NEWS SCAN: E coli in steak, resistant seasonal H1N1, H9N1 in Hong Kong, side effects of SARS treatment, H5N1 in Cambodian birds

Dec 28, 2009

Tenderized steaks linked to multistate E coli outbreak
An Oklahoma-based meat processor has recalled 248,000 pounds of its blade tenderized steaks after they were linked to Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreaks in six states, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Dec 24. Investigators at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with those from state health and agriculture departments, are collaborating on the investigation. The USDA didn't say how many illnesses have been reported, but said cases have been reported from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, South Dakota, and Washington. The recalled products were shipped to restaurants nationwide. They bear the establishment code "EST 6010T" and were packaged on Oct 12, 14, and 21. Though steaks aren't usually a high-risk source of E coli contamination, the tenderizing process can transfer the bacteria inside the meat. Nonintact steaks require high cooking temperatures, and health officials advise against serving them rare. E coli O157:H7 can cause severe infections with symptoms that may include bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and a potentially fatal hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Dec 24 USDA news release

Researchers report increase in doubly resistant seasonal H1N1
Monitoring for seasonal influenza H1N1 virus in Hong Kong for double resistance to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and amantadine revealed a dramatic spike this spring in the number of detections, researchers described in a letter in the January issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID). They first found sporadic instances of double antiviral resistance in seasonal H1H1 viruses in early 2008, but of 1,509 oseltamivir-resistant isolates tested from April through June 2009, 50 (3.3%) were also resistant to amantadine. All were susceptible to zanamivir and weren't linked to unusually severe infections. However, the authors wrote that the alarming rise in double antiviral resistance raises the possibility of reassortment with the pandemic H1N1 virus, which could threaten the usefulness of national antiviral stockpiles. They added that close monitoring is required to track the evolution of resistant viruses.
Jan EID letter

Hong Kong reports H9N2 infection in toddler
Health officials in Hong Kong recently reported a rare but mild avian influenza H9N2 infection in a 35-month-old girl. She got sick with a cough, fever, and runny nose in late November, was hospitalized, and was discharged on Dec 11. In a news release, the Center for Health Protection said the girl's infection is the seventh H9 virus detection in a Hong Kong resident since 1999. Officials did not list a source of the girl's infection but advised people to avoid contact with live poultry.

News report says China's SARS survivors show treatment side effects
China's Beijing News has reported that about 300 people who survived SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) are experiencing serious side effects years after aggressive treatment with hormone therapy, Reuters reported on Dec 25. The report did not detail whether the treatment consisted of corticosteroids or some other hormone treatment. It said the patients have hip problems from bone thinning, depression, and lung fibrosis. China's health ministry has not commented on the report. A Dec 25 post on the report that appeared on ProMed-mail, the Internet-based reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, said that the description of the side effects is vague, and it's not clear if the symptoms were caused by SARS infection or the reportedly aggressive hormone therapy.
Dec 25 ProMed-mail post

H5N1 strikes Cambodian poultry farm
Cambodian officials today reported an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak at a poultry farm in Kampong Cham province, in the southeastern part of the country, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The virus killed 143 birds in a backyard poultry area of Ponhea Kreak district that contained 1,216 chickens and ducks. Authorities culled the remaining birds to control the spread of the virus. The outbreak started on Dec 16, and investigators haven't yet determined the source of the virus. Veterinary authorities ordered the backyard poultry operation to be disinfected, and they restricted poultry movements in the area. The outbreak is Cambodia's first reported outbreak since December 2008. The country's health ministry recently reported an H5N1 infection in a 57-year-old man who was from the same district, but a Dec 18 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) said the ministry was conducting an investigation into the source of the man's infection.
Dec 28 OIE report
Dec 18 WHO report

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