Sydney Legionnaires’ disease warning: four people infected

Sydney building owners have been warned to guard against legionnaires disease outbreaks by checking their water cooling towers, after four people contracted the condition.
The four individuals contracted the legionnaires strain Legionella pneumophilia, which is commonly found in contaminated water cooling towers in large buildings, NSW Health reported on Wednesday.
They had all spent time in the CBD over the past month, but this may have been a coincidence.
The health department reminded building owners and occupiers of their obligation to maintain and clean their water cooling systems for air conditioning plants.
In 2016, 15 people contracted the pneumonia-like condition after visiting the Sydney CBD during two separate outbreaks linked to two water cooling towers.
Executive director of health protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said that while no source of these four infections has been identified, precautions are being taken.
Legionnaires’ disease occurs after a person breathes in contaminated water or dust and outbreaks have been associated with the air conditioning units used in large buildings.
“People who develop this disease are diagnosed by chest X-ray and a urine test and usually require antibiotic treatment in hospital," Dr McAnulty said.
Public Health Units in Local Health Districts across NSW follow up every case of Legionnaires’ disease.
In response to the 2016 outbreaks, NSW Health strengthened the Public Health Regulation, requiring building owners to conduct monthly tests on cooling towers and notify high levels of Legionella and other bacteria to local councils.

Malawi cholera death toll rises to 10

Cholera is a water-borne diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, but is easily cured with oral rehydration, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
Clean water and hygiene standards are critical to controlling transmission.
Muluzi bemoaned that this was a worsening trend as the number of cholera cases are increasing in Malawi.
He said health officials have begun a media blitz to educate people about the risk of cholera and what steps they can take to avoid contracting it.
Muluzi said the main strategy for cholera control remains use of safe and potable water, good sanitation, and personal hygiene.
The new cholera cases have been reported from three districts namely Salima, Karonga and Lilongwe with 550 cases in total as some patients are still admitted in health facilities across the country.
“Although the cholera cases are rising, it is not yet an outbreak, I should just urge all Malawians to take care when it comes to sanitation issues like washing hands after visiting the toilet, boiling drinking water and many other measures that will prevent the disease from spreading,” advised Muluzi.
UNICEF’s representative to Malawi Johannes Wedenig told local media that “as long as people in Malawi don’t change the behaviour of using unsafe water, it’ll be very difficult to contain”.
He urged Malawians to follow strict sanitation rules and stressed the importance of hand-washing before eating or preparing food.
Another 450,000 doses are expected to arrive soon for distribution in the rest of the country, added Muluzi, confirming the current toll.

Water-borne infections push Puerto Rico death toll higher

(CNN)More than a month since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the death toll from the storm has risen to 51, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety The latest two victims died from leptospirosis, an infection that can spread after floods through contaminated water, Public Safety press officer Karixia Ortiz told CNN.
The cause of death is also included in the latest list of certified deaths just released by Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Safety.
Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, and many people recover on their own.
But a small number may develop dire complications such as meningitis or kidney or liver failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the hurricane hit in September, many in Puerto Rico have not had access to clean drinking water or electricity.
Doctors and public health experts are worried that that the water crisis would lead to further health problems.
"They need water.
And we haven’t seen much of FEMA."
In early October, President Donald Trump told Puerto Rican officials they should be "very proud" that the death toll wasn’t as high as in "a real catastrophe like Katrina," referring to the 2005 hurricane that destroyed New Orleans.
"Every death is a horror," Trump said, "but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds of people that died — and you look at what happened here with, really, a storm that was just totally overpowering … no one has ever seen anything like this."

Water contamination causes hundreds of infections in West Bank refugee camp

More than 300 people fell ill on Wednesday due to contaminated drinking water in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron in the West Bank.
A medical source said that most of the infected children were infected with Amoeba bacteria after sewage water was mixed with drinking water in the camp.
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Infections, Illnesses Loom in Puerto Rico Aftermath

Risks can come in stages during a weather emergency.
Such issues are rising in Puerto Rico.
About 90% of the island is without power, according to a report this week.
There’s also expressed concern for damages to Puerto Rico’s manufacturing service.
He also noted leptospirosis, a bacterial condition spread through infected animal urine which has now been diagnosed in 10 Puerto Rico patients, and is responsible for 4 deaths.
The disease is commonly associated with flooding events in warm climates, Zahn said, and people without access to safe drinking water are at great risk.
"People are concerned with mosquito-borne illnesses,” Zahn said.
Zahn agreed with the notion that residents outside of affected sites may misinterpret the priority of donated supplies — that they may not realize bottles of water, packaged food, and other essential materials are necessary to avoid health disasters. Like the stages of risks following disaster, getting these supplies is one of the stages to recovery.

