There is a 10-15% fatality rate in reported cases of Powassan encephalitis, with many survivors suffering long-term neurological damage. Symptoms usually begin suddenly 7-14 days following infection, and include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, and sleepiness. Later, breathing distress, tremors, confusion, seizures, coma, paralysis, and death can occur.
Some $548 million in the HITECH Act was devoted to offering startup funding to HIEs, which have helped to fill gaps in EHR interoperability. But that money is set to run out by the end of the year. “The health care providers are not willing to pay for the service at the level needed,” said Adler-Milstein. “They don’t see enough value, and that’s because much of it doesn’t accrue to them. It goes to patients and to health insurance companies. The central challenge is that the incentives and the business model are not aligned yet for this to really work.”
In an additional update to the challenges being faced by HIEs, the latest report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) indicates that participation in Operational HIE efforts is low among public health departments, and that public health reports were the least common type of data exchanged:
The study indicated each patient would, on average, infect 0.69 others–so three infected patients would pass the virus on to just two people–as compared with an infection rate of 9.8 per patient for the SARS virus.
From September 2012 to date, the World Health Organization has been informed of a total of 79 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 42 deaths. It was reported yesterday that a man in the UK has died from a case of MERS-CoV.
“Given the overall pattern where we’re seeing steady cases, and where we don’t know what the future brings, what we just want to make sure is that we can move as quickly as possible if we need to,” said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, at a briefing in Geneva today. “We’re not in the midst of any acute event right now.”
The WHO plans to convene a committee of experts on July 9th (and again on July 11th if necessary) to decide whether MERS-CoV poses a public health emergency of international concern. The experts gathered for the committee will assess information on the outbreak and advise the WHO on whether it needs to make any further recommendations about the risk posed by the virus.