Communicable disease threats report, Week 13, 22-28 March 2015

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 22 - 28 March 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

The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals about active public health threats. This issue covers the period 22 to 28 March 2015 and includes updates on Ebola virus disease, seasonal influenza, measles, and MERS-CoV.

Ebola virus disease epidemic – West Africa

As of 24 March 2015, WHO reported 24 962 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) related to the outbreak in West Africa, including 10 353 deaths. Sierra Leone and Guinea signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage the free sharing of information. District surveillance officers from both areas will be free to investigate cases on either side of the border. National authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone have begun a phased, safe decommissioning of surplus facilities as treatment capacity now far exceeds demand. ECDC published a rapid risk assessment on 4 February 2015.

Seasonal influenza 2014–15
In the past week, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and type B viruses continued to circulate in the European Region, with an increasing proportion of type B viruses. Hospitalised influenza cases were reported mainly among elderly people (53%). Influenza type A was more frequently observed (85%) than influenza B (15%) in fatal laboratory-confirmed, hospitalised influenza cases. ECDC and WHO monitor and report on influenza activity in Europe on a weekly basis throughout the flu season in the Flu News Europe bulletin.

In the EU, since the last monthly update, the outbreak in Berlin, Germany is still ongoing. New measles outbreaks were detected in Sweden and Croatia. During the 12-month period from February 2014 to January 2015, 30 EU/EEA countries conducting measles surveillance reported 3 528 cases. Germany and Italy accounted for 58.6% of the cases reported in the period. In addition, outbreaks of measles were reported in Ebola-affected countries. ECDC published its latest Measles and Rubella Monitoring on 2 March 2015.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
Since the last update of 19 March 2015, Saudi Arabia has reported seven additional cases of MERS-CoV in Riyadh (2cases), Jeddah (2), Mecca (1), Najran (1) and Northern Borders Province (1). To date, the source of MERS-CoV infection and the mode of transmission to primary cases have not been identified. The majority of MERS-CoV cases are secondary cases and many result from nosocomial transmission. Dromedary camels are a host species for the virus. There is continued risk of cases presenting in Europe following exposure in the Middle East and international surveillance for MERS-CoV cases remains essential. Since April 2012 and as of 26 March 2015, 1 110 cases of MERS-CoV have been reported by local health authorities worldwide, including 452 deaths. ECDC published its latest rapid risk assessment on 10 March.