17 February, 2011

Legionnella at the Playboy Mansion, Meningitis in the Ukraine and on US college campuses, Cholera update, and Chlamydia in New Brunswick

Meningitis in Ukraine
On February 11th, in Zakarpatie, about 60 people were hospitalized, suspected of having the deadly disease - meningitis. Most of the patients are associated with a local Roma camp. The town is in a panic and many are afraid of becoming infected from the Roma people. Parents are not letting their children outside and most others are trying to stay indoors.  “Everybody is scared, the same as last year during the outbreak of the swine flu.” Locals say that the Roma district had suffered from meningitis in the past, but do not recall such a widespread event.

It is suspected that an epidemic of meningitis has the potential to touch other parts of Ukraine. On January 28, in Svyatoshynskyi district of Kiev, a second-grade boy died from meningitis while other children were infected.

The most common symptoms of viral meningitis are high fever, vomiting and headache. Meningitis can be life-threatening and is therefore classified as a medical emergency.

На Закарпатье уже госпитализировано около 60 пациентов с подозрением на смертельную болезнь - менингококк. Большинство заболевших - это представители местного цыганского табора.

В городе паника - люди боятся заразиться от цыган. Местные не пускают детей на улицу и сами стараются меньше выходить. "Все перепуганы, как в прошлом году во время эпидемии "свиного гриппа".   Местные говорят, что в ромском районе и раньше болели менингитом, но такой мощной эпидемии не припоминают.

Похоже эпидемия менингококка может затронуть всю Украину. 28 января в Святошинском районе Киева от менингита умер второклассник. Признаки вирусного менингита - температура до 40, рвота, головная боль.  

Chlamydia Epidemic in New Brunswick
New Brunswick has issued a warning over the growing number of cases of chlamydia, particularly among youths.  “If you are under 30 and you are breathing you need a chlamydia test," stated the deputy chief medical officer.  Although over 1,800 New Brunswick youths have been diagnosed, a focus group has revealed that most youths in New Brunswick are unaware of the risks infection poses.  Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to infertility in both women and men if untreated (although sterility is a very rare complication in men).  Having chlamydia also increases the likelihood of becoming infected with HIV if exposed to it.

Cholera Spreading in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Papau New Guinea
The number of deaths in Greater Accra, Ghana from cholera has risen to six with 505 cases recorded as of February 14.  The 1st case was reported on January 10, and the number of cases has continued to rise despite the government’s efforts to combat the outbreak by offering free treatment to those affected and undertaking a public education campaign.

Eleven are now dead and 252 cases suspected due to a cholera outbreak in Côte d’Ivoire’s capital of Abidjan.  The epidemic began in Adjame on January 21 and is being attributed to garbage piling up throughout the city. An educational campaign as well as free treatment of cases are both being conducted in an attempt to stop the outbreak.

Cholera cases continue to be recorded in Papau New Guinea (PNG) due to a lack of government funding and an initially poor response to the outbreak. Over 10,000 cases and 483 deaths have been recorded in 7 of 19 PNG provinces since the outbreak began in September 2009.

Playboy Mansion Hit with Legionnaires’ Disease
On February 3, Hugh Hefner hosted a fundraiser for Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue Autism Foundation at the infamous Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills in California. Unfortunately, many of his guests became very sick within 24 to 48 hours after leaving the event with severe flu-like symptoms such as coughs, chills, fevers, and respiratory infections. Investigators discovered that these people were experiencing a mild form of Legionnaire’s Disease, Pontiac Fever. So far, 170 people have been reported with the disease.

Pontiac Fever is a respiratory infection caused by the Legionnella bacteria, which is typically found in water-delivery systems such as shower heads, hot tubs and air conditioners. The Playboy Mansion spread may be linked to a fog machine. Symptoms usually persist for 8-10 days, but resolve themselves without any antibiotics.

The Playboy Mansion is only one of various DOMAINfest Global Conference locations in Santa Monica under investigation for helping spread the disease.

Meningitis on campus
Two US universities have seen meningitis cases recently.  In New York, a St. Lawrence University junior has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.  At St. Lawrence, approximately 95% of the students have been vaccinated.  At Texas A&M, a 20-year old junior living off-campus died of bacterial meningitis on Friday.  He was the second student this academic year to be infected at Texas A&M.  Texas’ one-year old law requiring meningococcal vaccination does not apply to students living off-campus.  

Pneumoccal and meningococcal meningitis are the most common forms of bacterial meningitis.  The pnemococcal vaccine routinely given to children under 2.   The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends everyone between 11-18 years of age be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis.  According to the National Meningitis Association, there are 1500 cases of bacterial meningitis every year.  Many states and schools require the vaccine for incoming freshman.  For more information on the vaccine, visit the CDC’s site.

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