Communicable disease threats report 31 March - 6 April 2013 , week 14

Surveillance report
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

ECDC’s weekly reporting on influenza surveillance in Europe for the 2012-13 season started in October 2012. Active influenza transmission began around week 49/2012, approximately six weeks earlier than in season 2011/2012. In week 13/2013, influenza activity continued to decline or already returned to baseline levels in the reporting countries. After more than three months of active transmission, a long period compared to other years, the 2012-13 influenza season is waning and slowly moving towards its close. ECDC monitors influenza activity in Europe during the winter seasons and publishes the results in the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview.

The measles outbreak in the north east of England is on-going with an additional 17 confirmed and four suspected cases of measles reported. Since the beginning of September 2012, 181 confirmed cases and 162 suspected cases have been reported. The majority of cases continue to be seen in the Teesside, County Durham and Darlington areas. People aged between 10 and 19 years continue to be the most affected, accounting for 41 per cent of all cases.

The Autonomous Region of Madeira, Portugal, experienced an outbreak of dengue starting in October 2012 with a few sporadic cases still being reported between week 1 and week 9 in 2013. So far in 2013, no local dengue cases have been reported in other European countries.

Public Health Wales is strongly emphasising the need for children to receive the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccination as the number of cases in the Swansea area reached 541. In the past week alone, 109 new cases were reported. Cases continue to be reported across Wales, with the majority in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Powys and Hywel Dda Health Board areas.ECDC closely monitors measles transmission and outbreaks in the EU and neighbouring countries in Europe through enhanced surveillance and epidemic intelligence activities. Results are presented in the monthly Measles and rubella monitoring reports.

On 31 March 2013, the Chinese authorities announced the identification of a novel influenza A virus, A(H7N9), in three seriously ill people from two provinces presenting with respiratory infections. When testing for the influenza virus, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention identified genes from both A(H7N9) and A(H9N2) viruses, thus indicating a novel reassortant avian influenza A virus. By 5 April 2013, 16 cases were confirmed, including six deaths. In its initial assessment of the situation, the ECDC rapid risk assessment concludes that the risk of the spread of the virus in Europe can be considered low at this stage.

There is currently no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of the influenza A(H7N9) virus. ECDC continues to monitor the situation closely. More cases are expected to be reported.