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Greece

Background
Greece offers a great variety of attractions for the international traveller. A beautiful climate linked with great beaches, a vibrant nightlife and historical monuments to rival any other location throughout the world. All of this located
within western Europe and a short flight away from many of the cooler northern destinations - like Ireland. Travellers from these regions descent on Greece in very significant numbers each year and for the vast majority of them they will have a splendid and healthy time. However for some this may not be the case and serious illness and accidents are regularly reported. Following some commonsense rules would go a long way to avoiding disaster and ensuring that this trip is truly one to be remembered for all the right reasons.
Climate
Situated in southern Europe the country enjoys mild winters but very hot summers. There may be occasional cool breezes (meltemia) but these can serve only to fool the traveller into thinking that they are unlikely to burn. Rain is very uncommon during the height of summer (July and August) and all travellers should be advised to use very adequate sun-block lotion at all times.
Slip, Slop, Slap
Following the Australian mantra of Slip, Slop and Slap makes perfect sense. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat when out and about during the day and this should help protect against the intense suns rays. Nevertheless, despite all their best intentions, travellers get burnt. This is particularly a problem in the first few days after their arrival when they do not realise the intensity of the suns rays and how easily they can be exposed. Falling asleep beside the hotel's swimming pool or on the beach is a very common problem and must be avoided against. The tips of the ears, shoulders (especially along the bra-strap line, ankles and behind the knees are commonly exposed and forgotten areas.
After Sun care
To treat significant sunburn it is important to increase fluid intake but also to take extra salt on your food (unless medically contraindicated for some specific condition like high blood pressure etc). Soothing water soluble lotions (especially ones containing a mild anaesthetic and/or steroid cream) are probably best but certainly avoid any of the ones which paste the skin with a thick layer - which is almost impossible to remove without causing serious pain! The more severe sunburn cases may need medical care and even hospitalisation which really ruins a holiday.
Food & Water
As a European destination Greece has a good level of food and water hygiene. Unfortunately this can vary - especially as you move away from the main tourist destinations and also as the summer temperatures rise and food goes 'off' more quickly. Eating hot food, avoiding cold foods (side-salads, lettuce etc) and never eating undercooked bivalve shellfish (mussels, oysters, clams etc) makes perfect sense. Eating food or taking fruit juice drinks from street vendors is a risk just not worth taking.
Insect bites
There may be both mosquitoes and sandflys about so having good repellents (DEET based ones) is worthwhile. The biggest problem will be early in the morning and towards the end of the daylight hours. However sitting in the shade while having lunch may be nice and cool but it is also often a place where these insects tend to hover looking for their next meal. Just don't allow that meal to be the blood in your unguarded ankle!
Seeing the Monuments
As mentioned previously Greece is covered with ancient monuments and these attract many thousands of tourists each year. The ruins are often not the most hospitable places for sun-sensitive tourists so taking care against the suns rays is essential - especially while standing carefully listening to the tour guide explain some complicated piece of history while the back of your legs get roasted! The other issue, for those trekking through the ruins, is the distinct possibility of a nasty twisted ankle.
Laser Night shows
Many of the ancient sites have beautiful night shows which depict something of the past splendour and are definitely worth seeing. However it is wise to wear good shoes as stumbling across loose stones is a particular problem at night and also bring a small torch, if possible, to guide your way. Getting separated from your travelling companions, or not being able to find your return bus, can lead to some understandable panic so listen carefully to any instructions and look out for some land marks before you get too far away into the night time crowd.
Animal bites
Some tourists may forget that rabies is a problem in many countries throughout the world and, even though Greece is regarded as rabies-free', there is always a problem if someone should get bitten. The possibility that this animal could have been recently smuggled into the country cannot be out ruled and so many would advise full post exposure treatment should this contact occur. Children may be at particular risk due to their inquisitive nature.
Swimming
Sunburn and swimming go hand in hand but drowning can also occur all too frequently within this region. Strong currents, swimming after meals (or alcohol) and the ever popular romantic midnight swim are all serious risk factors. Also children running around the deep end of the pool may lose their footing and topple in without warning. Unfortunately a very small child sinks instantly with very little sign of the emergency to those close by. Parents need to keep aware of this risk at all times.
The summer working holiday
Many of our students head towards Greece for 2 to 3 months during the summer to work. The attractions are obvious but commonsense and sensible life-style choices are needed throughout their stay to lessen the risk of illness or them returning home with an infection they had not bargained for. Unfortunately many return home with life-long illnesses which have been contracted from a single unprotected sexual contact.
Vaccinations for Greece
As a general rule the usual travel vaccines are not recommended for most short-term travellers to this region. However for the student planning to spend a more prolonged period it would be sensible to consider cover against both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B and also to check that their Tetanus cover is up-to-date.
Summary
This is still one of the most popular destinations for northern European travellers and, in the vast majority of cases, they will have a fantastic time with only good memories. Unfortunately some less prepared folks will end up with serious sunburn and other illnesses or diseases which perhaps are frequently associated with their own lack of care and protection rather than anything specific to this beautiful country.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

6th December, 2019
HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre

On 27/11/2019, a possible case of diphtheria was reported to the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention through the Mandatory Notification System in Greece. It concerned an 8 years old boy of Greek nationality, who was hospitalized in the ICU of General Children's Hospital  where he died.  This child had underlying conditions (severe pulmonary hypertension) and was admitted to ICU  on 22/11/2019 with clinical presentation of laryngitis (without the presence of characteristic pseudo membranes) and pneumonia, immediately intubated, covered with double antibiotic regimen and died due to deterioration of his clinical presentation on 26/11/2019.
 
According to the epidemiological data given , there is no travel history, group living, no connection to another case and the child does not belong to a specific population group. Regarding his immunization status, the child was vaccinated with at least 3 doses against diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis.
 
Laboratory investigation of bronchial exudate isolated Corynebacterium diphtheriae via VITEK. Further laboratory testing was performed by the Public Health England  reference Laboratory for Corynebacteria. On Thursday 5/12/2019, the National Public Health Organization was informed that multiplex PCR testing was positive for C. Diphtheriae and positive for the diphtheria toxin gene. The Elek test was also positive for toxin production. The results of the child's post-mortem exam are pending.

Contact tracing and management is ongoing and has identified most of the close contacts of the patient. The National Public Health Organization provided recommendations on obtaining nasopharyngeal cultures in close contacts to evaluate carriage as well as the necessary preventive measures to protect the child's close contacts as well as the medical staff involved in direct patient care (i.e. awareness for potential compatible with diphtheria symptoms and administration of antibiotic prophylaxis together with booster or complete vaccination series as appropriate) according to the WHO’s Diphtheria Surveillance Standards (September 2018). In addition we have initiated the procedure for the procurement of a limited stockpile of DAT.
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2019 09:20:47 +0100 (MET)

Athens, Nov 27, 2019 (AFP) - A strong 6.1-magnitude undersea earthquake shook the Greek island of Crete on Wednesday and was felt in other parts of the country, officials said.   "It was a major earthquake, the whole island shook but fortunately so far no damage has been reported," Crete regional governor Stavros Arnaoutakis told state TV ERT.   The Athens observatory said the quake struck at 9:23 am (0723 GMT) and had a depth of over 70 kilometres (44 miles).

The tremor occurred a day after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Albania that has left more than 20 dead and hundreds injured.   Shortly after the Albania tremor, a 5.4-magnitude shock hit Bosnia, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center reported on Tuesday.   Greece lies on major fault lines and is regularly hit by earthquakes but they rarely cause casualties.   In July 2017, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake killed two people on the island of Kos in the Aegean sea, causing significant damage.
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2019 12:31:30 +0200 (METDST)

Athens, Oct 2, 2019 (AFP) - Greek workers staged a fresh 24-hour strike Wednesday against government plans to deregulate the labour market, paralysing road and rail transport, closing banks and shutting down news outlets.   Buses and trams stayed in their depots, the Athens metro was shut down and ferries serving islands on both sides of Greece stayed in port. The action also hit rail services, including to Athens airport.   Banks were closed Wednesday and Poesy, the journalists' union, said there would be no news bulletins over the 24-hour strike period.

The strike caused long traffic jams in Athens as the GSEE, the largest union representing private-sector workers, organised a rally in the city centre to protest the planned legislation.    It denounced "the suppression of collective conventions" and what it said was an assault on the unions.   This was the second strike in a week against the planned reforms of conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which he argues will open the way to investment and encourage growth of more than two percent.   A strike last week hit transport, hospitals, schools and the courts.   The unions say the proposed reforms will undermine collective agreements and make it harder to organise strikes.

The proposed law would require a more-than 50 percent turn-out of the workforce in any strike vote for it to be valid.   Union leaders have also denounced a law passed in August which they say makes it easier to sack people in the private sector.   Adedy, the federation of public-sector unions, which organised last week's strike, called on its members to join Wednesday's action.   Mitsotakis came to power in July, replacing the left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras.
Date: Thu 12 Sep 2019, 7:54 PM
Source: Ekathimerini [edited]

The death toll from the West Nile virus since June this year has risen to 20, according to this week's report by the National Health Organization (EODY).

Up until [12 Sep 2019], authorities had diagnosed a total of 176 cases of the mosquito-borne virus. Of these, 109 developed illnesses affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis or meningitis.

EODY is urging the public to spray insect repellent on bare skin and clothing, to install mosquito nets and screens, to remove stagnant water from basins, vases and gutters, to regularly mow lawns and to water plants in the morning.
=============================
[The first report mentions 20 fatal human cases as compared to the latest ECDC update that mentions 19 and the total case number is 176 versus 171 (ECDC report).

West Nile fever is a disease caused by West Nile Virus (WNV), which is a _Flavivirus_ related to the viruses that cause St. Louis encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever. It causes disease in humans, horses, and several species of birds. Most infected individuals show few signs of illness, but some develop severe neurological illness which can be fatal. West Nile Virus has an extremely broad host range. It replicates in birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, mosquitoes and ticks <https://www.oie.int/doc/ged/D14013.PDF>.

The reservoir of the virus is in birds. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected bird ingesting the virus in the blood. The mosquitoes act as carriers (vectors) spreading the virus from an infected bird to other birds and to other animals. Infection of other animals (e.g. horses, and also humans) is incidental to the cycle [as also evident in the ECDC update above] in birds since most mammals do not develop enough virus in the bloodstream to spread the disease.

Key to preventing the spread of West Nile fever is to control mosquito populations. Horses should be protected from exposure to mosquitoes. Likewise, people should avoid exposure to mosquitoes especially at dusk and dawn when they are most active, use insect screens and insect repellents, and limit places for mosquitoes to breed. - ProMED Mod.UBA]

[HealthMap/ProMED maps available at:
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2019 15:38:29 +0200 (METDST)

Athens, Sept 15, 2019 (AFP) - More than 160 firefighters on Sunday battled to contain a large fire near Athens blazing for a second day amid gale force winds, officials said.   And in another emergency, authorities evacuated dozens of people from two villages and a hotel on the island of Zakynthos after a new fire broke out on Sunday.

The fire department said the blaze near Athens burned in the mountains above Loutraki, a coastal resort some 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of Athens.   "The fire is burning near the top of the mountain," Stefanos Kolokouris, the fire department's deputy chief of operations, told state TV ERT.   "We are trying to create a perimeter but the terrain is very difficult, with ravines," he said.   Four water bombers and six helicopters were participating in operations. Given a lack of roads in the area, two squads of firefighters had to be carried to the mountaintop by Super Puma helicopter, state agency ANA said.   Officials had already evacuated 50 people from a local monastery when the fire broke out on Saturday, but stressed that other inhabited areas were not in danger.

On Zakynthos, officials ordered the evacuation of the villages of Agalas and Keri in the south of the island. Some 120 tourists were also relocated to a safe area.   The Greek fire department on Sunday said it had been called to nearly 80 fires over the past 24 hours.   It has already faced more than 9,600 rural and urban fires this year.
More ...

Indonesia

*****
Information for Bali
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General
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Bali is one of the main tourist destinations for many Irish travellers to Indonesia. The island is well developed for the tourist industry and genera
ly the climate is tropical and humid throughout the year. Many Irish travellers will use the island as a stopover. If this is for only 24 to 28 hours the extent of your jetlag may leave you little time to enjoy the country and its people.
Safety & Security
************************************
Throughout Indonesia there are many regions where it is unsafe to travel. The Parliament in Indonesia may impeach the President in the near future. Civil disturbance with student demonstrations in the capital Jakarta, earthquakes in the island of Sumatra, unrest regarding the independence of Timor and profound warring fractions on the island of Borneo has the potential to spill over into Bali. Nevertheless during the past years Bali has remained stable and there have been few reports of serious disturbances that have affected tourists or business travellers. Lombok is an island close to Bali often visited by tourists. It is regarded as more unstable and recently (Dec 2000) four explosions during fighting between two villages (Bongor & Parampuan). The main tourist region around Senggigi has remained quiet.

Local Customs
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The laws against illegal drugs are severe and travellers should ensure that they carry sufficient well-marked medication that they may require for their time in Indonesia. Travellers are required to show identification at any time and so carrying photocopies of your passport is a wise precaution. Keep all valuable documents in a safe place and do not flaunt personal wealth while travelling around the island.
Night Activities
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The nightlife in Bali is one of the main attractions for many tourists but sensible precautions are required. Travelling alone is unwise. Take care to ensure that your drink could not be spiked at any stage and do not walk at night, use an authorised taxi where possible. The level of HIV infection among the bar workers is high and close personal contact is very unwise.
Medical Facilities
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The level of available health facilities varies greatly through Bali and other parts of Indonesia. In general most of the main hotels will have English speaking doctors but care would be required if your illness requires hospitalisation.
Food and Water
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It is wise to maintain a high level of care with regard to your food and water while in Indonesia. This includes even those in high quality hotels but also particularly for those eating from street vendors. Bivalve shellfish (e.g. oysters, mussels, clams etc) should be avoided at all times due to inadequate cooking. Bottled water should be purchased from your hotel or good quality shops to ensure that it is pure.
Mosquitoes and Insect Bites
************************************
Malaria transmission occurs throughout Indonesia all year but the risk in Bali is so low that prophylaxis is not generally recommended for most tourists. Nevertheless for those visiting Lombok (overnight visits) the risk exists and prophylaxis should be considered. Other mosquito borne diseases also occur throughout Indonesia and care must be taken to avoid insect bites. In Jakarta and other main cities there is a particular problem with a viral disease called Dengue Fever. The mosquito, which transmits this disease, typically bites during the day and in main urban centres.
Sun Exposure
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The strength of the sun in Bali is considerable higher than that experienced in Ireland at any time of the year. Sufficient head covering should be worm when exposed and travellers should ensure that their fluid intake is sufficient. Salt depletion also needs to be replaced in times of significant perspiration.
Swimming
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If swimming in pools, make sure that sufficient chlorination has been used. Take care with small children when close to the deep end of the pool. If sea swimming make sure that there are always others around and that you heed any local advice and warning signs. Never swim soon after alcohol or for an hour after mealtime.
Jet Lag
************************************
The extent of jet lag, which you will experience, depends on the duration of your flight and the amount of rest you were able to get before arrival. Try to rest for the first 24 hours to allow your body to acclimatise and make sure you do not fall asleep beside the swimming pool during this initial period.
Vaccinations for Bali
************************************
There are no essential vaccines or entry to Bali from Western Europe. However for your personal protection travellers are recommended to consider vaccination cover against;
*
Poliomyelitis (childhood booster)
*
Tetanus (childhood booster)
*
Typhoid (food & water disease)
*
Hepatitis A (food & water disease)
Other travellers planning a more rural or extensive trip may need to consider other vaccine cover against diseases like Hepatitis B, Japanese B Encephalitis, Rabies.
Summary
************************************
The majority of those visiting Bali will enjoy the many tourist attractions on the island. However commonsense and care is required to ensure that you do not expose yourself to unnecessary risk. The staff of the Tropical Medical Bureau can be contacted at either of the numbers below if you require further information.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2020 08:03:39 +0100 (MET)

Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Jan 7, 2020 (AFP) - A strong earthquake jolted Indonesia's northwest on Tuesday, but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.   The 6.2 magnitude quake struck at a depth of 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) just off the coast of Simeulue island, west of Sumatra, according to the US Geological Survey.   Indonesia's weather and geophysics bureau said there was no tsunami threat.   People panicked and ran outside their homes when the quake hit.    "We are now watching at the beach to monitor the movement of seawater," Simeulue resident Ahmadi told AFP.

No casualties or infrastructure damage have been reported so far.   Indonesia suffers frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.   More than 2,200 people died and another 1,000 were declared missing in 2018 after a 7.5 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Sulawesi island.   A 9.1 magnitude earthquake on Boxing Day in 2004 struck Aceh province, causing a tsunami that claimed the lives of more than 170,000 people in Indonesia alone.
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2020 09:59:14 +0100 (MET)

Jakarta, Jan 6, 2020 (AFP) - Indonesians were told on Monday to brace for more heavy downpours after record rains triggered flooding and landslides that authorities said had killed at least 66 people in and around Jakarta.   Whole neighbourhoods in the capital -- a megalopolis home to around 30 million people -- were submerged last week by floodwaters that forced tens of thousands into temporary shelters.

Authorities have warned residents to take precautions and safeguard their possessions ahead of more pounding storms over the coming weeks.   "There is still potential for mid to heavy rainfall with lightning, thunder and strong winds" in greater Jakarta, Indonesia's weather bureau said in a statement Monday.   Last week's deluge was the heaviest in the capital since record keeping began in the 19th century, the agency said, leading to the city's deadliest flood disaster in years.   Some 377 millimetres (14.8 inches) of rain pounded sections of the vast city, with floodwaters reaching up to the second floor of some buildings after rivers overflowed.

At least two people in Jakarta's west were hospitalised on Monday after the collapse of a five-storey building, which Indonesia's search and rescue agency said may have been caused by a build-up of rainwater.    Authorities said Monday the death toll had climbed again to 66 with two more reportedly missing in Lebak, west of the capital.

Flash flooding killed more than half a dozen people in Lebak, including a seven-year-old boy who was reportedly swept away by the water.   Thousands remained in cramped Jakarta shelters Monday as authorities pushed to reach isolated communities outside the city affected by the disaster.   A day earlier, health workers and soldiers sprayed ravaged parts of the capital with disinfectant in a bid to prevent disease outbreaks.
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2020 13:29:14 +0100 (MET)

Jakarta, Jan 1, 2020 (AFP) - Nine people died after Indonesia's capital was hit by its deadliest flooding in years, authorities said Wednesday, as torrential rains on New Year's Eve left vast swathes of the megalopolis submerged.   Thousands were evacuated to temporary shelters as electricity was switched off in scores of waterlogged neighbourhoods across greater Jakarta, home to about 30 million people, with some train lines and one of the city's airports also shut.   Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency called on residents to leave flood-hit areas.   "The first priority is saving lives," said agency head Doni Monardo.

A 16-year-old was electrocuted by a power line, while three more people died of hypothermia, according to the disaster agency.   "My son's body was covered with newspaper when my two other children passed by," said Fadrid, who identified himself as the dead teen's father.   "People asked them whether they knew the victim. If they hadn't been passing by, we wouldn't have known my son had been killed," he told AFP.

Among the victims was an elderly couple trapped inside their home in a district where floodwaters reached as high as four metres (13 feet) after a river burst its banks.   Another victim drowned while four people were killed after the Tuesday evening downpour triggered landslides in the city's outskirts.    "We have shut down power (in many areas) to avoid more electrical shocks," Ikhsan Asaad, an official at state firm PLN, told AFP.

Asaad said he could not estimate how many residents had been affected by the power shutdown.   "We're currently focusing on taking measures to ensure people's safety," he added.   Angelina Widiyanti was among scores of residents whose houses were flooded with their possessions ruined by the disaster.   "We've had flooding several times before but it was never this high," she said from her home, where the power had been cut.   "We weren't prepared for this."

Authorities said about 19,000 people were evacuated, but that figure did not include residents in Jakarta's satellite cities.   "We're evacuating people right now," Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan told reporters.   "Everyone living near rivers should anticipate (more) flooding," he added.   Images from across the region showed waterlogged homes and cars submerged in muddy floodwaters, while some people took to paddling in small rubber lifeboats or tyre inner-tubes to get around.

The disaster marked Jakarta's worst flooding since 2013 when several dozen people were killed when the city was inundated by monsoon rains.   Jakarta is regularly hit by floods during Indonesia's rainy season, which started in late November.   On Wednesday, service at Halim Perdanakusuma airport, which handles commercial and military planes, was temporarily shut due to severe flooding on its runways, according to the transport ministry.   Many flights were transferred to Jakarta's main Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Date: Mon 23 Dec 2019
From: A source known to ProMED-mail [edited]

A cluster of cases from Perth, Western Australia (WA), has been identified as having _Legionella pneumophila_ serogroup 1 (laboratory confirmed), with all 4 cases having holidayed in Bali, Indonesia, and stayed at the same hotel in Central Kuta, during their incubation period -- the Ramayana Resort and Spa, located on Jalan Singosari.

A media statement can be found at

Onset dates for the 4 WA cases were [4 Feb to 30 Nov 2019], after their return to Australia. All 4 cases became unwell with severe pneumonia requiring hospitalisation. It seems most probable that they were infected in Bali, most likely at their hotel. Information provided by the cases and those with whom they travelled has not identified places that all frequented other than the hotel and airports. An additional 2 cases of legionnaires' disease have been identified from elsewhere in Australia in 2019, both of whom travelled to Bali independently of each other; one stayed at the same hotel as the WA cases and the other at the hotel adjacent to it.

The same hotel was implicated in a previous international outbreak of legionnaires' disease between August 2010 and November 2011, which affected a total of 13 Australians, including 9 people from WA.

Please consider the diagnosis of legionellosis in people with consistent illness recently returned from Bali.
====================
[ProMED-mail previously posted several news reports in 2010 and 2011 of an outbreak of legionnaires' disease due to _Legionella pneumophila_ serogroup 1 that involved 10 Australians (6 from Western Australia and 4 from Victoria) who visited Bali, 9 of whom stayed at the Ramayana Hotel in Central Kuta (Legionellosis - Australia (03): ex Indonesia (Bali) alert http://promedmail.org/post/20110610.1759 Legionellosis - Australia (02): ex Indonesia (Bali) alert http://promedmail.org/post/20110119.0226 Legionellosis - Australia: (WA,VI) ex Indonesia (Bali) http://promedmail.org/post/20110115.0173 Legionellosis - Australia: (WA) ex Indonesia (Bali) alert http://promedmail.org/post/20100826.3021). There were said to be at least 2 additional cases in Europeans linked to Bali in the same time-frame, one of whom stayed in this hotel.

The current post above reports 4 cases of legionnaires' disease in Western Australians who stayed at the same hotel (Ramayana Resort and Spa) in 2019 in Central Kuta.

_Legionella_ are Gram-negative bacilli that are found in both natural freshwater environments, like lakes and streams, and in manufactured plumbing systems, such as showerheads and sink faucets, cooling towers, decorative fountains, and hot tubs/spas and hot water tanks and heaters. Eradication of these bacteria from plumbing systems is often difficult. Long-term persistence within these water systems is favored by the intracellular location of _Legionella_ within several species of protozoa, where _Legionella_ replicate and which provide protection from environmental stressors, like biocides and heat treatment; the formation of biofilms allows adherence of _Legionella_ to the inner surfaces of the plumbing systems (<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5835138/>). _L pneumophila_ have been shown to persist for long periods after exposure to a biocide or heat treatment in biofilms in a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state (<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5515819/>). Monitoring _L. pneumophila_ in water systems usually done by culture would miss VBNC [viable but nonculturable] _Legionella_, which can be revived by the subsequent addition of ameba (<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18839249>). The persistence of _Legionella_ over many years in the water system at the Kuta facility could perhaps be due to VBNC organisms.

According to the US CDC, about 20-25% of all legionnaires' disease reported to CDC is travel-associated (<https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5648a2.htm> and <http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/conveyance-transportation-issues/cruise-ship-travel>). Travellers typically disperse to their homes widely separated from one another and perhaps at a very great distance from the source of infection before developing symptoms, so that a cluster of cases of legionnaires' disease in travellers associated with the same source may not be readily appreciated. A travel history is essential and should be actively sought from patients with community-acquired pneumonia, and _Legionella_ testing should be performed for those diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia who have traveled in the 2 weeks before onset of symptoms.

Genotyping the clinical isolates from the 4 cases of legionnaires' disease will help confirm if this is a common source outbreak, if the genotypes match. Matching the genotypes of clinical and environmental isolates of _Legionella_ will identify the environmental source for the individual cases. However, if the diagnosis of legionnaires' disease in these patients was based only on a positive urinary antigen assay for _Legionella pneumophila_ serogroup 1, there will be no clinical isolates for genotyping.

Kuta, the capital of Kuta District, in Badung Regency, southern Bali, Indonesia is a tourist beach resort, with many restaurants and bars, located near Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport (<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuta>).

A map of the island of Bali can be accessed at
<https://capturetheatlas.com/bali-map/>.

Kuta, on the island of Bali and Perth in the Australian state of Western Australia can be seen on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive maps at <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/3047> and <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/456>, respectively. - ProMED Mod.ML]
Date: Fri 29 Nov 2019
Source: Tempo [edited]

The local administration of Depok has finally elevated the status of its hepatitis A outbreak and considers it to be a full-blown extraordinary occurrence (KLB), compared to its previous partial KLB.

The head of Depok Health Agency, Novarita, said the increased health warning was mainly attributed to the fact that hepatitis A still loomed over SMPN-20 junior-high students in the City of Depok. "Based on our data, the spread is not limited to SMPN-20 students but has also spread further. That is why we changed the outbreak's status to KLB," said Novarita during her visit to the school today, 29 Nov 2019.

This has effectively pushed the city to provide a budget to overcome the outbreak. She said that every sufferer of hepatitis A under the KLB status would receive medical treatment for free from 20 Nov 2019 - 20 Jan 2020. "The bills will be paid by the Depok City administration," she said.

Depok's records state that 9 hepatitis A patients were receiving treatment at the Depok City General Hospital from the 15 SMPN-20 students who were initially admitted to the hospital.
====================
[It is unusual to see outbreaks of hepatitis A in the developing world, as sero-surveys suggest close to 100% seropositivity by age 10 from asymptomatic infection earlier in childhood. The diagnosis of acute HAV infection is made by finding anti-HAV IgM in suspected cases. A cluster in a single school would suggest a food or water exposure in the school, and the report suggests cases occurring outside the student body. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
West Java, Indonesia: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/547>]
More ...

China

General Information
****************************************
The People’s Republic of China is the world’s third largest nation in land mass and shares borders with 16 other countries. It is the worlds most populated country. Nowadays many I
ish travellers will be going to China for business or holiday trips. Much of the country is mountainous or semidesert and the country lies almost entirely in the temperate zone. Only portions of the southern-most area - the provinces of Yunnan and Guangdong, and the Zhuang autonomous region of Guangxi - lie within the tropics. The monsoon climate is a major influence in the south, but the north and west have a typical continental climate.
Weather Profile
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During the summer, warm moist maritime air masses bring heavy rains to eastern China, and hot humid summer weather is typical. Winter offers a sharp contrast when Siberian air masses dominate. In late winter and spring strong north winds sweep across north China and hazy days caused by dust storms are common. Beijing’s spring is mostly dry. In July and August the weather turns hot and humid. Autumn is the nicest time of the year with many warm, clear days and little wind usually.
Chest Complaints
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Because of the prevailing dust, increased transportation and the burning of soft coal during the winter, Beijing and other major cities in China have a high rate of pollution. This may exacerbate bronchial and/or sinus complaints. The dust level in Lhasa is also very high and this may lead to respiratory problems.
Safety & Security
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The risk of crime against tourists is low but care of personal belonging should be observed at all times. Maintenance of buildings and general safety precautions may not always be in place and so checking for fire exits (and that they are unblocked) is wise. Use the hotel safety boxes and carry photocopies of any important documents rather than the originals where possible.
Local Medications
****************************************
Western brand-name drugs or non-prescription medicines are seldom available locally although some Chinese equivalents are to be found at reasonable prices. Always carry your own medication (well marked) on your person and bring enough for your trip.

Rabies
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Rabies is a serious problem throughout China. Reports indicate that as many as five million people are bitten each year by rabid dogs and that approximately 5,000 of these patients die. Travellers should stay well clear of any warm blooded animals, especially dogs. Any contact (lick, bite or scratch) should be treated seriously and immediately by washing out the wound, applying an antiseptic and then seeking urgent medical attention.
River Boat Travel
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Many of the older river boats in China use untreated river water for washing dishes and in the bathrooms. This increases the risk of illnesses such as traveller’s diarrhoea and a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis (Bilharzia). Also be careful that the ferry is not overcrowded and be aware of any sharp corners or rusty edges due to lack of maintenance.
Altitude Sickness in Tibet
****************************************
Virtually all of the Tibetan Autonomous region, much of Quinghai and Xinjiang, parts of Sichuan, Yannan and Gansu are above 13,000 feet in altitude. Some main roads in Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiand go above 17,000 feet. At these levels the available oxygen is very low and altitude sickness may occur. Travellers may experience severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath or a dry cough. These symptoms usually settle over a few days with rest, but if not travellers should seek medical assistance and, if possible, descend to a lower altitude. Travellers with a history of cardiac problems or respiratory difficulties should avoid such high altitudes where possible.
Insect Bites and Malaria
****************************************
During the summer months, carry a supply of insect repellent ointments for your trip and use sensible, light coloured clothing to cover yourself when there are mosquitoes or sandflies about.
The risk of malaria in most of China is limited but prophylactic tablets may be prescribed depending on your actual itinerary. Other serious mosquito borne diseases do occur so these will need to be considered.
Sunlight
****************************************
The sunlight during the summer months and in Tibet at high elevations can be intense
so travellers should bring sun screen and sun-glasses and a sensible wide-brimmed hat.

Acupuncture
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Many tourists are tempted to experience this oriental art in its homeland while visiting China. It is essential to ensure that sterile needles are used at all times as otherwise there may be a risk of transmission of a blood borne disease such as the HIV virus or Hepatitis B.
AIDS risk in China
****************************************
Official figures suggest that AIDS is a very limited risk in China. Only 707 cases were reported up to October 2000. These very low figures are very difficult to verify and so all travellers should take care not to place themselves at risk where possible.
Customs Regulations
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Never carry any medication for another individual unless they are part of your family. The Chinese authorities have strict drug regulations which may be enforced.
Vaccination Requirements:
****************************************
There are no vaccination requirements for entry / exit purposes but travellers on short trips should consider the following ...
*
Poliomyelitis (childhood booster)
*
Typhoid (food & water disease)
*
Tetanus (childhood booster)
*
Hepatitis A (food & water disease)
Those planning to spend a longer time in China should consider additional vaccination against conditions like Rabies, Hepatitis B, Japanese B Encephalitis, Meningococcal Meningitis, Diphtheria and Mantoux Test / BCG vaccination.
Summary
****************************************
China is teeming with people and a culture very different to ours. It is a land of many contrasts. Travellers generally stay healthy if they follow standard commonsense healthcare advice.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 11:12:40 +0100 (MET)

Beijing, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - A new virus from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen could have been spread between family members in the Chinese city of Wuhan, local authorities said Wednesday.   The outbreak, which has killed one person, has caused alarm because of the link with SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong in 2002-2003.   One of the 41 patients reported in the city could have been infected by her husband, Wuhan's health commission said in a statement on Wednesday.   The announcement follows news that a Chinese woman had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Thailand after travelling there from Wuhan.

No human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed so far, but the health commission said the possibility "cannot be excluded".   The commission said that one man who had been diagnosed worked at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been identified as the centre of the outbreak, but his wife had been diagnosed with the illness despite reporting "no history of exposure" at the market.   At a press conference on Wednesday following a fact-finding trip to Wuhan, Hong Kong health officials also said that the possibility of human-to-human transmission could not be ruled out despite no "definitive evidence".

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection, said there were two family group cases among the recorded cases in Wuhan, including the husband and wife and a separate case of a father, son and nephew living together.   However, he said mainland doctors believed the three men were most likely to have been exposed to the same virus in the market.   The market has been closed since January 1.   The woman diagnosed in Thailand, who is currently in a stable condition, had not reported visiting the seafood market, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

WHO doctor Maria Van Kerkhove said Tuesday that they "wouldn't be surprised if there was some limited human-to-human transmission, especially among families who have close contact with one another".   The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 1 "Watch" alert for travellers to Wuhan after the patient was diagnosed in Thailand, saying they should practice normal precautions and avoid contact with animals and sick people.

Wuhan's health commission said on Wednesday that most of the patients diagnosed with the virus were male, and many were middle-aged or elderly.   In Hong Kong, hospitals have raised their alert level to "serious" and stepped up detection measures including temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers.   Hong Kong authorities said on Tuesday that the number of people hospitalised with fever or respiratory symptoms in recent days after travelling to Wuhan had grown to 71, including seven new cases since Friday.   Sixty of that total, however, have already been discharged. None have yet been diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2020 20:20:12 +0100 (MET)
By Jing Xuan TENG

Wuhan, China, Jan 11, 2020 (AFP) - A 61-year-old man has become the first person to die in China from a respiratory illness believed caused by a new virus from the same family as SARS, which claimed hundreds of lives more than a decade ago, authorities said.   Forty-one people with pneumonia-like symptoms have so far been diagnosed with the new virus in Wuhan, with one of the victims dying on Thursday, the central Chinese city's health commission said on its website on Saturday.   Seven others remained in serious condition, two were discharged from treatment, and the rest were stable, it added.

The episode has caused alarm due to the spectre of SARS, or Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which in 2002-2003 killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong, whose economy was hit hard by the epidemic's devastating impact on tourism.   The Wuhan health commission said the man who died had purchased goods from a seafood market in the city identified by authorities as the centre of the outbreak. It was closed on January 1.   The man, who also had underlying health issues including chronic liver disease, died in hospital on Thursday of "respiratory failure and severe pneumonia", the commission added.

No new cases have been detected since January 3 nor any "clear evidence of human-to-human transmission", it said.   People in white hazmat suits were seen spraying liquid on the market floor late Saturday, while a number of guards sat outside the perimeter of the facility's two sections without masks on.   Chinese scientists investigating the outbreak said last week they believe the pathogen is a previously unknown type of coronavirus, a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like SARS.

Scientists in Hong Kong's Department of Health said Saturday that genetic sequencing of the virus found in one of the Wuhan patients and published online by a Chinese expert indicated it was 80 percent similar to SARS found in bats.   Speaking at a news conference in Hong Kong, they said it was too early to conclude definitively that it was a SARS strain, adding that the city needed to stay vigilant.   "We will remain alert as we believe the epidemic will continue to develop," said Wong Ka-hing, director of the department's Health Protection Centre.   Hong Kong authorities have taken a range of precautions including stepping up the disinfection of trains and planes, and checks of passengers.

- Travel rush looms -
On Saturday evening, there was little sign of alarm in Wuhan outside of the seafood market, which had been cordoned off.   Few people at the city's airport wore masks, and no extra monitoring measures were visible at the airport's terminals.

A restaurant on the outside of the building housing the seafood market was still open for business.   One man, a dry goods seller at the market surnamed Dai, attempted to enter the market around midnight but was turned away by the guards.   He told AFP he was not worried about getting infected.   "I haven't heard that this disease is contagious," Dai said, adding that he believed the illness was caused by a fire at the market in mid-November where items including plastic materials and chili peppers were burnt.

The WHO said Thursday it was not recommending any specific measures for travellers or restrictions on trade with China, and expressed confidence in the ability of Chinese authorities to contain the virus.   China has entered its annual Lunar New Year holiday travel rush, raising concerns about the mass movement of people serving as a vector for the pathogen.   In the world's largest annual human migration, hundreds of millions will pack into trains, buses and planes to travel for the festival in late January.   China has not announced any travel restrictions.

Hong Kong authorities said on Saturday that the number of people hospitalised with flu-like symptoms in recent days after travelling to Wuhan had grown to 60, including seven new cases since Friday.   Forty-six of that total, however, have already been discharged. None have yet been diagnosed with the new coronavirus.   City residents worried about the outbreak have rushed to buy face masks from local pharmacies, with many selling out earlier this week, while officials in Taiwan have urged the island's health and welfare ministry to strengthen quarantine controls.
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2020 19:58:01 +0100 (MET)
By Jing Xuan TENG, with Yan Zhao in Hong Kong

Beijing, Jan 9, 2020 (AFP) - China believes a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck 59 people is due to a new strain of virus from the family of pathogens that includes SARS, state media said Thursday.   The infection was first confirmed on December 31 in Wuhan, a central Chinese city with a population of more than 11 million, and initially sparked fears about a resurgence of the highly contagious flu-like SARS.   It has also prompted authorities in Hong Kong -- badly hit by SARS in 2002-2003 -- to take precautionary measures, including stepping up the disinfection of trains and airplanes, and checks of passengers.

An expert team has "preliminarily determined" that a new type of coronavirus is behind the outbreak, lead scientist Xu Jianguo told the official Xinhua news agency.   "A total of 15 positive results of the new type of coronavirus had been detected" in the lab, through tests on infected blood samples and throat swabs, Xu said.   The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement Wednesday that a new coronavirus could not be excluded as a possible cause of the disease.   Xu said further research was needed on the nature of the outbreak.

China has said it has ruled out SARS, which killed hundreds of people more than a decade ago.   Wuhan's health commission said on Sunday seven of the 59 patients were seriously ill but none had died. All patients received treatment in quarantine.   Eight patients have recovered and were discharged from hospital on Wednesday, according to Xinhua.   No patients are known to have died so far.   The commission said the infection broke out between December 12 and 29, with some of the patients employed at a seafood market in the city that has since been closed for disinfection.

