Communicable disease threats report, 10-16 December 2017, week 50

Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 10-16 December 2017

The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals on active public health threats. This issue covers the period 10-16 December 2017 and includes updates on diphtheria, influenza, Salmonella and cholera.

Executive summary

The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals about active public health threats. This issue covers the period 6-12 December and includes updates on Zika virus infection, influenza and refugee movements. 

Zika – Multistate (World)

The Brazilian Ministry of Health has been investigating the possible links between Zika virus infection in pregnancy and microcephaly of the foetus have been under investigation since October 2015. Investigations of an association with Zika virus infection and Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) are also ongoing in Brazil and French Polynesia. 

On 8 December 2015, the Brazilian authorities implemented a new case definition for microcephaly based on a head circumference for newborns of 32 centimetres or below. The new protocol will result in a decrease in the number of newborns considered for investigation. Previously reported cases of microcephaly with head circumferences between 32 and 33 centimetres will remain under surveillance and may be reclassified.

On 1 December, PAHO/WHO issued an Epidemiological Alert on 'neurological syndromes, congenital malformations, and Zika virus infection. Implications for public health in the Americas'.

To date, there are no autochthonous cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in EU Member States.ECDC published a second rapid risk assessment on microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome on 10 December 2015. The first rapid risk assessment was published on 24 November 2015. 

Influenza in Europe

In week 49, the intensity of influenza activity across the WHO European Region was at a low level in all 42 countries reporting. A total of 20 countries reported sporadic geographic spread.  ECDC monitors influenza activity in Europe during the winter season and publishes its report weekly on the Flu News Europe website

Refugee movements – Multistate

On 7 December, Finland reported a case of toxigenic diphtheria in a non-vaccinated asylum seeker. During the past few weeks, Norway has reported cases of seasonal influenza among asylum seekers attending medical centres.
The risk to European residents of being affected by outbreaks occurring among refugee populations remains extremely low because of overcrowding, limited access to clean water, and low hygiene levels are only encountered in certain reception facilities for refugees.


ECDC, in collaboration with Member States, the European Commission and WHO, monitors the situation closely to rapidly identify and assess potential communicable disease threats.