Entries in WHO (2)


CDC Asked to Investigate Mysterious Illness in Vietnam

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HANOI, Vietnam) -- Vietnamese health officials asked the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate a mysterious skin disease which has killed 19 people in central Vietnam.

At least 171 have been sickened by the unidentified illness whose symptoms begin with a high fever then a rash and eventually organ failure. The illness first appeared in April last year however more people have been infected this year with 68 new infections and eight deaths.

State health officials visited the Ba To district in Quang Ngai province but could not identify the illness and asked WHO and the CDC for assistance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


E. Coli Outbreak Affecting Significantly More Women

S. Lowry/Univ Ulster(GENEVA, Switzerland) -- The European E. coli outbreak that has claimed more than a dozen lives and sickened thousands, including four suspected cases in the U.S. -- has disproportionately affected women.

"The outbreak is unusual in that it has developed very rapidly, and an unusually high number of cases affect adults ... particularly women, instead of the normal high-risk groups, which are young children and the elderly," said Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, a communications officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) .

Women account for about 70 percent of the cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome, the serious illness affecting the kidneys caused by the bacteria, according to WHO.

While officials have not yet been able to determine the source of the bacteria, Dr. Gerard Krause, an outbreak investigator with the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, told ABC News that soon-to-be-released studies implicate lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Krause said the outbreak is most closely associated with lettuce.

Speculation is that more women are falling ill because they eat more vegetables, or it could be a gender-specific biological factor.

"It may be just because whatever is causing it is something that women eat more than men," said Dr. Maria Alcaide, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "The other thought is that women have something different in their gut that's making these bacteria more attracted."

In a briefing earlier Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are four suspected cases in the U.S., individuals who likely contracted the infection while in northern Germany and brought it back to the United States. Three of the victims are hospitalized with hemolytic-uremic syndrome and the fourth reported bloody diarrhea consistent with the outbreak strain of E. coli.

Two American military service members stationed in Germany are also suspected cases. The CDC said both of them have a similar diarrheal illness.

Government officials stressed that the outbreak has not affected the United States directly.

The Food and Drug Administration is monitoring lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from Spain and Germany based on information it has received from European investigators. Produce from those countries accounts for less than 0.2 percent of produce imported into the U.S. every year.

The FDA says it is also stepping up its food safety regulations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio