Communicable disease threats report, Week 19, 3-9 May 2015

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 3 - 9 May 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 3 - 9 May 2015 and includes updates on Borna virus in Germany and monitoring the World Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy.

Borna virus

On 19 February 2015, Germany reported three cases of fatal encephalitis in residents of the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Affected persons were males between ages 62 to 72 and of age-typical health status and were known to breed variegated squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides), a type of tree squirrel common to Central America that can be kept as an exotic outdoor pet.
The reported cluster of acute fatal encephalitis in three squirrel breeders is possibly related to an infection with a newly identified bornavirus and classified as an unusual event. The novel nature of this event requires additional investigations. Nevertheless, pending the completion of the cluster investigation, it is advised that feeding or direct contact with living or dead variegated squirrels should be avoided, as a precautionary measure.
ECDC updated its Risk Assessment on 6 May stating that further laboratory testing is needed to better understand the animal-to-human transmission of the virus and its role in the said fatal encephalitis cases.

World Expo 2015

Italy is hosting the World Expo 2015 in Milan starting on 1 May 2015 and ending on 31 October 2015. During this 184 day event, Milan is expecting over 20 million visitors from around 145 countries.
ECDC will be monitoring this event daily and report through the CDTR if a significant public health event has been detected.