NEWS SCAN: Anthrax vaccine, import food safety, H5N1 lab exposure, Egyptian avian flu controls, HHS webinar, Congo Ebola outbreak ends

Feb 17, 2009

Researchers develop oral anthrax vaccine
Using bacteria commonly found in yogurt as a delivery vehicle, researchers are developing an oral anthrax vaccine, according to a study to be published this week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study in mice showed that the oral anthrax vaccine was almost as effective as the injectable version.
[Feb 16 North Carolina State University press release]

Counterfeiting, adulteration threaten import food safety
Burgeoning international trade is overwhelming the oversight of food safety in many nations, experts warned yesterday at an imported food safety symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. They added that food adulteration and counterfeiting from overseas is likely to continue, given demand for inexpensive food. Improving risk-based inspections, the detection of signals of contamination, immediate response to outbreaks, and risk communications may help reduce food contamination, the experts said.
[Feb 16 Michigan State University press release]

Czech lab workers exposed to H5N1
Lab employees working with ferrets in the Czech Republic were treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) recently after they handled flu vaccine that had been contaminated with the H5N1 avian influenza virus, according to media reports today. Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), citing a Czech newspaper, said that the vaccine was made by Baxter. Representatives from the company reportedly said the vaccine was likely contaminated during packaging in Austria.

Egypt implements new H5N1 controls
Animal health officials in Egypt closed 71 poultry farms in Kalyubiyah governorate for 6 months, according to a report on the country's H5N1 disease-control efforts that was recently posted on the Web site of Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR). At a Jan 17 meeting of northern governorates, authorities decided to extend poultry vaccination to urban and surrounding areas to further reduce human exposure to the virus.

Webinar to probe mental health pandemic planning
Mental health components of pandemic planning is the topic of tomorrow's US Health and Human Services (HHS) PlanFirst Webcast, which will be held at 2 pm (EST).

Congo says Ebola outbreak is over
The recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has ended, the nation's health ministry announced yesterday. The last person who had a confirmed infection died on Jan 1, according to a statement today from the World Health Organization (WHO). Authorities reported 32 cases, including 15 deaths, which include confirmed, probable, and suspect cases.
[Feb 17 WHO statement]

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