Water Safety Concerns After The Hurricanes (Video)

In Texas, the concern is E.coli, a bacterial infection from contaminated water that can cause mild to severe diarrhea.
Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic, says, “There are issues that happen during a hurricane where you can have mixing of drinking water, floodwaters and potentially even bringing sewage into that mix so you have water that’s no longer safe to drink,” says Dr. Tosh.
“There are several different kinds of pathogens you can get like E. coli, shigella, and other types of coliform bacteria that normally you would see in stool and can cause diarrheal diseases and potentially even more serious diseases in the right person.” Access to safe drinking water is a major concern for those affected by hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
“I worry about the aftermath of a hurricane,” says Dr. Tosh.
“If people don’t have access to clean water, they may be drinking what’s available without boiling or filtering it first, in which case, they are at high risk of getting a diarrheal pathogen from that water.” “If there is any concern about the safety of the water, it should be boiled.
Dr. Tosh says, “Ideally, it should be boiled for one minute, allowed to cool, then filtered.
This should kill any bacterial or protozoal infections in the water.
You have to make sure the water you are drinking is safe.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster like a hurricane, people may be tempted to drink any water available assuming it’s safe.
If you are not sure about your water, boil it, cool it, filter it.” Most healthy people recover from E. coli though some people including young children and older adults are at risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening form of kidney failure.

Infectious Diseases Could Sweep Across Texas as Harvey Floods Houston

Updated | In the coming weeks and even months, residents of Houston and other parts of southern Texas hit hard by Hurricane Harvey will be faced with the public health disasters that can result from dirty floodwater and landslides.
Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, says officials are already making efforts to address the emerging public health nightmare.
State and local officials recommend that people avoid drinking tap water, as health officials always do after a hurricane.
This means that drinking water has now come into contact with dirty floodwater.
Tosh also cautions the public about the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by Legionella, bacteria found in in freshwater that easily spreads to human-made water systems during floods.
Legionnaires’ disease causes pneumonia-type symptoms as well as gastrointestinal illness and headaches.
Many bacterial illnesses resolve on their own, but some require antibiotics.
Officials in Houston are stocking temporary medical mobile units with such antibiotics as well as tetanus vaccines to treat and prevent bacterial infections, says Van Deusen.
Floodwaters also impact indoor environments and make houses especially hospitable to mold.
The state is also in the throes of mosquito season.

Preventing disease important for evacuees

Preventing disease important for evacuees.
Clean hands will go a long way in preventing the spread of infectious disease where evacuees are in a shared living space like the nearly 700 who are housed at the College of New Caledonia and the University of Northern B.C.
due to the Cariboo wildfires.
"The best way to prevent that is good hand hygiene, so washing your hands frequently, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating and after handling anything that you’re not sure of its cleanliness," Gray said.
"If people do come down with vomiting and diarrhea, we do encourage people to let someone from health services know because we have set up an isolation area where people who are thought to have a potentially infectious condition like norovirus can be in an area where it would be less likely to be transmitted to others," Gray said.
Anyone visiting those who are ill are also encouraged to vigorously wash their hands as well, he added.
Northern Health environmental health officers are also vigilant while working with staff, including cleaning staff, at the two main evacuee centres, Gray said.
"They are making sure there are enough hand-washing stations for people to use, enough hand sanitizer, and making sure there are enough bathrooms for everybody and making sure there’s good rigorous routine cleaning of the bathrooms and floors, while making sure people have access to clean drinking water and safe food, clean cots and linens and waste is disposed of appropriately," Gray said.
Staff at both sites have been provided with guidance on how to properly deal with any type of spill of body fluids.
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Cholera cases surpass 200,000 in Yemen: WHO

Cholera cases surpass 200,000 in Yemen: WHO.
The rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Yemen has been "increasing at an average of 5,000 a day", said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) executive director Anthony Lake in a joint statement on Wednesday.
"We are now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world," they said.
Since April 27, the disease has spread to almost all of Yemeni provinces, mostly reported from capital Sanaa and its suburbs, northern province of Hajah and Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, which are also under Houthi control, said WHO in its recent updated map of the spreading disease.
One quarter of the epidemic victims were children, the statement said.
They also said that rising rates of malnutrition in Yemen have weakened children’s health and made them more vulnerable to the disease.
Yemen is facing total collapse as the war continues.
Two thirds of the total population, around 19 million, need humanitarian and protection aid.
About 10.3 million people are close to famine and 14.5 million lack access to safe drinking water.
Less than 45 per cent of the country’s hospitals are operational at the moment, but even the operational ones are coping with huge challenges, on top of which is the lack of medications, medical equipment and staffs.

May 3, 2017 Webinar: WASH Counts in Healthcare Facilities!

May 3, 2017 Webinar: WASH Counts in Healthcare Facilities!.
To learn how WASH can prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections, join Medentech and the Global Handwashing Partnership on May 3 at 10 am EST for a webinar observing Hand Hygiene Day (May 5).
During this webinar, experts will share information on how to improve WASH in HCFs, including: The World Health Organization (WHO) will share an update from the WHO/UNICEF Global Action Plan on WASH in HCF; USAID’s Maternal & Child Program (MCSP) will discuss how WASH underpins quality of care and contributes to health systems strengthening effort, as well as the Clean Clinic Approach, a WASH program that empowers HCFs to become clean, safe, and desirable; The Beninese Association for Social Marketing (Association Béninoise pour le Marketing Social (ABMS), a member of the PSI network) will provide an overview of how it supports HCFs in Benin to improve hygiene and make services safer for patients; Medentech will share lessons learned from its work in infection prevention across the world and offer some tools for continued hygiene improvement in healthcare clinics globally.
Presenters will also share links to educational resources and tools during the webinar.
We look forward to having you join us on May 3 at 10 am EST!
Please register here: