale Lakes Middle School or McArthur High School in Hollywood; investigators say air quality in the affected classrooms was normal.

They also cannot say if the reactions by those stricken at the two schools were caused by the same irritant.

Lauderdale Lakes Middle School's 959 students were only allowed to leave classes to use restrooms Wednesday morning while the Broward Sheriff's Office hazmat squad investigated at 3911 NW 30th Ave.

Four students had red rash-like symptoms on their wrists and one teacher felt it on her cheek, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

"They were in a science room but were working with pads and pencils, not with chemicals or on experiments," Broward School District spokeswoman Marsy Smith said.

The five people were treated at two hospitals and released Wednesday afternoon, she said.

The incident mirrored events of May 16, when McArthur High School at 6501 Hollywood Blvd. was locked down after 12 students and two teachers complained of rash symptoms and were treated at Hollywood hospitals.

"The reactions were quick, we would say acute, and that indicates a chemical irritant," Hollywood Fire Rescue Division Chief Mark Steele said. "Something biological like salmonella could take several days to incubate."

Those with rashes were isolated, put in a type of cocoon inside a county bus and given a police escort to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and Memorial Regional Hospital.

They underwent outdoor decontamination showers in a parking garage before seeing emergency room doctors.

Both events drew mass casualty responses from hazmat teams in special suits and masks, as well as fire and police departments that have not tallied the costs.

School district officials and investigators say they have found nothing to indicate a prankster may be at work, or that the rash events are this year's version of the fake bomb threat or fire alarm.

"Our battalion chief says the more important question is, 'How many resources are being taken out of service?'" Broward Sheriff's spokeswoman Dani Moschella said about the agency's response in Lauderdale Lakes.

In addition to deputies, she said five trucks and rescue vehicles, two battalion chiefs and seven hazmat task force team members responded to the middle school, along with state health officials and Sunrise Fire Rescue, which sent a backup hazmat team with several vehicles.

Regardless, she and Steele said, they would still respond.

"It's a 'better safe than sorry' scenario, and we want to make sure we have people there in case it is a legitimate hazardous material that might be endangering other people," Moschella said.

Whatever the irritant was, its effects were brief.

Steele said of the Hollywood patients, "Whatever they were exposed to was pretty much gone after they went through the [decontamination] showers and got their clothes off."

Broward County Health Department spokeswoman said in an email, "To the best of our knowledge, no rashes were visible on the individuals when examined by local healthcare providers."

Steele said not knowing the cause of the skin reactions "can be scary. We're really bewildered because going in, we think we're gonna get a hit on this."

He said basic tools such as PH paper as well as sensitive equipment that measures air and surfaces by parts per million did not yield any results.

Said Moschella, "Part of the job means there is not always a resolution. But the main goal is that no one is harmed."

Other U.S. school districts have experienced unexplained rash outbreaks.

In 2002, The New York Times described how hundreds of children in seven states broke out in a rash believed to be from an unidentified virus. Evidence of the suspected childhood illness Fifth disease was not found in blood tests, the paper reported.

At a Chicago elementary school in March 2011, 31 students were reportedly treated and released at a hospital for an unidentified rash.

This past March, in Gainesville, Ga., 20 high school students and a custodian were diagnosed with contact dermatitis, a contagious rash similar to poison ivy (Sun Sentinel, 2012)

Title: Staphylococcus Aureus Determined The Cause Of Buddhist Monastery Outbreak
Date: May 24, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The causative agent of a Mother’s Day 
food poisoning outbreak that sickened 150 people at a Buddhist monastery in Putnam County, New York has been identified as Staphylococcus aureus according to the Putnam County Health Department.

A report Thursday from the news source, Hudson Valley-Your News Now says health officials determined some of the food served at the monastery in Kent Cliffs was held at improper temperatures; however, they say they may never know what food actually caused the outbreak.

The outbreak occurred at the Buddhist Garden Festival at the Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent Cliffs. At least 700 people attended the Mother's Day celebration event, including 500 from Chinatown in New York City.

Initial speculation was the source of the outbreak was “sticky rice balls” served at the event, however, health officials say linking the bacterium to any particular dish may be impossible because samples were collected after the event was over and many foods were similar.

Staphylococcal food intoxication is caused by several of the enterotoxins of Staphylococcus aureus. These toxins are heat-stable and cannot be killed by cooking.

People typically get this usually abrupt food poisoning through eating a foodstuff that contains the staphylococcal enterotoxin, especially foods that come in contact with food handler’s hands, either without subsequent cooking or inadequate heating or refrigeration.

Foods most commonly implicated are pastries, custards, salad dressings, sandwiches and meat products. When these foods remain at room temperature for a period (usually a several hours) prior to consumption, the staph bacteria are allowed to multiply and produce the toxin.

The time between eating the offending food product and the onset of symptoms is short, from 30 minutes to 8 hours.

This intoxication presents itself quickly with sometimes violent onset; severe cramps, nausea, vomiting and often accompanied by diarrhea. The illness typically lasts a day or two. Serious complications and deaths are rare.

· Prevention of staphylococcal food poisoning requires:

· Food handlers must be educated about strict food hygiene, temperature control, handwashing, and sanitation.

· In addition, the dangers of working with exposed skin, nose or eye infections.

· Those workers with boils, lesions, or abscesses must be temporarily excluded from food handling duties.

· Reduction in food handling time, from initial preparation to service, to a minimum of 4 hours at room temperature. Also proper temperature control must be observed when storing food either hot or cold (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Three Die In Ghana Anthrax Outbreak
Date: May 24, 2012
Source:
BioPrepWatch

Abstract: Another outbreak of anthrax in the Upper East region of Ghana has led to three deaths in the Balungu electoral area of the Bongo District.

Several animals have also fallen prey to the disease, which has been circulating through the area during the last two weeks. Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture are in the community to vaccinate animals against a further spread of the deadly disease, GBC reports.

Edward Abesiwine, the assemblyman for the area, requested that philanthropists and the government help the people of the region because some cannot afford the fee being charged for vaccination.

A previous outbreak occurred in the Upper East region in April, which led to two deaths after the victims ate the meat of a dead animal that may have contracted the disease. The prior outbreak occurred in the community of Googo. The Upper East Regional Health Service received 3,400 vaccines to give to animals in the area to prevent anthrax from spreading. Vaccinations cost approximately 28 U.S. cents each.

Thomas Anyarikeya, the Upper East regional director of veterinary services, asked local governments to help with a fueling crisis that was impeding the ability of vehicles to move into local communities to administer the vaccines. Anyarikeya requested funding to properly carry out the vaccination process (BioPrepWatch, 2012)

Title: Anthrax Outbreak In Ghana Claims Two More Victims
Date: May 25, 2012
Source:
BioPrepWatch

Abstract: Two more people have died in an anthrax outbreak that was thought to be under control in the Upper East region of Ghana.

The deaths follow a vaccination campaign that was believed to have stopped the disease from spreading. Last month, two people and at least 20 cattle died as a result of anthrax infection in the Bawku West district bordering Burkina Faso, according to GhanaWeb.com.

Bawku West District Chief Executive Moro Adam Anabah said that the infected cattle were all buried properly and all others in the area were properly vaccinated to prevent further infection, according to Examiner.com.

Regional Veterinary Officer Dr. Thomas Anyorikiya said that he suspects the latest victims consumed anthrax tainted meat and, as a response, the vaccination campaign has been scheduled to resume.

