Novel Zoonotic Orthopoxvirus in Georgia

According to a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a novel zoonotic orthopoxvirus caused lesions in two men in the country of Georgia. Another sample, tested retrospectively after being stored for suspected Anthrax, also turned out to be positive for this new pox virus.

The article abstract states:

During 2013, cutaneous lesions developed in two men in the country of Georgia after they were exposed to ill cows. The men had never received vaccination against smallpox. Tests of lesion material with the use of a quantitative real-time polymerase-chain-reaction assay for non–variola virus orthopoxviruses were positive, and DNA sequence analysis implicated a novel orthopoxvirus species. During the ensuing epidemiologic investigation, no additional human cases were identified. However, serologic evidence of exposure to an orthopoxvirus was detected in cows in the patients’ herd and in captured rodents and shrews. A third case of human infection that occurred in 2010 was diagnosed retrospectively during testing of archived specimens that were originally submitted for tests to detect anthrax. Orthopoxvirus infection should be considered in persons in whom cutaneous lesions develop after contact with animals.

Reference:

Vora NM, Li Y, Geleishvili M, et al: Human infection with a zoonotic orthopoxvirus in the country of Georgia. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(13): 1223-30. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1407647. Available from: LINK.

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Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome Established in Saratov, Russia

According to a (translated) report in Free News Volga, the Saratov regions remains active for the transmission of Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS). In January 2015, as many as 121 people were identified to be suffering from HFRS, which represents a four fold increment to the number of cases reported in January 2014.

HFRS is a group of symptomatologically similar diseases caused by a group of viruses belonging to the family Bunyaviridae. The viruses that cause HFRS include Hantaan, Dobrava, Saaremaa, Seoul and Puumala viruses.

These viruses are primarily carried by rodents and human beings get affected when they come in contact with rodent urine or saliva or even aerosolized dust from rodent nests. Known carriers

include the striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius), the reservoir for both the Saaremaa and Hantaan virus; the brown or Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), the reservoir for Seoul virus; the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus), the reservoir for Puumala virus; and the yellow-necked field mouse (Apodemus flavicollis), which carries the Dobrava virus.
Control measures, therefore, center around measures for rodent control and exposure limitation. None of the HFRS have a specific treatment and supportive therapy, with maintenance of hydration, electrolytes, appropriate antibiotics to treat any secondary infections and dialysis for renal support being the pillars of disease management. Depending on the causative virus and the patient profile, mortality varies from as low as 1% to as high as 15%.

HPAI H5N2 Strikes Two More Counties in Wisconsin

Two more counties in Wisconsin have fallen prey to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N2 strain which continues its exponential race across the Mississippi flyway, along which this infection has been gaining momentum. According to the report in Madison, this new outbreak, affecting the Barron and Juneau counties, have put almost 126,000 heads of poultry at risk.

Although this disease seems to be highly infectious and has a very high case fatality rate, it has not yet made the species jump at similar proportions and is believed to be of little infectivity and virulence to man.

Salmonella enteritidis Outbreak in Liverpool

An outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis has reportedly taken place in Liverpool, at the Kirkby takeaway, Woks Cooking. According to the report published in the Liverpool Echo, the outbreak has been linked with infected german eggs and improper maintenance of hygiene in the kitchen. This food outlet has had a history of run ins with the health authorities as it was shut down in July last year, only to be re-opened under new management the very next month.

The current outbreak has been associated with the use of German eggs, which have also been implicated in other outbreaks elsewhere. Salmonellosis is usually spread from fecal contamination of eggs, but this current crop of cases attributed to this single source has also been seen in consumers Grade A eggs, which are clean and do not have any cracks or other ways of getting contaminated. It is believed that the infection had occurred during ovulation and may have been cloistered within as the eggshell formed.

Swine Brucella Risk While Hunting Feral Hogs

The Alabama feral hog hunting trend has increased over the past year, and with larger number of people getting involved in handling the wild hog once it has been killed, the risks of contracting Swine Brucella is on the rise. Swine Brucella is caused by the bacterium Brucella suis and is usually contracted while handling an infected hog without proper precautions.

The CDC has recommended the following pointers to be kept in mind to prevent contracting this disease:

  • Use clean, sharp knives for field dressing and butchering.
  • Wear eye protection and rubber or latex gloves when handling carcasses.
  • Avoid direct contact of bare skin with fluid or organs from the animal.
  • After butchering, burn or bury disposable gloves and parts of the carcass that will not be eaten.
  • Avoid feeding raw meat or other parts of the carcass to dogs.
  • Wash hands as soon as possible with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or more.
  • Dry hands with a clean cloth.
  • Clean all tools and reusable gloves with a disinfectant, such as diluted bleach.
  • Thoroughly cook the meat.
  • Be aware that freezing, smoking, drying and pickling do not kill the bacteria that cause brucellosis.

Anthrax Scare in Simplipal Biosphere, Odisha, India

After 8 cattle and over 100 pigs were found dead in villages around the Simlipal Biosphere of Odisha in India, the villagers were gripped with an anthrax scare. This is based on the fact that in December 2014, an elephant died of suspected anthrax in the range, and later, investigation confirmed the presence of Bacillus anthracis in the elephant’s organs.

Though the cattle were vaccinated against the disease, pigs are usually not vaccinated, and vaccine failure has been noted in cattle. Teams of Veterinary Surgeons have visited the affected areas and blood and visceral samples have been collected from a dead calf. Now, as calves are rarely vaccinated against anthrax, if the bacillus turns up on investigation, then a fresh round of vaccinations and other public health measures need to be initiated to stop further spread of the disease.

 

Plague Bacteria Detected in Arizona Fleas

The causative bacterium of plague, Yersinia pestis, has been detected in fleas in Picture Canyon, Arizona. Deaths of prairie dogs in this region alerted officials to the possibility of the disease.

Prairie dogs are especially vulnerable to this bacterium as they live in social burrows which may be infested with rodents that carry the fleas bearing the disease causing bacteria. Once the host rodent dies, the fleas seek out new hosts to feed off as they are sanguinivorous. It has been noted that even a single infected member of a prairie dog colony may lead to the death of as many as 90% of the members of the colony.

Human cases have been known to develop from close contact with cats that have preyed on infected rodents, and adequate advisory is being issued, especially to campers and hikers in the region, about the risks of plague. In addition, the prairie dog burrows at the affected place, Picture Canyon, are being sprayed with insecticide to kill the fleas that may host the plague bacillus.