31 May, 2011

Visit and Vote for Flu Near You by HealthMap!

In response to the CDC Flu App Challenge asking for innovative uses of technology to raise awareness of influenza and/or educate consumers on ways to prevent and treat the flu, we have submitted Flu Near You by HealthMap. You can visit the live version of our submission here or go to the challenge page to watch the video demonstrating the features. Please VOTE for us!


Flu Near You by HealthMap provides a comprehensive real-time visualization of influenza activity, news, and resources for the United States.

You can see the level of flu activity in your state by checking out current CDC reported flu activity or Google Flu Trends. You can also see CDC collected flu vaccination rates for your state.

When you click on your state, below the map, we list official public health flu resources and real-time updated flu news alerts for that state. On the right, the graph shows more detailed information by date.

Click on play to see how the data changes over time.  

CDC collects some flu surveillance data at the regional level. You can explore that, too.

Think you have the flu? Let us know! We’ll track the number of reports and provide real-time data based on the public’s responses.

This flu season, stay healthy and stay informed through Flu Near You by HealthMap.

Remember to vote for us!  Thank you!

25 May, 2011

Summary of e. coli outbreak in Germany; Chickenpox in Ukraine; United States deals with equine herpes outbreak

E. Coli Spreads in Northern Germany
An outbreak of a serious strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) is spreading throughout Germany, mostly among young females.

Although most of the strains of E. coli are relatively harmless, the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strain is a particularly serious one because it can be fatal. EHEC is typically transmitted through contaminated foods such as undercooked or raw meat. EHEC symptoms include stomach cramping and diarrhea and eventually hemorrhagic colitis or bloody diarrhea.  If untreated, EHEC can lead to anemia and kidney failure.

Germany authorities have confirmed three deaths from EHEC so far.  The first death was an 83-year-old woman in Lower Saxony who was admitted to the hospital on May 15th.  The second confirmed death was an 89-year-old woman in Schleswig Holstein.  Finally, the third victim was a 24-year-old woman in Bremen who died on Monday the 23rd. Some investigators think that the reason why this outbreak is affecting more women is that it is spreading in contaminated lettuce.

Ten people have been hospitalized in Frankfurt with another 50 experiencing mild symptoms. In Hamburg, another forty patients are being treated for EHEC as well. Other cases have been confirmed in the Northern part of Germany including Rostock, Lower Saxony, Bremen and Schleswig Holstein.  There are up to 600 suspected cases across Germany.

Health Authorities are currently re-examining food deliveries and some company food canteens have been closed since Friday. People are strongly encouraged to wash their hands more than usual and to thoroughly cook all food.

Chickenpox in Ukraine
Many children around the world become infected with chickenpox. However, there has been an increase in the number of patients with chickenpox in many regions of Ukraine. With 6,500 recorded cases of chickenpox in children since the beginning of 2011, Kiev has had three times the number of infections than during the same period in 2010 when less than 2,000 cases were recorded.

The NIH describes chickenpox as a classic childhood disease. “A child or adult with chickenpox may develop hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts. Chickenpox is caused by a virus… In most cases, it is enough to keep children comfortable while their own bodies fight the illness.”

В Украине свирепствует ветрянка. Рост числа больных ветряной оспой сейчас констатируют в каждом регионе. Так, только в Киеве с начала этого года больных киевлян зафиксировано втрое больше, чем за такой же период 2010-го. Сейчас в Киеве 6500 зараженных ветряной оспой детей, за такой же период в прошлом году не было и 2 тысяч.

Equine Herpes Outbreak in Western States
Several horses have become sick with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) and Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopahy (EHM) after attending a horse show in Utah. The National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championships ran from April 27th to May 8th in Ogden, Utah. The U.S.D.A. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported that any horse owners who brought horses to Ogden have been warned about the spread of EHV-1.

EHV-1 is a highly contagious disease that affects horses and causes Rhinopneumonitis (respiratory problems), abortions, and myeloencephalopathy. All of the horses that have died or are being treated for EHV-1 have been vaccinated for Rhinopneumonitis, but the strain going around is actually immune to the vaccine, making it particularly dangerous. EHV-1 can be directly transmitted from horse to horse, but also through contaminated equipments, feed and tack.

