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Afghanistan: Lack of Security Affects Polio Vaccination in West | TOLOnews.

[26th January 2020]

Half of children under five years of age will be deprived of polio vaccinations in western provinces of Herat, Farah and Badghis due to security threats, according to officials from health and security departments.

There are more than 1.1 million children under five years of age in the western provinces, officials said, adding that two rounds of polio vaccination have been conducted in the west zone over the past two months. The new round begins on Monday, according to officials.

A polio vaccination campaigner, Abdul Waheed Rahmani, said four cases of polio have been reported in Farah, Herat and Badghis provinces.

“Our coverage in areas where we conduct the campaign house to house is over 95% but in areas where we conduct it in mosques and clinics, the coverage might not be more than 20%,” Rahmani said.

But local officials said efforts are underway to cover those areas as well.

“Our campaign is house-to-house (in Herat), except in Gulran, Kushk and Rabat Sang. It is not house-to-house in Kushk-e-Kohna and Shindand (districts), as the opposition (militants) did not allow the campaign to be conducted house-to-house,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, deputy head of public health directorate of Herat.

“There is a need for people’s cooperation to make this campaign a success,” Herat deputy governor Mohammad Daud Hashemi said. “Security forces will ensure the safety of this campaign if there is any security threat.”

Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are polio positive while it has been eradicated from other parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization.

A religious scholar in Herat, Sayed Ahmad Hussaini, called on the Taliban not to prevent the campaign in areas under their influence in the west of the country.

“Medication has been encouraged in Islam. If children are infected (with polio), it will not only damage them but others as well,” Hussaini said.

Figures by local authorities show that at least 650,000 children were vaccinated in the two rounds of the campaign in Herat over the past two months.


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Pakistan: Anti-polio campaign to start in KP from Monday | ARY News.

[Jan 26, 2020]

PESHAWAR: As part of the government’s efforts to make Pakistan a polio-free state, a three-day anti-polio campaign is set to start in various part of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa from Monday, ARY News reported.

Sources said that the anti-polio campaign will start in fifteen districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from tomorrow.

The districts include Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Buner, Torghar, Malakand, Swat, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Mohmand, Khyber and Bajaur.

More than four million children below the age of five will be administered anti-polio vaccine  during the drive.

Read More: Anti-polio campaign starts in Swabi

Earlier on January 12, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser had launched anti-polio vaccination campaign in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Asad Qaiser, while addressing a ceremony held for Sports Gala event in Sports Complex Swabi (Bamkhel), had said that the people of Swabi highlighted the country’s name around the world.

He had said the government would bring back the lights of sports grounds for ending the menace of drugs among youth. He had also paid tribute to the deputy police officer (DPO) for conducting a campaign against ice narcotics.


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Pakistan: Sindh adds to 2020 polio tally | The Express Tribune.

[January 26, 2020]

KARACHI: The Sindh Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has confirmed the detection of three new polio cases, reported from Qambar, Dadu and Sajawal districts. Among them, two children contracted the crippling disease in 2019, but the cases were confirmed on Friday.

A deceased eight-year-old boy from Qambar’s Union Council (UC) 3 tested positive for polio, after being tested last year. While his parents claimed that he was administered seven doses of polio vaccine, the child was found not to have undergone routine immunisation. He belonged to a family of farmers and later died of causes other than polio.

Meanwhile, another polio case was reported from Dadu, where the virus affected a two-year-old boy, belonging to a family of labourers, in UC Drigh Bala. He was screened for the disease after his facial muscles weakened. The boy’s father claimed that he was administered over seven doses of vaccine.

The cases, particularly the matter of the administration of vaccine to both the affected children, are being further investigated.

Another polio case – the second one in Sindh this year – has been reported from Sajawal district. A three-and-a-half-year-old boy in the district’s UC Koti has tested positive for the disease, with the virus affecting his right leg. According to the boy’s parents, he too has been administered more than seven doses of polio vaccine.

In light of these developments, the total number of polio cases registered in Sindh during 2019 has soared to 27, increasing the polio tally for the year in the country to 139. Similarly, with the surfacing of Sindh’s second polio case in the current year, the number of total cases reported in Pakistan during the first few weeks of 2020 has climbed to four.


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Pakistan: Tally for polio cases in 2020 rises to four | DAWN.

