What do a failed South American state, a war-torn Middle Eastern country and a South Asian country with a large refugee population have in common? Not much at first sight, but all three have recently been experiencing large diphtheria outbreaks, killing dozens and affecting thousands.
As of December 2017, Venezuela had reported more than 500 cases (mainly in 5-19 year-olds) and an unspecified number of deaths, with conflicting information about shortages of vaccines and essential medicines and unsanitary living conditions.
In Yemen, entangled in a protracted conflict, more than 300 people – mainly under 20 years of age – are affected, with at least 35 deaths since September 2017.… Seguir leyendo »
On 9 May, a cluster of undiagnosed illness and deaths in a remote location in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). Several individuals tested positive for Ebola (Zaire subtype) a few days later. As of 19 May, 29 confirmed and suspected cases, including three deaths, had been reported. With the wounds of the West African Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 between 2014 and 2016 still fresh, the rapidly evolving situation in northern DRC is likely to cause unease locally, nationally and internationally.
Here are six things to understand about this new outbreak:
- The potential for international spread is limited.
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In November 2015, a small team that scans and analyses online content for the early detection of infectious disease outbreaks noted a marked increase in reports of skin rashes in Brazil. However, they had no formal channel to notify the Brazilian health authorities or the World Health Organization. A few weeks later, the outbreak of Zika virus was announced to the world; skin rash is one of the most common symptoms of infection with Zika virus.
The provision of online data for the early indication and tracking of disease outbreaks or other health events is known as digital disease detection (DDD).… Seguir leyendo »
A rise in birth defects in the Americas is increasingly linked to Zika virus, previously undetected in that part of the world. Regardless of the underlying cause for these congenital abnormalities, the key to success lies in strong global health leadership. While some lessons from the Ebola outbreak can be applied, this new threat presents a different challenge and needs a different response.
Origins of Zika
In December 2015, the journal Nature asked infectious disease experts to predict which pathogens would trigger the next global crisis. None suggested Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease first identified 70 years ago in Africa. Yet, a month later, the World Health Organization (WHO) is ‘deeply concerned’ and predicts up to four million cases in the Americas over the next year, including in the United States.… Seguir leyendo »