The UK is dealing with an outbreak of monkeypox, Health Secretary Matt Hancock casually told MPs today.
Two people – both members of the same household – are being monitored after the virus was identified in North Wales.
One is currently being treated in a hospital in England, health chiefs confirmed.
Public Health Wales has said the wider risk to the public is “low”.
It is understood one person contracted the virus overseas, and then passed it to someone they live with.
But Mr Hancock described it as “absolutely standard” while addressing MPs at the Health and Social Select Committee this afternoon.
The monkeypox virus causes a disease with symptoms similar, but less severe, to smallpox, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Describing his response to the Covid pandemic, the Health Secretary said that he had to be constantly aware of outbreaks of other diseases.
He said: He added: “As Health Secretary, you’re dealing with these sorts of outbreaks all of the time – I’m currently dealing with a monkey pox outbreak and cases of drug resistant TB, and that is absolutely standard.”
In a statement Public Health Wales said “two cases of imported monkeypox” have been confirmed.
It said: “Public Health Wales and Public Health England are monitoring two cases of imported monkeypox identified in North Wales.
“The index case was acquired overseas, and the two cases are members of the same household. Both cases were admitted to a hospital in England, where one currently remains.
“Monitoring and follow-up of the cases and their close contacts are undertaken as part of normal practice, and the risk to the general public is very low.”
Monkeypox is zoonosis – meaning it is transmitted from animals to humans.
It often starts with a rash before red spots appear and spread across the body, turning into red bumps filled with fluid.
These are often accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as high temperature, muscle aches and swollen glands.
Cases are often found close to tropical rainforests where there are animals that carry the virus.
Transmission of the disease is “limited”, the WHO has said, and until now it has only been detected in 15 countries.
Richard Firth Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Wales, said: “Confirmed cases of monkeypox are a rare event in the UK, and the risk to the general public is very low.
“We have worked with multi agency colleagues, following tried and tested protocols and procedures, and identified all close contacts. Actions have been put in place to minimise the likelihood of further infection.
“Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus and has been reported mainly in central and West African countries.”
According to the NHS, monkeypox is usually a mild illness that will get better on its own without treatment.
But it says: “Some people can develop more serious symptoms, so patients with monkeypox in the UK are cared for in specialist hospitals.”
Courtesy of mirror.co.uk
The authorities in India are raising the alarm over a rise in a rare and potentially fatal fungal infection called mucormycosis among recovered but still vulnerable Covid-19 patients.
The condition is caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes that are found in the soil and the air. Spores can enter the bloodstream through a cut or abrasion, and thereby spread to the eyes, spleen, heart, and brain. They can also be inhaled via the nose, entering the mucous glands, sinuses, and lungs, generating a respiratory infection.
Mucormycosis often strikes the immunocompromised, including diabetics or those on medication to reduce an overactive immune response. It also appears to be affecting these vulnerable groups even harder after they have overcome Covid-19 infections.
An increasing number of Covid-19 patients across India are presenting with the potentially fatal fungal infection. In the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, more than 200 recovered Covid-19 patients have caught mucormycosis, and at least eight have subsequently died from the infection, according to local media.
The authorities in the state of Gujarat have ordered 5,000 doses of the powerful anti-fungal agent amphotericin B to cope with the rise in cases, and ordered hospitals to create special treatment wards for those who are infected.
Last week, India’s Health Ministry released an advisory warning that, if not treated, the disease might prove fatal. “We have heard that, in some areas, people who are Covid-infected or recovered suffer from mucormycosis,” Dr. V.K. Paul, the head of the country’s Covid-19 task force said, speaking to local media. However, he cautioned that there was “no big outbreak” yet, and that he and his team would continue to monitor the situation.
Medical experts on the ground suspect the rise in cases may be the result of a confluence of factors, including the use of steroids to help fight off Covid-19, and the less than sanitary domestic conditions to which Covid survivors return after hospitalization.
Dr. Akshay Nair, a Mumbai-based eye surgeon, told the BBC that he had treated dozens of recovered Covid-19 patients for the black fungus in April, 11 of whom needed to have an eye surgically removed to stop the infection from spreading to their brain.
Courtesy of rt.com
A fresh outbreak of a mysterious illness has been making headlines in Canada. A neurological disease dubbed the New Brunswick Syndrome has affected dozens and killed six people in recent months in the region that gave it its name.
At least 48 people aged between 18 and 85, almost equally men and women, have been suffering from an inexplicable illness that has caused their health to swiftly deteriorate. Visual and auditory hallucinations, memory loss, difficulty walking and balance issues are among the symptoms of the mysterious condition, which is reported to have killed six patients thus far.
This week, the government of the mainly affected New Brunswick province, located on the Atlantic coast, stepped up its efforts to deal with the outbreak, which had, until recently, been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. An expert committee has been set up to expedite the investigation into what is being referred to as the New Brunswick Cluster of Neurological Syndrome of Unknown Cause.
“The discovery of a potentially new and unknown syndrome is scary,” New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told a news conference on Thursday, adding that locals have been “concerned and confused” about the new disease.
While people in the province have been suffering from alarming symptoms that appear to stem from the same unknown brain-damaging illness for the past few years, no certain cause has yet been identified. Health officials have been looking into potential environmental and animal exposure, but uncertainty prevails.
“At this point in time, we don’t know. Everything is on the table. We’re going to look at every possibility, and, hopefully, we’ll … develop a good understanding,” one of the committee co-chairs, Dr. Edouard Hendriks said. The other, Dr. Natalie Banville, admitted no advice can be given to people as to how – or whether – they can protect themselves from the disease, as the experts haven’t determined its derivation.
“We’re researching. We have no environmental causes, we have no genetic causes, we have no medication causes – we have no cause established,” Banville said.
All possibilities are being studied, including contamination through toxins, bacteria, or a virus.
To try to figure out the mystery, an extensive questionnaire has been drafted by health officials. Aimed at both patients and their families, it can take up to four hours to complete. A special clinic to diagnose and treat suspected patients has also been opened.
“It’s still a big shock,” Luc Leblanc, who has been diagnosed with the unknown syndrome, told Canada’s CTV News. “I never got any answers that I was looking for, or how to cope, or how to extend my life,” the 41-year-old man said. He is suffering from concentration problems and memory loss, and described his condition as “a ticking bomb.” “You don’t know how long you have,” he said.
Another patient’s life has also been upturned by the mysterious brain disorder. Gabrielle Cormier, whose neurological symptoms include vision problems, and sudden walking and standing inabilities, was diagnosed at the age of 20. “I can’t read, which is a shame because I love to read. I can’t move … I was very active before,” she explained to CTV News.
People living in the region have been “frustrated” for months, officials admitted this week. There have been complains of a lack of communication and transparency from health officials, with locals now demanding regular public briefings on the troubling issue.
The disease was first observed in New Brunswick in 2015 by local neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero. Over the years, more patients have emerged, exhibiting similar symptoms of dementia and strange muscle movements, among other disorders. When the number of people affected began to grow, the doctor concluded he was dealing with something that hadn’t been observed before in the medical world and sounded the alarm.
Courtesy of rt.com
China has reported the world’s first case of a human infected with the H10N3 bird flu, which is usually found in poultry. Health authorities said the risk of a large-scale outbreak is “extremely low.”
The patient is a 41-year-old man from Zhenjiang, a city in the eastern coastal Jiangsu province, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) announced on Tuesday. The man was originally hospitalized on April 28 after having fever and other symptoms.
“No human cases of H10N3 have been reported in the world, and the H10N3 virus among poultry is low pathogenic,” the NHC said, adding that the risk of large-scale spread of the infection among the human population is “extremely low.”
The NHC said the man became infected from poultry but did not provide any details regarding how it happened. The patient’s condition is stable, and he is ready to be discharged from the hospital, the health agency said.
H10N3 is a subtype of the avian influenza virus, which is lethal to wild birds and poultry, and can spread by air among animals through breathing just like the normal flu.
There are several strains of the bird flu of varying contagiousness that lead to sporadic outbreaks and usually affect poultry workers.
A major infection of humans by avian viruses in China was last observed during outbreaks of the H7N9 strain in 2013 and 2016-17. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 616 people have died from H7N9 since early 2013.
Courtesy of rt.com
A virus even more transmissible and fatal than Covid-19 will lead the world into the next pandemic, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, noting the “evolutionary certainty” of such an occurrence.