[January 26, 2020]

ISLAMABAD: Four more cases of polio, two each for the years 2019 and 2020, have surfaced in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, pushing the tally for 2019 to 139 and cases for 2020 to four.

“Both cases for the year 2019 have been reported from the province of Sindh. An eight-year-old male child, resident of district and Kambar tehsil, Kambar III union council, has been confirmed with the virus of the crippling disease. The child died before confirmation of the case. Another 24-month-old boy, resident of Dadu district, Johi tehsil, Drigh Bala union council was diagnosed with polio,” an official of the emergency operation centre (EOC) told Dawn.

“Cases for year 2020 have been reported from provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). In Sindh, a 42-month-old boy, resident of Sujawal district, Jati tehsil, Kothi union council, has been paralysed with polio virus. In KP, an eight-month-old boy, resident of district and tehsil Lakki Marwat, Behram Khel union council, has been paralysed,” he said.

“Though we are in the year 2020, we are receiving cases for 2019 as well because the collection of sample is considered rather than the date of confirmation of the case,” he said.

He said that the incubation period of the polio virus was almost three weeks so samples were sent last year but were confirmed in the year 2020. “That is why we are getting cases for the year 2019 and year 2020 simultaneously,” he added.

EOC National Coordinator Dr Rana Safdar, while speaking to Dawn, said that four more cases were confirmed on Saturday.

He said that the immunity gap that emerged across Pakistan in 2019 should be plugged through three nationwide polio campaigns — one in Dec 2019 and two in February and April 2020 and two calculated response rounds in January and March.

“The efforts would lead to significant drop in pace of new cases by mid-2020 setting the stage for our further push on virus towards zero polio. The programme expects support from all segments of society and requests every Pakistani to assume the role of Sehat Muhafiz for vaccinating their own children as well as those around them,” Dr Safdar said.


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Pakistan: ‘Fighting polio’ | Letter | Business Recorder.

[January 25, 2020] Maryam Jahan (Islamabad) writes:

This is apropos a Business Recorder editorial “Fighting polio" carried by the newspaper on Thursday. The newspaper has made interned comment on impediments for implementation of polio programme. According to it, considering that over a year ago, the poliovirus was on the retreat, the problem seems to be administrative slackness. The major hindrance, however, has been community resistance, especially in KP and parts of Sindh, where the incidence of polio was the first and second highest, respectively, in 2019. Parents refuse to have their children administered polio drops due to religious extremists' propaganda that polio vaccination is a Western scheme to reduce Muslim population by rendering Muslim children infertile. If that is not bad enough, these people have killed several health workers and their police escorts vaccination campaigns.

It is a fact that polio campaigns have attracted strong resistance from certain communities. But their fears are understandable. The situation therefore underscores the need for a sustained dialogue between reluctant families and health authorities. I'm sure sustained education efforts through community engagement will certainly successfully persuade reluctant people to end their resistance to polio vaccination.


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Pakistan: Fighting polio | Editorial | Business Recorder,

[January 23, 2020]

Polio eradication continues to remain a big challenge. The first case of this year has already emerged in Lakki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Last year, it may be recalled, polio had returned with a vengeance affecting as many as 136 children against 12 reported cases in 2018, and just eight the year before, prompting the Independent Monitoring Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to point out that in early 2018, the programme was believed to be on the brink of interrupting wild poliovirus transmission, but just over a year later the “epidemiological picture in the country" represents a huge “reversal of the trajectory to global polio eradication." Something somewhere had gone amiss.

The reasons for last year's resurgence of the poliovirus have been variously ascribed to different reasons by different people. The Monitory Board blamed political divide although there is a consensus among all political parties, inside and outside the government, on the issue. According to some others, the vaccine does not work in this country because it needs to be stored and transported at cooler temperatures, but then India with similar weather and other conditions has been able to banish this crippling disease which afflicts children under five years of age. Considering that over a year ago, the poliovirus was on the retreat, the problem seems to be administrative slackness. The major hindrance, however, has been community resistance, especially in KP and parts of Sindh, where the incidence of polio was the first and second highest, respectively, in 2019. Parents refuse to have their children administered polio drops due to religious extremists' propaganda that polio vaccination is a Western scheme to reduce Muslim population by rendering Muslim children infertile. If that is not bad enough, these people have killed several health workers and their police escorts vaccination campaigns.

Going forward, the polio eradication programme is preparing to launch two nationwide anti-polio drives in February and April to plug the immunity gap that surfaced last year. These campaigns have two noteworthy aspects. One is that they are to be conducted in tandem with Afghanistan, where polio is endemic, and people move frequent across the border. Another important feature of the campaigns, as described by the National Emergency Polio Programme Coordinator, is breaking resistance by engaging identified community influencers. Instead of forced vaccination, he explained, the aim is to let people express their concerns and ask questions which would be address based on logic and science using people these communities trust. The effort is expected to bring about a significant drop in new cases by mid-2020. Hopefully, the new approach will help wipe out the scourge of polio sooner rather than later.


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Pakistan’s Secret Weapon Against Polio | Foreign Policy.

[JANUARY 24, 2020, 11:44 AM]

Female health workers and religious leaders are driving up the country's dangerously low vaccination rates.

A vaccinator marks the door of a house during a polio vaccination drive in Nowshera, Pakistan, on April 22, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY
A vaccinator marks the door of a house during a polio vaccination drive in Nowshera, Pakistan, on April 22, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

Sabrina Toppa writes:

NOWSHERA, Pakistan—When 30-year-old Meher Nigar, a polio vaccinator from Pakistan’s northwestern city of Nowshera, knocked on a woman’s door last April, she was greeted with anger and immediately asked to leave. A month before, another woman had chased Nigar out of the house with a knife, saying that she would not accept her vaccination.

“It’s very difficult,” Nigar told me last May. “In some areas, the entire community is against us. In my opinion, the authorities cannot easily control the situation.”

As a front-line health worker for the Pakistani government, Nigar had encountered obstacles before, but she has still been shaken by the scale of vaccine refusals. Over a three-day period in spring 2019, Nigar tallied that nearly 300 of the homes she visited had rejected the polio vaccine.

Today, Pakistan has the world’s highest number of polio cases, and it remains one of only two countries in the world (along with Afghanistan) where the virus is endemic. The number of new cases surged to 137 in 2019, representing the first spike in incidents since 2014. In October 2019, the World Health Organization released a statement saying it was “gravely concerned” about the “widespread” uptick in cases in Pakistan, lamenting that the figures represented a reversal in progress made in recent years.

Part of the resistance to the vaccine stems from the legacy of a fake vaccination program run by the CIA a decade ago in Abbottabad, Pakistan, as part of the effort to ferret out information on the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. In some areas, moreover, locals vehemently believe that the vaccine is part of a Western project to sterilize Muslims. For years, administering the vaccine to children placed front-line health workers directly under attack, with a 2012 Pakistani Taliban fatwa inciting the deaths of polio workers. Last April, two armed guards and a vaccinator were killed, drawing the total death count to more than 90 over the past seven years.

A child has his finger marked to indicate he has been vaccinated after receiving oral polio drops in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY
A child has his finger marked to indicate he has been vaccinated after receiving oral polio drops in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

Last spring, Nigar’s neighbors sat in her home and angrily implored her not to visit during her door-to-door vaccination campaign, citing concerns that the vaccine might poison their children or lead to infertility. During polio campaigns, the government provides Nigar with an armed security guard and also gives her 2,000 rupees (about $13) on top of her monthly 18,000-rupee ($116) salary to help her achieve key health objectives. But the guards do little to assuage her anxiety. “Even if there is a security guard with me, I am still a little afraid of the situation,” Nigar says.

But given the growing number of polio cases in the country, it’s Pakistanis who should be alarmed. Polio primarily affects children under the age of 5, sometimes causing paralysis or permanent disability. It often spreads through contaminated water or food. In extreme cases, it can even spread when under-vaccinated communities are exposed to a different strain of the polio virus than what they’re protected against.

Starting last July, in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions, several cases of polio began appearing that were markedly different from the norm. Globally, there are three types of the polio virus: types 1, 2, and 3. Only types 1 and 3 circulate in Pakistan; the country stopped administering a vaccine against the type 2 virus in 2016, after cases stopped appearing in Pakistan. Last summer, however, the type 2 virus came roaring back in the form of vaccine-derived cases in remote areas of the country.

