MERS and H7N9 Emerging Infectious Disease Update

There have been several new developments in the past week with respect to the MERS virus, including several additional infections.  Reported cases of A(H7N9) infections continue to diminish. 

H7N9

MERS

The ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome’ is garnering significant attention from the medical community around the world.  This is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been seen in humans before; in people, this type of virus can cause multiple types of illnesses –some leading to death.  Currently, most of the new MERS infections can trace their origins back to Saudi Arabia; however, experts are still unsure about how the virus is spreading – investigations are well underway.

The MERS virus can transmit from human-to-human, but the mechanism by which the virus is transmitted is unknown.

As of May 30, 2013, the MERS virus has been laboratory-confirmed in 50 patients; 27 people have died from the virus. 

A(H7N9)

New laboratory-confirmed infections of A(H7N9) are still infrequent.  Since our last update, there have been 2 additional infections and 1 death, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 133 and 37 deaths.

The reason for the diminution in A(H7N9) cases is unknown but may reflect the success of control measures in affected areas.  However, given the uncertainty of possible resurgence, health experts are advising ongoing vigilance.

Key Alerts

  • May 29 – The WHO releases an updated statement on the MERS virus – available here
  • May 23 – The WHO releases an updated statement on the A(H7N9) virus – available here
  • May 23 – The WHO releases an FAQ page about the MERS virus – available here.

Summary, Risks, and Recommendations

New cases of A(H7N9) are infrequent; however, there is general consensus from the international medical community that the MERS virus poses a significant threat to human health on a global scale should it begin to mutate.

MERS does have the ability to spread to human-to-human and the WHO has reported several clusters in which human-to-human transmission have been confirmed.  However, researchers are not currently aware of how the virus mutates or how people are becoming infected; until they can determine how it is spread, it’s unlikely they will be able to prevent MERS from spreading.

Canadian health authorities are cautioning travelers to protect themselves against the spread of germs while abroad and asking physicians to remain alert for patients presenting symptoms of severe respiratory illness.

Statistics

  • Total A(H7N9) confirmed cases: 133
  • Total A(H7N9) fatalities: 37
  • Total MERS confirmed cases: 50
  • Total MERS fatalities: 27

Additional Information

Thank you for checking our weekly summary, please check back next week for another update. For more information, please visit http://www.bccdc.ca/default.htm

 

Iridia Ignites the 2013 BC Fire Expo

It’s a wrap – this year’s Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC Conference and Expo in Penticton was a great success! With Iridia acting as the medical director to over 145 departments in BC, the fire expo offered an excellent opportunity to network with fire services personnel and provided the chance to  reconnect with so many industry leaders from across the province.

Our resident fire expert, Steve Nordin, was front and center on the trade show floor – demonstrating Iridia’s Fire Services AED Program and Fire Rescue Physician Advisory Services.

Also on hand was Physio-Control’s TrueCPR – a device that helps optimize manual CPR performance with the real-time feedback. If you would like to know more, we will be profiling TrueCPR next week, make sure to check back with us then.

truecpr at the bc fire expo

On behalf of the entire Iridia team, we would like to thank the FCABC and their event sponsors for hosting such a quality event. We look forward to seeing you all again for the 2014 fire expo, and in the meantime, stay safe!

 

MERS and H7N9 Emerging Infectious Disease Update

Recently, Iridia Medical has been providing updates on the development of possible emerging viral infections around the world.  We’re currently tracking both the ‘MERS’ and the A(H7N9) virus because of their potential impact on a number of Iridia Medical clients.

H7N9

MERS

In general, most new MERS cases involve men, and the patients’ average age is 56.  There have been no reported cases in Canada and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg currently has a sample of MERS for testing.  The World Health Organization is currently advising doctors and scientists around the world to stay alert for patients showing signs of severe respiratory infections.

As of May 24, 2013, the MERS virus has been laboratory-confirmed in 44 patients; 22 people have died from the virus. 

A(H7N9)

New laboratory-confirmed infections of A(H7N9) have slowed.  Scientists are currently studying the airborne transmission of the virus in different mammals.  Transmission experiments help scientists understand how the virus might spread in humans –a growing concern of many medical experts.  Although the virus does not spread efficiently from mammal to mammal, researchers in Hong Kong have confirmed that the A(H7N9) virus can be transmitted through the air.  Although there are hundreds of suspected A(H7N9) infections, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases, as of May 23, 2013, is 131 and 36 people have succumbed to the virus. 

Key Alerts

  • May 23 – Updates from the World Health Organization (MERS) available here.
  • May 23 – Global News BC updates Canadians on the MERS virus- available here.
  • May 23 – ‘The A(H7N9) inches closer to human-to-human transmission’ available here.

Summary, Risks, and Recommendations

In general, new cases of both viruses are infrequent.  Expert researchers around the world agree that there is no strong evidence of human-to-human transmission in the case of either the MERS or A(H7N9) virus; however, mammal-to-mammal transmission has been conclusively proven in several research environments.  The Public Health Agency of Canada is currently classifying the A(H7N9) virus as a ‘foreign animal disease agent;’ the virus is currently considered a ‘Risk Group 3’ human and animal pathogen.

Statistics

  • Total A(H7N9) confirmed cases: 131
  • Total A(H7N9) fatalities: 32
  • Total MERS confirmed cases: 44
  • Total MERS fatalities: 22

Additional Information

Thank you for checking our weekly summary, please check back next week for another update. For more information, please visit http://www.bccdc.ca/default.htm

 

 

MERS and H7N9 Emerging Infectious Disease Update

Introduction

Recently, Iridia Medical has been providing updates on the development of possible emerging viral infections around the world.

In particular, we’ve been relaying updates to our client audience about developments surrounding the outbreak of the A(H7N9) Avian Influenza Virus in China.  Further, we’ve also begun tracking the now formally defined MERS Coronavirus, or ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

Iridia has been tracking these developments as they are relevant to a number of our Iridia clients including the following:

  • Fire Rescue Departments – these individuals can be exposed on the front lines to emerging infectious threats, so we attempt to provide current advice on patient care protocols as well as recommendations with respect to limiting occupational exposure.
  • Remote Medical Programs – our paramedics and physicians work in remote camp environments.  These camps are at high-risk for infectious outbreaks; therefore, we need to be prepared should these outbreaks spread to Canada.
  • Critical Infrastructure Preparedness Programs – in the past, we’ve been very involved in developing response plans for the health, banking, transportation, and oil and gas sectors with respect to new influenza strains, including the recent H1N1 outbreak. 

For these reasons, we’ve found it helpful to keep abreast of A(H7N9) and MERS developments overseas so that we are informed and prepared to act should the virus mutate and begin human-human transmission.

MERS

The MERS Coronavirus is primarily zoonotic in nature, meaning its transmission is mostly between animals, but can also infect humans.  Although there have been only 40 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS, nearly half of the cases have been fatal.  Several cases in the Middle East have been reported as well as cases in Europe; there is some evidence of direct human-to-human transmission of the virus.

At the moment, the impact of these viruses is minimal; however, health experts around the world are cautioning that any mutation in these viruses that enables it to transmit from human-to-human could spark a global health emergency.

A(H7N9)

As of today, new laboratory-confirmed infections of A(H7N9) have slowed.  Although there are hundreds of suspected A(H7N9) infections, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases, as of May 16, 2013, is 131 and 32 people have succumbed to the virus.  The MERS virus has been laboratory-confirmed in 40 patients – approximately half have died from the virus. 

MERS and H7N9

Key Alerts

  • May 17 – Updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada – available here.
  • May 17 – Background information on Coronavirus infections can be found here.
  • May 17 – Current updates on the MERS (Novel Corona virus) virus from the World Health Organization can be found here.
  • May 16 – New reports yield clues about A(H7N9) detection – available here.
  • May 10 – The United States CDC further assesses the risk of the A(H7N9) virus – available here.

Summary, Risks, and Recommendations

In general, new cases of both viruses are infrequent.  Expert researchers around the world agree that there is no strong evidence of human-to-human transmission in the case of either the MERS or A(H7N9) virus.  The Public Health Agency of Canada is currently classifying the A(H7N9) virus as a ‘foreign animal disease agent;’ the virus is currently considered a ‘Risk Group 3’ human and animal pathogen.

Statistics

  • Total A(H7N9) confirmed cases: 131
  • Total A(H7N9) fatalities: 32
  • Total MERS confirmed cases: 40
  • Total MERS fatalities: 20

Additional Information

Thank you for checking our weekly summary, please check back next week for another update. For more information, please visit http://www.bccdc.ca/default.htm

 

Getting the World Moving

Next week the Iridia team is joining 230,000 people around the world on a 16 week challenge to get moving.

The Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) is an online program that engages people in getting more active. The goal is for every participant to work up to 10,000 steps a day. The GCC provides each participant with an accelerometer that measures their steps and movement.

gcc pulse - global corporate challenge

Everything counts – even things like yoga and tai chi can be measured, and swimmers and cyclists can convert their activity into steps using a pre-determined formula.

everything-counts-1

 

The backdrop is walking around the world. This year’s challenge starts in Rio de Janeiro, and as each team enters their steps, they are shown on a map as you literally walk your way around the world. In addition, participants will be learning about the culture and people of each location at which they arrive.

Participants are placed in groups of seven and Iridia has formed three teams (21 employees) who will be participating (that’s 90% of our staff). The challenge doesn’t start until May 23rd but already there is friendly banter and a sense of competition taking place among the teams.