As of Saturday, there have been 16 confirmed cases of EHV-1 in California, one in Texas, two in Idaho, one in New Mexico, two in Oregon, five in Utah, nine in Colorado, one in Arizona, and five in Washington state. Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and Wyoming are all on high alert about the outbreak, but are yet to report any confirmed cases. The outbreak has also spread to Alberta, Canada. As of May 21, there were three confirmed cases and eight suspected ones in Alberta.

This outbreak is very serious and horse owners in the West are warned to be cautious and restrict travel. Several horse shows have been cancelled in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus.

21 May, 2011

Uganda's Ebola Outbreak Update: New suspect cases as others ruled out

As noted in our previous blog, a 12 year old girl who died at Bombo Military Hospital in Uganda tested positive for Ebola. Since then suspected cases have been reported in Buigiri, Gombe, and Nakaseke and Luwero districts. This video of a news report from Uganda’s NTV states the the case in Buigiri was actually malaria, and the cases suspected in Gombe were due to food poisoning.

During Ebola outbreaks, there are often media reports of suspected cases that are eventually diagnosed with a different disease. HealthMap will continue to report new suspected cases as well as information on those which have been ruled out.

18 May, 2011

Hope for HIV Vaccine; Ebola Strikes in Uganda

HIV/AIDS Vaccine Shows Promise
A new HIV/AIDS vaccine may be in the works as research at an Oregon University has shown to prevent virus replication in monkeys.

Louis Picker, a researcher at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), specifically in the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI) has been working on developing a HIV/AIDS vaccine from genetically modified cytomegalovirus (CMV).  CMV is a member of the Herpesviridae family and is most commonly associated with salivary glands in the body. CMV was used in this vaccine development because most people are already infected with CMV, although they show little to no symptoms. In addition, once an individual is infected with CMV they carry the virus for the rest of the life.

This new vaccine was tested on rhesus macaque monkeys at Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton, Oregon. All of the moneys were infected with Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), the monkey form of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This vaccine prevented infection in thirteen of the twenty-four monkeys who were originally infected with SIV for more than one year. These thirteen monkeys’ bodies controlled the replication of SIV to the point that highly sensitive tests could not find any traces of the virus.

These results are extremely promising and hopeful for developing a vaccine for humans. The next step for Dr. Picker and his team will be to develop the current vaccine for human testing.  If successful, this vaccine could prevent thousands of people in the United States from being infected each year.

Ebola Hits Uganda
Last week, a twelve-year old girl from Luwero died in the Bombo Military Hospital about 60 kilometers outside of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, from the deadly Ebola virus. Ebola was confirmed only after the girl’s blood sample tested positive for Ebola at the CDC in Atlanta.

Ebola virus is a viral genus in the Filoviridae family that causes Ebola hemorrhagic fever, which presents itself in patients by sudden symptoms of fever, malaise, muscle pain, headache, and pharynx inflammation. Rashes, red eyes, hiccups, and internal and external bleeding are also common in those suffering from Ebola.  There are four types that affect humans: Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, Ebola-Ivory Coast and Ebola-Bundibugyo virus. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Ebola and the fatality rate is about 85%.

Uganda’s last outbreak of Ebola occurred in 2007, but wasn’t officially declared until February 20, 2008. There were 148 people ill and 37 of them died. In hopes of preventing a similar situation, nearly 40 people who may have been exposed to the young girl who died have been quarantined and monitored for any early Ebola symptoms. Government officials have said visitors to Uganda do not need to worry about possible contact with the virus since these people were quarantined early.

13 May, 2011

Update on Chiang Mai Mystery Deaths; Ukraine Leptospirosis Cases; and Legionella in Latvia

Undiagnosed Deaths in Chiang Mai Possibly Due to Insecticide
As written in a March 23, 2011 HealthMap blog entry, there have been seven mysterious deaths since January 2011 linked to Chiang Mai, Thailand’s Downtown Inn. The undiagnosed deaths prompted travel warnings to be issued for the popular tourist destination, and led authorities to investigate many different potential causes (mushroom poisoning, toxic seaweed, and pure coincidence to name a few).