First, during a normal immunization day, a health worker noted that a 2-year-old girl was limping and unable to walk in Diamer, Gilgit-Baltistan. The worker knew that any child exhibiting this type of muscle weakness might be presenting symptoms of polio, prompting him to send her stool sample to a lab in Islamabad. Later in the summer, he returned to Gilgit-Baltistan to investigate the case further, collecting stool samples of children to see if it was an isolated case or a trend. In the lab, the virus did not resemble the type 1 or type 3 virus circulating in Pakistan, leading officials to worry that another vaccine, used to treat type 2 of the polio virus, had been imported and had led to incidents of that disease.

A public service announcement about the polio vaccine in Rawalpindi on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY
A public service announcement about the polio vaccine in Rawalpindi on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

Given that a weakened form of the polio virus exists in every oral vaccine, it is possible for vaccine-derived poliovirus cases to materialize in under-vaccinated communities where basic sanitation, nutrition, and health outcomes are already poor and immunity is weak. In these cases, the introduction of a mutated virus can endanger and even disable children.

With the type 2 vaccine now only used in Africa, health officials believe the virus may have been introduced into the environment through the waste of travelers coming from the Horn of Africa, perhaps either itinerant religious travelers known as Tablighi Jamaat or a Pakistani contingent of a United Nations peacekeeping mission that had been in Africa.

The vaccine-derived cases were sent to the Washington-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for verification, but they were not included in a public count of Pakistan’s polio cases. After the country’s polio program was accused of covering up information, Pakistan has since started listing the number of vaccine-derived cases on a government website.

A child receives oral polio drops during a vaccination drive in Rawalpindi on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY
A child receives oral polio drops during a vaccination drive in Rawalpindi on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

For a polio campaign regularly buffeted by misinformation—and already set back by one of the worst years for polio outbreaks—the allegations of a cover-up were bad news. However, the episode did underline the importance of two groups vital to the success of Pakistan’s polio campaign: female vaccinators and religious leaders.

In high-risk areas, Pakistan relies on a predominantly female workforce of vaccinators drawn from the local community. These women reside in the same neighborhood as their target population; their long-standing ties foster trust and decrease the probability of a vaccine refusal. Public health officials say that this community-based model, widely used next door in India until it eradicated polio in 2014, has been instrumental to restoring trust. Female vaccinators, moreover, have been able to access domestic spaces men are blocked from, which has helped quell suspicions that a nefarious Western agenda lurks behind the polio campaign.

Approximately a third of vaccine refusals in Pakistan occur because of religious reasons.

Nosherwan Khalil, Rotary International’s Punjab coordinator for the polio program, said the inclusion of local women has improved coverage and reduced refusals. “Women in Pakistan have been the true heroes in our polio eradication program,” Khalil said. “They face challenges from both within and outside the community but continue to work for the children of Pakistan.” According to Rotary International, community-based vaccination teams led by women have brought the vaccine acceptance rate up ­to 95 percent in some areas of the country.

In addition to recruiting female vaccinators, for the past few years, Pakistan has also been mobilizing Muslim religious leaders to build awareness about polio. Approximately a third of vaccine refusals in Pakistan occur because of religious reasons, Qibla Ayaz, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, a body that worked with the government to endorse hundreds of pro-vaccine fatwas, told me this winter.

In high-risk areas like Nigar’s city of Nowshera, teams carry fatwa pamphlets with endorsements of vaccination from nearly every school of Islamic thought. Countering ambivalence is the central aim, and the polio campaign works with mosque leaders who use their moral authority to convey its health benefits. In the past, parents who refused vaccinations could be arrested, but the state has recently walked back from enforcing that policy, believing that doing so may only imperil Pakistan’s larger eradication effort.

Hafiz Iqbal Rizvi in Rawalpindi on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY
Hafiz Iqbal Rizvi in Rawalpindi on April 23, 2019. SABRINA TOPPA FOR FOREIGN POLICY

In Rawalpindi’s historic Markazi Jamia Mosque, Hafiz Iqbal Rizvi, a Muslim scholar, delivers pro-vaccine sermons and says that false propaganda has been circulating against the polio vaccine for years. “It is necessary to vaccinate children,” he affirmed. Rizvi is quick to distance himself from the right-wing Islamist groups propagating false information, saying that the country’s mainstream religious establishment has nothing to do with it. “We have no cure for the propaganda,” Rizvi said, adding that he even gives the vaccine to his own children. “We are with the government and its polio partners.”

Indeed, for nearly a decade, Rizvi has been personally involved in Pakistan’s fight against polio, standing firm that the vaccine is safe amid recent waves of panic. During times of concern, Rizvi has written letters to mosques to help vaccinators enter communities where paranoia and resistance still impede access. Khalil said it’s been successful: “Many Pashtun communities are still reluctant to administer the oral polio vaccine to their children until the imam announces in the mosque that all children must be vaccinated. Religious leaders play a key role in illiterate areas of the community.”

"We have no cure for the propaganda," Hafiz Iqbal Rizvi said. "We are with the government and its polio partners."

“Nobody comes up with any evidence,” Rizvi said about the misinformation campaigns surrounding polio, which set social media ablaze last spring and even led a frenzied mob to torch a government health facility in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “Whenever we go into meetings, we tell the community that this propaganda is false and we support the polio vaccination program.” Questions about vaccine-derived cases have also flooded into the country’s newly established 24/7 WhatsApp polio help line and polio call center, leaving people like Rizvi and others to explain the urgency of accepting multiple rounds of immunization to cover different types of the poliovirus. This month, the government reached 3.6 million children during a campaign to specifically vaccinate against type 2 of the virus, requiring female vaccinators and religious leaders to step in and explain why so many rounds of vaccination were occurring in quick succession.

As the government redoubles its efforts to rebuild trust in the vaccine, it is clear that Pakistan’s most effective strategy may be to rely on women and religious leaders. As the global polio campaign inches closer to eradicating the virus, success will depend on the backing of the Pakistan’s most influential agents for social change.

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Polio–Free Certification - The Africa Regional Certification Commission starts a verification exercise in South Sudan | World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa - WHO/AFRO.

Hon. Dr Riek Gai Kok, Minister of Health – Republic of South Sudan with the delegation of the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for poliomyelitis eradication during a two-week verification visit in South Sudan
Hon. Dr Riek Gai Kok, Minister of Health – Republic of South Sudan with the delegation of the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for poliomyelitis eradication during a two-week verification visit in South Sudan.

Juba, 23 January 2020 – A delegation of the Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for poliomyelitis eradication starts a two-week visit to South Sudan to verify the accuracy and extensiveness of the complete national documentation for polio-free status prepared by the Republic of South Sudan.

During the visit, the ARCC delegation will thoroughly review the complete national documentation prepared by South Sudan.

The team will also visit field offices, county health departments and health facilities in Western Equatoria, Jonglei and Warrap to determine the sensitivity of the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance system and the implementation of the polio eradication programme.

South Sudan is expected to present the complete national documentation to the ARCC meeting planned from 31 March to 3 April 2020 to be labelled polio-free status. 

The ARCC is an independent and the only body that is mandated to certify the Africa Region to have eradicated poliovirus. This will be effective only when all the 47 member states of the African Region will have their complete documentations accepted by the ARCC. Currently 43 out of the 47 countries have had their complete documentations already accepted by the ARCC.

Since 2016, no wild poliovirus has been detected in Africa. The last known polio case associated with wild poliovirus occurred on 21 August 2016 in Borno state, Nigeria. While in South Sudan the last wild poliovirus occurred on 27 June 2009. South

Sudan polio eradication journey has been supported by the polio committees (NCC, NPEC, NTF) who oversee certification activities in South Sudan with the facilitation of the Ministry of Health and WHO. 

“I am confidence that the AFP surveillance system in the country  is sensitive enough to detect a case of WPV of polio event”, said Dr Rose Mapour, the NCC Chair for South Sudan.  The country has met the conditions to submit its polio free documents with the last case of WPV detected almost 10 years ago.

Countries become eligible to present its final complete national documentation after three years since the last case of a wild poliovirus in the country and also with evidence of a strong and sensitive surveillance system. Additionally, countries need to maintain high immunization coverage for polio vaccine. 

“The country remains on track to be certified polio free considering the sensitivity of the surveillance system, the strong partnership with UNICEF, CORE group and the Access for Humanity under the leadership of the Ministry of Health”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, the WHO Representative for South Sudan. Innovations such as the environmental surveillance, use of mobile technology and functional polio committees who oversee the process gives credence to the program and its goals.

Note to Editors.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that mainly affects children under five years of age. The virus is transmitted by the fecal-oral route and by aerosol droplets. It can evade the nervous system and cause irreversible paralysis. Polio was the leading cause of lower limb paralysis in the pre-vaccine era, crippling over 350 000 children annually.  In 1996, poliovirus paralyzed more than 75 000 children in the African continent. 

