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January 10, 2020

India: Kyasanur Forest Disease

A slew of preventive measures taken by the Department of Health and Family Welfare against Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever, has paid off as no positive cases have been reported in the State since July.

In the KFD season of 2018-19 (from September 2018 to June 2019), 14 people died in Karnataka because of this viral infection. Of them, 12 were from Shivamogga district. Of the 440 positive cases reported during this period, 341 were from Shivamogga district.

Kiran SK, Deputy Director of Viral Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL), Shivamogga, the main arm of the department in tackling KFD, told The Hindu that to prevent the outbreak, field-level vigilance was stepped up from June in 14 affected subdistricts spread over 8 districts.

He said that coordination between the Health and Family Welfare, Animal Husbandry, and Forest Departments was imperative for successful on-field vigilance in tackling the outbreak as it involves identifying dead monkeys in forests, collecting their blood samples and viscera for tests, and disposing of the carcass in a safe manner. In all the affected districts, a Rapid Response Team (RRT) comprising senior officials of these departments were formed for better coordination.

Canada: Vaping-related illness

Alberta's chief medical officer of health confirmed the province's first case of severe vaping-associated lung illness on Jan. 2. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the case was confirmed a few days ago but would not say where in Alberta it was reported.

Hinshaw said the patient was admitted to hospital for treatment but would not release any further information about the patient for confidentiality reasons, apart from saying they are now recovering at home.

"We're not releasing that information because it is a rare event," Hinshaw said. "In this particular case, the symptoms really were about the lungs."

The Alberta case is the 15th vaping-associated illness reported in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Of the 14 other cases, 3 occurred in British Columbia, 2 were in New Brunswick, 4 were reported in Ontario, and 5 happened in Quebec. Of those 14 cases, 11 people required admission to hospital.

"We are actively monitoring the situation in Alberta and working with health officials across Canada to share information and better understand this illness," Hinshaw said.

Zimbabwe: Anthrax

 A deadly anthrax outbreak has hit Gokwe North district in the Midlands province, with farmers losing large herds of cattle while several people were reportedly hospitalized after eating infected meat.

Midlands veterinary officer Munyaradzi Chigiji confirmed the development and said his department had since moved in to put the outbreak under control. "We have had great losses of livestock to date, and our tests confirmed that it was anthrax. Farmers have lost huge numbers of cattle due to the outbreak so far. We have also recorded cases of human beings who have been treated of the disease in the affected areas. Although we cannot confirm the number of deaths of the livestock, what we can say is that farmers have lost out," Chigiji said.

"During my visit to the area, I arrived at a homestead which had lost 15 cattle. I also visited another one which had lost 4. We also have several other farmers who have lost their livestock due to anthrax." The hardest hit areas are Nembudziya, Simchembo and Chireya.

Southern Eye spoke to farmers at Nembudziya Growth Point who confirmed that the outbreak was wreaking havoc in the area. "I lost a herd of 11 cattle due to the outbreak. In my village alone, over 80 cattle have perished in the recent past due to the outbreak. Here, our main economic activity has been cotton growing, but lately we had shifted to cattle ranching because the cotton has become less profitable due to falling prices," said Nomore Machivenyika, a farmer in Maserukwe village. "This outbreak has, therefore, come as a big blow for us."

United Kingdom: Avian Influenza

Authorities are investigating a suspected case of a notifiable bird disease on a poultry farm in County Fermanagh. It was discovered 4 days ago when a vet became concerned about increased mortality among the broiler birds.

Tests are being run to see whether it is bird flu or another disease called Newcastle disease. It will be several days before final results are back. Restrictions have been put in place on the farm as a precautionary measure.

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs can order the culling of birds to prevent disease spreading. Farmers have been urged to step up their biosecurity.

The disease risk increases in winter with the arrival of migratory birds which can carry them. In recent years bird flu has been confirmed in wild birds on several occasions.

Last month, the H5 strain of bird flu was detected at a commercial poultry business in Suffolk; 27 000 chickens were culled there.

China: Plague

On Nov. 11, Beijing Center for Disease Control (Beijing CDC) identified 2 cases of Yersinia pestis, induced pneumonic plague, in a husband and wife from the Sunitezuo Qi County of the Xilinguole Prefecture in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Three days later, another case was identified in a patient from Huade County of Ulanchabu City in Inner Mongolia, 130 km from the first 2 cases. China CDC established no epidemiological relationship between the 2 events.

A total of 447 persons with direct contact in Beijing and 46 in Inner Mongolia were quarantined for medical observation. As of Nov. 21, all persons with direct contact were discharged from medical observation.