Physicians in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don have confirmed enterovirus meningitis with 45 people, a spokesperson for the federal Ministry of Healthcare said Sunday.
A total of 75 children are taking a course of hospital treatment in the aftermath of an outbreak of viral meningitis in the city with a population of about 1.1 million people. “All the patients /including the ones whose diagnosis has been confirmed - Itar-Tass/ are in a stable condition,” the spokesperson said.
As many as eight children have been released from hospitals since Saturday afternoon. All in all, the outbreak has affected 159 people.
Earlier reports said the physicians had confirmed the diagnosis of 38 children.
The Rostov region public health ministry also said four adult patients with manifestations of an acute viral respiratory infection were taking treatment at a city hospital and one of them was a kindergarten instructor.
An adult female patient is getting intensive therapy in the condition of an induced coma.
To prevent the emergence of new cases of the diseases, which is rarely lethal but which imposes debilitating impacts on its victims, the local medical authorities have launched a whole range of prophylactic measures like checkup rounds at apartment blocks.
As many as 4,249 children have been checked up to date.
The federal Healthcare Ministry expects an investigation report from the sanitary watchdog agency Rospotrebnadzor on the source of infection, as well as causes and mechanisms of its transmission to the children.
The list of aftereffects of enterovirus meningitis includes exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, anxiety, depression, balance problems, and hearing difficulties.
Enteroviruses are a genus of positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses associated with several human and mammalian diseases. Serologic studies have distinguished 66 human enterovirus serotypes on the basis of antibody neutralization tests. Additional antigenic variants have been defined within several of the serotypes on the basis of reduced or nonreciprocal cross-neutralization between variant strains. On the basis of their pathogenesis in humans and animals, the enteroviruses were originally classified into four groups, polioviruses, Coxsackie A viruses (CA), Coxsackie B viruses (CB), and echoviruses, but it was quickly realized that there were significant overlaps in the biological properties of viruses in the different groups. Enteroviruses isolated more recently are named with a system of consecutive numbers: EV68, EV69, EV70, and EV71, etc. Enteroviruses affect millions of people worldwide each year, and are often found in the respiratory secretions (e.g., saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) and stool of an infected person. Historically, poliomyelitis was the most significant disease caused by an enterovirus, poliovirus. There are 62 non-polio enteroviruses that can cause disease in humans: 23 Coxsackie A viruses, 6 Coxsackie B viruses, 28 echoviruses, and 5 other enteroviruses. Poliovirus, as well as coxsackie and echovirus are spread through the fecal-oral route. Infection can result in a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild respiratory illness (common cold), hand, foot and mouth disease, acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, aseptic meningitis, myocarditis, severe neonatal sepsis-like disease, and acute flaccid paralysis.
Terror threats on the Pharmaceutical Industry
Over the last few months, my colleague, Dr. Miri Halperin Wernli (Vice President, Deputy Head Global Clinical Development, Head of Global Business&Science Affairs at Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Switzerland) and myself, undertook several research projects analyzing the risk of terrorism to the pharmaceutical industry. We have published various articles on the subject (including in a forthcoming issue of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism) and just completed a short documentary which aims at raising awareness on these dangerous recent developments. The result of our research has lead us to advice and brief governmental and non-governmental bodies; including the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Israeli National Security Council.
The documentary presents unique data which demonstrates that at least one terrorist organization – Hezbollah – is already involved in manufacturing and distributing counterfeit medications. Hezbollah is liable to use its production centers, international smuggling and distribution networks, and ties to international crime syndicates to insert deadly fake drugs into the pharmaceuticals market.
This poses new and different challenges which need to be recognized and addressed by decision–makers, security agencies and the global pharmaceutical industry. By understanding the potential gaps and the associated risks, and by taking the recommended measures, the pharmaceutical industry can prevent or minimize the possibility of potentially severe consequences for the public and the industry.
By Dr. Boaz Ganor
Ronald Lauder Chair for Counter Terrorism,
Founder&Executive Director, ICT – The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism,
Deputy Dean, Lauder School of Government, Herzliya, Israel,