The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced on 1 August 2018 that preliminary laboratory results indicate a cluster of cases of Ebola virus in North Kivu province. This statement was issued little more than a week after the Ministry of Health declared the end of an outbreak in Equateur Province in the far western part of the country, 2500km from North Kivu.
The Ministry of Health of the DRC informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) that four out of six samples tested positive for Ebola virus at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa. Further testing is on-going.
North Kivu hosts over one million displaced people. The province shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda with a great deal of cross-border movement due to trade activities. WHO will continue to work with neighbouring countries to ensure health authorities are alert and prepared to respond. North Kivu is an active conflict zone in a remote area and therefore the virus is not that likely to spread.
Source: WHO, 1 August 2018
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published its annual epidemiological report concerning communicable disease threats to public health in the EU.
This report covers the events, threats and actions taken in 2016 related to the findings of routine activities carried out by the ECDC epidemic intelligence team. The objective of this team is to rapidly detect and assess public health events of any origin to ensure EU health security.
Source: ECDC, 1 August 2018
In June 2018, the European Commission updated the communicable diseases list and related special health issues to be covered by epidemiological surveillance as well as the relevant case definitions.
For the first time, Lyme neuroborreliosis was included on the list of diseases under EU epidemiological surveillance, with a uniform EU case definition being formally released.
The new case definition is based on scientific advice by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and wide consultation with experts in EU member states.
ECDC will start monitoring disease distribution in the EU and collecting EU data through the epidemiological surveillance network comprising the European Commission, ECDC and national authorities for epidemiological surveillance. The first call for data on Lyme neuroborreliosis in the European Surveillance System (TESSy) will be launched in 2019.
Source: ECDC, 2 August 2018
Food Standards Scotland’s (FSS) Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit has seized a quantity of powder they believe to be the chemical 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP). It is a highly toxic industrial chemical mainly used as a pesticide, but is also known to promote rapid weight loss in humans. While the possession of DNP for legitimate, industrial purposes is permitted, it is illegal to sell for human consumption as it is poisonous to humans and can lead to severe health problems including blindness, high body temperature and even death.
The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit is appealing for anyone in Scotland with information on the sale of DNP to report it to the free and confidential on the Scottish Food Crime Hotline: 0800 028 7926.
Source: FSS, 1 August 2018
On 31 July 2018, the Met Office published its fourth annual State of the UK Climate report. The report provides a summary of the UK weather and climate through the calendar year 2017, alongside the historical context for a number of essential climate variables.
The majority of this report is based on observations of temperature, precipitation, sunshine and wind speed from the UK land weather station network as managed by the Met Office and a number of key partners and co‐operating volunteers. The observations are carefully managed and conform to current best practice observational standards as defined by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The report confirms that the UK climate is warming, with the average temperature over the last decade (2008-2017) 0.8 °C warmer than the 1961-1990 average, with 8% more rainfall and 6% more sunshine in the same period. In contrast to summer 2018, UK summers have been notably wetter over the most recent decade, with a 20% increase in rainfall compared to 1961-1990.
Source: Met Office, 31 July 2018
The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland has published its annual report. The report summarises data on water quality in public and private supplies across Scotland, as well as covering water quality events and incidents, consumer contacts to Scottish Water and DWQR activities throughout the year.
Scottish Water take and analyse samples of drinking water from across Scotland, 365 days a year. The report states that a total of 305,459 regulatory tests were carried out on Scotland’s drinking water last year. Of those taken from samples at consumers’ taps, 99.91% met the required standards.
The report also describes reductions in the number of consumers expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of their drinking water supply. In 2017, Scottish Water were contacted by 9,239 customers who were concerned over quality, half the number reported in 2012.
Source: Scottish Government, 2 August 2018