NEWS SCAN: Ebola accident, anthrax test, H5N1 in Egypt, Salmonella outbreak, tracking hand washing

Mar 18, 2009

German researcher being watched after Ebola lab accident
A researcher at Germany's Nernhard-Nocht-Institut was hospitalized in isolation after she sustained a needle injury while working with the Ebola virus on Mar12, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. She hasn’t shown any signs of infection, but experts recommended that she receive an experimental vaccine against the virus. Reports didn't name the Ebola strain she was working with but said it had a mortality rate of 90%.
[Mar 17 Bloomberg News story]

Nanotechnology test for anthrax shows promise
A new nanotechnology test to quickly detect miniscule amounts of anthrax toxin showed promising results in an initial "proof of concept" study, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday in a press release. The testing method, developed by FDA scientists, uses a europium nanoparticle-based immunoassay (ENIA) to detect a Bacillus anthracis protein that plays a key role in infecting cells. The researchers, who reported their findings in the March issue of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, said ENIA detected the protein in amounts 100 times lower than can be detected with current tests, such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
[Mar 17 FDA press release]
[Mar Clin Vaccine Immunol abstract]

Egypt finds H5N1 in backyard birds, poultry shipment
Animal health officials in Egypt recently reported four more H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in poultry, three in backyard birds and one in a truckload of poultry, the Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR) reported. The outbreaks in backyard birds were detected on Mar13 in Beheira, Sharkiya, and Sixth of October governorates. The virus also was detected on Mar 13 in a shipment of 520 layer hens that were being sent from Sharkiya governorate to Qalyobiya governorate.

Salmonella outbreak reaches 100 confirmed cases
The number of illnesses with confirmed connections to a multistate Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, believed to be linked to sprouts, has grown to 100, with at least 43more probable cases, according to state health departments. Nebraska reported84 confirmed cases and 13 probable infections in a statement yesterday. Officials told CIDRAP News that Kansas has 6 confirmed cases and South Dakota has 5 confirmed cases and 26 probable ones. Iowa health officials said in a Mar3 statement that they had confirmed 5 cases and identified 4 probable cases. An epidemiologic investigation has linked the outbreak to sprouts, but tests have not yet confirmed them as the source. Sun Sprout Enterprises of Omaha has recalled three kinds of sprouts as a precaution.

Wireless tracking of hand washing
New low-power wireless "Zigbee" technology might be an inexpensive and useful tool for encouraging hand hygiene in healthcare workers, researchers from the University of Iowa reported today in San Diego at the annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). Workers wear pager-sized badges that permit automated tracking of their use of hand hygiene dispenser stations before entering and after leaving patient rooms. The automated system correctly flagged more than 90% of study subjects entering and leaving rooms if they remained there for at least 30 seconds.
[Mar 18 SHEA press release]

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