Jul 10, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – European officials today reported a rare case of the often-deadly Marburg hemorrhagic fever on European soil, in a Dutch woman who recently was exposed to bats while visiting caves in Uganda.Dutch authorities informed the European Union and the World Health Organization of the case today, according to a statement from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The patient is a 40-year-old woman who had recently returned from a vacation in Uganda.”The travel included a visit to two caves in the Maramagambo forest (between Queen Elizabeth Park and Kebale), where she was exposed to fruit bats,” the ECDC said. The patient was at Leiden University Medical Centre; her condition was not disclosed.”ECDC’s initial assessment is that the threat to public health is limited and mainly focused on the people who have been in close contact with the patient after the onset of her symptoms,” the agency said. “People intending to travel to Uganda should be aware there may be a risk related to visiting caves in the Maramagambo forest.”The Marburg virus, like its cousin the Ebola virus, can cause a severe febrile disease for which there is no vaccine or specific treatment. The case-fatality rate ranges from 30% to 90%, depending on the strain, according to an ECDC fact sheet. The most recent large Marburg outbreak occurred in Angola in 2004 and 2005, involving 252 confirmed cases with 227 deaths.Marburg and Ebola can spread through contact with blood, secretions, or other body fluids of living or dead infected persons, and also through contact with living or dead infected animals, according to the ECDC.The natural reservoir for Marburg virus is unknown, but last year researchers reported finding genetic material from the virus in a species of fruit bat in Gabon. The bats might have been a reservoir for the virus, or they might have acquired it from some other animal, the researchers said.See also: Aug 22, 2007, CIDRAP News story “Traces of Marburg virus found in African bats”CIDRAP overview of viral hemorrhagic fevershttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/vhf/biofacts/index.html
The Irish government has failed to deliver on 80% of the deadlines it set out in its pensions roadmap for reform, according to Peter Fahy, the chair of the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF).Speaking at the IAPF’s annual dinner in Dublin last week, Fahy said the government had missed 19 of the 24 target deadlines for actions in 2018, while of the 11 tasks outlined for the first quarter of 2019, only one had been accomplished.The pensions roadmap, a five-year plan for reform covering both state and private provision, was launched a year ago and includes plans for auto-enrolment, improvements to the sustainability of defined benefit (DB) schemes, and a “total contributions” approach to the state pension.While a “strawman” proposal for Ireland’s auto-enrolment regime was published in August, many other aspects of the reforms have yet to be developed. Despite the delays, Regina Doherty, minister for employment affairs and social protection, has insisted auto-enrolment remains on track for implementation from 2022. Peter Fahy, chair, IAPFFahy said: “There has been widespread support for the government’s roadmap, but pension funds are increasingly concerned that the majority of target deadlines set by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection appear to have been missed.“There has been very little communication between the government and key sector stakeholders on aspects of the roadmap, and general confidence across the sector in the various projects and activities set out in the report is low.”The IAPF said it would lobby for “real progress” on key actions that were overdue, including publication of the final design for the auto-enrolment system, pension tax harmonisation, and additional protections for the funding of DB schemes. Regina Doherty, minister for employment affairs and social protectionThe 2018 missed deadlines include:Setting a formal benchmark of 34% of average earnings for state pension contributory payments;Reviewing the cost of funded supplementary pensions to help inform decisions relating to financial incentives for retirement savings, and underpin the development of the auto-enrolment system;Advancing the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 to give effect to new rules around DB scheme funding;Arranging for further consultations with industry representatives to identify other funding standard reform options;Beginning a communication campaign targeting employers and employees, outlining the financial incentives available to those who may wish to continue working beyond retirement age.Tasks outlined for the first quarter of 2019 but not yet carried out include finalising the design of the auto-enrolment system, proposing a personal fitness and probity benchmark for trustees, and preparing a new set of professional standards for trustees’ knowledge and experience.The IAPF said that some of the Q1 2019 targets were probably stalled because they were linked to IORP II requirements. The deadline for transposing this legislation has also been missed.