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Human infection with avian influenza A (H5N8) – the Russian Federation

On 18 February 2021, the National IHR Focal Point for the Russian Federation notified WHO of detection of avian influenza A(H5N8) in seven human clinical specimens. These are the first reported detection of avian influenza A(H5N8) in humans. Positive clinical specimens were collected from poultry farm workers who participated in a response operation to contain an avian influenza A(H5N8) outbreak detected in a poultry farm in Astrakhan Oblast in the Russian Federation. The laboratory confirmation of the seven specimens were performed by the State Research Centre for Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR (WHO H5 Reference Laboratory). The age of seven positive cases ranged between 29 to 60 years and five were female.

Between 3 and 11 December, a total of 101 000 of 900 000 egg laying hens on the farm died. This high mortality rate prompted an investigation. Samples were collected from these birds and an initial detection of avian influenza A(H5N8) was performed by the Russian regional veterinary laboratory. On 11 December, the outbreak was confirmed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Reference laboratory, and the Federal Centre for Animal Health (FGBI-ARRIAH), in Vladimir, the Russian Federation. Outbreak containment operations started immediately and continued for several days due to the large size of the poultry farm.

Published on 26 February 2021 | 12:00 am


Ebola virus disease – Guinea

On 14 February 2021, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Guinea informed WHO of a cluster of Ebola Virus

Published on 17 February 2021 | 2:50 pm


Rift Valley fever – Kenya

Rift Valley fever (RVF) has been reported in Kenya in humans in Isiolo and Mandera counties and in

Published on 12 February 2021 | 11:00 am


Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo

On 7 February 2021, the Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) after the laboratory confirmation of one case in North Kivu Province. The case was an adult female living in Biena Health Zone. To date the source of infection is still under investigation.

On 25 January 2021, the case presented with nasal bleeding. From 25 January to 1 February, she reportedly received outpatient care at a local health centre. From 1 to 3 February, she was admitted to a second health centre with signs of physical weakness, dizziness, joint pain, epigastric pain, liquid stools, headache and difficulty breathing. On 3 February, a blood sample was collected for EVD testing due to her epidemiological link with an EVD survivor. On the same day, she was referred to a hospital in Katwa Health Zone (part of Butembo city) following the deterioration of her condition. She was admitted to the intensive care unit the same day and died on 4 February. On 5 February, the body was buried in Musienene Health Zone, however not under safe burial practices.

Published on 10 February 2021 | 12:00 am


Influenza A (H3N2) variant virus – United States of America

On 13 January, 2021, a child under 18 years of age in Wisconsin developed respiratory disease. A respiratory specimen was collected on 14 January. Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing conducted at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene indicated a presumptive positive influenza A(H3N2) variant virus infection. The specimen was forwarded to the Influenza Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 21 January for further testing. On 22 January, CDC confirmed an influenza A (H3N2)v virus infection using RT-PCR and genome sequence analysis. Investigation into the source of the infection has been completed and revealed that the child lives on a farm with swine present. Sampling of the swine on the property for influenza virus has not yet been conducted but is planned. Five family members of the patient reported respiratory illness during the investigation and were tested for influenza; all tested negative. The patient was prescribed antiviral treatment and was not hospitalized and has made a full recovery. No human to human transmission has been identified associated with this investigation.

Sequencing of the virus by CDC revealed it is similar to A (H3N2) viruses circulating in swine in the mid-western United States during 2019-2020. Viruses related to this A (H3N2)v virus were previously circulating as human seasonal A (H3N2) viruses until around 2010-2011 when they entered the USA swine population. Thus, past vaccination or infection with human seasonal A (H3N2) virus is likely to offer some protection in humans.

Published on 5 February 2021 | 12:00 am


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Between 1 June through 31 December 2020, the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported four additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) with one associated death. The cases were reported from Riyadh (two cases), Taif (one case), and Al-Ahsaa (one case) Regions.

The link below provides details of the four reported cases.

Published on 1 February 2021 | 12:00 am


Influenza A(H1N2) variant virus – Brazil

On 15 December 2020, the Brazil Ministry of Health reported the second confirmed human infection with influenza A(H1N2) variant virus [A(H1N2)v] in Brazil in 2020.

Published on 4 January 2021 | 12:00 am


Cholera – Togo

From 11 November to 28 December, 2020 a total of 67 suspected cholera cases presenting with diarrhea and vomiting, including two deaths a case fatality ratio (CFR: 3%) were reported from the municipalities “Golfe 1” and “Golfe 6” in Lomé, Togo. A total of four health areas (Katanga, Adakpamé, Gbétsogbé in Golfe 1, and Kangnikopé in Golfe 6) in the affected municipalities reported at least one case.

On 17 November, cholera was confirmed by culture in the laboratory of the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) in Lomé, Togo and WHO was informed. On 19 November, the Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Access to Care of Togo issued a press release declaring a cholera outbreak and on 24 November WHO was officially notified. From 11 November to 28 December 2020, a total of 17 out of 41 stool samples tested positive for Vibrio cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa by culture in the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) in Lomé, Togo.

