NEWS SCAN: Food safety, avian flu outbreaks, TB alert, China's H5N1 vaccine

 March 16, 2009

USDA finalizes downer cattle ban
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently finalized a complete ban on the use of downer cattle for food, including those that become disabled after passing initial preslaughter inspection, according to a Mar 14 press release. Rules governing downer cattle are intended to guard against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and other diseases. The USDA said the final rule ends case-by-case examinations of cattle that become disabled after the preslaughter inspection, increasing the time inspectors can spend on their other duties.
[Mar 14 USDA statement]

India, Egypt report more H5N1 outbreaks
Fresh H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks have been detected in the Darjeeling district of India's West Bengal state, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported on Mar 14. The virus struck two sites where about 150 birds had died over the previous 15 days, and officials said they would cull poultry within a 3-km radius of Naxalbari. Meanwhile, the Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR) reported another H5N1 outbreak in backyard poultry on Mar 11. The virus struck eight chickens in Gharbiya governorate. The vaccination status of the birds was not known.
Seatmates sought after TB case reported on Frankfurt-Detroit flight
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and Northwest Airlines have announced that a passenger who flew from Frankfurt, Germany, to Detroit on Flight 51 on March 10 was found to have tuberculosis. The CDC is in the process of contacting passengers who were in the same row or seated within two rows behind or ahead of the person. Passengers who believe they may have been exposed should contact their state health department or the CDC.
[Mar 15 Bloomberg News story]


Promising results for Chinese H5N1 vaccine
A phase 2 trial of an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine made by China's Sinovac revealed that the aluminum-adjuvanted inactivated whole-virus vaccine produced a good response, was safe, and elicited cross-protection against clade 2strains, researchers reported in a Mar 12 online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The double-blind, randomized trial included 402 adults, 301 who received 5, 10, or15 mcg of vaccine in two doses 28 days apart and 101 who received two 10-mcgdoses 14 days apart. Researchers saw the highest immune response after two15-mcg doses, but they reported that the response to the 10- and 15-mcg doses met or exceeded European licensing criteria.
[Mar 12 Clin Infect Dis abstract]

Flies spread resistant organisms from poultry farms
Research from the Bloomberg School of Public health at Johns Hopkins University suggests that drug-resistant organisms that have developed in poultry because of antibiotic use on very large farms may leave those farms on the feet and in the guts of flies that have access to open sheds of poultry manure.
[March 16 Johns Hopkins press release]
[April Science of the Total Environment abstract]

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