No obvious evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found so far, according to the commission's statement on Sunday.   Footage from January 1 by state broadcaster CCTV showed an official notice at the market saying it had been closed in light of the "current pneumonia situation in our city," without providing a date for reopening.    The outbreak comes just a few weeks before China's busiest annual travel period, when millions of people take buses, trains and planes for Lunar New Year festivities.

China's transport ministry has "made arrangements for disinfection, monitoring and prevention" focusing on areas with large numbers of passengers, including stations and cargo hubs, the ministry's chief engineer Wang Yang told reporters Thursday.   The country's civil aviation authority and national railway said at the briefing they had not received any reports of affected patients taking flights or trains, and that they were closely watching the situation.   Wan Xiangdong, chief flight officer of China's Civil Aviation Administration, said all planes were equipped with emergency medical kits.

- Hong Kong, Taiwan fears -
In Hong Kong, hospitals have raised their alert level to "serious" and stepped up detection measures including temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers.   Authorities in the financial hub say 38 people have been hospitalised after returning from Wuhan in recent days and displaying flu-like illnesses, but none were confirmed to have contracted the mystery new strain.   Twenty-one of the 38 patients have been discharged, Hong Kong officials said Wednesday.   City residents worried about the outbreak have rushed to buy face masks from local pharmacies, with many selling out earlier this week.   Inbound trains and flights from the mainland are undergoing additional cleaning and disinfection, Hong Kong transport authorities said.

Supplemental thermal imaging systems have been set up at the city's airport, while inbound high-speed rail passengers from the mainland face checks by hand-held infrared thermometers.   The upcoming holiday has prompted concerns in Taiwan, where top officials urged the island's health and welfare ministry to strengthen quarantine controls at airports and plan accordingly.   On Monday, the country's centre for disease control also advised residents planning to travel to or near Wuhan to wear masks and avoid contact with wild animals.   The US embassy in China warned on Tuesday that Americans travelling in the country should avoid animals and contact with sick people.
Date: Wed 8 Jan 2020
Source: China CDC 2019, 1(1): 13-16 [edited]
<http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/en/article/id/d7876f39-9679-467b-a896-50e6451dcd73>

On 11 Nov 2019, Beijing Center for Disease Control (Beijing CDC) identified 2 cases of _Yersinia pestis_ (_Y. _pestis_)-induced pneumonic plague in a husband and wife from the Sunitezuo Qi (County) of the Xilinguole League (Prefecture) in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Three days later on 14 Nov 2019, another case of _Y. pestis_ was identified in a patient from Huade County of Ulanchabu City in Inner Mongolia, 130 km from the 1st 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 21 Nov 2019, all persons with direct contact were discharged from medical observation.

Investigation and Results
----------------------
Patient A. The index case (Patient A) was a 43-year-old male herdsman. On 25 Oct 2019, the day after working the soil on his farm, he had sudden onset of fever (40 C [104 F]), with chills, vomiting, chest pain, breathlessness, and cough with blood-tinged sputum. He reported no swollen lymph nodes. He sought treatment in a local county hospital, where he was admitted and stayed for 2 days. On 27 Oct 2019, his condition deteriorated, and he was transferred to League Central Hospital (LCH) by ambulance and was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where he stayed for 7 days.

Patient B. On 31 Oct 2019, while Patient A was in the ICU, his wife (Patient B, 46 years old), who had accompanied and cared for him, had onset of cough with a low-grade fever (38 C [100 F]). She was hospitalized in LCH. Over the next 24 hours, her condition worsened with increasing cough, blood-tinged sputum production, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Computerized tomography revealed pneumonia. Husband and wife were treated with antibiotics in the local hospital from 25 Oct to 2 Nov 2019 but did not show significant improvement. They were transferred by ambulance to a general hospital in Beijing on 3 Nov 2019 and were given moxifloxacin and cefoperazone sodium along with supportive treatment. There was no clinical improvement.

On 12 Nov 2019, blood and sputum specimens were tested by Beijing CDC and were found to be positive by RT-PCR and colloidal gold-immunochromatography assay targeting the F1 antigen and by reverse indirect hemagglutination assay (RIHA). Although _Y. pestis_ was not able to be isolated by culture, NGS sequencing was weakly positive for _Y. pestis_ genetic material. Beijing CDC and Inner Mongolia CDC immediately initiated a coordinated investigation, including evaluation of potential exposures to the patient and an environmental assessment to determine risk of further transmission. The Inner Mongolia Plateau is home to _Meriones unguiculatus_ (_M. unguiculatus_), a primary mammalian host of _Y. pestis_, with cases of intense wild rodent epizootic disease in 2019.

Patient C. On 11 Nov 2019, Patient C (55-year-old male) sought treatment in a local hospital in Huade County for swollen lymph nodes and fever. Patient C had eaten a dead hare he found in the field. A clinician noted this exposure and suspected _Y. pestis_ infection. The Inner Mongolia CDC laboratory identified _Y. pestis_ by culture with the phage lysis test and with RT-PCR from lymph nodes aspirates. Blood cultures were negative for _Y. pestis_. On 13 Nov 2019, the patient was reported to Huade County CDC as having bubonic plague. An epidemiological investigation indicated no relation between Patients A/B and Patient C. However, Patient C lives in a county that is known to be a natural focus of _Y. pestis_.

Public Health Response
-----------------------
When epizootic plague is detected, local health-care providers and the public should be alerted to potential risks of plague. Educational efforts should promote personal protection measures, including: 1) educating the public to avoid direct contact with sick or dead animals (e.g., rodents and rabbits in Inner Mongolia); 2) wearing long pants and applying insect repellent on the skin, to clothing, and to outer bedding of anyone who engages in outdoor activities in an area that is an endemic focus for plague; 3) abstaining from handling or skinning wild or domestic animals that died of unknown reasons and using gloves when handling animals killed by trapping or hunting; 4) taking prophylactic antibiotics if risk of exposure is high; and 5) keeping pet dogs and cats in natural plague foci free from fleas and not allowing them to wander freely (1). In response to the events reported above, key preventive measures have been implemented in Inner Mongolia.

These include: 1) enhanced surveillance for plague in rodents and rodent predators in enzootic areas; 2) use of insecticides and rodenticides to eliminate wild rodent fleas and reservoirs; 3) strengthening of professional training and alerting doctors to the forms of plague; 4) strengthening of professional training for local CDC and clinical laboratory staff; 5) monitoring rodent die-offs and educating the public to report sightings of dead animals and reductions in animal colony size; and 6) considering plague in the differential diagnosis of ill domestic animals, including dogs and cats, in the natural plague foci areas.

Discussion
--------
Plague is an acute, often fulminating, infectious disease caused by _Y. pestis_. There are 3 main forms of plague, with the specific form depending upon route of infection: bubonic plague, septicaemic plague, and pneumonic plague (1). Most human plague cases are of the bubonic form, which results from bites by infected fleas. However, plague can also be transmitted to humans by handling infected animals or by inhaling infectious aerosols from persons with pneumonic plague and from diseased or dead animals. The family of patients A and B lived in an independent house in a grassland, and investigators determined that the index patient most likely became infected while working the soil on his farm, an area where _M. unguiculatus_ serves as a primary plague host. 500 meters from the house of Patients A and B, a live _M. unguiculatus_ was trapped and found to be culture-positive for _Y. pestis_. A large rodent die-off was also observed in the area, raising the possibility that the decayed bodies in the dirt or in rat holes could have produced infectious aerosols. The wife (Patient B) most likely was infected from contact with her husband. Plague is primarily a rodent-hosted, transmitting disease. Animal to animal transmission is mediated by the bites of fleas that became infected by biting infected animals. Humans can be infected by the bites of bacterium-bearing fleas or by direct contact with wild or domestic animals that died from plague or are diseased with plague (marmots, foxes, lynxes and badgers, dogs (2), Tibetan sheep (3), and cats). Person-to-person transmission occurs only with pneumonic plague. Plague is categorized as a Class A infectious disease, the most serious category under China's Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (4).

