29 September, 2010

World Rabies Day and Other Highlights

Spotlight News of the Week

World Rabies Day
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 marked World Rabies Day, a day meant to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies. While rabies does not pose an imminent threat for many, worldwide an estimated 55,000 people die annually of the virus - a rate of one person every ten minutes. Over 99% of human rabies deaths occur after exposure to rabid dogs. In just the past week, rabies has made headline news in several parts of the world:
  • The popular tourist island of Bali is currently undergoing a mass vaccination campaign, as rabies has killed 93 people since 2008.
  • A recent report highlighted that rabies kills approximately 100 people a year in Nepal.
  • Five children have died, bringing the total number of rabies deaths to twenty, in an indigenous jungle community of Peru. It is estimated that over 3,500 people have been bitten by vampire bats, however post-exposure prophylaxis is limited, and some indigenous people have reportedly refused treatment.
  • Gauteng, South Africa is on high alert after a young girl from Soweto died of suspected rabies on September 25th.
  • Vietnam is re-examining dog consumption as rabies cases are on the rise.

Additional News Highlights

New mosquito-borne threat in France
After the first native cases of Dengue were reported in Metropolitan France, a new disease has emerged. The first two native cases of Chikungunya in Metropolitan France were reported. Authorities expect the arrival of cold weather will curtail the threat as the mosquito population dies off. Chikungunya is a viral disease that can cause debilitating illness with fever, joint pain, muscle pain, and vomiting.

First Case of West Nile Virus in Humans in Cádiz, Andalucía
A 60-year-old man in Puerto Real, Cádiz in Andalucía, Spain was admitted to the hospital with symptoms of Meningitis. Doctors then discovered that he was infected with West Nile Virus. This is the first human case in Andalucía.

Widespread Chicken Pox in São Paulo
This past week, cities in the interior of São Paulo state in Brazil are experiencing an outbreak of Varicela (Chicken Pox). Cities affected include Mogi Mirim, Monte Mor, São José do Rio Preto and Taubaté. One source attributes this surge of chicken pox cases to the recent dry weather in the affected areas.

Pneumonic Plague Outbreak in Tibet, 1 dead
Five cases of pneumonic plague, including one death, were recently identified in Nyingchi prefecture located in Tibet’s southwestern region. Tibet’s health department has announced that anyone who visited Nyingchi after September 18th should seek medical care, especially those displaying flu-like symptoms common to plague. The Chinese government currently reports the outbreak to be controlled and close contacts of the victims have been quarantined, although the source is still unknown. Plague is endemic in Tibet and commonly transmitted via flea-carrying rodents such as the region’s widely-prevalent marmot. The previous pneumonic plague outbreak in Tibet occurred in September 2008 where two people died.

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