Here at HealthMap, we are often focused on outbreaks happening right now. As the new year approaches, we reflect on some of the outbreaks of 2010.

Where were you when…

Polio was imported into Tajikistan (April 23)
2010 saw two set-backs in the continuing effort to eradicate polio. The WHO announced the first importation of poliovirus in the WHO European Region since it was certified polio-free in 2002 and polio spread through Central Africa (see below).  120 cases of acute flaccid paralysis were reported in mid-April, prompting the Tajikistan government to notify WHO of an outbreak. By late July, 430 cases had been confirmed, and 7 confirmed cases in the Russian confederation. The outbreak continues, particularly in neighboring countries, despite vaccination campaigns to prevent additional cases.

Polio in Angola (July 17) spread to Central Africa (August 17)
By 2005, only Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan suffered from endemic polio. However, many Hausa in Northern Nigeria resisted a polio vaccination campaign due to fears that it might spread other diseases or cause young women to become infertile. Since then, polio has regained a foot-hold, re-establishing itself in countries previously declared free of the disease. Angola, having re-established sustained transmission in 2009 saw an outbreak in 2010 that spread to neighboring countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it continues to spread.

Cholera broke out in Haiti  (October 21)
Much of Haiti’s infrastructure was destroyed in the large earthquake that struck the capital Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. Even prior to the earthquake, only 12% of Haitians had treated, piped water and 17% access to adequate sanitation. Emergency aid teams went to help injured people but also sought to contain outbreaks of any diseases that might emerge with large numbers of internally displaced people living in temporary shelters. Since there hadn’t been an outbreak of Cholera in Haiti for over 100 years, few expected or prepared for such a contingency. Hypotheses abound as to the origin of the outbreak. Haitians rioted because UN Peacekeepers may have brought in the disease.  A Haitian Voodoo association reports 45 people have been murdered after accusations of using black magic to spread the outbreak.. Although we may never know the specific source, genome sequencing of the strain has made clear that international travel played a role.  Furthermore, a population made vulnerable by natural disaster sows fertile ground for disease transmission. HealthMap’s updated info on Haiti available here.

Vancouver Olympics brought measles to British Columbia, and the World Cup exported it from South Africa to Argentina
International travel was again linked to disease transmission as cases of measles in Vancouver were linked to an outbreak in Australia. South Africa exported cases of measles to Argentina during the World Cup. HealthMap, along with partners such as BioDiaspora, continue to provide highly specific surveillance for outbreak threats during mass gatherings.

Dengue Spread north in 2010
After more than 50 years without Dengue cases, Key West, Florida began seeing a return of the disease early in the year. By mid-July, the CDC confirmed 39 cases, and announced that 5% of Key West residents had likely been exposed to the Dengue virus. July brought a confirmed case in Marion county followed by additional cases in Central Florida. In August, Florida’s Broward County Health Department announced a confirmed case of Dengue in a woman who had not left the county for weeks.  

While the United States was seeing a return of Dengue in Florida, France saw it’s 1st non-imported case on the mainland in Nice, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. This also marked the first locally transmitted incidence of the disease in Europe in more than 80 years.  

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