“The soils are contaminated…if the carcasses were not properly buried, it means they opened the carcasses, prepared the meant and consumed it thereby contaminating their soil,” Dr. Anyorikiya said, GhanaWeb.com reports. “This is the education we have been giving. Once you open the carcass and contaminate the soil, you should expect anthrax to be there for the next 25 years at least.”

Anyorikiya is encouraging district residents to burn animal carcasses instead of burying them (BioPrepWatch, 2012)

Title: Second Anthrax Outbreak In Ghana
Date: May 29, 2012
Source:
BioPrepWatch

Abstract: Public health officials in Ghana are fighting an anthrax outbreak that claimed two victims shortly after bringing a previous outbreak was brought under control.

Anthrax surfaced in the Bongo District in the Upper East region of Ghana after several people consumed the meat of a cow that died from the illness, according to AllAfrica.com.

Regional Veterinary Officer Dr. Thomas Anyorikeya confirmed that anthrax was behind the deaths. He said that three people fell ill and were hospitalized after eating the tainted beef. One woman and one man later died from the infection.

According to Anyorikeya, a team of veterinary and health officers returned to the village of Nabiisi and buried the remaining meat.

The veterinary officer said that a total of 2,700 cattle were vaccinated following the outbreak, but acknowledged that the program has since come to a halt. The Bongo District Assemble and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture failed to come to an agreement on a budget for the operation, AllAfrica.com reports.

Anyorikeya said his personnel have had to fight the outbreak using their own resources, including money for fuel. He said he could no longer afford to travel to different locations to vaccinate more cattle and is worried that if the operation ceases more infections could be imminent (BioPrepWatch, 2012)

Title: Another Mass Poisoning In Afghanistan, As Women Flee Fearing Taliban
Date: May 30, 2012
Source:
RT

Abstract: Some 160 schoolgirls are suspected to have been poisoned in the north-eastern Afghan province of Takhar. This comes less than a week after another similar case was blamed on the Taliban, that have repeatedly spoken out against female education.

There are suspicions that the classrooms had been sprayed with a toxic material before the girls entered, police said. They suspect Taliban to be behind the incident.

Last week 120 girls were sent to hospital after a similar suspected poisoning. Later in the week the Taliban denied any involvement in that case.

Many fear that the international troop withdrawal in 2014 may put Afghanistan back into the hands of the Taliban and result in the further violation of women’s rights and a ban on education.

Between 1996 and 2001 when the Taliban was in power the movement banned school education for girls in the country.

NGOs active in Afghanistan say many young women are leaving the country fearing the return of Taliban rule.

"They see no future for themselves in Afghanistan so the bright ones are seeking scholarships or work abroad,” Selay Ghaffar, from the Kabul-based NGO Humanitarian Assistance told Guardian.

Afghan officials confirm that the fears of a Taliban return make women consider leaving the country to avoid possible violence and rights deprivation.

The government and the Taliban ignore women’s rights in their negotiations, said Guhramaana Kakar, a gender adviser to President Hamid Karzai.

Kakar revealed that according to a recent survey 86% of Afghan women were fearful of a return to Taliban-style rule and one in five worried about the education of their daughters.

"Women want the progress that has been made over the past 10 years to continue, but they are being kept away from the political processes," Kakar declared asserting that if more women were allowed into the provincial councils, this would show the Taliban that they cannot reverse 10 years of women's advancements (RT, 2012).

Title: Anthrax Outbreak Hits Colombia
Date: May 31, 2012
Source:
BioPrepWatch

Abstract: Sixteen animals have died and one person has skin lesions as the result of an anthrax outbreak on two farms in the department of La Guajira in northern Colombia near the Venezuelan border.

Colombia’s Agriculture Ministry sent word of the outbreak to the World Organization for Animal Health on Monday. Humans can contract anthrax by coming into close contact with animals that have been infected or by eating infected animals, according to Colombia Reports.

“The community has been informed of the protocol to be applied to dispose of the carcasses, mainly the fact that, under no circumstances, the dead animals must be neither manipulated nor consumed,” the OIE said, according to Colombia Reports.

The deceased animals include five goats and two pigs on one farm and three goats, two pigs and three sheep on another farm.

“Susceptible species are being vaccinated,” the OIE said, according to Colombia Reports. “An intense epidemiological surveillance is being conducted in the area together with the public health authorities. Anthrax spores in the soil are very resistant and can cause disease when ingested even years after an outbreak. The bacteria produce extremely potent toxins which are responsible for the ill effects, causing a high mortality rate.”

Anthrax, which can be used as a biological weapon, causes dark ulcers on the skin of people who have been infected. The last anthrax outbreak in Colombia was in April 2011. In 2010, an outbreak caused 77 people in La Guajira to develop lesions. The government declared a state of emergency as a result (BioPrepWatch, 2012)

Title: Ukraine Measles Outbreak Shows No Sign Of Slowing Ahead Of Euro 2012
Date: May 31, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The numbers of measles cases increased by dozens in a 24 hour period and show no sign of abating in advance of the masses of fans that will soon arrive for the 
Euro 2012 football championship.

According to the Ukrainian new source forUm, the Ukraine Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that they registered 63 cases in a 24 hour period, primarily in the Western areas of the country.

This brings the total measles cases reported in the Ukraine to 10,056 as of May 30, this is up from 9,173 two weeks prior.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.

If you plan on traveling to Europe for the football championship next week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

Talk to your doctor to see if you need a measles vaccination before you travel. People who cannot show that they were vaccinated as children and who have never had measles should probably be vaccinated.

The first dose of measles vaccine is routinely recommended at age 12–15 months in the United States. However, children traveling outside the United States are recommended to get the vaccine starting at age 6 months. If your child is aged 6–11 months and will be traveling internationally, talk to a doctor about getting the measles vaccine (Examiner, 2012)

Title: E. Coli Outbreak Sickens 14 In Six States
Date: June 8, 2012
Source:
USA Today

Abstract: An outbreak of a less-common form of E. coli has sickened at least 14 people across six states and killed a 21-month old girl in 
New Orleans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. As of Friday, state health officials in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee reported cases of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli strain called O145. The more commonly known form is E. coli O157:H7. The first illness report came April 15, and the most recent is from June 4, the CDC says.

With E. coli infections, it can take up to two to three weeks from "the beginning of a patient's illness to the confirmation that he or she was part of an outbreak," according to the CDC.

No source of the infection has been identified. State public health officials are interviewing ill persons to obtain information regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before illness.

Shiga toxin-producing strains of E. coli usually manifest as illness two to eight days after a person has swallowed the bacteria. Most people develop diarrhea, usually watery and often bloody, and abdominal cramps. Most illnesses resolve on their own within seven days, but some can last longer and be more severe.

Most people recover within a week, but in rare cases, some develop a more severe infection. Hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, can begin as the diarrhea is improving. HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old and the elderly.

Because the source isn't known, health officials can't give consumers specific advice on how to avoid the infection, but in general, E. coli can be prevented using these tips from the CDC:

1. Wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.

2. Wash hands after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).

3. Cook meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160 degrees. It's best to use a thermometer, as color is not a very reliable indicator of "doneness."

4. Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).

5. Avoid swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools and backyard "kiddie" pools (USA Today, 2012).

Title: Cryptosporidium Spike Continues In The UK
Date: June 10, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: In a 
follow-up to a report last week, British health authorities report a continuation of the yet unexplained increases in Cryptosporidium infections across the regions of North East, Yorkshire, West Midlands and East Midlands.

