Disease

New cholera outbreak flares up in Malawi

Malawi health officials reported a new cholera outbreak in Nsanje district, located in the southern region of Malawi. The outbreak began on Mar. 11 and laboratory testing revealed that the agent was Vibrio cholerae Ogawa O1. As of 24 March 2017, a total of 14 cases with no deaths have been reported.

Lassa fever in West Africa: Outbreaks confirmed in 5 countries

Lassa fever outbreaks have been confirmed across five West African countries, including Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Burkina Faso.

Nigeria – In Nigeria, the index case emerged on 16 December 2016 in Ogun state. Since then, the outbreak has remained active. During the week ending 19 March 2017), 15 suspected cases were reported, with two testing positive for Lassa fever. Between 16 December 2016 and 19 March 2017, a total of 283 suspected cases including 56 deaths (case fatality rate of 19.8%) have been reported. Of the suspected cases, 99 were confirmed by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Lassa laboratory in Nigeria. The cases have been distributed across 13 states: Ogun, Bauchi, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ondo, Edo, Taraba, Nasarawa, Rivers, Kaduna, Gombe, Cross-River and Borno.

Benin – The outbreak of Lassa fever in Benin started on 12 February 2017 from Tchaourou district, Borgou province, close to the border with Nigeria. It was established that this case had epidemiological link with the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria. On 23 February 2017, another suspected case from L’Atacora province was reported. Samples obtained from the two cases tested positive for Lassa fever in the laboratory in Cotonou, Benin and in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital Lassa laboratory. Both cases died, giving a case fatality of 100%.

Togo – In Togo, Lassa fever was confirmed on 23 February 2017, with the case having established epidemiological linkage to Benin. A total of 12 suspected were subsequently reported, seven of them were confirmed at the Institut National d’Hygiène in Lomé, Togo. Four of the confirmed cases died, giving a case fatality rate of 57%. The cases originated from Oti and Kpendjal districts.

Burkina Faso – On 26 February 2017, the Ministry of Health of Burkina Faso notified WHO of a confirmed Lassa fever case admitted in a hospital in the northern part of Togo. The case originated from Ouargaye district, central eastern part of Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso has not had any other case.

Sierra Leone – Sierra Leone has been reporting sporadic suspected cases of Lassa fever since 28 December 2016. However, the outbreak situation escalated in the months of February and March 2017 when a cluster of 24 cases were reported and investigated. Out of these, four cases were laboratory confirmed and all of them died, thus giving case fatality rate of 100% among the confirmed. The outbreak has since subsided.

Measles in Damascus, Syria

A “major outbreak” of measles is hitting the encircled, rebel-controlled Damascus suburbs of East Ghouta, with doctors telling Syria Direct that vaccine shortages are to blame for more than 350 cases of the easily preventable disease in under two months. As a result, hundreds of East Ghouta children now suffer from dangerously high fevers, severe respiratory issues and, in at least two instances, death.

In patients with access to quality health care, measles can be managed. But for populations with malnutrition and inadequate health care, “mortality can be as high as 10 percent,” the France-based Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) reported earlier this month. Children affected by measles within East Ghouta face an added risk of serious health complications given the dire food and medical shortages resulting from the opposition-held area’s five-year encirclement.

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