NEWS SCAN: 'Smoking sausage' found, food safety post filled, airborne flu viruses, medical surge efforts

Jan 26, 2010

Salmonella outbreak strain found in sausage product
Testing by the University of Iowa's Hygienic Laboratory confirmed yesterday that a strain of Salmonella found in a sausage product in the home of an Iowa patient matches the strain that has sickened 187 people in 39 states since last July 1, according to a University of Iowa press release today. Public health officials discovered leftover sausage in the Iowa patient's home. Using DNA fingerprinting, the Hygienic Laboratory confirmed that the product contained the same Salmonella Montevideo strain as identified in the national outbreak and in the patient, who has recovered. The Iowa lab is the first in the nation to confirm this connection, according to the release. Because of epidemiologic evidence suggesting a link to the outbreak, on Jan 23 Daniele International, of Pascoag, R.I., recalled more than 1.2 million pounds of its ready-to-eat sausage products. No deaths have been reported in the outbreak, but 35 people have been hospitalized.
Jan 26 University of Iowa news release
Jan 25 CIDRAP News story

Infectious disease physician nominated to USDA food-safety post
Elisabeth Hagen, MD, a board-certified infectious diseases physician, has been nominated to the highest food-safety post in the US government, undersecretary for food safety at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). President Barack Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the choice yesterday. The post had been open for 15 months. Hagen currently serves as USDA's chief medical officer and prior to that was with the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service. She has been a government employee for 4 years; previously she worked in private practice and academic medicine.
Jan 25 USDA press release

Sampling reveals airborne flu, RSV in urgent-care clinic
Sampling devices placed around an urgent-care clinic and worn by clinic personnel recorded flu viruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in particles small enough to remain airborne and to be inhaled deep into the lungs, according to a recent study. In an 11-day test conducted in Morgantown, W.V., by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and West Virginia University, 17% of 285 samplers registered influenza A RNA, 1% registered influenza B RNA, and 32% registered RSV RNA. The viral particles were found in waiting areas and in exam rooms where patients infected with flu were treated. Whether flu is transmitted by airborne particles or only by droplet mechanisms is a matter of longstanding debate; the authors could not say whether the particles they found would have been viable or infectious.
Jan 25 Clinical Infectious Diseases abstract

GAO: States' medical surge efforts going well
To deal with mass-casualty events such as bioterrorism or pandemic influenza, states have improved medical surge planning, except in preparing for altered standards of care, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). From 2002 to 2007, the US government awarded states $2.2 billion for preparedness, including medical surge. States have put that money to good use, according to the report. In GAO's 20-state review, it found that all 20 states were developing bed reporting systems to increase hospital capacity, 18 were selecting alternate care facilities, and 15 had begun registering medical volunteers. However, only 7 of the states had taken steps to adopt altered standards of care. Even in the priority areas in which states did well, the GAO found challenges for state officials, such as concern about staffing a hospital-bed surge because of a shortage of medical professionals. The report recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services serve as a clearinghouse for helping states share guidelines on altered standards of care.
Jan 25 GAO report

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