According to a Health Protection Agency press release Friday, an additional 60 cases of cryptosporidiosis have been confirmed across the four regions between 01 June and 07 June 2012, taking the total number of cases confirmed in these regions since 11 May 2012 to 327.
The 327 cases reported dwarfs the 82 cases confirmed across the four regions in 2011.

Health officials have not pinpointed whether the cases are coming from a common source. Public drinking water has been ruled out as a source according to the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

However, lead investigator for the outbreak, Dr Stephen Morton says the increase in June is not all that unusual, “The latest figures show that the sudden upturn in cases seen in May 2012 has not continued into the first week of June. The majority of cases became ill between 11 and 18 May. Whilst the increase is higher than we might expect at this time of year, it is not unusual to see an increase in cryptosporidiosis cases in the early summer and not all of the cases reported since 11 May are likely to be linked”.

Morton does say if the investigations identify a common source, the HPA will issue further health advice to the public as necessary.

The HPA says Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite (a tiny organism) that causes an infection called cryptosporidiosis affecting people and cattle. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe.

Transmission occurs through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact. People may also be infected by consuming contaminated water or food, or by swimming in contaminated water (for example in lakes or rivers). Infection is frequently associated with foreign travel (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Nearly Everyone Is Infected With Schistosomiasis In One Philippine Village
Date: June 11, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: In one town in Eastern Samar in the Visayan Islands of the 
Philippines, a parasitic worm is so prevalent that the mayor said, “It is only the babies who are still carried by their parents and have not yet walk on the ground who are not affected by the disease”.

According to a Sun Star report Monday, Mayor Emiliana Villacarillo said nearly all of the 543 residents of Barangay San Pascual of themunicipality of Dolores in Eastern Samar are infected with schistosomiasis.

The problem is so bad that Villacarillo is seeking help in dealing with this parasitic plague in the inner barangay (village).

Schistosomiasis is an acute or chronic disease, produced by parasites called Schistosoma. It is not a single disease, but a disease complex initiated by several different species of schistosomes, or blood flukes. The three most important species seen in humans are Schistosoma mansoni, S. haematobium and S. japonicum.

It is so serious and prevalent that it is 2nd only to malaria in terms of socioeconomic & public health importance, with 200 million people infected in approximately 75 countries.

The blood fluke seen in the Philippines, China and parts of Indonesia is Schistosoma japonicum.
The parasite is often associated with poverty, lack of potable water, inadequate hygiene and few if any sanitary facilities. Although it is often seen as a rural disease, more semi-urban transmission is seen where sanitation is less than optimal.

The schistosomes are found in fresh water. This water gets contaminated, for example, by infected people working in the rice field, fisherman in the lake or children playing who indiscriminately defecate or urinate in the water.

Schistosomes have a very complicated life cycle. The eggs in the feces or urine (in the case of S. haemotobium) hatch and the ciliated miracia swim to the specific snail species where it penetrates and goes through a couple of stages in the snail. After a period, thousands of the infective stage, known as cercariae are released and swim around looking for a human to infect.

The free-swimming cercariae are capable of penetrating the unbroken skin of the human host.
In the case of S. japonicum, the adult schistosomes eventually end up in the blood vessels of the intestines. Here they produce eggs that are the cause of the disease. The S. japonicum adult female can deposit up to 3,500 eggs per day.

The problems with schistosomiasis from S. japonicum are many and can include; Katayama fever, hepatic perisinusoidal egg granulomas, Symmers’ pipe stem periportal fibrosis, and portal hypertension, and occasional embolic egg granulomas in brain. People, especially children are characterized with a large distended abdomen due to enlarged liver and spleen.

The drug of choice is praziquantel for infections caused by all Schistosoma species (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Man Likely Sickened By Plague In Critical Condition In Bend
Date: June 12, 2012
Source:
OregonLive

Abstract: A man hospitalized in Bend is likely suffering from the plague, marking the fifth case in Oregon since 1995. 

The unidentified man, who is in his 50s, fell ill several days after being bitten while trying to get a mouse away from a stray cat. The man is now being treated at St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where he was listed in critical condition on Tuesday. 

"This can be a serious illness," said Emilio DeBess,  Oregon's public health veterinarian. "But it is treatable with antibiotics, and it's also preventable." 

The Black Death raged through Europe during the Middle Ages, killing about a third of the population. Today, the disease is rare, but the bacteria have never disappeared. 

The man, who lives in rural Crook County, was bitten Saturday, June 2. He developed a fever a few days later. By Friday, June 8, he was so sick that he checked himself into St. Charles Medical Center-Redmond. He was later transferred to the larger facility in Bend. 

Karen Yeargain,  communicable disease coordinator with 
Crook County Health Department, said lab tests are being done to confirm whether the man has the plague, but she said he is suffering from classic symptoms. 

There's one bacterium that causes the disease -- Yersinia pestis -- but it can develop into three types of illnesses depending on how an individual's body reacts. Initially, the man had swollen lymph nodes -- a sign of bubonic plague -- but now he's showing signs of septicemic  plague, when the bacteria multiply in the bloodstream. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bleeding mouth, nose or rectum and dying tissue. The third type is pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs. 

DeBess said it's not clear whether the man was bitten by the mouse or by the cat. The feline died, and its body has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. The cat was abandoned in the man's neighborhood about six years ago and stuck around. Yeargain said the man and his family had a lot of contact with it. He was bitten on the hand. 

"Taking a mouse out of a cat's mouth is probably not a good idea," DeBess said. 

Plague bacteria are carried by fleas, which typically infest rodents. People can become infected through flea bites or through contact with an infected animal. Some animals, including dogs, that have been exposed to the bacteria carry antibodies but do not get the plague and are not infectious. 

DeBess said Oregon has a record of plague cases dating to 1934, with about a case a year and some periods when no cases appear. The prevalence of the disease depends in part on the weather and food supplies. When rodents flourish, so do fleas. That increases the likelihood of infection. 

A total of four people in Oregon died from the plague since 1934, DeBess said. 

The four people sickened in the past 17 years – one in 1995, two in 2010 and one in 2011 – have recovered. 

The man is being treated with antibiotics. Other members of his family have been given a preventative dose, Yeargain said. The disease can be spread among people through bodily fluids. 

A plague vaccine exists but is no longer sold in the U.S. 

Everyone in Oregon who has fallen ill with the plague since 1934 has lived in a rural setting. But people in urban areas can become infected, too, health officials said. 

DeBess said people should be cautious around strays and should not handle wild animals. For example, Northern California has suffered waves of squirrel deaths caused by the plague. 

Health officials advise pet owners to protect their cats and dogs against fleas by giving them topical treatments or using a flea collar. The treatments are not 100 percent effective, but they do diminish the chances of pets becoming infected
(OregonLive, 2012)

Title: Texas Records First Animal Anthrax Case Of 2012
Date: June 15, 2012
Source:
BioPrepWatch

Abstract: Texas reported its first case of animal anthrax this week in a white-tailed deer found in Uvalde County.

No domestic livestock are believed to be affected, CBS19.tv reports.

“The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation for possible new cases across the state. Producers are encouraged to consult with their veterinary practitioner or local TAHC office about the disease,” Dr. Dee Ellis, a state veterinarian, said, according to CBS19.tv.

Recent anthrax cases have been confined to a small area that is outlined by the towns of Eagle Pass, Ozona and Uvalde.