Iridia values and fosters a culture of healthy living at the office. Healthy snacks are provided at work, a group walk is held once a week, nutritious lunches are provided twice a month, yoga classes are held on-site and employees are encouraged to participate in activities that promote an active, healthy lifestyle. The GCC is one way that Iridia is encouraging its employees to get healthy in a fun and engaging way.

christo

According to research by Goldbeck Recruiting Inc. in their blog for Canadian Employers on trends in the Canadian workplace (http://goldbeck.com/hrblog/workplace-wellness-programs-part-1-what-canadian-companies-are-doing/), promoting health and wellness programs show benefits both the employees and the organization.

Consider these facts about Canadian workers:

  • 60% spend their entire workday seated, and 56% are classified as “physically inactive”
  • 36% are overweight, and 23% are obese
  • 66% report high stress on their jobs
  • 21% are daily or regular smokers

Some of the benefits to companies that invest in a healthy workplace are:

  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Improved employee satisfaction
  • Reduced short and long-term disability payments
  • Reduced employee benefit costs
  • Lower worker’s compensation claims

While these things are important to business, we just want our employees to get out and have some fun and get healthier in the process. The GCC looks like it will be just the vehicle to do that. You can check out the program at www.gettheworldmoving.com.

Iridia is getting its employees moving this May through September. Can we achieve 10,000 steps a day for each team member? We think we can! We’ll keep you posted as our teams move around the world and compete against 33,000 other teams around the world.

 

Weekly H7N9 Virus Update

H7N9

Flu Update
Weekly Avian Influenza A (H7N9) virus update: May 8, 2013

Introduction
Health officials in China have reported several additional A(H7N9) infections since last week; the outbreak’s total laboratory-confirmed infection count is 130 of which 31 people have died from the virus.  On May 5th, China’s Ministry of Agriculture reported that five more poultry samples tested positive for A(H7N9); there is still no strong evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus. The World Health Organization is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions.

Key Alerts

  • May 7 – The WHO released an A(H7N9) update yesterday – available here.
  • May 6 – The Public Health Agency of Canada updated Canadians on their current risk management plans with respect to the virus – available here.
  • May 6 – China reports two new A(H7N9) cases – available here.
  • May 1 – Scientists are concerned the virus is killing a fifth of those infected – a Guardian news story is available here.

Summary, Risks, and Recommendations
Of primary concern to most doctors and scientists is the potential for human-to-human transmission of the A(H7N9) virus.  Although new infections are emerging on a weekly basis, most leading centres for disease control are indicating that there is no serious threat for human-to-human transmission.  In particular, the United States Centre for Disease Control has issued a press release noting that this particular strain, at the moment, poses no real threat of launching a pandemic.  Dr. Thomas Frieden, of the US CDC, noted that roughly 2000 people have been exposed to the disease; however, very few of these people became infected with the virus.  Although the current risk assessment of the potential for human-to-human transmission is low, experts are still cautioning that a mutation of the virus could easily enable person-to-person transfer.

Statistics
Total confirmed cases: 130
Total fatalities: 31
Countries with infection – China, Taiwan

Additional Information
Thank you for checking our weekly Avian Influenza summary, please check back next week for Iridia Medical’s update on the A(H7N9) virus.  For more information, please visit http://www.bccdc.ca/default.htm

Northern Health Responds to “Where are the Men?

In 2010 a report by Dr. Bowering, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Health called out loudly, “Where are the Men.” In this report, Dr. Bowering highlighted many prominent health challenges for men living in northern BC, including higher rates of:

  • Cancer
  • Suicide
  • Occupational deaths
  • Chronic disease

Why do we see higher rates in the north than elsewhere in the province? There are many factors that determine whether people are healthy, but living conditions, income, employment, education, housing, food, sex and gender, the environment, personal skills all contribute, as well as lower access rates of health care.

health factors

Northern Health has responded with a commitment to men’s health through the creation of programs that improve health outcomes.

To make this a reality, Northern Health identified the following key themes:

  • Health care systems that recognize the need to value men and their role in the community
  • The need for safe space for men to speak about their health
  • Identifying a direct connection between men’s health and their ability to work
  • A stronger emphasis on the health component of health and safety
  • Partnerships with Industry, WorkSafe BC and other stakeholders
  • Men’s health will improve when men become a part of the conversation
  • Men need information about their bodies to keep them healthy
  • A men’s health program should adopt a holistic and inclusive approach

Today we can see Northern Health’s commitment in action with the Northern BC Man Challenge – an exciting and interactive website that challenges men to become more engaged with their health and wellness, in turn, asking “where are the men?”

The Northern BC Man Challenge was created to respond to the concerns raised by men living in northern BC during their community consultation, in which they expressed a need for communication tools that engage men in a straight forward, pragmatic, and fun way to address health concerns.

Iridia Medical is enthusiastic that this initiative, along with the commitment from Northern Health will benefit many men who live in BC’s northern communities.

Iridia is actively involved with communities in northern BC and employs many paramedics who work in the oil and gas industry – we will work closely with our paramedics to support this program and future wellness programs from Northern Health.

Learn more: http://men.northernhealth.ca/