Plague in Inner Mongolia
----------------------
Human plague has been well controlled since 1959 in Inner Mongolia. During 1960-2018, only 9 human plague cases with 2 deaths occurred in Inner Mongolia (5). The most recent human plague cases were reported from this focus in 2004, and as with Patient C, were due to skinning a dead hare (6). There are 4 plague foci in Inner Mongolia (7). These are an _M. unguiculatus_ plague focus in the Inner Mongolian Plateau, a _Microtus brandti_ plague focus in the Xilin Gol Grassland, a _Spermophilus dauricus_ plague focus in the Song-Liao Plain and a _Marmota sibirica_ plague focus in the Hulun Buir Plateau (a silent plague focus). The _M. unguiculatus_ plague focus in Inner Mongolia can be divided into 2 parts: the Ordos plateaus and the desert steppe of the Ulanqab plateaus. The _S. dauricus_ focus includes the Song-Liao plain hills and the dry steppe of Qahar area (5). Combining previous plague epizootic data (5) and recent surveillance data, the Inner Mongolia animal plague epidemic can be divided into 4 phases, as illustrated in Table 1. The Inner Mongolia plateau focus of _M. unguiculatus_ was 1st identified in 1954. The total area of this focus is 134 803 square km and encompasses 22 counties (Qi) in the middle and western parts of Inner Mongolia (5). In the last 5 years, the Inner Mongolia natural foci of animal plague has been active. In 2019, virulent animal plague epidemics occurred in this focus, which has a high density of rats. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, this is the 1st instance in which pneumonic plague was imported into a major city in China. Although clearly a transported case, awareness and appropriate measures should always be implemented. These 3 cases can provide important lessons for public health practitioners. References: [1] CDC. Plague. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2019. Available at <http://www.cdc.gov/plague/.http://www.cdc.gov/plague/>. [2] Wang H, Cui Y, Wang Z, Wang X, Guo Z, Yan Y, et al. A dog-associated primary pneumonic plague in Qinghai Province, China. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Jan 15;52(2):185-90. <https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciq107.https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciq107>. [3] Dai R, Wei B, Xiong H, Yang X, Peng Y, He J, et al. Human plague associated with Tibetan sheep originates in marmots. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2018;12(8):e0006635. <https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006635.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006635>. [4] Cong X, Yin W. Chinese Plague Manual: Prevention, Control and Emergency Response. Beijing Univ Med Press. 2009;1-49. (In Chinese). [5] Liu J, Zhang W. Inner Mongolia Plague. Huhhot: Inner-Mongol People Publishing House. (In Chinese). [6] Han X, Liu G, Yue M. A clinical diagnosis of plague in Inner Mongolia in 2004. Med Ani Prev. 2007;23(12): 918-9. (In Chinese). [7] The Atlas of Plague and Its Environment in the People's Republic of China. Science Press; 2000. (ISBN7-03-008197-8/P·1186). (In Chinese). [Authors: Wang Y, Zhou L, Fan M, et al] -- Communicated by: ProMED Rapporteur Kunihiko Iizuka <promed@promedmail.org> [The bacterium that causes plague is _Yersinia pestis_. Most cases of plague are due to bubonic plague following the bite of an infected rodent flea causing a swollen and very tender lymph gland. The swollen gland is called a "bubo." Bubonic plague should be suspected when a person develops a swollen gland, fever, chills, headache, and extreme exhaustion, and has a history of possible exposure to infected rodents, rabbits, or fleas. A person usually becomes ill with bubonic plague 2-6 days after being bitten. At this point in the illness, there is no risk of person-to-person spread, so if this was indeed a case of bubonic plague, no isolation or quarantine is necessary. When bubonic plague is left untreated, plague bacteria invade the bloodstream. As the plague bacteria multiply in the bloodstream, they spread rapidly throughout the body and cause a severe and often fatal condition. Infection of the lungs with the plague bacterium causes the pneumonic form of plague, a severe respiratory illness. The infected person may experience high fever, chills, cough, and breathing difficulty and may expel bloody sputum. If plague patients are not given specific antimicrobial therapy, the disease can progress rapidly to death. At this stage, as appears to have happened in this case, person-to-person spread can occur, causing other cases of "primary" plague pneumonia. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at: China:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/155>]
Date: 9 Jan 2020
Source; CCTV / Xinhua [in Chinese, machine translation]

Preliminary progress in pathogen identification of unexplained viral pneumonia in Wuhan
Original title: Experts say that the new coronavirus is an unknown cause of viral pneumonia in Wuhan
----------------------------------
A few days ago, on the issue of the pathogenic identification of unexplained viral pneumonia epidemic in Wuhan, the reporter interviewed Xu Jianguo, the leader of the preliminary assessment of pathogenic test results and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He said that the expert group believed that the pathogen of this unexplained case of viral pneumonia was initially determined to be a new coronavirus.

Question 1: At present, what progress has been made in the pathogenic identification of unexplained viral pneumonia in Wuhan?
Xu Jianguo [response]: As of 21:00 on [7 Jan 2020], a new coronavirus was detected in the laboratory, and the entire genome sequence of the virus was obtained. A total of 15 positive results of the new coronavirus were detected by nucleic acid detection methods. From 1 positive patient. The virus was isolated from the samples and showed a typical coronavirus appearance under an electron microscope. [Does this refer to 15 samples from 1 single patient? Or initially from 1 patient?]  The expert group believes that the pathogen of this unexplained case of viral pneumonia was initially identified as a new type of coronavirus.

Question 2: How is the pathogen identification carried out?
Xu Jianguo [response]: The tissue laboratory used genomic sequencing, nucleic acid detection, virus isolation and other methods to perform pathogenic tests on patients' alveolar lavage fluid, throat swabs, blood and other samples.

Question 3: What procedures are needed to identify the pathogen?
Xu Jianguo [response]: To confirm the cause of an epidemic disease, usually the following points must be met: (1) Suspicious pathogens must be found in patients, and pathogenic nucleic acids can be detected in clinical samples of patients; (2) From clinical samples of patients The pathogen can be successfully isolated; (3) The isolated pathogen can cause the same disease symptoms after infecting the host animal. The patient's serum antibody titer during the recovery period increased 4-fold, which can help identify the pathogen.

Finding the nucleic acid, genomic and antibody evidence of the pathogen from the patient can be done in a short time. Scientific research, such as pathogen isolation and pathogenicity identification, can take weeks. The development of specific drugs and vaccines against a new pathogen may take years to complete.

Question 4: What is the next step?
Xu Jianguo [response]: The expert group believes that the pathogen of this unexplained case of viral pneumonia is initially determined as a new type of coronavirus. The next step is to conduct expert research and judgement in combination with etiology research, epidemiological investigation and clinical manifestations.

Question 5: What is a coronavirus?
Xu Jianguo [response]: Coronavirus is a type of pathogen that mainly causes respiratory and intestinal diseases. There are many regularly arranged protrusions on the surface of this type of virus particle, and the entire virus particle is like an emperor's crown, hence the name "coronavirus". In addition to humans, coronaviruses can infect many mammals such as pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, marten, camels, bats, mice, hedgehogs, and various birds. So far, there are 6 known human coronaviruses. Four of these coronaviruses are more common in the population and are less pathogenic, generally causing only minor respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold. The other 2 coronaviruses - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, also known as SARS Coronavirus and MERS Coronavirus, can cause severe respiratory diseases. The new coronavirus that caused the epidemic is different from the human coronaviruses that have been discovered, and further understanding of the virus requires further scientific research.  [Editor: Zhang Yuling Responsible editor: Wang Jingdong]  [Byline: Qu Ting]
More ...

World Travel News Headlines

Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2020 02:59:31 +0100 (MET)
By Nicolas DELAUNAY

Cousin Island, Seychelles, Jan 16, 2020 (AFP) - Giant tortoises amble across Cousin Island as rare birds flit above.   The scene attests to a stunning success for BirdLife International, a conservation group that bought the tiny Seychelles isle in 1968 to save a songbird from extinction.   Thick vegetation smothers ruins that are the only reminder of the coconut and cinnamon plantations that covered the island when the group stepped in to protect the Seychelles Warbler.

Now teeming with flora and fauna and boasting white beaches, Cousin Island is firmly on the tourist map, with managers scrambling to contain visitor numbers and soften their negative environmental impact.    More than 16,000 people visited the island in 2018, compared with 12,000 a decade earlier.   "Tourism is important for Cousin. That's what allows us to finance the conservation projects we run here.    "But 16,000 tourists... that was too much," said Nirmal Shah, director of Nature Seychelles, which is charged with running the special reserve.

Before the island was in private hands, the population of Seychelles Warblers was thought to have shrunk to just 26, barely hanging on in a mangrove swamp after much of their native habitat had been destroyed.    Now, they number more than 3,000 and the greenish-brown bird has been reintroduced to four other islands in the archipelago.   The former plantations have transformed into native forests, teeming with lizards, hermit crabs and seabirds, and the island is the most important nesting site for hawksbill turtles in the western Indian Ocean.   The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) waxes lyrical about the "unique biodiversity and conservation achievements" of Cousin, "the first island purchased for species conservation", a model since replicated around the world.

- Nature first -
Tourists have been allowed onto the island since 1972, but the message is clear: nature comes first.   In a well-oiled routine, every morning a handful of luxury sailboats and small motorboats anchor off the island, where their occupants wait for Nature Seychelles to skipper them ashore on their boats.   "Tourist boats cannot land directly on the island, the biohazard risk is too big," Shah said.   "Non-indigenous animals who may accidently be on board could come to the island and threaten its (ecological) balance."   Too many tourists can also upset this balance.

Nature Seychelles in July increased the price of visits from 33 to 40 euros ($36 to $44) and removed a free pass for children under 15, resulting in a welcome 10-percent reduction in visitor numbers.   "Something had to be done, there was too much pressure on the environment," said Dailus Laurence, the chief warden of the island.   "When there are too many tourists it can bother nesting birds and turtles who want to come and lay their eggs on the island."

One guide said that some tourists, bothered by the island's ubiquitous mosquitos, would "leave the paths, move away from the group and walk where they are not supposed to", putting fragile habitats at risk.   Shah said that if they wanted to increase the number of tourists, it would require hiring more wardens and guides who live on the island, which would also have a negative impact on nature.   "Our absolute priority is nature, and it comes before tourists. If we have to take more steps to protect it and reduce the number of tourists, we will," he said.
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2020 02:45:27 +0100 (MET)
By Ivelisse RIVERA, con Leila MACOR en Miami

Yauco, Puerto Rico, Jan 16, 2020 (AFP) - Living out in the open, their nerves on edge after a series of earthquakes that have shaken Puerto Rico, some 5,000 people are hoping that their president, Donald Trump, will heed the island's plea to be designated a disaster zone and free up much-needed aid.   Since December 28, more than 1,000 tremors have rattled the US island territory in the Caribbean, which just two years ago was devastated by two powerful hurricanes in quick succession.

In Yauco, one of the areas worst hit by the earthquakes, dozens of people were sitting on cot beds Wednesday in the parking lot of a municipal stadium, sheltered from the sun by white tents and blue tarps handed out by the federal disaster management agency, known as FEMA.  "The most difficult thing is the psychological aspect," said Wilfredo Rodriguez, 31. His house had been fractured by the seismic movement and he has spent a week living with his kids, aged six and 10, under an awning.    "We are living in constant fear of another powerful tremor," he said.