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:
Dr Sylvester Maleghemi

Tel: +211 956 779 467
Email: maleghemis@who.int

Ms Jemila M. Ebrahim

Communications Officer
Mobile: +211 921 647 859
Email: ebrahimj@who.int


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US flu uptick, kids' deaths; No new Ebola infections; Three Saudi MERS cases; Polio in Pakistan, elsewhere | CIDRAP News Scan for Jan 24, 2020.

CDC confirms 15 new pediatric flu deaths, slight ILI rise.

In its weekly FluView update today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 15 new pediatric deaths attributed to influenza. CDC estimates this season there have been at least 15 million flu illnesses, 140,000 hospitalizations, and 8,200 deaths from flu.

So far, the 2019-20 season has seen 54 pediatric deaths, 37 of which have been linked to influenza B, the dominant strain in the country. During the severe 2017-18 influenza season, the CDC tracked 188 pediatric deaths.

After two weeks of declining numbers, the CDC said flu activity was up slightly this past week, with influenza-like illness (ILI) rates going from 4.7 to 5.0. ILI activity was high in New York City, Puerto Rico, and 35 states, compared with 32 states the week before.

Data from public health laboratories last week showed 51.9% of positive lab specimens were influenza B, and 48.1% influenza A. Of subtyped influenza A samples, 94.4% were (H1N1)pdm09, and 5.6% were H3N2. Almost all (99.4%) of B viruses are from the Victoria lineage.

Hospitalization rates rose slightly this week, to 24.1 per 100,000, which is similar to the same period in other seasons.
Jan 24 CDC FluView

Third day in row with no new Ebola cases in DRC.

For the third day in a row, no new cases were recorded on the World Health Organization's (WHO's) online Ebola dashboard, so the outbreak still stands at 3,416 cases, including 2,239 deaths. A total of 501 suspected cases are under investigation.

According to the latest Disease Outbreak News summary published by the WHO yesterday, transmission has stabilized in the DRC, with only nine cases—all in Beni—recorded from Jan 15 to 21.

"The number of new confirmed cases reported each week has remained stable over the past six weeks, with approximately 14 new EVD cases reported weekly," the WHO said. "In addition, improved surveillance indicators such as the proportion of cases listed as contacts and followed prior to detection, and the decreased time to isolation of cases are encouraging signs."

The WHO said the current transmission chain is comprised of 82 confirmed and probable cases reported. Half of those cases occurred because of exposure in the community, 37% were due to nosocomial transmission, and 2% of patients were exposed during community deaths or funerals.
WHO Ebola dashboard
Jan 23 WHO Disease Outbreak News report

Three new Saudi MERS cases reported, 2 in health workers.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported three new MERS-CoV cases identified this week, including another healthcare worker from Abha city, the third healthcare infection noted in that city this week.

The woman from Abha is 36, and her infection with MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is listed as "secondary," meaning she likely contracted the virus from another person. She is identified as a healthcare worker.

A 30-year-old man from Al-Kharj has also been diagnosed as having the coronavirus. His infection is listed as primary, meaning it is not likely he contracted the virus from another person. The MOH also said the patient had camel contact.

A 63-year old woman from Dhurma was also diagnosed as a primary patient. She did not have camel contact.

The three new cases raise Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV total for January to nine cases. The WHO said in its latest monthly update that 2,499 cases have been lab-confirmed since the virus emerged in people in 2012, including 861 fatalities. The vast majority of the cases have been in Saudi Arabia.
Jan 24 Saudi MOH report

Six countries report polio cases, including first in 2020 (in Pakistan).

According to the weekly polio update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) posted today, Afghanistan has one more wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case and Pakistan has two more WPV1 cases, including the world's first case of 2020.

All other cases add to the 2019 tally.

Three countries have more circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 cases: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (10), the Philippines (2), and Togo (1). Also, Malaysia has two more cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1.

The case in Afghanistan occurred in Herat province, and brings the total number of WPV1 cases reported in 2019 to 29. The two cases in Pakistan occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and one of them is the first case diagnosed in 2020. There were 136 cases in 2019, GPEI said.

The DRC cases bring 2019's total to 73, and new cases in the Philippines bring that country’s 2019 total to 13.
Jan 24 GPEI report


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