Marburg Virus in Kenya – October 13th 2014

WORLD HEALTH ALERT  13/10/14. Marburg Virus in Kenya, Yersinia Pseudotuberculosis in New Zealand, Ebola Update and Tropical Storm Vongfong in Japan.

Marburg – Kenya

The Ministry of Health of Kenya has put all ports of entry on alert for possible signs of the Marburg virus, following the arrival of two passengers from Uganda who had developed fever and displayed other symptoms of Marburg.  The two patients were in isolation while being tested in Nairobi and Kenyatta National hospitals, but have been treated for other infections after tests were found to be negative.  All people arriving from Uganda will be screened for signs of Ebola and Marburg, while the ministry warns all Kenyans to be especially cautious, and avoid contact with anyone who has travelled from Uganda.

Yersinia Pseudotuberculosis – New Zealand

More than 100 confirmed and 41 suspected cases of this rare disease have been reported during a current outbreak in Christchurch, Auckland, and Wellington, New Zealand. Little is known about the source of the disease, which causes stomach cramps and symptoms that mimic appendicitis.  Post infection complications include reactive arthritis, a phase of the disease that can last up to 6 months in severe cases.  While contaminated food is suspected as a possible cause, nothing has as yet been determined.  So far, 38 people have been hospitalised with the disease.

If you plan to visit these areas of New Zealand in the near future, you will want to take extra care in where and what you eat, checking that all food is properly washed and thoroughly cooked.  It is always a good idea, as well, to inspect any eating establishment for cleanliness.

Ebola – W.H.O. statement –  Geneva

The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, today issued a statement regarding the Ebola crisis, saying that this is-

– A crisis for International peace and security, and she went on to say

–  I  have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has now claimed the lives of more than 4,000, chiefly through the 3 most severely-stricken countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, in West Africa.

Ebola – Liberia

A strike threat by healthcare workers has been averted as roughly 1,000 workers who work on Ebola wards defied the strike call from the Health Workers Association today and reported for work in the capital, Monrovia, and in other centres as usual. A strike of this nature at this time could have irreparably impacted the country’s efforts to contain and control the outbreak.

In what are already overcrowded and understaffed healthcare facilities, conditions are poor, with hospitals severely lacking in essential supplies, including protective equipment for healthcare workers, and even food and water.

Unseen victims of the outbreak are people in need of care for other diseases, as many clinics and small hospitals have shut, often because their staff are afraid to come to work, or because they would not know how to treat an Ebola patient if one arrived, seeking help.

Tropical Storm Vongfong – Kyushu, Japan

The latest in a series of violent storms that have lashed Japan recently, Vongfong, has slammed into Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four largest islands, and left an estimated 44,000 people without power.  The storm is expected to intensify Monday and continue its destructive path over the largest island, Honshu, passing over Tokyo just before dawn on Tuesday, bringing with it 40cm of rain.  Flights in and out of Kyushu and nearby Shikoku have been cancelled.