NEWS SCAN: Multistate E coli outbreak, H9 flu case in Hong Kong, WHO pandemic guidance

Nov 3, 2009

E coli outbreak with 2 deaths linked to ground beef
An outbreak of 28 Escherichia coli cases in 16 states, with two deaths, has been linked to ground beef from a firm in New York, according to federal officials. The US Department of Agriculture reported Oct 31 that Fairbank Farms of Asheville, N.Y., was recalling 545,699 pounds of ground beef potentially contaminated with E coli. Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said isolates from seven patients genetically matched an isolate from an opened package of the firm's ground beef from a Massachusetts patient's home. Most of the patients fell ill between Sep 17 and Oct 10, the CDC reported. Sixteen were hospitalized, 3 suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure, and 2 died, the agency said. States affected by the outbreak are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Vermont. Most of the recalled products list "Est. 492" on the USDA mark of inspection and carry the date "091509" or "091609."
Oct 31 USDA recall notice
Nov 2 CDC statement

Chinese woman treated for H9 avian flu in Hong Kong
A woman from Guangdong province on the Chinese mainland is being treated in Hong Kong for a rare case of H9 avian influenza, Hong Kong government officials reported today. The woman fell ill with breathlessness and a cough Oct 26 and was admitted to a Hong Kong hospital 2 days later, the statement said. The woman, who has a preexisting medical condition that requires regular medication, is in stable condition in isolation. Five previous H9 infections have been identified in Hong, all involving children, in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2008, officials said. They gave no information about the source of the infection.

WHO issues pandemic guidance for non-health sector
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a set of guidelines—developed before the H1N1 influenza pandemic—on pandemic preparedness outside the health sector. The 18-page document includes sections on business continuity management, interdependencies among essential services, government's role, and the role of other organizations. A foreword cautions that, because the guidance was developed before the H1N1 pandemic, some information and recommendations may not be relevant to the current situation.
WHO document "Whole-of-Society Pandemic Readiness"

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