Communicable disease threats report, 15-21 December 2013, week 51

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 15 - 21 December 2013

​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

​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. This issue covers the period of 15–20 December 2013 and focuses on the following:

Chikungunya in Saint Martin, the Caribbean
On 6 December 2013, France reported two laboratory confirmed cases of chikungunya of autochthonous transmission in the French part of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. As of 17 December 2013, France has reported ten confirmed, four probable and 50 suspected autochthonous cases of chikungunya on the island of Saint Martin.

Saint Martin is a popular travel destination for EU residents and increased travel can be expected during the Christmas holidays. Therefore, travel related cases of chikungunya, as well as of dengue, returning from the island Saint Martin can be expected.

Influenza A(H7N9) China
In March 2013, a novel avian influenza A(H7N9) virus was detected in patients in China. Since then, the outbreak has caused 147 cases of human infection, including 47 deaths. Twelve cases have been reported in China since October 2013, of which ten have occurred in previously affected provinces (Zhejiang and Guangdong) and two cases have been reported in Hong Kong. During the past week, four new cases have been reported in Guandong province in China.
The risk of the disease spreading to Europe via humans is considered low. However, it is not unlikely that people presenting with severe respiratory infection in the EU and a history of potential exposure in the outbreak area will require investigation in Europe.

Seasonal Influenza
During week 50/2013, 28 reporting countries experienced low intensity influenza activity. The percentage of sentinel specimens testing positive for influenza is increasing in some countries, possibly indicating the start of the epidemic period in those countries.