NEWS SCAN: Avian flu outbreaks, romaine recall, Wakefield loses medical license

May 24, 2010

H7 avian flu hits South Korean and Dutch poultry
Veterinary officials in South Korea and the Netherlands recently reported low-pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks, South Korea H7N7 and the Netherlands an H7 subtype, according to reports recently submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). In South Korea, an H7N2 outbreak struck two duck farms in Cholla Namdo on the southwestern coast. The virus was detected during avian influenza surveillance in mid May. Between the two farms, 53,330 birds were culled to control spread of the disease. The country's last H7N7 outbreak occurred in December. Meanwhile, an outbreak in the Netherlands occurred at a poultry farm in Deurne, North Brabant province, located in the southern part of the country. The report said the birds showed no symptoms. Authorities culled 28,000 free-range layer hens to control spread of the virus.
May 21 OIE report on South Korean H7N7 outbreaks
May 18 OIE report on Dutch H7 outbreak

Salmonella positive prompts Fresh Express romaine recall
Fresh Express, a producer of ready-to-eat salads and vegetables, today recalled some of its products that contain romaine lettuce after random sampling by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Salmonella in a single package of its Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine Salad with a use-by date of May 15. No illnesses have been linked to the Fresh Express romaine products, which it distributes in 26 states, mainly in the Midwest, west, and south. The company said it was recalling the products out of an abundance of caution. The 24 products on the recall list have use-by dates of May 13 through May 16 and have an "S" in the product code. Though the products are unlikely to still be on store shelves, consumers may still have them in their homes. Fresh Express is urging consumers to immediately dispose of the potentially affected expired products. Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, is not related to Freshway Foods, a Sidney, Ohio, company whose romaine lettuce was implicated in a Escherichia coli O145 outbreak that has so far sickened 26 people in five states.
May 24 Fresh Express press release

Author of vaccines-and-autism study loses UK medical license
Britain's General Medical Council (GMC) has barred Dr. Andrew Wakefield from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom because of unethical conduct related to his later-discredited study suggesting that vaccines cause autism. Wakefield's 1998 study in The Lancet caused many parents to refuse the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine for their children. As reported today in the Washington Post, the GMC's action was based on a January finding that Wakefield and two other physicians acted unethically and showed a "callous disregard" for the children in their study. The council said Wakefield paid children at his son's birthday party 5 pounds each for blood samples and later joked about it. The GMC found him guilty of serious professional misconduct. The Post story said Wakefield set up an autism center in Texas after moving to the United States in 2004 but quit earlier this year. Appearing on NBC's Today show today, Wakefield called the GMC ruling "a little bump in the road" and said he plans to continue his research on alleged links between vaccines and autism, the Post reported. Many studies since 1998 have found no connection between autism and any vaccine.
May 24 GMC ruling

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