Date: Thu, 26 May 2016 02:07:57 +0200

Belize City, May 26, 2016 (AFP) - Belize's government said Wednesday it has detected the first case of Zika in a pregnant woman, bringing to two the number of people confirmed infected with the virus in the Central American country.   The health ministry was also investigating another suspected case involving a pregnant woman, with tests underway, a statement said.   The government last week announced Belize's first Zika patient, living in the capital Belize City.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause the birth defect microcephaly, which can cause babies to be born with unusually small heads and deformed brains.   Fifty-one warm-weather countries and territories around the world have reported Zika transmission to some degree, according to a regularly updated online list maintained by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.   Most of them are in Latin America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific.
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2016 02:37:29 +0200

San José, April 8, 2016 (AFP) - The government of Belize issued a statement Thursday saying it was treating with caution information from US health authorities that a woman who was recently in the country caught Zika there.   "The ministry of health at this time is not confirming that this is the first case of Zika in Belize," the statement said. 

"We are presently in communication with officials from the CDC (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Pan American Health Organization Office in Belize to get more information in order to launch a proper epidemiological investigation."

According to the statement from Belize's health ministry, US authorities got in touch on Wednesday to say a woman who visited Belize March 14-19 came down with a rash on March 23 and a Zika infection was confirmed.   The woman, who was not identified, had not travelled elsewhere recently and there was "no evidence of sexual transmission."

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to a surge of birth defects in Brazil and paralysis in some other cases.   It is usually transmitted by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, but some rare cases of transmission through sex have also been recorded.

Outbreaks have occurred in 34 countries throughout the Americas and the Caribbean, according to the CDC website.   Belize, a small Central American country next to Guatemala, was not on the CDC's list.
Date: Thu 10 Mar 2016
Source: The Guardian [edited]
<http://www.guardian.bz/all-politics/11029-rabies-and-black-leg-disease-detected-in-cattle-in-belize>

Some 9 cattle have recently died in Belize as a result of both rabies and blackleg [_Clostridium chauvoei_] diseases. There have been at least 3 cases of rabies among cattle in the Orange Walk and Cayo districts and several cases of blackleg have been clinically diagnosed in the Toledo district. There is now a concurrent infection among cattle with rabies and blackleg and from previous years it has been known that in the starting of every year, cattle would come down with blackleg. As a result, the Belize Agriculture Health Authority, BAHA, is now recommending that farmers purchase the vaccines that can be used to prevent both diseases from occurring. BAHA has since been having meetings with the Belize Livestock Producers Association.

A specially assembled team has also been meeting with cattle farmers. In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, a team travelled last week to the Toledo District and have been getting positive response from cattle farmers. BAHA strongly recommends for all cattle farmers to vaccinate their cattle against rabies if they have not been vaccinated in the last year and against blackleg if they have not been vaccinated in the last 6 months. Rabies is a highly fatal disease that affects all mammals. The disease is always fatal but can be prevented through vaccination. Affected animals will usually show nervous signs and aggressive behaviour.

Most animals will show excessive salivation as swallowing becomes impossible. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Avoid coming in contact with animals showing these symptoms and immediately call BAHA Officers. An advisory from BAHA notes that blackleg is a highly fatal disease in young cattle. In most cases the animal is found dead without being previously observed sick. The speed with which blackleg kills usually makes individual treatment useless. It is caused by the spore forming, rod shaped, gas producing bacteria _Clostridium chauvoei_.

The spores of the organism can live in the soil for many years. The 1st sign observed is usually lameness, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, and the animal is usually depressed and has a high fever. Characteristic swellings develop in the hip, shoulder, or elsewhere. First the swelling is small, hot, and painful. As the disease progresses, the swelling enlarges and becomes spongy and gaseous. If you press the swelling, gas can be felt under the skin. The animal usually dies in 12 to 48 hours. Dr Miguel DePaz, the Director of the Animal Health Department within BAHA recommends that farmers should vaccinate their cattle every year. He reasons that farmers can obtain up to BZD 2400.00 [about USD 1200] from an 800 pound [363 kg] animal, so spending BZD 5.00 [about USD 2.50] on a rabies vaccine and BZD 1.50 [about USD 0.75] for a vaccine to fight blackleg is cost effective. These vaccines can be obtained at any agro veterinary store or from a registered veterinarian. Blackleg is almost entirely preventable by vaccination.

