Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The accidental release of 45 litres of concentrated live polio virus solution into the Belgium environment

Monitoring current threats: ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR), week 37/2014

​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 7–13 September 2014 and includes updates on:

The accidental release of 45 litres of concentrated live polio virus solution into the environment - Belgium

As reported to ECDC by Belgian authorities, on 2 September 2014, following a human error, 45 litres of concentrated live polio virus solution were released into the environment by the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), in Rixensart city, Belgium. The liquid was conducted directly to a water-treatment plant (Rosieres) and released after treatment in river Lasne affluent of river Dyle which is affluent of the Escaut/Scheldt river. Belgium’s High Council of Public Health conducted a risk assessment that concluded that the risk of infection for the population exposed to the contaminated water is extremely low due to the high level of dilution and the high vaccination coverage (95%) in Belgium.

ECDC's assessment is that the accidental release in the environment of large amounts of live polio virus represents a risk to public health if susceptible populations, such as areas with low polio vaccine coverage, are exposed to contaminated waters or mud. Particularly since the Lasne and Dyle rivers are joining the Escaut/Scheldt river which flows in the southwestern part of the Netherlands where various orthodox protestant communities present a lower polio vaccination coverage, before reaching the North Sea.

Outbreak of Enterovirus D68 - USA

Between 19 and 23 August, Kansas city (Missouri) and Chicago (Illinois) authorities notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 30 laboratory confirmed Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) infections. The age of cases ranges from six weeks to 16 years. Since 19 August, 82 confirmed cases have been notified to CDC in six States in United States. All patients presented with respiratory symptoms and hypoxemia; most were admitted in paediatric intensive care units. No fatalities have been reported for these cases.

This year, the magnitude of the outbreak in United States is higher than previous years. The identification of the virus and risk of potential extension outside this country, including EU, remains possible.

Ebola virus disease – West Africa
An outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has been ongoing in West Africa since December 2013, affecting Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The overall situation of the Ebola outbreak in the affected countries remains critical. As of 6 September 2014, 4 291 cases including 2 296 deaths have been reported from the affected countries. To date, no cases have been found to be positive outside Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria or Sierra Leone with the exception of one case in Senegal in a Guinean national.

On 10 September, ECDC published the EVD case definition for the EU. The latest weekly epidemiological updates are also available in the Ebola health topic page.

Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak - the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Between 28 July and 4 September 2014, 72 cases of EVD, including 48 deaths, have been identified. The outbreak in DRC is unrelated to the ongoing outbreak in West Africa. The epidemiological features of this outbreak are consistent with previous outbreaks of EVD involving Zaïre ebolavirus.

ECDC is monitoring this event through epidemic intelligence and has published a rapid risk assessment.

West Nile virus – Multistate - Monitoring season 2014
During the past week, 17 new human cases have been reported by EU Member States: Italy (7), Romania (8) and Greece (2). Seven new cases were reported by Italy from six newly affected provinces in the current transmission season. In neighbouring countries, Russia reported 17 new cases from five newly affected oblasts in the current transmission season.

Read the full CDTR: Communicable disease threats report, week 37/2014.

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