21 June, 2011

Scarlet Fever Kills 2 in Hong Kong, Undiagnosed Disease Strikes Bihar, and More Breaking News

Scarlet Fever Kills Two Children in Hong Kong
A new strain of Scarlet Fever is spreading through Hong Kong. In the past three weeks, two children, a 15-year-old boy and a 7-year-old-girl, became the city’s first fatal victims in the last 10 years. Since January, 419 cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong with 142 cases in the first weeks of June.

Scarlet Fever is caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria and mostly affects children ages 2-8. The disease causes a fever, sore throat and a rash on the neck, face and tongue, and eventually spreads across the entire body.  Scarlet Fever is typically treated with antibiotics that are very effective, but this new strain is actually a mutation of the Streptococcus bacteria and is resistant to several antibiotics. A physician from the Hong Kong Medical Association encourage doctors who are treating children infected with the disease to try alternative antibiotics before the disease spreads even more.

Japanese Encephalitis Suspected as Unknown Disease in Bihar
A team of experts from the Union Health Ministry and Regional Malaria Research Institute (RMRI) team is investigating an “unknown disease” killing children in the Muzaffarpur region of Bihar, a state in India. The disease has caused the death of 26 children in the last seven days and affected over 35 others. It is believed to be Japanese Encephalitis. Some of the symptoms include high fever, memory loss, convulsions, falling in and out of consciousness, and eventually coma. Hopefully once the disease can be confirmed, health officials will be able to take the necessary precautions to prevent more children from becoming victims.

Rabies PEP Failure
A patient in Mumbai, India is now in a coma after becoming infected with rabies despite completing the recommended postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) regimen following a dog bite. A 2nd patient is also in a coma with the deadly virus after failing to complete the PEP series of vaccinations. (PEP typically consists of one dose of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period.) PEP is usually highly effective, however in a small percentage of patients the vaccine series may not build up enough of an immune response. It is also important that PEP be administered promptly after a rabies exposure and that the schedule of doses is followed. According to the WHO, India sees 25,000-30,000 deaths due to rabies each year.

Mumps Outbreaks in Vancouver
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control has issued a health alert for mumps in Vancouver.  Although the number of cases has not been released, it is reportedly the largest outbreak since 2008 when almost 200 people were diagnosed.  Earlier this year, Whistler saw a mumps outbreak as well.  HealthMap will update this story as more details become available.

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