Communicable disease threats report, 30 August - 5 Sep 2015, week 36

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 30 August - 5 September 2015

​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

This issue covers the period 30 August to 5 September 2015 and includes updates on an outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus in Ukraine, Ebola virus disease, Middle East respiratory syndrome – coronavirus (MERS CoV), and West Nile virus.

Outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus in Ukraine

On 28 August 2015, two cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) were confirmed in Ukraine in two children aged 10 months and 4 years respectively. The genetic similarity between the isolates indicates active transmission of cVDPV1. Both children are from the Zakarpatskaya oblast, in south-western Ukraine, bordering Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.
The risk of a polio outbreak, as well as the risk of outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases, have been very high in Ukraine for several years as routine vaccination coverage has continued to fall short of targets and the susceptible population has continued to grow.

ECDC published a Rapid Risk Assessment on 4 September.

Middle East respiratory syndrome – coronavirus (MERS CoV)

On 3 September 2015, WHO reported that members of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee agreed that the situation does still not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). At the same time, they emphasised that they have a heightened sense of concern about the overall MERS situation.
ECDC published an updated Rapid Risk Assessment on 27 August. In light of the further cases reported from Saudi Arabia and Jordan, ECDC published an Epidemiological Update on 2 September. According to ECDC experts, the MERS outbreak poses a low risk to the EU. Efforts to contain the nosocomial clusters in the affected countries are vital to prevent wider transmission.

Ebola virus disease in West Africa

On 3 September 2015 WHO published a statement declaring Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission in the human population. Forty-two days have passed since the second negative test on 22 July 2015 of the last laboratory-confirmed case. Liberia now enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance.
According to the latest WHO situation report published on 2 September 2015, three confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease were reported in the week up to 30 August, two in Guinea and one in Sierra Leone.

West Nile virus

During the past week, Austria reported three new cases of West Nile fever (WNF), one from an already affected area of Vienna and two where the place of infection is still under investigation. Hungary reported a new case in the newly affected county of Bacs-Kiskun. Italy reported 21 new cases, seven cases in already affected provinces and 14 cases in six newly affected provinces. Portugal reported its first case in the Algarve municipality. Romania reported two new cases in the newly affected area of Bucharest. WNF is a mosquito-borne disease which causes severe neurological symptoms in a small proportion of infected people.
During WNF season, ECDC provides weekly situation updates.