Anthrax is a deadly disease caused by the spore-forming Bacillus anthracis bacterium. The spores can infect animals and humans through the skin, lungs and the gastrointestinal system. Humans can become infected by anthrax from eating undercooked meat that comes from infected animals, breathing in anthrax spores from infected animal products and by handling products made from infected animals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

In 2001, anthrax was deliberately used as a weapon when it was spread through the United States postal service shortly after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The letters were laced with anthrax-containing powder and infected 22 people. Five people died as a result of the attacks, which targeted government and media offices (BioPrepWatch, 2012).

Title: ‘Crypto’ Outbreak Reported In Central New York
Date: June 16, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Six people who attended a local event in
Oneida County earlier in the month have been confirmed to be positive for a parasitic gastrointestinal infection.

According to a report in the Utica Observer-Dispatch Friday, Oneida County health officials say the six individuals, including adults and children, contracted the protozoan parasite, Cryptosporidium.

Although all six attended the FarmFest in Verona at the beginning of June, health officials state that no direct link to the event has been confirmed.

Health officials have advised school nurses of the outbreak and to be alert to the symptoms of “crypto”.

Two of the school districts that have reported cases in their student population have sent letters to parents informing them of the situation.

Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite (a tiny organism) that causes an infection called cryptosporidiosis affecting people and cattle.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe.

Although it’s most frequently seen in young children, cryptosporidium can affect anyone. People with weak immune systems are likely to be most seriously affected.

Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal feces. Transmission occurs through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact. Consuming contaminated water or food, swimming in contaminated water and children visiting petting zoos are common ways people contract the parasite.

It is typically a self-limiting illness in otherwise healthy individuals.

Oneida County health officials are working with state health authorities on the investigation. They conclude that at this time there is no ongoing public health threat (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Hong Kong Health Officials Issue A Bacillary Dysentery Alert
Date: June 16, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health officials are reporting a small spike in cases of bacillary dysentery during the first half of June prompting them to issue an alert for the public.

According to a Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) press release Thursday, the CHP received an increased number of bacillary dysentery notifications recently, with the number of cases reaching six in June so far, compared to monthly notifications ranging from one to five cases between January and May 2012.

Early findings from the investigation reveal five of the six patients are infected with Shigella sonnei and lived in Tuen Mun.

According to the CHP, "These five cases were two males and three females, aged between six and 14. They presented with fever, diarrhea and vomiting from June 3 to June 6. All of them had sought medical consultation. Three of them required hospital admission. They are all in stable condition."

The common source of the infections is still under investigation.

Bacillary dysentery, or shigellosis, is an infectious disease of the intestinal tract. It is characterized by severe diarrhea with or without mucus and blood in the stool.This disease is contagious and is spread through food, water, and contact with an infected person.

The CHP advises the public on good hygienic practices to avoid bacillary dysentery:

• wash hands properly with soap and water before eating or handling food, and after toilet or changing diapers;
• purchase fresh food from reliable sources, do not patronize illegal hawkers; and
• seek medical attention when they have symptoms of fever and diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea
(Examiner, 2012).

Title: The Edinburgh Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Claims Second Life
Date: June 16, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: While the investigation is still ongoing into the
source of a legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Southwest Edinburgh, the number of cases continue to climb, and sadly, so do the fatalities.

As of Friday, the total number of overall cases is 89. This number includes 41 confirmed cases and 48 suspected cases according to a NHS Lothian press release Friday.

Health officials report as of Friday, nine patients are being treated in intensive care units while 17 patients are admitted to general medical wards.

NHS Lothian also sadly confirms the death of a second person as a result of Legionnaires’ disease.

Health officials believe the outbreak has reached a plateau as Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon noted:

“I would like to take this opportunity to again express my sincere sympathy to the friends and family of the patient who passed away yesterday. My thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.

“This is an extremely sad development, however it is reassuring that the number of cases involved in the outbreak remains static and this is further evidence that the outbreak has reached its peak.”

The Health and Safety Executive and Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the possible source of the outbreak (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Black Death Discovered In Oregon: Man Contracts Bubonic Plague From Cat, Hospitalized In 'Critical Condition'
Date: June 16, 2012
Source:
IB Times

Abstract: The Black Death, a strain of bubonic plague that destroyed nearly a third of Europe's entire population between 1347 and 1369, has been found in Oregon. Health officials in Portland have confirmed that a man contracted the plague after getting bitten by a cat. The unidentified man, who is currently in his 50s, had tried to pry a dead mouse from a stray cat's mouth on June 2 when the cat attacked him. 

A few days after getting bitten, the resident from the rural town of Prineville in Crook County developed a fever. By June 8, the man was so sick that he checked himself into St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond, Ore. He has since been transferred to the larger St. Charles facility in Bend. He was believed to be suffering from septicemic plague -- meaning the bacteria was spreading into his bloodstream -- and he is currently in critical condition.

"This can be a serious illness," said Emilio DeBess, Oregon's public health veterinarian. "But it is treatable with antibiotics, and it's also preventable."

The Black Death originated in rats -- black rats in particular -- but the bacteria thrives in forests, grasslands and any wooded areas inhabited by rats and squirrels. Even though rats were carriers, the disease was spread by the fleas that infested their bodies. Fleas would bite the rat, and the plague bacterium -- later identified as Pasteurella pestis, and renamed Yersinia pestis -- would stay in the intestinal track of the flea until the insect regurgitated it on its next victim; rodent populations can carry the plague bacteria without it killing them off, and the bacteria can travel back and forth from rats to fleas, also known as the sylvatic or enzootic cycle. When the fleas bit humans during this period, humans became exposed to the bacteria -- and became likely to die. Without the help of modern medicine, Europeans in the Middle Ages could do little to combat the plague.

Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian writer who lived through the Black Death and wrote down his observations in his book, "The Decameron."

"...Such fear and fanciful notions took possession of the living that almost all of them adopted the same cruel policy, which was entirely to avoid the sick and everything belonging to them. By so doing, each one thought he would secure his own safety." 

Bubonic plague victims feel excruciating symptoms, including fever, chills, headache, weakness and swollen nodes in the neck, armpit or groin. Even though there are about seven cases of the Black Plague in the U.S. each year, most cases have been in the West and the Southweset, the bacterium is considerably less fatal than it once was. According to the CDC, 1 in 7 cases are fatal, but the disease can now be treated with antibiotics.

Officials are still unsure whether the man's plague was contracted by the cat or by the mouse the cat was holding. The stray cat, which had wandered the man's neighborhood in rural Crook County neighborhood for about six years, has since died. It's been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.

DeBess has also collected blood samples from the man's cat and two dogs, as well as samples from his neighbors' pets, as well as from animals in the local shelter. More than a dozen people who were in contact with the sick man have been notified and are receiving preventive antibiotics.

By and large, however, health officials in Central Oregon aren't blaming the cat for what happened.

"Taking a mouse out of a cat's mouth is probably not a good idea," DeBess told The Oregonian.

"The reality is that, in rural areas, part of the role of cats is to keep the rodent population controlled around our homes and barns" said Karen Yeargain, the Crook County Health Department's communicable disease coordinator.

The unidentified man from Prineville is the sixth case of the Black Plague in Oregon since 1995. According to the CDC, only about 10 to 15 people in the U.S. catch the disease each year, while globally, health officials report between 1,000 to 3,000 cases per year (IB Times, 2012)

Title: The Edinburgh Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Claims Second Life
Date: June 16, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: While the investigation is still ongoing into the
source of a legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Southwest Edinburgh, the number of cases continue to climb, and sadly, so do the fatalities.

As of Friday, the total number of overall cases is 89. This number includes 41 confirmed cases and 48 suspected cases according to a NHS Lothian press release Friday.

