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Alaska, Adenovirus outbreak

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  • Alaska, Adenovirus outbreak

    Respiratory illness kills woman in Southeastern

    VIRUS: One other victim on ventilator in an Anchorage hospital.


    Published: October 6th, 2008 09:20 PM

    A respiratory illness likely caused by a virus circulating on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska has killed one person and put another on a ventilator in an Anchorage hospital, the state Division of Public Health said Monday.

    Genetic testing on samples taken from patients indicates the cause of the outbreak is adenovirus 14, a particularly virulent version of a common bug best known for causing "that respiratory crud in the winter," said division epidemiologist Beth Funk.

    "It's a fairly common virus, but this particular type, adenovirus 14, hasn't been seen commonly up until lately," Funk said. "In the last year it's been the main player in a couple of outbreaks that looked somewhat like the one that they're having on Prince of Wales Island."

    Indications are that the virus is responsible for causing pneumonia in at least 32 people on the island and sickening an untold number of others who did not go to a clinic seeking medical treatment, she said.

    Seven of the 32 cases were severe enough to warrant medevacs to hospitals in surrounding communities, including one patient who was taken to Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage to be put on a ventilator. One woman died, she said.

    "That individual also had fairly significant underlying lung disease -- chronic obstructive lung disease -- and it would have put that person at a higher risk for bad outcome with any other infection on top of that," Funk said.

    After a physician reported Sept. 22 that an unusual number of people were falling ill, the division sent a team to the island to pore over medical records, Funk said. Scientists at the state virology laboratory in Fairbanks and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta collected specimens and conducted tests to determine the cause of the outbreak, Funk said. The CDC identified adenovirus in six of 13 samples sent to it.

    "If you can get a predominant germ on a fairly good proportion of those tests, then you go with that," Funk said. "You don't have to have every single test be positive, because no test is perfect."

    While some infected people might not show any symptoms, others develop a sore throat, cough, fever or pneumonia. Severe pneumonia and death are rare in otherwise healthy people, but the infirm are at increased risk for such complications, according to the CDC.

    The virus spreads similarly to the common cold. It is transferred from person to person by coughing and sneezing, and it can also be contracted by touching an object, like a doorknob, that has the virus on it and then touching one's mouth, nose or eyes, according to the CDC.

    As with other viruses, there's no cure for adenovirus; it moves through a community and will eventually cycle itself out, Funk said.

    Because there is a fair amount of travel to and from the island, particularly to Ketchikan, there was some concern the illness could spread to other communities, she said. But there have been no reports of widespread illness off the island and, even before the likely cause of the illness was known, there were no plans to quarantine people there or otherwise restrict travel, she said.

    Health officials were recommending people wash their hands often and cover their mouths when they cough to avoid contracting and spreading the virus
    “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
    Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

    ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~

  • #2
    Re: Alaska, Adenovirus outbreak

    Background on Ad14


    • #3
      Re: Alaska, Adenovirus outbreak

      Also see this thread:


      • #4
        Re: Alaska, Adenovirus outbreak

        Dr Niman and all other FT members' endurance at the end have paid: they (authorities) finally disclose the causal agent of this outbreak.