NEWS SCAN: Flu update, pandemic guidance for cleaning vehicles, meningitis in India, Salmonella in sprouts

Mar 13, 2009

Flu called widespread in 35 states
Thirty-five US states reported widespread influenza activity in the first week of March, four more than a week earlier, and four of nine regions had an increase in medical visits for flu-like illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. However, the agency said the overall level of flu activity was about the same as in the previous week. Influenza A/H1N1 viruses continued to predominate, although the proportion of influenza B viruses increased. Most H1N1 viruses tested continued to show resistance to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) but remained sensitive to other flu drugs. The CDC said five more flu-related deaths of children were reported, in Illinois, New York, Texas, and Utah, bringing the season total to 26. The percentage of all deaths attributed to pneumonia and flu remained below the epidemic threshold.
[Mar 13 CDC flu update]

HHS offers pandemic guidance for cleaning transit vehicles
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released seven guidance documents on cleaning of transportation vehicles and facilities during an influenza pandemic. The recommendations cover trucks, aircraft, passenger and cargo ships, transit stations, passenger rail cars, port-of-entry detention facilities, and ambulances. The aircraft guidance, for example, spells out which parts of the airplane should be cleaned and disinfected after a passenger has arrived in the United States with a potential case of pandemic flu.
[HHS guidance]

CDC warns travelers of meningitis outbreak in India
The northeastern Indian states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram are dealing with a bacterial meningitis outbreak, making vaccination important for travelers planning to visit the areas, the CDC said this week. The three states have had 230 deaths and 2,000 possible cases of meningitis recently, the CDC said on Mar 10. The states are in the part of India bordered by Bangladesh on the west and Myanmar on the east. Travelers bound for the region should receive a meningococcal vaccine at least 10 days before departure, if possible, the agency said.

Salmonella outbreak linked to sprouts approaches 100 cases
A five-state Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak that surfaced in Nebraska and is believed to be related to sprouts is approaching 100 cases, recent news reports and health department statements indicate. An Associated Press (AP) report published yesterday cited 45 cases in Nebraska, 21 in Iowa, and at least 5 each in Kansas and South Dakota. The South Dakota Department of Health [SDDH] yesterday reported 24 probable cases in addition to 5 confirmed ones reported earlier. Cases in Missouri have also been mentioned, but the number is unclear. An epidemiologic investigation has linked the outbreak to sprouts, but tests have not yet confirmed them as the source. SunSprout Enterprises of Omaha has recalled three kinds of sprouts as a precaution.
[Mar 12 SDDH statement]

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