Uganda confirms first case of Ebola

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2019   •   2889

Courtesy : Reuters

Uganda has confirmed its first case of Ebola during the current outbreak, a five-year-old Congolese child who is receiving care after arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday (June 11).

Uganda Minister of Health, Aceng Jane Ruth, confirmed the case and detailed the circumstances to the media at a briefing in Kampala.

The WHO said in a statement: “This is the first confirmed case in Uganda during the Ebola outbreak on-going in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The affected child, traveling with his family, had entered Uganda on June 9 through Bwera Border post. They sought medical care at Kagando hospital and the child was transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for management, the WHO said.

“The confirmation was made today by the Uganda Virus Institute (UVRI) … Contacts are being monitored,” the WHO said.

Since the epidemic began in August in eastern Congo, the Congo health ministry said on Monday that it had recorded 2,062 cases including 1,390 deaths.

Uganda has suffered regular outbreaks of Ebola and Marburg over the years, both high-fatality viral haemorrhagic fevers, and health facilities to treat the diseases are relatively robust for the region. (REUTERS)

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (August 22).

Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns, but the limited data appears reassuring the U.N. agency said in its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.

Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.

It added however that the current and available studies on the toxicity of plastic parts are limited, and also have not used standardized methods enabling scientists to have reproducible and comparable metrics, and that more studies are needed to be more conclusive on certain of the issues.

Microplastics pose three threats, a physical one, a chemical and the third is about bacterial colonization.

The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while the vast majority of smaller ones are likely to be excreted too, there still remains concern. WHO technical experts reported that more research needs to be conducted to know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts.

The chemical hazard, experts have looked at the concentrations found in marine microplastics and chose a worst-case scenario saying we would ingest the highest possible concentrations. According to WHO, whatever the chemical, the exposure level was a lot safer than any threshold of risks.

Bacterial colonization, health experts say there are so many particles in the environment bacteria might adhere to, that microplastics would make a negligible contribution to any microbioflora that would be released and pose a risk.

For this report, however, despite the flaws, they say they worked with worst-case scenarios and are confident that the risk would remain low should some data change.

The WHO recommended for consumers to keep on consuming tap or bottled water, provided it is correctly treated, and didn’t recommend for any regulations to be put in place. It also called for more studies, investigating the potential cumulative effects of the ingestion of microplastics present in food, air, water.

The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens —including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrhoeal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.

Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”

Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June.

That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depretis, Emilie Delwarde)

Dengvaxia won’t bring dengue cases down – DOH

Maris Federez   •   August 8, 2019

The controversial dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday maintained that Dengavaxia is not the answer to the problem of the high incidence of dengue in the country.

DOH spokesperson and Officer in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Usec. Eric Domingo explained that dengue is not like any other disease where vaccination is the only solution.

He stressed that Dengvaxia is still not a registered drug in the country and its efficacy is not yet fully proven.

“This vaccine is not for an outbreak response. It’s designed for future use sa mga taong nagka- dengue na dati [for people who have had dengue before],” Domingo said.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report showed that “Dengvaxia was first licensed in Mexico in December 2015 for use in individuals 9-45 years of age living in endemic areas, and is now licensed in 20 countries.”

It was then used in 11 countries in 2016, including the Philippines.

But it was only in September 2018 that the WHO recommended that Dengvaxia be only administered to children who were previously infected with dengue, adding that it is dangerous for those who have not yet gotten the disease.

This caused among the public, as well as, experts as the Philippines is the only country who had used Dengvaxia vaccination on a wider scope, with more than 800,000 children inoculated.

The DOH maintained that there is still no concrete study to date that claimed that children who are vaccinated with Dengvaxia will never be infected with dengue.

“It’s very difficult because you’re tested and then you’re positive but you’re actually false positive. Then if you give the Dengvaxia, who knows that the severe dengue reaction will not occur in a particular individual. So, there’s a risk, in other words,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said.  (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

WHO warns against falsified rabies and anti-rabies vaccines in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 18, 2019

Image by LuAnn Hunt from Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against falsified rabies and anti-rabies vaccines circulating in the Philippines.

Based on their 2019 medical product alert, the WHO identifies three falsified rabies vaccines as Verorab, Speeda, and Rabipur. They also identified one anti-rabies called Equirab.

“Investigations are ongoing, and laboratory analyses are being facilitated for available samples to determine their contents and better assess the risk to public health.” according to the medical product alert.

WHO warns supply chains in the country, including hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies to remain vigilant for falsified products.

“All medical products must be obtained from authentic and reliable sources. Their authenticity and condition should be carefully checked. Seek advice from a healthcare professional in case of doubt,” WHO said.—AAC

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