He only returns to his house to wash, then hurries back to the shelter. "We worry that there'll be a more powerful tremor while we are inside the house," he said.   Throughout the day, volunteers arrive to hand out food and toys for the children who fill the shelters: schools have been suspended because the buildings are not sturdy enough to withstand another quake.    The island's earthquake detection system has registered 1,104 tremors in the past two weeks alone, of which 186 could be felt by the population. By comparison, during the whole of 2019 there were 6,442 tremors, of which just 62 could be felt by people on the island.

Further south, in Guanico, Juan Santiago decided to move into a shelter on Saturday after a tremor of 5.9 on the Richter scale hit the island. "The mountain shook and rocks and earth started to come down," said the 30-year-old.  "My house has a crack in it and is about to fall down," he added. His home had weathered the Category Five winds of Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and of Hurricane Irma which followed it just two weeks later.   "It's different to a hurricane. What is happening now is much nastier," he said.

As he was talking the earth shook again, a tremor of 5.2 magnitude. Vehicles rocked like hammocks in the wind, but the quake-hardened victims barely reacted.   The houses in this part of the island are mostly rudimentary constructions built by the people who live in them with scant resources available in the mountains, where no regulations stipulate that buildings should be earthquake resistant.    The government of Puerto Rico said that as of Monday, there were 4,924 people living in 28 shelters in 14 municipalities. There were no figures on how many buildings had been damaged or destroyed.

- Seeking disaster designation -
Puerto Rico's governor Wanda Vazquez Garced called on Trump to declare the earthquake a disaster and clear the way for desperately needed aid. Trump had declared an emergency days before, but the governor wanted more.   The declaration of an emergency frees up to $5 million dollars in aid for the island, although Congress can bump that figure up. But if the situation is designated a disaster, there is no ceiling on funding, a FEMA spokesman said.   On Wednesday, the government said it would release $8.2 billion in delayed hurricane relief that had been stalled after the president threatened to divert Puerto Rico's emergency funds to help pay for his wall on the US-Mexico border.

In the past few days there have been growing calls among Democratic lawmakers for Trump to declare the situation in Puerto Rico a disaster.   It is a delicate subject, as Trump has accused the government of Puerto Rico of incompetence and of siphoning off hurricane relief money, triggering a public spat between the president and the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, as well as the former governor Ricardo Rossello, who was forced to step down last summer amid massive protests.   The Puerto Rican leaders accused Trump of treating the population of the island like second class citizens.
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 23:16:11 +0100 (MET)

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - Firefighters battled to bring a blaze at Malabo's cathedral under control on Wednesday, as flames engulfed parts of the historic building, considered the most important Christian church in Equatorial Guinea.     Dozens of people gathered in silence near the cathedral in the early evening as the fire service sprayed water jets onto the century-old structure.

It was not immediately known whether anyone was hurt in the fire, in which huge flames consumed part of the facade of the building.       "We have just extinguished the fire, it's finished. The roof is gone, it is a catastrophe," firefighter Alfredo Abeso told AFP.   Another firefighter at the scene said: "The whole roof is gone, the interior is burned."   The cause of the fire is not known but the cathedral has been closed to the public since January 7 for restoration work.    Built in a neo-gothic style between 1897 and 1916, the cathedral is one of the central African country's main tourist attractions.

The blaze brought comparisons to the devastating fire that ravaged the 13th century Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in April 2019.     The French Embassy in Malabo said the fire was a "cruel reminder" of the fire at Notre Dame.    "We share the emotion of our friends in Malabo and Equatorial Guinea and hope that the fire can be brought under control quickly," it said on Twitter.      Paris engineers are still working to stabilise the 13th century cathedral in the French capital after fire tore through its roof and dramatically toppled its spire last year.
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 21:55:41 +0100 (MET)

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - Widespread complaints over foul-smelling drinking water in Rio de Janeiro have triggered a run on supermarket bottled water, though the public utility denied any health risk Wednesday.   Rio governor Wilson Witzel set alarm bells ringing in a Twitter post on Tuesday, saying the situation -- fuelled by social media rumours -- was "unacceptable" and calling for a "rigorous investigation."

Moving to calm growing fears, public water utility Cedae attributed the problems to the presence of geosmin, a harmless organic compound, insisting the resulting earthy-tasting tap water was safe to drink.   "The results of the analyses show the presence of geosmin, at a rate sufficient to change the taste. But there is no risk to health," Sergio Marques, the official in charge of water quality, told a press conference.   Cedae later said it had fired the head of the Guandu treatment plant, which supplies nearly 80 percent of Rio's drinking water.   It said the supply from Guandu would be treated with carbon in the coming days to get rid of the geosmin.

According to O Globo newspaper, nearly 70 districts of the capital have been affected.   It reported that more than 1,300 cases of gastroenteritis were recorded over the last 15 days in Santa Cruz in the west of Rio, where water quality complaints were rife.   Cedae's president Helio Cabral apologized "to the whole population for the problems in the water supply," which began earlier this month.

The problem has been exacerbated by false rumours circulating on social media that the water was toxic.   Despite assurances, many Rio citizens were taking no chances. In supermarkets, mineral water stocks have been selling out and long queues are formed as soon as they are replenished.   Geosmin is also responsible for the earthy taste in some vegetables.
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 21:25:04 +0100 (MET)

Lima, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - Five tourists arrested for damaging Peru's iconic Machu Picchu site will be deported to Bolivia later on Wednesday, police said.   A sixth was released from custody and ordered to remain in Machu Picchu pending trial after paying bail of $910.   The six tourists -- four men and two women -- were arrested for damaging Peru's "cultural heritage" after being found in a restricted area of the Temple of the Sun on Sunday.   They were also suspected of defecating inside the 600-year-old temple, an important edifice in the Inca sanctuary.   "We've got the order. Today the five foreign tourists will be expelled," Cusco police official Edward Delgado told AFP.   "We're going to take them by road to the city of Desaguadero, on the border with Bolivia."   The border town, a nine-hour drive away, is the nearest frontier point to the southern Cusco region where Machu Picchu is located.

The sixth tourist, 28-year-old Nahuel Gomez, must sign at a local court every 10 days while awaiting trial.   He admitted to removing a stone slab from a temple wall that was chipped when it fell to the ground, causing a crack in the floor.   He could face four years in prison if found guilty of damaging Peru's cultural heritage.   Several parts of the semicircular Temple of the Sun are off limits to tourists for preservation reasons.   Worshipers at the temple would make offerings to the sun, which was considered the most important deity in the Inca empire as well as other pre-Inca civilizations in the Andean region.   The group -- made up of a Chilean, two Argentines, two Brazilians, including one of the women, and a French woman -- allegedly entered the Inca sanctuary on Saturday and hid on site so they could spend the night there -- which is prohibited.

A source with the public prosecutor's office told AFP that Nahuel admitted to the damage but said "it wasn't intentional, he only leant against the wall."   The Machu Picchu complex -- which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, housing and religious ceremonies -- is the most iconic site from the Inca empire, which ruled over a large swath of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.   Machu Picchu, which means "old mountain" in the Quechua language indigenous to the area, is at the top of a lush mountain and was built during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471).
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:53:05 +0100 (MET)

Alicante, Spain, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - A fire broke out Wednesday on the roof of the airport in Alicante, a city on the eastern Mediterranean coast which is a tourism hotspot, forcing its closure to air traffic.   "The fire is under control but it has not been extinguished. Firefighters are continuing to work," a spokesman for Spanish airport operator Aena told AFP, adding the airport will remain closed to air traffic until noon on Thursday.

Ten flights which were due to land at Alicante were cancelled, as were 12 which were supposed to depart from the airport, he said.    Another four flights which were due to land at Alicante were diverted to other Spanish airports.   The flames were visible from inside the terminal, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.   Passengers and workers stood outside as dense smoke rose from the terminal building.   No one was injured and the authorities are still not sure what caused the fire.

The airport serves the eastern region of Valencia, which is home to several popular resorts such as Benidorm. It handled just under 14 million passengers last year, making it Spain's fifth busiest airport.   Aena recommended in a tweet that passengers contact their airline before heading to Alicante airport to see what the status of their flight was.   "We are coordinating with airlines. Consult your company to know if your flight is cancelled or will operate from an alternative airport," it said.
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 11:12:40 +0100 (MET)

Beijing, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - A new virus from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen could have been spread between family members in the Chinese city of Wuhan, local authorities said Wednesday.   The outbreak, which has killed one person, has caused alarm because of the link with SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong in 2002-2003.   One of the 41 patients reported in the city could have been infected by her husband, Wuhan's health commission said in a statement on Wednesday.   The announcement follows news that a Chinese woman had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Thailand after travelling there from Wuhan.

No human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed so far, but the health commission said the possibility "cannot be excluded".   The commission said that one man who had been diagnosed worked at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been identified as the centre of the outbreak, but his wife had been diagnosed with the illness despite reporting "no history of exposure" at the market.   At a press conference on Wednesday following a fact-finding trip to Wuhan, Hong Kong health officials also said that the possibility of human-to-human transmission could not be ruled out despite no "definitive evidence".

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection, said there were two family group cases among the recorded cases in Wuhan, including the husband and wife and a separate case of a father, son and nephew living together.   However, he said mainland doctors believed the three men were most likely to have been exposed to the same virus in the market.   The market has been closed since January 1.   The woman diagnosed in Thailand, who is currently in a stable condition, had not reported visiting the seafood market, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

WHO doctor Maria Van Kerkhove said Tuesday that they "wouldn't be surprised if there was some limited human-to-human transmission, especially among families who have close contact with one another".   The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 1 "Watch" alert for travellers to Wuhan after the patient was diagnosed in Thailand, saying they should practice normal precautions and avoid contact with animals and sick people.