Health officials report as of Friday, nine patients are being treated in intensive care units while 17 patients are admitted to general medical wards.

NHS Lothian also sadly confirms the death of a second person as a result of Legionnaires’ disease.

Health officials believe the outbreak has reached a plateau as Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon noted:

“I would like to take this opportunity to again express my sincere sympathy to the friends and family of the patient who passed away yesterday. My thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.

“This is an extremely sad development, however it is reassuring that the number of cases involved in the outbreak remains static and this is further evidence that the outbreak has reached its peak.”

The Health and Safety Executive and Edinburgh City Council are continuing their investigations into the possible source of the outbreak (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Idaho Agriculture Officials Report Q Fever In Goat Herd
Date: June 18, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Two 
Idaho goats have tested positive for Q fever, a contagious bacteria of sheep, goats and cattle, which can be spread to humans.

According to an Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) news release Friday, the herd has been quarantined to prevent further spread of the disease.

The causative organism for Q fever is the bacteria, Coxiella burnetii, which has been known to cause abortion/stillbirths in livestock – typically goats, sheep and cattle.

Q fever is usually transmitted to people through either infected milk or through aerosols.

The symptoms of Q fever according to the CDC are an unexplained febrile illness, sometimes accompanied by pneumonia and/or hepatitis is the most common clinical presentation. Illness onset typically occurs within 2–5 weeks after exposure.

The mortality rate for acute Q fever is low (1–2%), and the majority of persons with mild illness recover spontaneously within a few weeks although antibiotic treatment will shorten the duration of illness and lessen the risk of complications. Chronic Q fever is uncommon (<1% of acutely infected patients) but may cause life-threatening heart valve disease (endocarditis).

ISDA encourages all livestock owners/handlers to be aware of the signs of illness and contact their veterinarian if animals display symptoms of Q fever. The best measures to prevent illness include, but are not limited to:

• Disinfect boots and clothing worn where animals have recently birthed. Wear masks
and gloves and immediately dispose of soiled bedding, placentas and aborted fetuses.
• Routine sanitation of all livestock facilities such as milk parlors, holding pens and birthing pens.
• Limit foot traffic to affected areas
• Individuals with weakened immune systems should avoid areas where infected animals have recently given birth
(Examiner, 2012).

Title: California Reports First Human Case Of West Nile Virus In Kern County Resident
Date: June 19, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Health officials in Kern County, California report a 70-year-old resident has tested positive for the mosquito borne virus, 
West Nile Virus (WNV).

According to a Kern County Public Health Department media advisory Monday, this is the first confirmed case of human WNV in California this year.

Public Health Officer for Kern County, Claudia Jonah, M.D. said, “The patient’s knowledge of WNV from educational campaigns by the Kern County Public Health Services Department led to the rapid identification of her infection.”

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation. West Nile virus was first detected in North America in 1999 in New York. Prior to that it had only been found in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection.

Dr. Jonah urges all Kern County citizens to reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases by following the 3 D’s of WNV Prevention:

DUSK/DAWN: Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and the first two hours after sunset. Also make sure that the screens on your doors/windows are properly placed and secure and use protective clothing if going outdoors.

DEET: Apply insect repellant containing DEET according to label instructions.

DRAIN: Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding. Contact your local mosquito and vector control agency if there is a significant mosquito problem where you live or work (Examiner, 2012). 

Title: Outbreak Of Invasive Group A Streptococcal Disease Reported In N.E. Ontario
Date: June 20, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: T
he North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit issued a health alert today because of an outbreak of invasive Group A streptococcal infections (iGAS) in the North Bay area.

According to a Health Unit news release Tuesday, there are three related cases of iGAS, which are linked together by person, place or time. Typically, cases of iGAS are sporadic and only a handful has been reported in the area in the past half decade.

Health officials report the risk to the general population is very low. However, the risk is higher for those in close contact with an individual infected with IGAS. The most common risk factors include injection drug use, pregnancy, chicken pox, cancer, those whose immune system is not working normally and those infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Streptococcus pyogenes, or beta streptococcus group A is a very common pathogenic bacterium in humans.

Probably the most common disease caused byStreptococcus pyogenes is pharyngitis, or strep throat. Strep throat is very common in school-aged children, particularly in the winter and spring months. Untreated strep throat can lead to more serious complications like rheumatic fever; however, this is relatively uncommon.

It is also a cause of several skin infections such as impetigo and cellulitis. Impetigo is a characterized by a crusty lesion frequently found on the mouth area. Cellulitis typically occurs after a wound or burn where the bacteria enters and spread though the skin and lower tissues.

More serious, potentially life-threatening infections caused by Streptococcus pyogenes include necrotizing fasciitis (commonly called flesh-eating bacteria) and toxic shock syndrome. In addition, Streptococcus pyogenes can cause scarlet fever, septicemia and pneumonia. The death of Muppets creator Jim Henson was a result of an infection with Streptococcus pyogenes.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit advises taking the following steps to reduce the risk of infections, including iGAS:

• Wash hands often with soap and warm water
• If you have a sore throat, see a physician to be tested for strep throat
• Keep wounds clean and watch for possible signs of infection like increased redness, swelling and pain at the site
(Examiner, 2012).

Title: Hepatitis E Outbreak Kills 18, Sickens 4,000 In Indian State Of Maharashtra
Date: June 20, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Authorities in Ichalkaranji City believe a large outbreak of the virus 
hepatitis E is the result of contaminated water from the Panchganga River.

According to New York Daily News report Wednesday, the outbreak has killed at least 18 people and left over 4,000 sick in the city of 300,000 south of Mumbai.

The city's chief health official Sunil Sangewar said, “The main reason for the outbreak is leaks from sewage pipes and industrial effluents mixing with the Panchganga, making it highly polluted". Sangewar goes on to say authorities had taken measures to stop the contamination.

Hepatitis E is also known as enterically transmitted non-A non-B hepatitis has been the cause of several outbreaks and sporadic cases over a large geographical region.

The clinical course of hepatitis E is similar to that of hepatitis A with no chronic form of the disease. Jaundice, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy are common symptoms.

People are infected primarily through the fecal-oral route, usually through contaminated water or food. There have been several cases of hepatitis E infection in France due to eating raw figatellu, which is made with pig liver.

Much like hepatitis A, the fatality rate is low with the exception of pregnant women where it can reach 20% among those infected in the third trimester. Liver failure is a frequent outcome with pregnant women.

Hepatitis E is found endemically in countries that have inadequate environmental sanitation. It is most frequently seen in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East.

There is no vaccine or drugs available for prevention or treatment. Any treatment available is supportive (Examiner, 2012)

Title: 71 People Hospitalized After Reported Chemical Reaction At Indiana Pool
Date: June 21, 2012
Source: 
Fox News

Abstract: A possible chemical reaction at an Indianapolis pool sent 71 people to hospitals Thursday, authorities said.

Indianapolis Fire Department spokesman Lt. Derrick Sayles said buses were used to transport some of the victims to hospitals after the incident at Garfield Park on the city's south side. Symptoms experienced included nausea, coughing and eye irritation. Sayles said most people were in fair condition and would likely be released after treatment.

Sayles said the cause of the reaction was not clear. He said the operator of a pump that mixes a purifying chemical into the pool's water was among the injured, and investigators were unable to immediately speak to that person.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard went to the scene and said the city would investigate to determine what caused the incident.

Joe Stuteville, spokesman at Franciscan St. Francis Health, told the Indianapolis Star that some of the 25 patients -- mostly children-- already had been treated and released. He described the condition of those still under observation as less sick and more "curious" about all the doctors and medical staff members fussing over them.

Wishard Memorial Hospital spokesman Todd Harper said the four patients taken there, almost mainly children, were in fair condition.

Shari Patton, whose three children were at the pool, described the incident to the Star as "one big acid explosion of chlorine, pretty much."

Another mother, Jamie Rahmany, was in the baby pool with her son when lifeguards came through asking everyone to get out of the water. Rahmany noticed children coughing.

"I just wanted to get to my kids," she told the Star.

Patricia Tanner, another mother of three, was at the pool but not in the water. She told the Star she saw some children "throwing up."

"All we heard was we heard kids started coughing," Tanner said. "We had smelled a foul smell. It got stronger and stronger" (Fox News, 2012)

Title: More Than 40 Students Sick At George Mason University
Date: June 22, 2012
Source:
NBC 4 Washington

Abstract: More than 40 students staying on the George Mason University campus are reported sick, and several have been transported to local hospitals, including one group of seven people.

The sick people are from a group of 80 students from all over the world, ages 15-22, who are at the school to attend the Congressional Awards Foundation Program.

The group was in the District Wednesday night when some students began having food poisoning-like or flu-like symptoms. An unknown number were taken to the George Washington University Hospital.

Around 1:40 a.m. Thursday, after returning to George Mason, more students developed similar symptoms. They called 911, and another seven students were transported to a nearby hospital.

Fairfax County health officials are still investigating what caused the illness, but they do not believe it was food poisoning. They believe it could be viral gastroenteritis, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

"Originally they thought it might be related to the heat and dehydration, but they started to show more of a stomach-type virus or illness," said a member of Fairfax County Fire and EMS. 

Health officials believe the virus was spread person to person by touching infected surface areas,News4's Shomari Stone reported.

The sick students are heading home. The program ended Thursday.

Health officials are working with the university to clean areas the sick students may have infected (NBC 4 Washington, 2012)

Title: Georgia Sees More Anthrax Cases
Date: June 22, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: At least 30 people in Georgia have contracted anthrax this year, prompting authorities to step up safety measures, medical officials said Friday.

Georgia's Center for Infectious Diseases said that by year's end the ex-Soviet nation is expected to roughly match last year's total of 59 cases. That would represent a marked increase from the 28 anthrax cases the Caucasus Mountains country had in 2010.

Naira Gogebashvili, a leading expert of a Tbilisi clinic treating infectious diseases, said some of the patients contracted anthrax due to violations of safety procedures regarding the burial of sick animals.

"They should be buried in specially allocated ground, not in accidental places as it often happens," she told The Associated Press.

One of the hospital's patients, Alexei Alaichev, a 58-year-old resident of the town of Tsalka in southern Georgia, contracted anthrax while cultivating a potato field.

"I rubbed my hand and after several hours I saw that it's covered with sores," he said. "It turned out that a cow that died of anthrax was buried nearby. They conducted a check and found out it was buried not deeply enough."

Most of the cases this year have been registered in eastern Georgia near the border with Azerbaijan, but the infection has spread to other regions as well.

Dzhemal Kaldani, 49, a resident of the village of Lemshveniera in the Gardaban region that borders Azerbaijan, said he got sick after helping a neighbor to cut a dead cow. "We had no idea that the cow had anthrax," he said, showing his arms still covered with sores.

Kaldani said that authorities quickly vaccinated all cows in the region following several anthrax cases (Fox News, 2012)

Title: Avian Botulism Outbreak Kills Dozens Of Birds In Hawaii
Date: June 23, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract:
Hawaii wildlife officials say that in the span of a week, 67 birds have been found dead of avian botulism at Kahana Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului.

According to a Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) news release Friday, wetland biologists and others involved in managing lands with associated wetlands have been notified of the outbreak.

The paralytic disease has killed adult birds on their nests, also causing the eggs to be lost to include adult and juvenile Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Ducks.

Wildlife officials say because botulinum toxin can be produced in most wetlands, and transported to new wetlands by dead or dying waterfowl, landowners and managers, both public and private, are being asked to frequently survey their wetlands for sick and/or dead birds, remove any dead or dying birds from the wetland, and contact local DOFAW biologists for guidance.

According to the USGS National Wildlife Center:

Avian botulism is a paralytic disease caused by ingestion of a toxin produced by the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria is widespread in soil and requires warm temperatures, a protein source and an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment in order to become active and produce toxin. Decomposing vegetation and invertebrates combined with warm temperatures can provide ideal conditions for the botulism bacteria to activate and produce toxin. There are several types of toxin produced by strains of this bacteria; birds are most commonly affected by type C and to a lesser extent type E.

Birds either ingest the toxin directly or may eat invertebrates (e.g. chironomids, fly larvae) containing the toxin. Invertebrates are not affected by the toxin and store it in their body. A cycle develops in a botulism outbreak when fly larvae (maggots), feed on animal carcasses and ingest toxin. Ducks that consume toxin-laden maggots can develop botulism after eating as few as 3 or 4 maggots.

Healthy birds, affected birds, and dead birds in various stages of decay are commonly found in the same area. The toxin affects the nervous system by preventing impulse transmission to muscles. Birds are unable to use their wings and legs normally or control the third eyelid, neck muscles, and other muscles. Birds with paralyzed neck muscles cannot hold their heads up and often drown. Death can also result from water deprivation, electrolyte imbalance, respiratory failure, or predation.

Earlier this year a botulism outbreak in Hanalei, Kauai resulted in over 300 sick and dead birds being collected by USFWS refuge staff. Additionally, numerous other botulism fatalities have also been reported at wetlands throughout the state (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Biological Hazard In Georgia On Sunday, 24 June, 2012 At 05:02 (05:02 AM) UTC.
Date: June 24, 2012
Source:
RSOE

Abstract: At least 30 people in Georgia have contracted anthrax this year, prompting authorities to step up safety measures, medical officials said Friday. Georgia's Center for Infectious Diseases said that by year's end the ex-Soviet nation is expected to roughly match last year's total of 59 cases. That would represent a marked increase from the 28 anthrax cases the Caucasus Mountains country had in 2010. Naira Gogebashvili, a leading expert of a Tbilisi clinic treating infectious diseases, said some of the patients contracted anthrax due to violations of safety procedures regarding the burial of sick animals. "They should be buried in specially allocated ground, not in accidental places as it often happens," she said. One of the hospital's patients, Alexei Alaichev, a 58-year-old resident of the town of Tsalka in southern Georgia, contracted anthrax while cultivating a potato field. "I rubbed my hand and after several hours I saw that it's covered with sores," he said. "It turned out that a cow that died of anthrax was buried nearby. They conducted a check and found out it was buried not deeply enough." Most of the cases this year have been registered in eastern Georgia near the border with Azerbaijan, but the infection has spread to other regions as well. Dzhemal Kaldani, 49, a resident of the village of Lemshveniera in the Gardaban region that borders Azerbaijan, said he got sick after helping a neighbor to cut a dead cow. "We had no idea that the cow had anthrax," he said, showing his arms still covered with sores. Kaldani said that authorities quickly vaccinated all cows in the region following several anthrax cases
(RSOE, 2012)

Title: Salmonella Montevideo Outbreak Linked To live Poultry From Missouri Hatchery
Date: June 26, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Salmonella Montevideo, one of the many strains of salmonella has been linked to outbreaks in everything from
 salami to dietary supplements in recent years.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcedat least 66 people have fallen ill in 20 states in a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry from a Missouri hatchery.

