Communicable disease threats report, 10-16 March 2013, week 11

15 Mar 2013
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)

The ECDC communicable disease threats report is a weekly bulletin intended for epidemiologists and health professionals in the area of communicable disease prevention and control. Summarising information gathered by ECDC through its epidemic intelligence activities regarding communicable disease threats of concern to the European Union, it also provides updates on the global situation and changes in the epidemiology of communicable diseases with potential to affect Europe, including diseases that are the focus of eradication efforts.

Executive summary

From 10 to 16 March 2013, ECDC monitored several on-going public health threats within and outside the European Union.

Anthrax infections amongst people who inject drugs

Health Protection Scotland in the UK reported a new fatal case of anthrax in Glasgow in a person who injects drugs. The incident, reported on 14 March, follows a similar one reported on 8 March in Suffolk, England and is the fifteenth such case in Europe since July 2012. This outbreak is the most significant of its types since the 2009/2010 outbreak in Scotland (with cases also reported from Germany and England).

An update to the joint Rapid risk assessment by ECDC and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was issued in July 2012. One of its conclusions was that further reports of people who inject drugs being infected with anthrax could be expected. The conclusions of the Rapid risk assessment update remain valid, in particular, people who inject drugs remain at risk as contaminated heroin is still circulating in Europe.

ECDC and EMCDDA are working together to develop guidance on the prevention of anthrax amongst people who inject drugs.

Novel coronavirus

On 12 March 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an additional case of novel coronavirus (NCoV) infection. The patient first developed symptoms on 24 February, was hospitalised on 28 February but subsequently died on 2 March in Saudi Arabia. The patient had no known contact with any of the other previously confirmed cases. There have been 15 confirmed cases of NCoV infection worldwide, nine of whom have died.