Disease Updates - 1/12 to...

Peter Petrisko ptp at primenet.com
Tue Jan 13 02:55:01 EST 1998


1/12/98- Correction/ CA flu & ? / Chile - cholera / Kenya & Somalia - RVF
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Los Angeles, CA (US) - CORRECTION on quote "500 deaths due to influenza"
(posted within "Disease Updates - 1/6 to..." thread) --
   Someone was quoted out of context in a TV interview, and this error was
picked up by every radio, print & TV news outlet - incorrect quote was
"500 deaths due to influenza". Here is how it happened, with correction...
   The CDC tracks nationally the proportion of deaths each week of the
influenza season - 10/1 thru 4/30 - that have an underlying cause of
pneumonia or influenza. Since influenza is usually a clinical diagnosis,
few cases are actually confirmed. However, during an outbreak one can
expect to see a rise in the death rate approx. 2 to 4 weeks after
influenza arrives.
   According to the "P & I Index" (Pneumonia & Influenza), for 12/97 a
preliminary total of 11.7% (580/4900) deaths in Los Angeles County listed
pneumonia as a contributing or underlying cause. What was left out was the
12/96 total, 12.3% (617/5000) - indicating there hasn't been an increase
IN DEATHS associated with pneumonia, and certainly not 500 deaths due to
influenza specifically. 
   This does not mean there hasn't been an increase in cases, it just
means there was no increase in deaths.
   The number of influenza cases did rise suddenly in mid- to late
December '97, in southern CA, with numerous doctors & hospitals reporting
capacity crowds. 
   According to physicians, there appears to be TWO DISTINCT ILLNESSES -
one is clearly influenza (influenza A/Sydney - see 1/11 post for details),
the other hasn't been identified but it doesn't have typical "flu"
symptoms of high fever & muscle ache, it consists mostly of low fever and
chronic dry cough that lasts for weeks. (I would think doctors would know
bronchitis when they see it, this illness hasn't been identified as
bronchitis.)
   These illnesses appear to have spread from Los Angeles County, to
Orange, Riverside & San Bernardino Counties, with ancedotal reports of
extremely busy outpatient services.

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CHILE - The Ministry of Health reported 33 cases of cholera, 12 confirmed,
which have occurred since the last week in December '97. All occurred in
rural areas of northern Chile, near the border with Bolivia.

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Nairobi, KENYA - An outbreak of Rift Valley fever - already believed to be
the cause of 300+ deaths - has killed another 21 people in northeast
Kenya, authorities said today. 
   Red Cross officials urged residents to burn all animal carcasses, one
source of the virus.
   Another source has been mosquitos, after recent flooding scattered the
insects' eggs.
   Symptoms of Rift Valley fever include high fevers, headaches and vision
problems. In severe cases, fatal hemorrhaging from the nose & other
orifices can occur. 

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SOMALIA - In the region just across the border from Kenya, dozens of
people have also died recently from Rift Valley fever. Exact figures not
available yet.

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(facts from CDC reports & Reuters)
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