An investigation into the outbreak has linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live baby poultry from Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.

The multistate outbreak has been reported from 20 states to date to include:

Alaska (1), California (2), Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Iowa (2), Kansas (10), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (22), Nebraska (5), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota (1), Vermont (1), and Wyoming (1).

The CDC reports 16 of the individuals infected required hospitalization. One death was reported in Missouri, but Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor in this person’s death.

A third of those taken ill were children age 10 or younger.

This is the second hatchery implicated in a multistate salmonella outbreak. Recently, the CDC reported on a different Salmonella outbreak linked to live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio. As of June 7, 123 people have been sickened in that outbreak (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Anthrax Cases On Rise In Nation Of Georgia
Date: June 26, 2012
Source:
BioPrepWatch

Abstract: At least 30 cases of anthrax have been confirmed in the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia this year, requiring authorities to increase safety measures against the deadly disease.

Georgia’s Center for Infectious Diseases said that by the end of the year the country is likely to match 2011′s total of 59 cases. The country experienced 28 anthrax cases in 2010, FoxNews.com reports.

Naira Gogebashvili, a Tbilisi clinic expert, said that some patients became infected with anthrax because of violations related to the burial of sick animals.

“They should be buried in specially allocated ground, not in accidental places as it often happens,” Gogebashvili said, according to Associated Press.

In one instance, a patient from Tsalka in southern Georgia contracted the disease during his cultivation of a potato field.

“I rubbed my hand and after several hours I saw that it’s covered with sores,” Alexei Alaichev, the patient from Tsalka, said, according to Associated Press. “It turned out that a cow that died of anthrax was buried nearby. They conducted a check and found out it was buried not deeply enough.”

A majority of the cases have occurred in eastern Georgia near the Azerbaijan border. Authorities vaccinated all cows in the Gardaban region near the border after several anthrax cases were reported (BioPrepWatch, 2012).

Title: CDC: E.Coli Outbreak Sickens 15 But Could Be Over
Date: June 26, 2012
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: A mysterious outbreak from a strain of E.coli bacteria may be over despite the number of people sickened by it in six U.S. states increasing to 15, health officials said on Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not yet identified the source of the bacteria but said it has been six weeks since the last patient became ill.

"Although this indicates that this outbreak could be over, CDC continues to work with state public health officials," to identify additional cases and the source of the E.coli, the agency said in a statement.

The CDC confirmed an additional case of illness in Louisiana from Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli 0145, a strain of a large group of bacteria commonly abbreviated as E.coli.

That is the same type of E.coli that killed a Louisiana child in May and since April 15 has sickened people in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and California. Four of the patients were hospitalized.

The latest reported victim was sickened April 21, but health officials delayed officially connecting that illness to the outbreak because the E.coli that caused the patient's infection was slightly different than the others, said Dr. Raoult Ratard, Louisiana's state epidemiologist.

After further study, it was determined that the type of E.coli that infected the patient was close enough to the others to be included in the list of victims, Ratard said on Monday.

Louisiana health officials initially thought the child who died from the bacteria might have been infected after visiting a petting zoo. But that theory was dropped because none of the ill adults had been to the zoo.

The additional reported victim from Louisiana also had no connection with the petting zoo, Ratard said.

There have been no reported cases of illness from the strain that have developed in the country after May 12, the CDC said.

Ratard shared the CDC's optimism that the outbreak may have ended. "We don't seem to be seeing any new cases now," he said.

The spread of E.coli bacteria can be prevented by washing hands thoroughly after changing diapers or going to the bathroom and after contact with animals, the CDC said.

Meat should be cooked thoroughly, and people should avoid juices and dairy products that have not been pasteurized. The CDC also warns against swallowing water when swimming (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Kleenex Hand Sanitizer Recalled Due To Burholderia Cepacia Contamination
Date: June 28, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Personal and health care product giant, Kimberly-Clark is voluntarily recalling 
Kleenex-brand Luxury Foam Hand Sanitizer due to contamination with bacterium from theBurkholderia cepacia group discovered during company product testing.

According to a Health Canada health advisory Thursday, the affected Kleenex Luxury Foam Hand Sanitizer comes in 1 liter and 1.2 liter containers and is used in large-volume dispensers, such as those found in public areas and workspaces. The recall affects approximately 430 containers in total, which were distributed to retail stores and wholesalers across Canada.

The affected products include:

• Kleenex Luxury Foam Hand Sanitizer (Benzalkonium Chloride, 0.1%)
1000 mL manual cassette (used in manual dispensers)
Drug Identification Number: DIN 02366045
Lot number SA1229ANB

• Kleenex Luxury Foam Hand Sanitizer (Benzalkonium Chloride, 0.1%)
1200 mL E-Cassette (used in electronic dispensers)
Drug Identification Number: DIN 02366045
Lot number SA1229ANA

Health Canada notes that contaminating organism; bacteria from the Burkholderia cepacia group pose little risk to healthy Canadians, as their bodies are able to successfully fight off infections. For someone whose immune system has been weakened by other serious illnesses, especiallycystic fibrosis, these bacteria can cause serious infections, including pneumonia and blood infection.

Health Canada recommends that consumers who are immunocompromised do the following:

•Do not use the affected Kleenex-brand Luxury Foam Hand Sanitizer or any sanitizer which you cannot identify from a dispenser.
•Speak to your healthcare practitioner about any questions or concerns regarding this product.
•Report any adverse reaction you suspect may be related to this product to Health Canada toll-free at  1-866-234-2345

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Burkholderia cepacia [burk–hōld–er–uh si–pay–shee–uh] (also called B. cepacia) is the name for a group or “complex” of bacteria that can be found in soil and water. B. cepacia bacteria are often resistant to common antibiotics.

Transmission of B. cepacia from contaminated medicines and devices has been reported to include everything from contaminated nasal spray to contaminated mouthwash.

In addition, B. cepacia can be spread via person-to-person contact, contact with contaminated surfaces and exposure to the bacterium in the environment.

Health Canada is monitoring the recall and the company's investigation to identify and address the root cause of the contamination.

No adverse reaction reports involving the use of this product have been reported to Health Canada. The company has also confirmed it has received no adverse reactions reports involving the affected product to date (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Dozens Of Cheerleaders Sick With Suspected Norovirus In Grand Rapids
Date: June 29, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: Nearly 40 high school and middle school cheerleaders attending a pom-pom camp at a Grand Rapids, Michigan college were stricken with symptoms consistent with 
norovirus — nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

According to a WoodTV.com report Thursday, around 400 girls from around the state are participating in the camp at Davenport University. Around three dozen of the girls were affected by the outbreak, which began late Tuesday or early Wednesday according to the Kent County Health Department.

The Associated Press reports Kent County Health Department spokeswoman Lisa LaPlante says the disease first hit one building and then a second but didn’t affect girls in a third location. She says that’s a sign the illness didn’t come from food service at the camp.

Fortunately, none of the sick girls required hospitalization.

Davenport officials believe the virus was spread through hand-to-hand contact -- likely when the girls were passing pompons. The health department has ruled out the likelihood of food-borne transmission according to WZZM 13.

After organizers canceled the camp Thursday, portions of Davenport University's student center, gymnasium, and a dormitory were closed for extensive cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces.

In a related story, more than 100 kids participating in a sports camp at Notre Dame suffered a similar fate.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by infection with a virus of the same name. It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food and water, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Colorado State University, Foothills Campus Bison Dies From Rabies
Date: June 29, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: A bison that died suddenly at a 
Colorado State University (CSU) Foothills research facility last week has been confirmed positive for rabies.

According to a Larimer County Health and Environment news release Friday, laboratory tests, conducted by the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, revealed the animal died from rabies.

Public health and veterinary experts believe the infected bison likely came into contact with a rabies-infected skunk, or possibly a rabid fox or other wild animal. Larimer County is currently experiencing a high level of rabies cases in skunks this spring and summer, with 17 testing positive so far in the past two months.

Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, department director, said in the news release that the death of this bison, as well as possibly the death of two other bison in the same facility, "demonstrates the potential for skunks with rabies to spread this fatal disease to other susceptible animals through bites."

Samples from two other recently deceased female bison from the same herd are currently being tested for rabies. Laboratory results are expected in the next few weeks.

The health department says CSU is taking steps to vaccinate the rest of the herd.

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through the saliva from a bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely contracted through breaks in the skin or contact with mucous membranes. It has been suggested that airborne transmission is possible in caves where there are heavy concentrations of bats.

According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.

Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.

Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal (Examiner, 2012)

Title: Detroit Bus Drivers Seek Bedbug Relief
Date: June 29, 2012
Source:
Detroit News

Abstract: The union representing Detroit's bus drivers has asked the City Council to put pressure on the transit agency to help stop the spread of bedbugs on buses.

About 50 Detroit Department of Transportation drivers have reported seeing the bugs on buses, and some have been bitten within the past year, said Henry Gaffney, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26.

After receiving a letter from Gaffney in May, DDOT chief executive Ron Freeland said Thursday he asked a maintenance crew to investigate and sent a letter to the union later in the month saying any infested bus would be cleaned.

Freeland said the amount of bedbugs the crew has found so far in the cleaning process isn't unusual for a service with an average of 100,000 riders each day.

"I, personally, am not aware of any widespread problem," he said. "Where we do have problems, we are in fact dealing with it."

Any buses reported to have bedbugs will be cleaned and fumigated, Freeland said. If that doesn't kill them, the maintenance crew can put the vehicle in a paint booth and kill the bugs with heat.

That wasn't enough for Gaffney, though. He said DDOT should be taking preventive measures by treating all of the agency's terminals and coaches.

"If this continues to get bad, you can't force anybody to work in those types of conditions," he said. "It's not fair to the citizens either. Somebody's got to care somewhere in this city."

Bedbugs are flat, parasitic insects that feed on blood of people or animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are about a quarter-inch long and spread by latching on to people's clothes or luggage. Once in a home, the bugs hide in beds or other furniture, feed while people are sedentary and reproduce.

Their bites affect people similarly to that of a mosquito, said Erik Foster, medical entomologist for the state Department of Community Health.

"Bedbugs have been found in public transit, school buses, public buses, airplanes," Foster said.

It's unlikely that a bus would have a large infestation of bedbugs, however, because there isn't a great place for them to hide, Foster said.

For the past two months, Rainey Henley, a 17-year DDOT driver, has taken his clothes off immediately when he returns home from his shift. He then throws them in a clothes dryer with hopes the heat will kill any bed bugs.

Henley said he was bitten about two months ago and has seen at least three other bedbugs on different buses.

"It's terrifying, man," Henley said. "I bring 91-percent alcohol and spray my seat and around my driver area before I start."

Gaffney's letter — dated June 19 — was on the agenda Monday for the City Council's Public Health and Safety Committee, but Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown, chairman of that committee, said Wednesday he hadn't heard anything about the issue.

"There are no bedbugs on DDOT buses," Brown said. "They can't live on a bus. People can bring them on, but they can't live on plastic chairs."

DDOT's customer service line hasn't received any calls within the past year from customers reporting bedbug sightings, Freeland said. He said he planned to have the operations' staff talk to drivers for more details, but he believes cleaning all buses and facilities is unnecessary.

"I think most transit agencies, not just DDOT, would tell you (they) tackle these problems as they occur," he said. "I think if we had a major problem we would know it."

Bedbugs started turning up in Michigan in 2006, and they began spreading rapidly at the start of 2008. The state Department of Community Health receives 15 to 20 calls a week reporting bedbugs, with most coming from southeast Michigan and many from Detroit, Foster said.

The department received funds to provide Detroiters with information about bedbugs, and will begin its outreach in the next couple of months, Foster said.

"When you have a high density of people and you have a high density of people living in multiunit housing, their ability to spread is great," he said, adding "the chance of them spreading is high unless … the infestations are being treated" (Detroit News, 2012)

Title: Omaha Day Camp Closed Due To Histoplasmosis Concerns
Date: June 30, 2012
Source:
Examiner

Abstract: The city of 
Omaha, Nebraska has decided to close a local park day camp for children due to a health concern.

According to a KETV NewsWatch 7 report Saturday, two camp counselors at the Hummel Park Day Camp became ill this week, and at least one has tested positive for histoplasmosis-- a fungal infection that grows as mold in the soil, especially if it contains bird or bat droppings.

Omaha interim parks director Brook Bench says about 30 Hummel Park Day Camp counselors have been screened. There have been no reports of any children becoming ill.

The Douglas County Health Department notified parents of the health situation Friday in a letter, which begins:

The City of Omaha and the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) have been working closely together to investigate several respiratory illnesses among counselors at Hummel Park day camp. Based on our early investigation, we suspect that the illnesses are histoplasmosis, a disease caused by infection with the fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum.

Histoplasmosis (also known as Darling’s disease) is a systemic fungal disease that can range in severity from symptom-free to minor self-limited to life threatening illnesses. Infection is quite common but clinical disease is not.

The fungus that causes histoplasmosis is Histoplasma capsulatum. This is a dimorphic fungus that grows as a mold in the environment and soil and as yeast in human and animal tissue.

The disease is seen in many areas of the world to include the Americas, Africa, eastern Asia and Australia. It is rarely seen in Europe.

In the United States, H. capsulatum is endemic in the Mississippi River valley, the Ohio River valley and along the Appalachian Mountains.

The fungus is found in soil with undisturbed bird droppings, in old chicken houses, in bat caves and around starling, blackbird and pigeon roosts. The fungus multiplies in bird droppings and bat guano.

Disturbing these contaminated areas and the wind can easily transport infectious fungal particles. Infections in humans and animals are typically due to inhalation of the airborne fungus. It is not transmissible person to person.

Animals that can get histoplasmosis include dogs, cats, cattle, horses, skunks and possums among others.

The majority of infections (90-95%) are asymptomatic or self-limiting flu-like illness. Others may have symptoms associated with active pulmonary disease; night sweats, cough, fever and weight loss.

In some people, the fungus disseminates through the bloodstream to the spleen, liver, kidneys, mouth, eyes, or central nervous system.

Disseminated histoplasmosis is especially dangerous in immunocompromised individuals and can result in a rapidly fulminant disease. Over 50% of AIDS patients from endemic areas develop histoplasmosis.

Symptoms typically appear within 10 days but may be shorter in heavy infections.

Histoplasmosis can be diagnosed by chest radiographs and laboratory culture. A biopsy culture of the affected organ and blood cultures are best.

With treatment (amphotericin B) disseminated histoplasmosis in immunocompetent people, mortality is less than 10%. In immunocompromised people there are frequent relapses after treatment is over.

Histoplasmosis made the news back in 1997 when rock legend Bob Dylan was stricken with a fungal infection of the sac surrounding his heart. He was treated successfully and released from the hospital. Dylan was quoted as saying, "I'm just glad to be feeling better. I really thought I'd be seeing Elvis soon" (Examiner, 2012)