NEWS SCAN: Avian flu in Egypt, hospital preparedness, Salmonella and sprouts, BSE, polio in Africa

Apr 23, 2009

Human cases of avian flu in Egypt
Egypt's health ministry today reported that a 25-year-old woman from Cairo governorate died of an H5N1 avian influenza infection yesterday, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. The woman, who was pregnant, was previously reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Apr 21 as Egypt's 65th case-patient. A source from the Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR) told CIDRAP News that the woman miscarried the baby. If confirmed by the WHO, her death will be Egypt's 25th caused by H5N1. In other developments, the WHO today confirmed the H5N1 infection of a 4-year-old boy from Sohag governorate. He got sick on Apr 18 and was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) the same day and is now in stable condition. The WHO's confirmation of his infection pushes the number of Egypt's H5N1 cases to 67 and the global total to 421, of which 257 have been fatal.
[Apr 23 Xinhua story]
[Apr 23 WHO statement]

Study: US hospitals better prepared for disasters, but much work needed
US hospitals are significantly better prepared for disasters and public health emergencies now than they were in 2001, but much work remains to be done, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity released today. The study evaluated the first 5 years of the US Health and Human Services' (HHS's) Hospital Preparedness Program from 2002 to 2007. It found that the most useful indicators for measuring the preparedness of hospitals are ability to surge to accommodate additional patients during disasters, how well hospitals do in training their staff for disasters and realistic exercises, and how well hospitals perform during actual disasters. The study was funded by HHS as an independent evaluation.
[Apr 23 HHS news release]
[Full report of study]

Michigan Salmonella outbreak may be linked to sprouts
Michigan's Department of Community Health (MDCH) yesterday announced that 16 of the state's residents from five different counties have been sickened by the same Salmonella Saintpaul strain, and they suspect that the source may be contaminated sprouts. Illness onset dates range from Mar 23 to Apr 6. Two patients have been hospitalized. The MDCH, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating the outbreak. The outbreak involves the same Salmonella Saintpaul genetic fingerprint as an outbreak a few months ago in a handful of Midwestern states. Sprouts were suspected, but the pathogen was never found in any of the product from the company or consumers' homes.
[Apr 22 MDCH press release]

FDA final rule banning animal material in food and feed
The FDA announced yesterday that its final rule banning certain materials from animal food and feed, to protect humans and animals against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, will take effect Apr 27. However, it has established a compliance date of Oct 26 to allow rendering companies more time to adjust to the new requirements. The rule was broadened last year to bar materials most likely to include the BSE agent, including brains and spinal cords of cattle aged 30 months or older. The rule also prohibits cattle carcasses that haven't been inspected and cleared for human consumption unless the brains and spinal cords have been removed or the cattle are younger than 30 months old.

Emergency steps announced for Horn of Africa polio outbreak
Southern Sudan has launched emergency measures to stop a polio outbreak from spreading across the Horn of Africa, according to a ReliefWeb report yesterday. The outbreak has spread this year from Southern Sudan and western Ethiopia to Kenya, Uganda and northern Sudan. To address the spread of disease, Southern Sudan - the President of the Government of Southern Sudan's president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has launched a "President Action Plan for Polio Eradication in Southern Sudan" and formed an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee to address the crisis. Mayardit, while acknowledging Southern Sudan as the outbreak's epicenter, has urged all state governors to give full support to outbreak response.
[Apr 22 ReliefWeb story]

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