NEWS SCAN: Avian flu prevention, PCA roof leak, meningitis in Africa, USDA's social networking tools

Mar 26, 2009

North Korea reports H5N1 prevention strategies
North Korea yesterday said its nationalized approach to preventing avian influenza has helped it avoid outbreaks and infections, despite the circulation of the H5N1 virus in other nations, Korea News Service (KNS) reported yesterday. North Korea has conducted bird surveillance in winter migration areas, developed rapid detection systems, educated the public and medical workers about how to prevent the disease, and set up medical checkpoints in densely populated areas to monitor and treat people who are sick. The nation also said it would continue its close contacts with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
[Mar 25 KNS report]

Group helps Nigeria with avian flu fight
A nongovernmental organization has launched an intensive program to prevent avian influenza in Nigeria, AllAfrica.com reported today. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is aiming its behavioral-change messages at migrant poultry workers, traders, and transporters in states that have been hit by the virus, which include Anambra, Borno, Kano, and Lagos.
[IOM Web site]

Hearing reveals leaky roof problem at PCA plant
A leaky roof at the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Blakely, Ga., might have introduced or spread Salmonella contamination that sparked the recent national outbreak, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported yesterday. A recent bankruptcy hearing revealed that the company had spent $60,000 fixing the roof in August 2008. A former plant worker told the AJC that the roof leaked so profusely that employees had to move products around to keep them from getting wet. In 2007, an internal investigation conducted by ConAgra of its Sylvester, Ga., plant found that moisture from a leaky roof and a faulty sprinkler system might have triggered the growth of Salmonella at the facility, which led to a national outbreak involving peanut butter that sickened 425 people in 44 states.

Africa's cases of meningococcal disease rise
Africa's "meningitis belt," an area that includes northern Nigeria and Niger, has recorded 24,868 suspected cases of meningococcal disease, including 1,513 deaths, since Jan 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement yesterday. Cerebrospinal fluid testing has revealed that the predominant strain is Neisseria meningitides serogroup A. The WHO said 2.3 million doses of polysaccharide vaccine have been released to Nigeria and 1.9 million to Niger.
[Feb 25 WHO statement]

USDA unveils new-media tools
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today launched news- and recall-related RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, a Twitter feed, and new bookmarking capabilities to allow people to share food safety content on social networking sites and Web pages. In a news release today, the USDA said the tools will expand the reach of its educational materials and connect with audiences it might not otherwise reach.
[Mar 26 USDA press release]

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