Published on 4 January 2021 | 12:00 am


SARS-CoV-2 Variants

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has had a major impact on human health globally; infecting a large number of people; causing severe disease and associated long-term health sequelae; resulting in death and excess mortality, especially among older and vulnerable populations; interrupting routine healthcare services; disruptions to travel, trade, education and many other societal functions; and more broadly having a negative impact on peoples physical and mental health. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO has received several reports of unusual public health events possibly due to variants of SARS-CoV-2. WHO routinely assesses if variants of SARS-CoV-2 result in changes in transmissibility, clinical presentation and severity, or if they impact on countermeasures, including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Previous reports of the D614G mutation and the recent reports of virus variants from the Kingdom of Denmark, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Republic of South Africa have raised interest and concern in the impact of viral changes.

A variant of SARS-CoV-2 with a D614G substitution in the gene encoding the spike protein emerged in late January or early February 2020. Over a period of several months, the D614G mutation replaced the initial SARS-CoV-2 strain identified in China and by June 2020 became the dominant form of the virus circulating globally. Studies in human respiratory cells and in animal models demonstrated that compared to the initial virus strain, the strain with the D614G substitution has increased infectivity and transmission. The SARS-CoV-2 virus with the D614G substitution does not cause more severe illness or alter the effectiveness of existing laboratory diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, or public health preventive measures.

Published on 31 December 2020 | 12:00 am


Yellow fever – Senegal

From October to December 2020, a total of seven confirmed cases of yellow fever (YF) have been reported from four health districts in three regions in Senegal.

Published on 29 December 2020 | 12:00 am


Yellow fever – Guinea

Between 6 November and 15 December 2020, 52 suspected cases of yellow fever (YF), including 14

Published on 23 December 2020 | 12:00 am


SARS-CoV-2 Variant – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

On 14 December 2020, authorities of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reported to WHO that a new SARS-CoV-2 variant was identified through viral genomic sequencing. This variant is referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01 (Variant Under Investigation, year 2020, month 12, variant 01).

Published on 21 December 2020 | 12:00 am


SARS-CoV-2 mink-associated variant strain – Denmark

Since June 2020, Danish authorities have reported an extensive spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on mink farms in Denmark.

Published on 3 December 2020 | 12:00 am


Acute hepatitis E – Burkina Faso

Between 8 September and 24 November, 2020, the North-Central region of Burkina Faso reported a

Published on 27 November 2020 | 1:37 am


Yellow fever – Nigeria

Reports of a cluster of deaths from an undiagnosed disease were notified on 1 November 2020 through Event Based Surveillance in two states, Delta and Enugu, located in southern Nigeria.

Published on 24 November 2020 | 12:00 am


Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo

On 18 November 2020, the Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared the end of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Equateur Province.

Published on 17 November 2020 | 7:30 pm


Avian Influenza A(H5N1)- Lao People's Democratic Republic

The Ministry of Health in Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) reported a human case of infection with an avian influenza A(H5N1) virus. The case is a one-year-old female who developed symptoms of fever, productive cough, difficulty breathing and runny nose on 13 October 2020. She was hospitalized for her illness on 16 October and discharged on 19 October. As part of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) sentinel surveillance, a specimen was collected on the date of hospitalization and confirmed to be positive for avian influenza A(H5N1) on 28 October by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE).

Among the close contacts of the patient, one contact developed fever and cough after the onset of illness in the case. Specimens collected from all household contacts, including the symptomatic contact, were negative for influenza A viruses.

Published on 17 November 2020 | 12:00 am


Rift Valley Fever – Mauritania

The Ministry of Health (MoH) notified WHO that between 13 September and 1 October 2020, eight cases of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) including seven deaths were confirmed in animal breeders. Districts affected include Tidjikja and Moudjéria (Tagant region), Guerou (Assaba region) and Chinguetty (Adrar region). Laboratory confirmation of RVF infection was performed using a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the National Institute for Public Health Research (INRSP) in Nouakchott. The age of infected patients varied between 16 and 70 years old and included one woman and seven men. All seven deaths occurred among hospitalised patients with fever and haemorrhagic syndrome (petechia, gingivorrhagia) and vomiting.

Between 4 September and 7 November 2020, a total of 214 people were sampled and their samples have been sent to the INRSP for laboratory testing with a total of 75 testing positive for RVF (RT-PCR and serology by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Positive cases have been reported in 11 of 15 regions of the country: Brakna, Trarza, Gorgol, (on the border with Senegal), Adrar, Assaba, Hodh El Gharby, Hodh El Chargui, Guidimaka (on the border with Mali) and Nouakchott Sud, Nouakchott Ouest and Tagant. The Tagant region is the most affected (38/75, 51%) with principal hotspot districts being Tidjikja and Moudjeria. Thus far a total of 25 deaths have been reported from this outbreak.

Published on 13 November 2020 | 12:00 am


SARS-CoV-2 mink-associated variant strain – Denmark

Since June 2020, 214 human cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Denmark with SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed minks, including 12 cases with a unique variant, reported on 5 November.

Published on 6 November 2020 | 12:00 am


Mayaro virus disease - French Guiana, France

On 13 October 2020, the French health authorities officially reported 13 laboratory-confirmed cases of Mayaro fever in French Guiana, France.

In September 2020, the Institut Pasteur de la Guyane (IPG) (member of the French National Reference Laboratory for arboviruses) identified two cases of Mayaro virus infection (MAYV) confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and one probable case found positive for Mayaro antibodies. The case-patients presented dengue-like symptoms and joint pains, and tested negative for dengue by RT-PCR.

Published on 24 October 2020 | 5:00 pm