Communicable disease threats report, 23 February-01 March 2014, week 9

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 23 February - 01 March 2014

​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 23 February to 1 March 2014 and includes updates on:

Seasonal influenza in Europe 
Data from week 8/2014 shows geographically widespread influenza in 15 of the 27 countries reporting. Only Greece and Finland reported high intensity influenza activity.
Avian influenza A(H7N9) in China 
Between 20 and 28 February, 15 new cases of influenza A(H7N9) infection have been reported in China: Guangdong (11), Hunan (2), Anhui (1) and Jilin (1).

The increasing transmission of a novel avian influenza capable of causing severe disease in humans is a cause for concern due to the pandemic potential. However, the most likely scenario for China is that it remains a local (but widespread) zoonotic outbreak, in which the virus is transmitted sporadically to humans in close contact with the animal reservoir, similar to A(H5N1).  ECDC published an updated Rapid Risk Assessment on 26 February 2014.
Middle East respiratory syndrome- coronavirus (MERS CoV) 
A new case has been reported by local health authorities in Saudi Arabia: a 56 year old woman from Riyadh with comorbidities. The source of MERS-CoVinfection and the mode of transmission have not been identified, but the recent cases in the Middle East indicate an ongoing source of infection in the region. There is therefore a continued risk of cases presenting in Europe following exposure in the Middle East.
During the past week, seven new poliomyelitis cases have been reported from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.The recent detection of WPV in environmental samples in Israel, and the confirmed and ongoing outbreaks in Syria and Somalia, highlight the risk of re-importation into Europe.

ECDC published a Rapid Risk Assessment on suspected polio cases in Syria and the risk to the EU/EEA.  

Chikungunya outbreak in The Caribbean 
During the past week the number of new cases increased but no new areas or islands were affected. The number of suspected cases in the region is almost 8 000. This is the first documented outbreak of chikungunya with autochthonous transmission in the Americas.
Zika virus infection outbreak in The Pacific 
In French Polynesia, 61 new suspected cases of Zika virus infection (ZIKAV) were recorded during the last week bringing the total number of suspected cases to 8 503. One additional case of Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported. One case of ZIKAV in a returning traveller from Tahiti was confirmed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The outbreak is declining in the majority of the islands. This is the second documented outbreak of ZIKAV in the Pacific. It is estimated that more than 29 000 cases sought medical care with Zika-like symptoms in French Polynesia since the beginning of the outbreak in October 2013.