Cholera – Togo

From 11 November to 28 December, 2020 a total of 67 suspected cholera cases presenting with diarrhea and vomiting, including two deaths a case fatality ratio (CFR: 3%) were reported from the municipalities “Golfe 1” and “Golfe 6” in Lomé, Togo. A total of four health areas (Katanga, Adakpamé, Gbétsogbé in Golfe 1, and Kangnikopé in Golfe 6) in the affected municipalities reported at least one case.

On 17 November, cholera was confirmed by culture in the laboratory of the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) in Lomé, Togo and WHO was informed. On 19 November, the Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Access to Care of Togo issued a press release declaring a cholera outbreak and on 24 November WHO was officially notified. From 11 November to 28 December 2020, a total of 17 out of 41 stool samples tested positive for Vibrio cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa by culture in the National Institute of Hygiene (INH) in Lomé, Togo.

SARS-CoV-2 Variants

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has had a major impact on human health globally; infecting a large number of people; causing severe disease and associated long-term health sequelae; resulting in death and excess mortality, especially among older and vulnerable populations; interrupting routine healthcare services; disruptions to travel, trade, education and many other societal functions; and more broadly having a negative impact on peoples physical and mental health. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO has received several reports of unusual public health events possibly due to variants of SARS-CoV-2. WHO routinely assesses if variants of SARS-CoV-2 result in changes in transmissibility, clinical presentation and severity, or if they impact on countermeasures, including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Previous reports of the D614G mutation and the recent reports of virus variants from the Kingdom of Denmark, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Republic of South Africa have raised interest and concern in the impact of viral changes.

A variant of SARS-CoV-2 with a D614G substitution in the gene encoding the spike protein emerged in late January or early February 2020. Over a period of several months, the D614G mutation replaced the initial SARS-CoV-2 strain identified in China and by June 2020 became the dominant form of the virus circulating globally. Studies in human respiratory cells and in animal models demonstrated that compared to the initial virus strain, the strain with the D614G substitution has increased infectivity and transmission. The SARS-CoV-2 virus with the D614G substitution does not cause more severe illness or alter the effectiveness of existing laboratory diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, or public health preventive measures.

Yellow fever – Senegal

From October to December 2020, a total of seven confirmed cases of yellow fever (YF) have been reported from four health districts in three regions in Senegal.

SARS-CoV-2 Variant – United Kingdom

On 14 December 2020, authorities of the United Kingdom (UK) reported to WHO that a new SARS-CoV-2 variant was identified through viral genomic sequencing. This variant is referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01 (Variant Under Investigation, year 2020, month 12, variant 01).

Yellow fever – Nigeria

Reports of a cluster of deaths from an undiagnosed disease were notified on 1 November 2020 through Event Based Surveillance in two states, Delta and Enugu, located in southern Nigeria.

Avian Influenza A(H5N1)- Lao People’s Democratic Republic

The Ministry of Health in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) reported a human case of infection with an avian influenza A(H5N1) virus. The case is a one-year-old female who developed symptoms of fever, productive cough, difficulty breathing and runny nose on 13 October 2020. She was hospitalized for her illness on 16 October and discharged on 19 October. As part of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) sentinel surveillance, a specimen was collected on the date of hospitalization and confirmed to be positive for avian influenza A(H5N1) on 28 October by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE).

Among the close contacts of the patient, one contact developed fever and cough after the onset of illness in the case. Specimens collected from all household contacts, including the symptomatic contact, were negative for influenza A viruses.

Rift Valley Fever – Mauritania

The Ministry of Health (MoH) notified WHO that between 13 September and 1 October 2020, eight cases of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) including seven deaths were confirmed in animal breeders. Districts affected include Tidjikja and Moudjéria (Tagant region), Guerou (Assaba region) and Chinguetty (Adrar region). Laboratory confirmation of RVF infection was performed using a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the National Institute for Public Health Research (INRSP) in Nouakchott. The age of infected patients varied between 16 and 70 years old and included one woman and seven men. All seven deaths occurred among hospitalised patients with fever and haemorrhagic syndrome (petechia, gingivorrhagia) and vomiting.

Between 4 September to 7 November 2020, a total of 214 people were sampled and their samples have been sent to the INRSP for laboratory testing with a total of 75 testing positive for RVF (RT-PCR and serology by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Positive cases have been reported in 11 of 15 regions of the country: Brakna, Trarza, Gorgol, (on the border with Senegal), Adrar, Assaba, Hodh El Gharby, Hodh El Chargui, Guidimaka (on the border with Mali) and Nouakchott Sud, Nouakchott Ouest and Tagant. The Tagant region is the most affected (38/75, 51%) with principal hotspot districts being Tidjikja and Moudjeria. Thus far a total of 25 deaths have been reported from this outbreak.