ECDC Communicable disease threats report, Week 2, 4-10 January 2015

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 4 - 10 January 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 is a weekly bulletin intended for epidemiologists and health professionals in the area of communicable disease prevention and control. This issue covers the period 4-10 January 2015 and includes updates on:

Influenza – Europe

The influenza season in Europe has started: the proportion of influenza virus-positive sentinel specimens has increased to over 10% for the third consecutive week, despite the majority of countries still reporting low intensities of influenza activity. Influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been the predominant viruses detected across all surveillance systems.

ECDC monitors influenza activity in Europe during the winter season and publishes the results on the Flu News Europe website.


Botulism in people who inject drugs - Norway and the UK

In December 2014, Norway and the UK reported three cases of botulism affecting people who inject drugs (PWID) within a short period of time. These cases raise the possibility that a batch of contaminated heroin is in circulation. Given the complex international distribution chain of heroin, the exposure of PWID in other EU Member States cannot be excluded.

ECDC published a rapid risk assessment during the previous outbreak of botulism in Norway in October 2013 with conclusions and recommendations that remain valid for this event.


Ebola virus disease – West Africa

As of 8 January 2015, WHO has reported 21 007 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola. So far, the ongoing outbreak in West Africa has caused 8 274 deaths in four affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone) and four previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States of America).

Case incidence has declined to low levels in Liberia but it is still fluctuating in Guinea where Ebola virus disease (EVD) continues to spread geographically within the country, with a new affected prefecture, Fria, reporting two confirmed cases. In Sierra Leone the incidence seems to be stable, although transmission remains intense in the west of the country.  The cumulative case-fatality rate in for whom a definitive outcome is recorded is 71%.

ECDC published a Rapid risk assessment: Outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa. Eighth update, 18 November 2014