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Infectious Disease Update

Posted: December 9, 2013

Dr. Laura Wolf of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) briefed NFDA and other healthcare-related groups on recent developments concerning certain infectious diseases: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), avian influenza virus and meningitis.

  • As of November 19, 2013 there have been a total of 157 confirmed cases of MERS in 11 countries, with a 42 percent mortality rate of known cases. Wolf stated that since September 2013, MERS still does not represent a global public health emergency. MERS has been isolated from camels directly, however, the United Nations World's Organization for Animal Health does not find the data convincing.
  • The Avian Influenza Virus (H7N9) has 137 confirmed cases and 45 deaths. In addition, two new cases were detected in October 2013. An uptick in infections could be seen in the winter months; concerns about circulating seasonal flu viruses recombining with H7N9 are being discussed within HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • An outbreak of meningitis has affected 7 students at Princeton University. The CDC has approved the import of meningococcal vaccine from Europe that has not yet received approval for commercial sale in the U.S. Starting in December 2013, the vaccine will be offered to students living in dorms and to those employees who may have underlying medical conditions.