NEWS SCAN: Anthrax probe, tainted sprout seeds, Egypt's H5N1 fatality rate

May 8, 2009

IOM launches anthrax case review
The Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) review of the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax letter attacks is beginning and should take about 15 months, Science magazine reported. After scientific questions arose about the FBI's case against Army researcher Bruce Ivins, FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that he would ask the IOM to review the scientific methods that led to the FBI's conclusions.
[May 6 Science article]

Contaminated sprout seeds sow multistate outbreak
A probe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak traced to alfalfa sprouts found that seeds from one company were used by several sprout growers around the country that had links to illnesses. Despite tests on several sprout samples, the outbreak strain was found only at a Wisconsin grower whose products were not linked to any illness reports. The outbreak started in February and sickened 228 people in 13 states.
[May 7 MMWR report]

Prompt medical treatment might impact Egypt's H5N1 patterns
A Eurosurveillance report published yesterday said that 50% of patients with H5N1 avian flu in Egypt were hospitalized within 24 hours of symptom onset and 70% were hospitalized within 72 hours. This may help explain why the H5N1 case-fatality rate in Egypt is only 34%, versus an average of 66% in other countries, though more research is needed, the report said.
[May 7 Eurosurveillance report]

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