H7N9 avian influenza in China

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission reported on 14 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including two deaths.

TB Outbreak on Batam Island

About 1,969 people are suspected of contracting tuberculosis or TB, and 860 people have been tested positive for TB in Batam Island. Based on provisional data, 726 of the 860 patients tested positive for TB are undergoing treatment that lasts for six months. Difficulties arise when patients feel better after two weeks and stop taking the medication, often resulting in a relapse.


Evidence of plague found in dead rat in South African rubbish dump

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it is taking measures to prevent the outbreak of bubonic plague in humans after a dead rat, found in an informal settlement in Mayibuye in Tembisa, near Pretoria, tested positive for plague antibodies on 16 March.

According to John Frean, Associate Professor at the Centre for Opportunistic, Tropical and Hospital Infections at the NICD, the discovery is reason to intensify monitoring and control to prevent the disease occurring in humans.

Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia Pestis. It is usually spread between rats by bites and by fleas. It is also usually spread to humans by fleas carrying the bacteria from rats. In the 14th century it was known as the Black Death in Europe and killed tens of millions of people. If left untreated, 30% to 60% of people with it die.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, about 1,000 to 2,000 cases worldwide are reported to the World Health Organisation annually, though it is believed the real number of cases is much higher.

The last outbreak of bubonic plague in South Africa was 34 years ago in the Eastern Cape, according to the NICD. The NICD has asked people not to handle live or dead rodents.


Nigeria: TB Epidemic Hits Anambra

Over 2000 tuberculosis patients are currently receiving treatment at various Directly-Observed Therapy (DOT) centres in Anambra State.

Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in Africa, and the fourth highest among the 22 high burden countries with an annual incidence of 338 per 100,000, and prevalence of 322 per 100,000 individuals.

Untreated infected individuals can spread the disease to between 10 to 20 persons each year within the poor population, and other key affected populations, including people living with HIV.

Many people in Nigeria still believe that the disease is caused by witches and wizards, making modern treatment often problematical.


Tuberculosis Outbreak at British School

Nearly 200 people have tested positive for a tuberculosis infection following an outbreak at a school in Devon.

Public Health England, which released the results on Wednesday of screening that took place over the summer term at Teign school.

Many of those who tested positive are receiving treatment for latent TB infection to prevent the development of the disease in the future. Health authorities stressed they do not have the disease and are not infectious.