New findings released by a New Zealand news investigation team suggests the tourist deaths are connected, and due to a toxic bed bug insecticide. Small traces of the insecticide Chlorpyrifos were found in the hotel rooms where the victims had stayed. While additional test samples have been sent to the US Centers for Disease Control as well as Osaka University in Japan, other pesticides are now being looked at, as health officials work to determine the cause of the deaths.

Leptospirosis in Ukraine
For the first time in 10 years, leptospirosis has returned to the capital of Ukraine. Kiev officials have confirmed cases of leptospirosis in individuals who had gone swimming in a local pond.

Leptospirosis is a dangerous infectious disease that is accompanied by fever, possible liver damage and often requires intensive care treatment. Leptospirosis is sometimes found in fresh water that has been contaminated by animal urine, and primarily occurs in warmer climates. As a general rule, pond beaches in the Ukraine should be decontaminated before swimming is allowed.

Несистемное и очень некачественное проведение малых гидротехнических работ и дератизации (уничтожения грызунов) на киевских пляжах ставит под угрозу здоровье и даже жизнь людей. Так, впервые за 11 лет после последнего зафиксированного случая заболевания, в столицу вернулся лептоспироз.

Это опасное инфекционное заболевание, которое сопровождается волнообразной лихорадкой, поражением печени и, чаще всего, требует реанимационного лечения. Лептоспироз, преимущественно, попадает в воду с мочой больных домашних животных и крыс. Вот почему борьба с грызунами в зонах отдыха людей особо актуальна накануне открытия пляжного сезона.
«В 2010 году были случаи заболевания лептоспирозом и даже уже в 2011. И это на водоемах с официальными пляжами.

Legionnaires' Disease in Latvia
According to the Latvian Centre of Infectology (LTSI) since last autumn, the country has experienced extended cases of the acute infectious disease, legionellosis (or Legionnaires' disease). This month, Latvia has confirmed the death of one individual due to Legionella.

Experts have determined that all cases of infection have occurred in apartment buildings. This is typically the case for Legionnaires’ disease, as it prospers in humid, confined, and heavily populated spaces.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Legionnaires' disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart.”

“A mild form of Legionnaires' disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce symptoms including fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn't infect your lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days.”

По информации Латвийского центра инфектологии (ЛЦИ), начиная с осени прошлого года по стране стало резко распространяться опасное острое инфекционное заболевание легионеллез ("болезнь легионеров"). В этом году в результате этой болезни уже скончался один человек.
Как отмечает NRA, эксперты установили, что все случаи заражения произошли в квартирах многоквартирных домов.

Легионеллез (питтсбургская пневмония, понтиакская лихорадка, легионелла-инфекция) — редкое острое инфекционное заболевание. Заболевание протекает, как правило, с выраженной лихорадкой, общей интоксикацией, поражением легких, центральной нервной системы, органов пищеварения, возможно развитие синдрома полиорганной недостаточности.

06 May, 2011

"Shocking" diphtheria death, and KPC alert in Uruguay

“Shocking” diphtheria death in Autralia
A 22 year old Brisbane woman has died from diphtheria; it is believed she was unvaccinated. Diphtheria is a severe respiratory infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The president of the Australia Medial Association noted "In the (early) 1900s it was the most common cause of death from an infectious disease." In fact, Alaska’s famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the heroic efforts of mushers and their sled dogs to relay diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome during a 1925 outbreak. Today diphtheria is very rare in industrialized countries like Australia, but it remains a problem in many parts of the world including nations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the former USSR. The diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus combination vaccine has been very effective in fighting the disease.

KPC Alert in Uruguay           
In the last two months, three Uruguayan patients have died in Montevideo from the now well known antibiotic-resistant bacteria, KPC. Bacteria with the Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases (KPC) enzyme are extremely dangerous because they are able to inactivate antibiotics such as penicillin, cephalosporin, aztreonam and carbapenems. This bacterium spreads quickly and results in death in about 50% of the cases. KPC infections were first publicized in 2001 at a hospital in North Carolina and then in New York City in 2003. KPC has spread worldwide to Israel, France and China. In the last year, infections have been reported in Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and now Uruguay.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has officially issued a warning for all countries to avoid possible KPC outbreaks.