Communicable disease threats report, 1-7 February 2015, week 6

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)
Time period covered: 1 - 7 February 2015

​The ECDC communicable disease threats report is a weekly bulletin intended for epidemiologists and health professionals in the area of communicable disease prevention and control. Summarising information gathered by ECDC through its epidemic intelligence activities regarding communicable disease threats of concern to the European Union, it also provides updates on the global situation and changes in the epidemiology of communicable diseases with potential to affect Europe, including diseases that are the focus of eradication efforts.

Executive summary

This issue covers the period 25 to 31 January 2015 and includes updates on seasonal influenza, measles and Ebola virus disease.

Seasonal influenza - Europe

For week 04/2015, 26 countries reported increasing influenza activity. The overall proportion of influenza-positive sentinel specimens reached 48%.

The majority of A(H3N2) viruses characterized so far exhibit antigenic differences to the virus included in the 2014–2015 northern hemisphere influenza vaccine. Nevertheless, vaccination of the elderly and other risk groups is recommended, as the A(H3N2) component is expected to induce some cross-reactive immunity that can reduce the likelihood of severe influenza-infection related outcomes.

The influenza season is well under way, particularly in western and central European countries.

ECDC published a rapid risk assessment on 28 January 2015.

Measles – Europe

In the EU, since 1 January 2015 a new measles outbreak has been reported in several schools in Berlin, Germany. Since the beginning of the year, 153 cases have been reported to the German health authorities.

In the rest of the world, large outbreaks are ongoing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, the US, China, Sudan and Papua New Guinea. Measles, a highly transmissible vaccine-preventable disease, is still endemic in many EU countries where vaccination uptake remains below the level required to interrupt the transmission cycle.

Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic - West Africa

Since the last CDTR, and as of 25 January, WHO has reported a combined total of 99 confirmed Ebola virus disease cases from the three countries: 30 in Guinea, four in Liberia, and 65 in Sierra Leone.

As of 29 January 2015, WHO has reported a total of 22 136 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases, with 8 833 deaths.

The response to the epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing the transmission to ending the epidemic, according to WHO.