Global Epidemics Watch

  ZIKA

ZIKA VIRUS 

On 1 February 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency for diseases connected to the Zika virus outbreak.

In general, Zika virus infections are mild, and according to the U.S. Center of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only about one of five people infected by the virus ever get sick. Though hospitalization for the virus is uncommon and Zika-related death are rare, a May 2015 epidemic of birth defects in Brazil, has seriously increased concern among health officials worldwide of the link between Zika and microcephaly -- a birth defect that causes abnormally small heads and impairs intellectual development in newborn babies and potentially paralysis.

As precaution The WHO advised pregnant women to postponed travel to areas affected by Zika and for those living in Zika-affected to take precaution to minimize exposure to the virus and consult their physicians.

Despite the WHO declaration, only a small fraction of infections seem to lead to birth defects. Furthermore, with simple prevention precautions travelers can tremendously reduce the risk of Zika when traveling in affected areas (see Prevention).

The CDC has issued a Level 2 alert and recommended that travelers follow "enhanced precautions" while visiting Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guadeloupe Puerto Rico, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde and Samoa.

BACKGROUND & ORIGINS

The Zika virus was first discovered in a monkey in the Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. From its discovery until 2007, confirmed cases of Zika virus infection from Africa and Southeast Asia were rare. In 2007, however, a major epidemic occurred in Yap Island, Micronesia. In 2013-2014 epidemics have occurred in Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia.

In early 2014 nearly 50 cases were reported on Easter Island, Chile marking the first known cases of Zika virus transmission in the Americas. However during 2015 the virus has surged in the Americas with infections reported in more than 31 countries, the worst hitting the tropical countries of Brazil and Colombia.  

A study conducted in 2015 speculated that the virus arrived in Brazil during major sporting events that brought together tens to hundreds of thousands of international travelers in close proximity.

ZIKA VIRUS SYMPTOMS

Symptoms typically start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus with the appearance of:

  • Fever
  • Skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Muscle pain

ZIKA VIRUS TRANSMISSION

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. However the virus can be transmitted by sexual intercourse. 

PREVENTION

  • Currently there is no vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus
  • Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Stay in air-conditioned rooms or rooms with screen guards. If outdoors use mosquito bed net
  • Use insect repellent as directed

RESOURCES 

www.who.int

www.cdc.gov

  EBOLA

EBOLA

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of Ebola (EVD) in West Africa as an international health emergency.

The current outbreak of Ebola, first reported in Guinea in February 2014, has spread to several nearby West African countries, including Liberia and Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The growing number of cases has raised concerns that the disease could spread into other parts of Africa.

Several cases in which health workers who treated a West African national --who later died --were reported in the United States and several other health workers contracted the disease while treating patients in West Africa. One nurse from Spain aso contracted EVD in West Africa

As of November 11, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the seven countries, including  Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali, United States, stands at nearly 14,000  with 5160 recorded deaths. The current death toll has been highest in Liberia, where a total of 2,836 deaths were recorded, followed by Sierra Leone with a total of 1,169 deaths, Guinea with 1,142   deaths, Nigeria with 8 deaths, Mali with 4 deaths and the United States with 1 death.

In mid-October 2014, the WHO declared Nigeria and Senegal clear of EVD after both countries went 42 straight days with no new cases detected.

Though Western governments and international organizations are working with local populations to contain the disease, cultural practices and porous borders make it difficult to effectively fight the virus.  However the characteristics of the virus itself reduce the risk of a more widespread outbreak, especially in countries with robust healthcare systems and practices.

Because transmission requires contact with bodily fluids, Ebola is more difficult to contract than airborne viruses such as smallpox or the common cold. Ebola is also less infectious than other illnesses, including measles and influenza. In addition, the severity of the symptoms prevents the virus from going unnoticed.  Though the virus is likely to spread further in West Africa, its ability to spread to other parts of the continent is limited.

BACKGROUND & ORIGINS

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal illness, with a death rate of up to 90% which affects both animals and humans.

It was first identified in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan. The largest recent Ebola outbreak previously recorded occurred in Uganda in 2000-2001, with 425 confirmed cases.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.

EVD VIRUS SYMPTOMS

Symptoms typically start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus with the appearance of:

  • Fever
  • Intense weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat.
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • In some cases rashes
  • Impaired kidney
  • Liver function
  • In some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

EBOLA VIRUS TRANSMISSION

Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons thus making family and friends of an infected individual as well as health care workers as those with the highest at risk of getting infected.

or animal, all unlikely exposures for the average traveller. Direct physical contact is still required for possible infection of the EVD.

But there still possibilities that a person who had been exposed with the disease and developed symptoms may board a commercial flight, or other mode of transport.

RESOURCES 

www.who.int

www.cdc.gov

  SWINE INFLUENZA

SWINE INFLUENZA

In mid-June 2009 the United Nations (UN) World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic alert was raised to phase 6 — the WHO highest alert level — indicating a global epidemic (pandemic), the agency chief described the danger posed by the virus as "moderate." Most of the swine flu outbreaks were reported in Mexico and the United States; cases have been confirmed in 199 other countries and territories.

In late October 2009, WHO officials stated that since most countries have stopped counting individual swine flu cases, the numbers of both related deaths and individuals infected by the virus are likely underestimated.

Due to vaccine production delays and growing numbers of those affected, the U.S president signed a decree on 23 October 2009 declaring the H1N1 influenza a national emergency. Rather than a comment on the severity of the flu itself, the move was largely to remove bureaucratic obstacles to doctors and medical facilities providing care to flu victims.

While many countries have advised their nationals to avoid traveling to Mexico and some even advised against visits to the U.S., the WHO did not advise any restriction of regular travel or closure of borders. ThreatRate advises international travelers to check with their respective carriers regarding procedures implemented at their destinations, as several countries have implemented precautions ranging from temperature screenings to isolation of passengers arriving from areas affected by the swine flu. If the flu continues to spread, flight delays and cancellations might occur.

The vast majority the reported cases are mild and do not require hospitalization. However, the concern stems from the disease’s ability to mutate (antigenic shift) creating a strain of virus for which humans may not be immune to and potentially create a pandemic, which according to WHO experts, could infect up to 2 billion people and last two years.

BACKGROUND & ORIGINS

Also known as H1N1 type A influenza, is a human disease. The disease originally was nicknamed swine flu because the virus that causes the disease originally transferred to humans from live pigs in which it evolved. However people get the disease from other people, not from pigs. The virus is a "Reassortment” -- a mix of genes from swine, bird, and human flu viruses.

SWINE INFLUENZA SYMPTOMS

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills and fatigue

SWINE INFLUENZA VIRUS TRANSMISSION

The incubating period for the swine flu is estimated at 24-48 hours, but can range up to five days. Due to the short incubation period, early detection of the disease and medical attention is likely to facilitate the recovery process.

Regular health precautions, including avoiding close contact with people showing flu-like symptoms and regularly washing hands, should provide adequate protection.

ThraetRate advises all companies, especially those with international offices or dealings, to revise and test their business continuity plans. Unlike other disasters, the disease affect employees rather than equipment, therefore continuity plans should focus on the human factor such as employees working from home.

RESOURCES

www.who.int

www.cdc.gov

For a full list please click the following link http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rFUwm_vmW6WWBA5bXNNN6ug