Friday, August 17, 2012

Nunavut health warns of danger of eating raw or undercooked walrus

Public domain image/EOZyo via wikimedia commons

After GN health officials saw some Igloolik residents at a clinic with trichinosis symptoms, they issued a warning Thursday to residents about the importance of not eating raw or undercooked walrus meat and the parasitic dangers present.

According to a Nunatsiaq Online report Friday, health officials also advise residents to seek medical care if they experience the symptoms of trichinosis: vomiting, fever, diarrhea, a rash, muscle pain and fatigue.

The parasite associated with trichinosis in this part of the world is Trichinella nativa. This nematode can be found in the bodies of walrus, polar bear and other creatures. This strain of Trichinella is resistant to freezing unlike it’s cousin, Trichinella spiralis.

According to the above report:

After a big trichinosis outbreak in Repulse Bay in 2002, the GN set up a program where people can send walrus tongue samples to a lab in Kuujjuaq to be tested.
Nunavut and Nunavik have seen many outbreaks of trichinosis: in Salluit in 1987, when 42 people fell ill; in 1999, when 34 in Qikiqtarjuaq became infected; in 2005, when 12 hunters sickened in Kangiqsualujjuaq after eating barbequed black bear meat, and in 2006 when two people fell ill with trichinosis in Kuujjuaq, and 50 in Cape Dorset.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Food borne trematodes highlighted in WHO Fact Sheet

Clonochis sinensis   Image/CDC

The World Health Organization issued a Fact Sheet Tuesday on food borne trematode infections.

Foodborne trematode infections affect more than 56 million people throughout the world. They are caused by trematode worms (“flukes”), of which the most common species affecting people are Clonorchis, Opisthorchis, Fasciola and Paragonimus.

People become infected through the consumption of raw or poorly cooked fish, crustaceans and vegetables that harbor the minute larval stages of the parasites.

Foodborne trematode infections are zoonoses, i.e. they are naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to people and vice versa. They have complex life-cycles that usually involve two intermediate hosts. The first intermediate host in all cases is a freshwater snail, while the second host differs: in clonorchiasis and opisthorchiasis it is a freshwater fish, while in paragonimiasis it is a crustacean. The final host is always a mammal.

People become infected when they ingest the second intermediate host that is infected with larval forms of the parasite. Fascioliasis does not require a second intermediate host and people become infected when the larvae are ingested together with the aquatic vegetables to which they are attached.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Philippines DOH warning: Don't wade in flooded waters

This is the warning to the public coming from the Philippines Department of Health after the latest numbers on leptospirosis in the country showed that the number of cases this year has passed 2,000.

According to a report in the Visayan Daily Star:

Dr. Eric Tayag, assistant secretary and spokesman of the Dept. of Health, cautioned in particular those people who have fever and waded in flooded areas for the past three to seven days to seek medical attention for possible leptospirosis infection.
"Those people need to take prescribed antibiotic to prevent the progression of the infection, Tayag said.
He was referring to those who recently waded in flood waters; have had high fever for two to three days; fever was accompanied by body pains, chills, headaches, and red eyes (like sore eyes); jaundice (yellowing of the skin); decreased levels of urination; and urine was tea-colored (a dark amber color).

Leptospirosis is a bacterial zoonotic disease caused by the corkscrew shaped organism, Leptospira. It goes by several other names depending on the locale; mud fever, swamp fever, sugar cane and Fort Bragg fever, among others. It is a disease of both humans and animals.

The rat is the main host to Leptospira. However other animals such as cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals.

People become infected by direct or indirect contact with the urine of these animals. Contact with urine-contaminated water is extremely important. Contaminated food and soil containing animal urine are other potential sources of infection.

The bacterium enters through contact with skin. Especially through cuts or breaks in the skin and through mucous membranes like the eyes.

Found worldwide, it was long considered an occupational disease (miners, farming, vets, and sugarcane harvesting and sewer workers), it is increasingly associated with recreational water sports and camping.

Symptoms of leptospirosis, if present,  appear in up to 4 weeks after exposure. Sometimes the person will show no symptoms or mild flu-likesymptoms.

According to the CDC, Leptospirosis may occur in two phases; after the first phase, with fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea, the patient may recover for a time but become ill again. If a second phase occurs, it is more severe; the person may have kidney or liver failure (jaundice) or meningitis. This phase is also called Weil’s disease.

Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics (penicillin and doxycycline), especially if started early in the disease. For very ill patients, intensive care support and IV antibiotic may be necessary.

The DoH warns the public to avoid flooded areas and to refrain from coming in contact with flood water, to wear protective clothing like pants, rubber boots, gloves or rubber jumpsuits, maintain the cleanliness of their homes and getting rid of rats.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Some Peruvians build an immune response to rabies according to CDC study

The rabies virus is well established as being as close to 100% fatal as any disease in humans or mammals with very few documented survivors. You could count the number of survivors on one hand, until now.
However, according to a study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ministerio de Salud in Lima, Peru demonstrates that some Peruvian Amazons have survived the usually fatal virus without vaccination.
In the study, CDC researchers found that approximately 10% of those tested from a couple of remote villages in Peru had built up an immune response and survived the usually lethal infection.
The study consisted of 92 people, 50 of whom reported previous bat bites. Blood samples were taken from 63 people, and 7 (11 percent) were found to have “rabies virus neutralizing antibodies,” evidence that they had been previously exposed to the rabies virus.
Although one person with antibodies reported receiving vaccine previously, the other people with antibodies are unlikely to have received medical care following prior bat bites. It could not be determined when the virus exposures occurred or which animals were responsible, but the history of repeated bat bites reported among persons in this area strongly suggest vampire bats as the source of rabies virus exposure.
According to a CDC press release Wednesday, Amy Gilbert, PhD, of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases and lead author of the study said, “Nearly all rabies virus exposures that proceed to clinical infections are fatal. Our results support the idea that under very unique circumstances there may be some type of enhanced immune response in certain populations regularly exposed to the virus, which could prevent onset of clinical illness. However, a series of injections following an exposure remains the best way to protect people against rabies.”
According to the CDC, More than 55,000 people die of rabies each year. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Texas reports second anthrax case in an animal

Public domain photo/  Elapied at the wikipedia project 

This is the second confirmed case of anthrax in a Texas animal for 2012 and the first in livestock this year.

A yearling female sheep  in West Texas  has been diagnosed with anthrax. This is the second confirmed case of anthrax in a Texas animal for 2012 and the first in livestock this year. The infected sheep was located near Mertzon, TX (Irion County,) which is approximately 26 miles southwest of San Angelo. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has quarantined the premises. TAHC regulations require vaccinations of exposed livestock and proper disposal of carcasses before a quarantine can be released.

According to Texas State Veterinarian, Dr. Dee Ellis, “The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation for possible new cases across the state. Producers are encouraged to consult with their veterinary practitioner or local TAHC office about the disease and about preventative measures such as vaccination of livestock.”

Anthrax is caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. It is a pathogen in livestock and wild animals. Some of the more common herbivores are cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and deers.

However, humans who come into contact with infected animals can get sick from anthrax, too.

What is anthrax?

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Hawaii confirms H3N2 variant in Maui resident


An influenza variant virus recognized to be circulating in swine since last year has infected a Maui resident according to Hawaii health officials.
The resident sought medical attention after experiencing symptoms consistent with the regular flu, including fever, cough, and body aches. Because the patient's primary care doctor is a participant in DOH’s influenza-like illness sentinel network (ILINet), a respiratory specimen was sent to the State Laboratories Division for testing. Lab results for H3N2v virus were confirmed by CDC late last week. The resident has since fully recovered without need for hospitalization.
Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy commended the entire health network in discovering this case, "Fortunately, we have a robust surveillance network and our State Laboratory detected this variant virus and conferred with federal partners.
Thanks to the excellent cooperation of Hawaii's healthcare providers, participation in our sentinel network exceeds CDC recommendations. In addition to our state laboratory’s ability to identify unusual flu strains, sentinel physicians contribute to our ability to catch incidents such as this, which might otherwise fall below the radar."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says a “variant influenza virus” is when an influenza virus that normally circulates in swine (but not people) is detected in a person.
Most of the recent human H3N2v virus infections have occurred after contact with pigs, although in some cases, the virus seems to have spread from person-to-person.
A human infection with H3N2v virus resembles symptoms seen in regular seasonal flu infections, which may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting.
“The virus seems to be behaving as previously observed in other cases, with illness similar to seasonal flu and with no sustained community transmission,” noted State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “Still, anyone who develops flu-like illness within a week after close contact with domestic pigs should see their healthcare provider.”
Hawaii health officials warn however, that children, pregnant women, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems should be especially careful around pigs and practice good hand washing habits.
State, local and federal health authorities are investigating to find the source of the virus.
To report a suspected case of H3N2v virus infection, clinicians should contact the Disease Investigation Branch at             (808) 586-4586       . Laboratory questions should be directed to the State Laboratories Division at             (808) 453-6700       .
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