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Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 19, No. 2, (February 2013)

Disclaimer

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the February 2013 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature vector-borne infections. The articles are embargoed until January 16, 2013, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Note: Not all articles published in EID represent work done at CDC. In your stories, please clarify whether a study was conducted by CDC (“a CDC study”) or by another institution (“a study published by CDC”). The opinions expressed by authors contributing to EID do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDC or the institutions with which the authors are affiliated

1. Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Children, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, 1970–2010, Michael A. Silverman, et al.

Despite its name, eastern equine encephalitis is not limited to horses. It also affects people, causing inflammation of the brain. The virus is spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. Although this disease is rare among people, when it does occur, it can be severe and even fatal. In fact, it is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases among humans in the United States, and in the northeast, cases have been increasing. A recent review of cases among children in 2 northeastern states found that of 15 children with this disease only 4 recovered completely, 2 had mild brain damage, 5 had severe brain damage, and 4 died. Disease symptoms are nonspecific. Risk for severe disease or death was greatest when illness came on quickly with little warning. When eastern equine encephalitis is suspected, children need to be closely monitored to prevent brain damage.

Contact:
Asim Ahmed
Division of Infectious Diseases
Children's Hospital Boston
Harvard Medical School
asim.ahmed@childrens.harvard.edu
(617) 919-1237

2. Plague Outbreak in Libya, 2009, Unrelated to Plague in Algeria, Nicolas Cabanel et al.

Plague is caused by a bacterium that emerged very recently (5,000 years ago or less) in central Asia. When plague re-appeared in Libya after 25 years of silence, researchers wanted to know whether the outbreak was caused by dormant bacteria that had been there all along or by new bacteria brought in from neighboring Algeria, which had also experienced a recent outbreak. Molecular studies found that the strains from each country differed. The 2 outbreaks were probably caused by reactivation of dormant bacteria, not transfer from one country to the other. Changes in the climate and environment might be responsible. The right climate and environment changes could lead to plague reactivation or extension in other countries, including the United States.

Contact:
Elisabeth Carniel
Yersinia Research Unit, Institut Pasteur, France
elisabeth.carniel@pasteur.fr
+33 1 45 68 83 26

3. Ebola Virus Antibodies in Fruit Bats, Bangladesh, Kevin J. Olival et al.

Ebola virus, which can cause severe or fatal disease, was first found in Africa in 1976. Several species of bats are suspected to be the virus’ natural reservoir in Africa.  To determine whether related species may carry the virus outside of Africa, bats were screened in Bangladesh. Blood screening indicated that some fruit bats had been exposed to the virus and might be a reservoir for Ebola or Ebola-like viruses. These findings extend the known range of the virus to mainland Asia, and may have important consequences for human health.

Contact:
Kevin J. Olival
EcoHealth Alliance
olival@ecohealthalliance.org
(212) 380-4478

4. Hepatitis E Virus Seroprevalence and Men Who Have Sex with Men, UK, Brendan A.I. Payne

Hepatitis E is a viral infection of the liver. Those with weakened immune systems, among them HIV-infected persons, are especially susceptible. A recent study of stored blood samples in the United Kingdom indicates that men who have sex with men might be at higher risk for hepatitis E, regardless of HIV status. As Hepatitis E is an increasingly recognized disease in industrialized countries, it might increase among men who have sex with men and become a substantial public health problem.

Contact:
Dr. Brendan Payne
HPA Molecular Virology Laboratory,
Royal Victoria Infirmary
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
+44 191 282 1104
brendan.payne@ncl.ac.uk

5. Laboratory-based Surveillance for Hepatitis E Virus Infection, United States, 2005–2012, Jan Drobeniuc et al.

Hepatitis E is not common In the United States. Most U.S. patients acquired the disease in other countries. They become infected after exposure to contaminated water while visiting countries with poor sanitation. However, a recent study found a number of cases in patients who had not traveled abroad. Compared with travelers, these non-travelers were older, less likely to show jaundice, less likely to be South Asian (hepatitis E is common in southern Asia), and more likely to have received a solid organ transplant (which would weaken their immune system). Thus, clinicians should consider hepatitis E as a possible cause for liver disease, regardless of the patient’s travel history.

Contact:
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
NCHHSTPMediaTeam@cdc.gov
404-639-8895

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