NEWS SCAN: Avian and seasonal flu, Salmonella outbreak, flu-related pneumonia, E coli

Feb 6, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Today we are launching a new daily News Scan to help our readers keep up with the full range of current and noteworthy developments in emerging infectious diseases, biosecurity, foodborne diseases, influenza, other public health threats, and relevant policy issues. To create this feature, our CIDRAP science staff and editorial team will carefully cull the day's most significant stories from a wide variety of reputable sources and distill them into short summaries with links to the original sources. While adding this new service, we will continue to explore significant news developments with our own, more detailed staff-written stories.

Avian flu closes Hong Kong bird park
After a dead heron tested positive for an H5 avian influenza virus, officials in Hong Kong closed the Mai Po bird sanctuary in the northwestern part of the region for 3 weeks as a precautionary measure, according to a report today from Agence France-Presse (AFP). Further tests are under way to determine if the virus is the deadly H5N1 strain.

H5N1 hits another Vietnam province
Agriculture officials in Vietnam today reported an H5N1 outbreak in another province, Nghe An, in the central part of the country. The disease struck 200 ducks at a local farm. Earlier this week authorities confirmed H5N1 outbreaks in two other provinces, Ca Mau and Soc Trang, both in southern Vietnam.
[Feb 6 Xinhua story]

More support for bacterial role in 1918 pandemic
Researchers compared the time course of illness in patients who died of influenza-related pneumonia during the 1918 pandemic with that of patients who died of pneumococcal pneumonia in the 1920s and 1930s. They found that the time courses were similar, adding more evidence that pneumonia deaths during the 1918 pandemic were mainly from pneumococcal organisms, the group wrote in a letter published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
[Feb EID report]

US flu activity increases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today that five states reported widespread flu activity last week, up from two states the previous week. The states are Colorado, Delaware, New York, Texas, and Virginia. Almost all (97.4%) influenza A/H1N1 samples that have been tested showed resistance to oseltamivir. New York City reported one flu-related pediatric death.
[CDC influenza surveillance report for Jan 25-31]

Salmonella outbreak developments
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said yesterday that victims of recent Arkansas storms were not served meals that contained peanut butter recalled in the national Salmonella outbreak, but as a safeguard, they urged people to remove and discard any peanut butter items they receive in their emergency meals. Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) reported today that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said potentially contaminated peanut butter and other foods were shipped in 2007 to free school-lunch programs in three states: California, Minnesota, and Idaho.
[Feb 5 FEMA press release]

E coli and norovirus outbreaks
Public health officials in Colorado are investigating an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak involving 20 people, including 17 children, that appears to be connected to a large stock show that was held in Denver, according to a report yesterday from a Denver television station. Meanwhile, a norovirus outbreak involving 35 women at the University of Florida closed a sorority house for a week, a student newspaper reported. A Wisconsin company, Jack & The Green Sprouts, recalled its alfalfa sprouts from Minnesota and Wisconsin stores after routine testing by Minnesota officials found Salmonella in a package, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (WDATCP). No illnesses were reported.
[Feb 5 TheDenverChannel.com story]

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