April 2018

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 24, No. 5, May 2018

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

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the April 2018 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Mycobacteria. The articles are embargoed until April 11, 2018, at noon ET.

1.    Foodborne Outbreaks Caused by Human Norovirus GII.P17-GII.17–Contaminated Nori, Japan, 2017, Naomi Sakon et al.

Norovirus is an all-too-common “stomach bug” that causes sudden onset of severe vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. It is highly contagious and often infects people in group settings such as schools, offices, restaurants, cruise ships, and sports team venues. Because norovirus is spread through what is called the fecal–oral route, proper hand hygiene, especially after each visit to the bathroom, is an effective way to prevent spread of the virus. In 2017, researchers in Japan investigated seven foodborne norovirus outbreaks reported from four remote areas across Japan during January–February. A total of 2,094 people had become ill. In all seven outbreaks, the same strain of norovirus (GII.P17-GII.17) was detected in stool specimens of patients. Food survey results indicated that dried shredded seaweed (nori)—the substance commonly used to make paper-like sheets for wrapping sushi—was served before all outbreaks, and laboratory tests detected norovirus in all dishes containing nori. Finally, a traceback investigation concluded that the nori served in each instance had been manufactured by the same food processing company and had probably become contaminated during manufacturing. Very few norovirus outbreaks associated with dry foods had been reported previously in Japan, but in these seven outbreaks, infectious norovirus remained in the product for more than 2 months while it sat at room temperature under dry conditions. Although the percentage of people with gastrointestinal symptoms gradually decreased from the date of nori production (suggesting a decline in norovirus infectivity over time), these incidents underscore the need to be aware that norovirus can also lurk in dehydrated food products sitting on shelves.

Contact: Naomi Sakon, Osaka Institute of Public Health, Department of Microbiology, Japan nsakon@iph.osaka.jp

2.    Equine Encephalosis Virus in India, 2008, Pragya D. Yadav et al.

Equine encephalosis is a noncontagious viral disease of equids (mainly horses); it causes fever, loss of appetite, and weakness. The virus is spread horse to horse by insects, specifically biting midges. First isolated from horses in South Africa in 1967, equine encephalosis virus was considered to be limited to that region, but a 2008 outbreak in Israel highlighted the potential for this virus to spread. This concern was validated when also in 2008, several horses on one farm in India became ill with similar symptoms and one died. Genetic analysis (next-generation sequencing) identified the virus from the dead horse as equine encephalosis virus. Finding this virus in India is concerning because several species of midge that can spread this virus are present in that country. In the absence of specific treatment or vaccine, the best way to control spread of this disease in any region is to limit horses’ exposure to biting midges.

Contact: Devendra T. Mourya, National Institute of Virology, India, dtmourya@gmail.com; or Pragya D. Yadav, hellopragya22@gmail.com.


Page last reviewed: April 11, 2018