The most commonly used clostridial vaccination in cattle is the 7-way type, which protects against 7 types of clostridia organisms. Additional information can be obtained from livestock officers of the Department of Agriculture in the districts, BAHA animal health officers, Belize Livestock Producers Association, and Registered Veterinarians. -- Communicated by: ProMED-mail <promed@promedmail.org> [It is unclear if the cattle had both diseases or there were herds with both diseases. I think the latter is more probable but the former is a possibility. Blackleg is an acute, febrile, highly fatal disease of cattle and sheep caused by _Clostridium chauvoei_ and characterized by emphysematous swelling, commonly affecting heavy muscles (clostridial myositis). It is found worldwide. _C. chauvoei_ is found naturally in the intestinal tract of animals. Spores remain viable in the soil for years and are purported to be a source of infection. Outbreaks of blackleg have occurred in cattle on farms in which recent excavations have occurred or after flooding.

The organisms probably are ingested, pass through the wall of the gastrointestinal tract, and after gaining access to the bloodstream, are deposited in muscle and other tissues (spleen, liver, and alimentary tract) and may remain dormant indefinitely. In cattle, blackleg infection is endogenous. Lesions develop without any history of wounds, although bruising or excessive exercise may precipitate disease in some cases. Commonly, the animals that contract blackleg are of the beef breeds, in excellent health, and gaining weight. Outbreaks occur in which a few new cases are found each day, sometimes for several days.

Most cases are seen in cattle from 6-24 months old, but thrifty calves as young as 6 weeks and cattle as old as 10-12 years may be affected. The disease usually occurs in summer and fall and is uncommon during the winter. Usually, onset is sudden, and a few cattle may be found dead without premonitory signs. Acute, severe lameness and marked depression are common. Initially, there is a fever but, by the time clinical signs are obvious, body temperature may be normal or subnormal. Characteristic edematous and crepitant swellings develop in the hip, shoulder, chest, back, neck, or elsewhere. At first, the swelling is small, hot, and painful.

As the disease rapidly progresses, the swelling enlarges, there is crepitation on palpation, and the skin becomes cold and insensitive with decreased blood supply to affected areas. General signs include prostration and tremors. Death occurs within 12-48 hours. In some cattle, the lesions are restricted to the myocardium and the diaphragm. A rapidly fatal, febrile disease in well-nourished young cattle, particularly of the beef breeds, with crepitant swellings of the heavy muscles suggests blackleg. The affected muscles are dark red to black and dry and spongy, have a sweetish odor, and are infiltrated with small bubbles but little oedema.

The lesions may be seen in any muscle, even in the tongue or diaphragm. In sheep, because the lesions of the spontaneously occurring type are often small and deep, they may be overlooked. Occasionally, the tissue changes caused by _C. septicum_, _C. novyi_, _C. sordellii_, and _C. perfringens_ may resemble those of blackleg. At times, both _C. septicum_ and _C. chauvoei_ may be isolated from blackleg lesions, particularly when the carcass is examined ~24 hours after death, which allows time for postmortem invasion of the tissues by _C sordellii_. Field diagnoses are confirmed by laboratory demonstration of _C. chauvoei_ in affected muscle (standard methods: culture and biochemical identification). The samples of muscle should be taken as soon after death as possible.

The fluorescent antibody test for _C. chauvoei_ is rapid and reliable. A PCR is available and reported to be very good for clinical samples but not for environmental samples. A multivalent vaccine containing _C. chauvoei_, _C. septicum_, and, where needed, _C. novyi_ antigens is safe and reliable for cattle and sheep. Calves 3-6 months of age should be vaccinated twice, 4 weeks apart, followed by annual boosters before the anticipated danger period (usually spring or early summer). In an outbreak, all susceptible cattle should be vaccinated and treated prophylactically with penicillin (10,000 IU/kg, IM) to prevent new cases for as long as 14 days. Cattle should be moved from affected pastures. Vaccine failure has been observed locally and attributed to a deficient spectrum of antigens in the vaccine. In such instances, a bacterin vaccine is produced with local, previously identified clostridial strains of C chauvoei.

This comment was extracted from <http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/generalized_conditions/clostridial_diseases/blackleg.html>

Rabies transmitted by vampire bats has existed in tropical America since the pre-Hispanic era. Originally the epidemiological cycle of the disease involved mainly wildlife, with the vampire bat being the main vector of the disease and the wild mammals of the region its victims. With the arrival of domestic mammals and with the European conquest and colonization, the vampire bat changed its feeding habits, preferring to feed on domestic mammals, especially cattle. Since the vampire bat is a very effective vector of the rabies virus, vampire-transmitted rabies became a very important limiting factor for the development of livestock production in most countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Vampire bats preferentially prey on livestock. Livestock and horses are generally larger than indigenous wildlife prey species, are more abundant and tend to stay in the same location for extended periods. Once a colony of vampire bats has located a herd of animals, they are then able to return to the same herd on subsequent nights. This is particularly true for cattle. Humans have also provided vampire bats with roosting sites in the form of buildings, bridges, and wells. This in turn has contributed to an increase in the number and size of vampire bat colonies, and enlarged the population that can act as a reservoir for rabies virus. Deforestation, a consequence of land clearance for logging and modification for agriculture has simultaneously reduced the numbers of natural prey species and brought vampire bats into contact with livestock and man.

