Communicable disease threats report, 31 May - 6 June 2015, week 23

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 31 May - 6 June 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 from 31 May to 6 June 2015 and includes updates on the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), Ebola virus disease (EVD), and a new case of toxigenic diphtheria reported in Spain.

Toxigenic diphtheria in Spain
A toxigenic diphtheria case in an unvaccinated 6 year-old was reported in Spain. The child was transferred to a reference hospital in Barcelona on 30 May where he remains in a serious condition. He is being treated with antibiotics and has received DAT that was sourced from outside of the EU. Local and regional public health agencies are following between 100 and 150 people who have been in contact with the child. The last indigenous case of diphtheria in Spain was notified in 1986. This new situation highlights the challenges regarding timely detection and management of diphtheria in Europe. 

The evolving cluster of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in South Korea is the largest of its kind outside of the Middle East. Up to 5th June, 41 cases and 4 deaths related to this new cluster were reported. It is a significant development because of its size and evidence of tertiary cases. However, travel associated MERS-CoV infections such as this are not unexpected.

ECDC’s assessment continues to be that the MERS-CoV outbreak poses a low risk to the EU and highlights the importance of rapid consideration of MERS-CoV and infection control measures in healthcare settings.

ECDC published a Rapid Risk Assessment on 5 June.

Ebola virus disease in West Africa
Up to 4 June 2015, 27 209 cases of Ebola virus disease were reported, including 11 164 deaths. According to WHO, during the last week the number of cases in Sierra Leone has increased. In Guinea, the number of cases has been stable but several security incidents have been reported. These patterns indicate that the disease is circulating in unrecognised chains of transmission. In order to achieve zero cases, there is a need for stronger community engagement, improved contact tracing and earlier case identification.ECDC published an epidemiological update on the 5 June.