The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a rapid risk assessment examining the on-going Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (see current note 52/3101).
As of 5 August 2018, the DRC ministry of health has reported 43 cases in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. The ministry of health is currently implementing the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) response plan in the affected areas, supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and several partner organisations. Contact tracing of case contacts has been initiated, and the rVSV-ZEBOV experimental vaccine will be offered to healthcare workers and case contacts.
The actual extent of the epidemic is still unknown: the fact that it has potentially been on-going for almost three months in a densely populated area, with high cross-border population mobility with Rwanda and Uganda, is of concern. Implementation of response measures may be challenging because the outbreak occurs in areas affected by prolonged humanitarian crises and an unstable security situation arising from a complex armed conflict.
The probability that EU/EEA citizens who live or travel in EVD-affected areas of DRC are exposed to the disease is low, provided they adhere to the precautionary measures recommended in the rapid risk assessment.
Source: ECDC, 10 August 2018
Since the beginning of 2018, certain EU/EEA public health institutes have observed an upsurge in the number of positive enterovirus detections, especially Echovirus 30 (E30) cases. E30 is a non-polio enterovirus that causes aseptic meningitis outbreaks worldwide. Such outbreaks have been detected earlier in Europe and usually occur at five to six year intervals.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) compared the available E30 reports from nine member states in response to a data call through the Epidemic Intelligence Information System–Vaccine Preventable Diseases (EPIS-VPD) platform, to earlier collected country-specific E30 detection data from 2015 to 2017. Based on available preliminary data, 259 E30 detections from Denmark (38), Latvia (one), the Netherlands (85), Norway (37), Sweden (21) and the United Kingdom (England and Scotland; 77) have been reported since the beginning of 2018.
Currently, the exact transmission route of current infections is unknown. In affected countries, further transmission of E30 cannot be excluded and therefore all EU/EEA member states should remain vigilant.
Source: ECDC, 3 August 2018
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published its annual epidemiological report concerning Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae). The report is based on data for 2016 retrieved from The European Surveillance System (TESSy) on 24 April 2018.
In 2016, 3,379 confirmed cases of invasive H. influenzae disease were reported in the EU/EEA.
Source: ECDC, 10 August 2018
In the UK, around 200,000 people have chronic (long-term) infection with hepatitis C virus. A new report from Public Health England (PHE) summarises the scale of the UK hepatitis C challenge, in order to support focused action to eliminate the condition as a major public health threat by 2030 at the latest.
Early estimates indicate that the numbers of new cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related end-stage liver disease (ESLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the UK remained relatively stable, at an average of 1,974 new cases per year between 2011 and 2015. However, mortality data suggest a fall in death registrations from these indications of 3% by 2016, with data suggesting a further fall of 11% in 2017. While 2017 data are still provisional, it seems likely that the fall observed since 2015 is the result of the increased treatment with new direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs that has taken place over recent years.
This publication reports Scotland-level data; in 2017/18 an estimated 34,000 people with chronic hepatitis C infection were living in Scotland and 2,082 were treated for their HCV - a figure which represents the highest ever annual treatment total. Since the introduction of oral DAA treatments in 2014, a 30% decline in new presentations of liver failure among those diagnosed HCV antibody positive has been observed (2014, 168 cases; 2017, 118 cases). In contrast, new presentations with HCC among those diagnosed HCV antibody positive were still increasing between 2014 (56 cases) and 2016 (79 cases). In 2017, however, the number of new presentations of HCC fell by 53% to 37 cases. These encouraging observations suggest that HCV treatment is having a considerable impact in preventing liver failure and liver cancer in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is currently preparing an HCV elimination strategy for Scotland in the context of the World Health Organisation’s aim of eliminating HCV as a public health threat by 2030.
Source: PHE, 8 August 2018
On 9 August 2018, the Scottish Government published a research report on the value of bathing waters and the influence of bathing water quality. The overall aim of the research was to provide a detailed and quantifiable socio-economic understanding of the value of Scottish bathing waters and the influence of bathing water quality (BWQ) to bathers, beach users and to the national and local economies.
The research addresses several key areas:
- the benefits of bathing waters and the value of bathing water quality at a local and national scale
- the impact of the bathing water quality classification signs / symbols
- understand and assess the benefits (or costs) of an improvement (or deterioration) in bathing water quality classification
- makes recommendations for policy and practice, by providing recommendations on the management and assessment of designated bathing water sites and the overall value of bathing water quality in Scotland
Source: Scottish Government, 9 August 2018