“Make no mistake, this will not be the last time the world faces the threat of pandemic,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN agency’s annual assembly of health ministers from its 194 member states on Monday. “It’s an evolutionary certainty that there will be another virus with the potential to be more transmittable and more deadly than this one.”
On a more positive note, Ghebreyesus said the global number of Covid-19 cases and deaths reported has been decreasing for three consecutive weeks.
But the WHO chief stressed that the world remains “in a fragile situation” and cautioned against any nation assuming it is “out of the woods, no matter its [Covid] vaccination rate.”
He also reiterated his previous calls for governments to donate Covid-19 inoculation doses to the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility backed by the WHO and the Gavi vaccine alliance.
So far, the global rollout of Covid jabs has seen more than 75% of all doses administered in just 10 countries, according to WHO data. Ghebreyesus said such “scandalous inequity” is “perpetuating” the pandemic. He has previously referred to the situation as “vaccine apartheid.”
The efficacy of the world’s current crop of Covid-19 vaccines does not appear to be undermined by emerging variants of the virus, such as the strain first detected in India, Ghebreyesus said. But he did warn variants are “changing constantly” and that any future strains could “render our tools ineffective and drag us back to square one.”
Courtesy of rt.com
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reports an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in poultry on 30 farms from seven states in Nigeria.
The affected states include Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa, Kaduna and the Niger States.
In addition the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reports:
As of 28 March 2021, 83 human nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal samples have been collected from contacts of confirmed birds in four states: Kano (27), Bauchi (19), Gombe (19), and Plateau (18). All contacts were farmers, farmworkers, bird-handlers, and traders, and all were asymptomatic. Of the 83 collected samples, 64 samples were analyzed using real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR). From the 64 analyzed samples, seven were positive for influenza A virus, including six samples of influenza A(H5) neuraminidase (NA) remains undetermined) and one sample of unsubtypable influenza A virus. These seven confirmed samples have been reported in Kano (four) and Plateau (three) states and have been shipped to the WHO Collaborating Centre in the US for further characterization.
Courtesy of outbreaknewstoday.com
A second wave of African swine fever (ASF) is estimated to have killed as many as eight million pigs in China since the start of the year, derailing the country’s plans to rebuild its national herd.
The first reported outbreak of the disease was in August 2018 and within a year it had spread to multiple countries and killed an estimated 25 per cent quarter of the world’s pig population.
Independent meat analyst Simon Quilty said the ASF variants that swept through China in the past two months had significant implications for the global protein market.
“China has just come out in recent days claiming that by the middle of this year they will be back to 100 per cent recovery [from African swine fever], which is simply impossible,” he told ABC Rural.
“Because in the last six to eight weeks, this second wave – due to some new strains of the virus – has killed somewhere between seven and eight million sows.”
Courtesy of abc.net.au
Hong Kong authorities ordered the culling of all 3,000 pigs in a herd after the African swine fever (ASF) virus was discovered to be spreading for the first time in one of the city’s farms.
The disease, which is harmless to humans, is very rare in Hong Kong. The last outbreak in 2019 was due to pigs that were imported from the mainland and resulted in the culling of 10,000 pigs.
The new outbreak was discovered on a farm in the rural Yuen Long area, in the north near the mainland China border.
African swine fever is endemic on the mainland, where it devastated farms in 2018 and 2019, and has caused significant damage again this winter.
Hong Kong’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department, which is overseeing an investigation of the outbreak, said that the virus was limited to the one farm and that the owner would be compensated.
Hong Kong has about 43 pig farms, accounting for 15% of its live pig supplies, according to a Feb. 5 report by the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Members of the public do not need to be concerned,” the Agriculture and Fisheries Department said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the overall supply of live pigs from other sources could make up the supply.
Courtesy of porkbusiness.com
Bulgarian veterinary authorities will cull 55,000 hens in the northern town of Slavyianovo after a bird flu outbreak was confirmed at a industrial farm there, the fourth since February 3, the food safety agency said late on Monday.
The agency said the four farms have been hit by highly pathogenic avian influenza type A, but did not disclose the strain of the disease.
The predominant strain in Europe at present is H5N8.
Some 160,000 ducks and 99,000 have been culled at three farms in Slavyianovo, some 190 km northeast of Sofia, this month as authorities try to contain the spread of the disease.
Courtesy of news.trust.org