Bovine rabies in Latin America is commonly called derriengue, a Spanish word for a fatal paralytic disease. The infected animals exhibit signs of restlessness or excitement with sudden onset of hind limb paralysis. This progresses to the fore limbs. Overt salivation is commonly observed but is believed to be due to difficulties in swallowing rather than excess saliva production. Emaciation in animals that survive for any length of time is observed but the disease is invariably fatal.

There are 3 species of blood-feeding or hematophagous bats found exclusively in Latin America. Only one of these, the common vampire bat _Desmodus rotundus_, is a well known reservoir for rabies. Vaccination of cattle is a very successful way of preventing rabies in cattle. Extracted from <http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/5/1911/pdf>. Ultimately both of these diseases may be prevented by vaccination. - Mod.TG] [Maps of Belize can be seen at <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/americas/belize_pol_03.jpg> and <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/19>. - ProMED Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]
Date: Fri 8 May 2015
Source: The Reporter [edited]
<http://www.reporter.bz/general/bird-flu-losses-mount-600000-birds-destroyed-so-far/>

While poultry farmers continue to suffer massive losses due to an outbreak of bird flu, the Belize Poultry Association [BPA] says it is resisting the temptation to increase prices. But losses are mounting and Ministry of Health officials estimate that more than 600,000 birds have had to be destroyed. BPA spokesman Orlando Habet told The Reporter this week that the full extent of the loss has yet to be determined because the Ministry of Agriculture continues to seize and destroy birds found to be infected.

"We are hoping for increased production from the communities in the north such as Blue Creek, Ship Yard, and Little Belize, to make up for the shortfall in production from the west," Habet said. "Only if absolutely necessary will we be looking at putting in place some kind of temporary increase. Like every other commodity, poultry is subject to the laws of supply and demand, and the BPA cannot control any price increase that results from a shortage of poultry products," Habet said in an interview last month [April 2015]. He estimated that poultry farmers collectively stand to lose some USD 6 million by the time the crisis is over.

In January [2015], health officials discovered that birds from several farms in the Spanish Lookout area had tested positive for bird flu. Further testing revealed that the birds had contracted the H5N2 strain of the virus. This strain is classified as "low pathogenic," [in humans] meaning the risk of contaminating humans is slight. At the onset of the outbreak, some 12,000 birds had to be destroyed, but this selective culling could not contain the outbreak, which has now become an epidemic.  [Byline: Benjamin Flowers]
===================
[H5N2 is highly pathogenic for birds but, fortunately, rarely causes disease in humans. - ProMED Mod.MHJ]

[A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/19>.]
Date: Tue 27 Jan 2015
Source: Channel 5 Belize [edited]
<http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/109037>

Today, 27 Jan 2015, the Ministry of Health [of Belize] is working to contain a localized outbreak of hepatitis A at a government school in Buena Vista, Cayo. According to reports, there was one case of the viral infection reported before Christmas and, since then, at least 20 more cases, which have resulted in much concern.

The outbreak in a public school has been kept under the radar by the Ministry of Health. In fact, today [27 Jan 2015], when the media asked C.E.O. Peter Allen about it, he was surprised by the fact that the news had gotten out.

Mr. Allen said, "I don't know why I am surprised that the media knows more about these things than I ever expect them to, but indeed, we appear to have an outbreak of hepatitis A in that particular school. Hepatitis A is a food or waterborne disease. Our staff has been working with the school for the last week, and we were presenting with a parent-teacher association meeting just last night in the village. We believe that the outbreak is controlled, but we are still searching for what in these types of cases we call the index case, the primary case from which the other cases may have become infected. So, we are still working on that, but we do believe we have it under control. We are actively engaged [with] the ministry of health, with the staff of the school, with the parents of the children, and of course with the children themselves."
======================
[Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is spread by fecal-oral transmission. Hepatitis A is closely associated with inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene. Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause debilitating symptoms. Hepatitis A occurs sporadically and in epidemics worldwide, with a tendency for cyclic recurrences. Waterborne outbreaks are usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water. The infection has an incubation period averaging about 28 days. An epidemic curve showing the date of onset of cases would be helpful to assess whether most of these cases are from a point source exposure (perhaps from the initial case).

Casual contact among people does not spread the virus. In developing countries (where sanitary conditions are poor), most children experience infection in early childhood. As a consequence of poor sanitary conditions and hygienic practices, most children (up to 90 percent) have been infected with the hepatitis A virus before the age of 10. Those infected in childhood do not experience any noticeable symptoms. Consequently, epidemics are uncommon, because older children and adults are generally immune. Symptomatic disease rates in these areas are low, and outbreaks are generally rare, although one seems to have occurred here. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/19>.]
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