Wuhan's health commission said on Wednesday that most of the patients diagnosed with the virus were male, and many were middle-aged or elderly.   In Hong Kong, hospitals have raised their alert level to "serious" and stepped up detection measures including temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers.   Hong Kong authorities said on Tuesday that the number of people hospitalised with fever or respiratory symptoms in recent days after travelling to Wuhan had grown to 71, including seven new cases since Friday.   Sixty of that total, however, have already been discharged. None have yet been diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 03:48:17 +0100 (MET)
By Emile Kouton with Celia Lebur in Lagos

Lome, Jan 15, 2020 (AFP) - After he was struck down by malaria and typhoid, Togolese tailor Ayawo Hievi thought he was set to recover when he started taking drugs prescribed by his doctor.   But far from curing him, the medication he was given at the neighbourhood clinic made him far worse -- eventually costing him one of his kidneys.    The drugs were fake.   "After four days of care, there was no improvement, but I started to feel pain in my belly," Hievi, 52, told AFP.

After two weeks of suffering he became unable to walk and was rushed into the university hospital in the West African nation's capital Lome.    "The doctors told me that my kidneys had been damaged... the quinine and the antibiotics used to treat me in the medical office were fake drugs."   Now, over four years later, he remains crippled by chronic kidney failure and has to go to hospital for dialysis regularly.    Hievi's horror story is far from unique in a continent awash with counterfeit medicines.    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year some 100,000 people across Africa die from taking "falsified or substandard" medication.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor quality anti-malaria drugs in sub-Saharan Africa.   Weak legislation, poor healthcare systems and widespread poverty have encouraged the growth of this parallel -- and deadly -- market. Since 2013, Africa has made up 42 percent of the fake medicine seized worldwide.    The two drugs most likely to be out-of-date or poor, ineffective copies are antibiotics and anti-malarials, say experts.    And bogus drugs not only pose a risk to the patient -- they also play a worrying part in building resistance to vital frontline medications.

- 'Difficult to trace' -
In a bid to tackle the scourge, presidents from seven countries -- the Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Uganda -- meet Friday in Lome to sign an agreement for criminalising trafficking in fake drugs.    The goal is to bolster cooperation between governments and encourage other African nations to join the initiative.   But even if leaders put pen to paper, the task of stamping out the flows of counterfeit medication is huge.    Medicines spread out on plastic sheets or offered at ramshackle stalls are for sale at markets across West Africa.

Those hawked on the streets are often a fraction of the price of what's available in more reputable pharmacies where controls are stricter and supplies often have to come through official channels.    "It is very difficult to trace where the fake medicines come from," said Dr Innocent Kounde Kpeto, the president of Togo's pharmacist association.    "The countries which are mentioned on the boxes are often not the countries of origin or manufacture of these drugs. The manufacturers cover their tracks so as not to be identified".

It is estimated that between 30 and 60 percent of medicine sold in Africa is fake and Kpeto said most of it comes from China or India.    Efforts to staunch the deadly torrents of counterfeits have made some headway.    Some trafficking hubs have been dismantled, such as Adjegounle market in Cotonou that served as a key gateway for fakes heading to giant neighbour Nigeria.   In mid-November, the police in Ivory Coast made a record seizure of 200 tonnes in Abidjan and arrested four suspects including a Chinese national.

Togo is one of the pioneer countries trying to stop the flow.    It changed the law in 2015 and now traffickers can face 20 years in jail and a fine of some $85,000 (75,000 euros).   In a show of force in July the authorities burnt over 67 tonnes of counterfeit pharmaceuticals discovered between     But even given these recent successes, those in the industry like Dr Kpeto insist that the threat is still grave and involves "highly organised criminal networks".    "The phenomenon remains major," he said.    Traffickers can turn an investment of just $1,000 (900 euros) into a profit of $500,000, he claimed.   The fake medicines are smuggled in the same way as guns or narcotics and often bring higher returns.

- 'Die for nothing' -
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with a market of 200 million people, is the number one destination on the continent for fake drugs and a showcase of difficulties being faced.    In September 2016 the World Customs Organization seized tens of millions of fake pills and medicines at 16 ports around Africa: 35 percent were intended for Nigeria.    Across the vast nation there are tens of thousands of vendors selling the counterfeits.   Competition between traffickers is fierce and the official agency meant to combat the problem is overwhelmed.

In a bid to improve the situation, Vivian Nwakah founded in 2017 start-up Medsaf and raised $1.4 million to help Nigerians track their medication from producer to user.    "The country doesn't have a reliable and centralised distribution network," she said.    "A hospital sometimes has to deal with 30 or 40 distributors for all the medications it needs. How can you have quality control with so many suppliers?"   As a result, fake or faulty medicine has not just flooded markets but also pharmacies and hospitals -- both state and private.    Sometimes, without hospital administrators even being aware, that means the drugs that reach the patients can be expired, poorly stored or the wrong doses. 

Medsaf works to ensure the quality control of thousands of products at over 130 hospitals and pharmacies in Nigeria. It looks forward to expanding deeper into Nigeria as well as Ivory Coast and Senegal.   The company uses technology, database management and analytics to monitor the movement of medications and verifies their official registration number, the expiry dates and storage conditions.   "Technology we use can help to solve most of the issues related to fake drugs," Nwakah said. "People die for nothing. We can change that."
Date: Mon 13 Jan 2020, 00.45 IST
Source: The Hindu [edited]

A 58-year-old woman from Seegemakki village in Tumari Gram Panchayat limits in Sagar taluk died due to Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever, at a private hospital in Manipal in Udupi district on [Sat 11 Jan 2020].

The deceased, H, who had complained of high fever and aches in joints was admitted to government sub-divisional hospital in Sagar city for treatment on [Tue 7 Jan 2020]. Her blood tested positive for KFD.

Rajesh Suragihalli, District Health Officer, told The Hindu that as her health condition had worsened, she was shifted to a private hospital in Manipal on [Thu 9 Jan 2020] for advanced treatment. She failed to respond to the treatment and breathed her last on [Sat 11 Jan 2020], he said.

Following the death, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has sounded an alert in Sagar and Tirthahalli taluks from where 7 positive cases have been reported since [1 Jan 2020]. The vaccination drive has been stepped up in the villages from where positive cases are reported. Three advanced life support ambulances have been stationed in government sub-divisional hospital in Sagar to shift KFD patients with health complications to private hospitals in Shivamogga city or Manipal for additional treatment, he said.
====================
[Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) is an acute febrile illness caused by Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the family _Flaviviridae_, characterized by severe muscle pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, and bleeding manifestations. The virus was 1st identified in 1957 after it was isolated from a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest in Karnataka state of India. The disease is transmitted to humans following a tick bite or contact with an infected animal, especially a sick or recently dead monkey. There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission (<https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/kyasanur/index.html>).

The case fatality of Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) is 2-10% and mortality is higher in the elderly and in individuals with comorbid conditions. There is no specific treatment for KFD. Prompt symptomatic and supportive treatment can reduce morbidity and mortality. Surveillance (human, monkey, and tick), personal protection against tick bites, and vaccination are the key measures for prevention and control of KFD (<https://idsp.nic.in/WriteReadData/l892s/60398414361527247979.pdf>).

As per the media report above, 7 confirmed KFD cases have been reported from Sagar and Tirthahalli taluks in Karnataka state so far in 2020. KFD typically occurs during the dry season from November through May, which correlates with the increased activity of the nymphs of ticks. Exposure to adult ticks and nymphs in rural or outdoor settings increases the risk of infection; herders, forest workers, farmers, and hunters are particularly at increased risk of contracting the disease. Vaccination and personal protective measures against tick bites are keys to prevent KFD.

The recommended preventive measures include using tick repellents, walking along clear trails, avoiding contact with weeds, and wearing full sleeved clothes and long pants to reduce exposed skin to reduce contact with ticks and subsequent tick bites. - ProMED Mod.UBA]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
Karnataka State, India: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/307>]
Date: Mon 13 Jan 2020
Source: Food Safety News [edited]

An emergency committee to control the sale of food has been created in a city in northwest Argentina after a spike in _Salmonella_ cases in early 2020. There have been 51 confirmed cases of salmonellosis in Salta so far in 2020. At least 5 people have been hospitalized but recovered after treatment.

The committee will be responsible for controlling food sold on public roads at street stalls and at commercial premises. It includes experts from the National University of Salta (UNSA) and Catholic University of Salta (Ucasal). Officials hope by increasing controls they can bring the rise in infections under control and minimize the risk to the public. The group, created by the Mayor of Salta Bettina Romero and Undersecretary of Health and Human Environment Monica Torfe, held a meeting with Juan Jose Esteban, manager of the Hospital Senor del Milagro, and teams from the department of epidemiology of the province on preventive measures to tackle the salmonellosis rise this past week.

Norma Sponton, head of the microbiology sector; Teresita Cruz, of the epidemiological surveillance program of the province; Paula Herrera, from the Ministry of Health, and Jose Herrera, from the hospital also participated. Experts from the 2 universities are involved in training the inspectors who will be in charge of carrying out the control tasks.

Food contaminated with _Salmonella_ bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Symptoms of salmonellosis infection can include diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for 4 to 7 days. In some cases, however, diarrhoea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
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[The serotype of _S. enterica_ is not stated and it is not clear what the food reservoir for this ongoing outbreak is. A food diary of affected persons may be helpful.

The city of Salta is located in north-western Argentina in the province of the same name which can be found on a map at

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Argentina: