NEWS SCAN: Food defense, drug resistance, fake Botox, OIE developments

May 26, 2010

Oregon county unveils food defense toolkit for restaurants
Public health officials in Multnomah County, Ore., developed and recently released the nation's first toolkit to help restaurants prevent and respond to food terrorism events. The toolkit, funded by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is designed around an 8-point risk assessment that encourages restaurant operators to monitor frequently overlooked security threats, according to a press release from the Multnomah County Health Department. The assessment tool suggests solutions that can be customized to each facility's needs and includes an employee training guide, training videos, and posters. In 1984, the nation's largest single food bioterror attack struck The Dalles, Ore., a town in the northwestern part of the state not far from Multnomah County. More than 750 people were sickened after eating at local salad bars that were intentionally contaminated with Salmonella.

Reports suggest drug-resistant bugs post threats to health workers
Healthcare workers may be at increased risk of multidrug resistant infections when they are patients undergoing procedures such as prostate biopsies, according to a recent case series by Canadian researchers. They described three cases of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli urosepsis in physicians who underwent transrectal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsies. One of the infections was fatal. Their findings appear in the Canadian Journal of Urology. Investigators warned that reports of complications following prostate biopsy from multidrug-resistant organisms are increasing, highlighting the risk to healthcare workers who are more likely to carry the pathogens and urging further research.
April Can J Urol abstract

Experts air bioterror concerns about fake Botox
Increased consumer demand for counterfeit Botox products has likely raised the number of illegal botulinum toxin producers, which could make it easier for terrorists to obtain the toxin, two biological weapons experts wrote in Scientific American. Authors Ray Zilinskas and Ken Coleman are with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. Unlike other counterfeit drugs, Botox is unique because it contains botulinum neurotoxin, which has been weaponized and is considered a category A biological weapon, a group of agents that can be easily disseminated, cause high mortality, cause public panic, and prompt special public health preparedness actions. The authors suggest that scientists and law enforcement agents work together to assess the scope of the problem in advance of taking actions against illegal Botox producers.
June Sci Am article preview

OIE adopts new animal health roadmap
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which is meeting in Paris this week, adopted a new 5-year strategy that includes more activities on food security, poverty, animal health, and veterinary public health. The goals, titled the 5th Strategic Plan, also put more emphasis on the "One Health" concept, which signifies global cooperation on health issues at the human-animal interface. The group plans to address the impact on climate and environmental changes on the emergence of animal diseases and on animal production. The plan, approved by 176 OIE delegates, also continues work on the group's 4th Strategic Plan goals that were in effect from 2006 through 2010. Delegates reelected Dr Bernard Vallat to serve a third 5-year term as OIE director general. In other actions, the group approved new disease status requests. For example, India and Peru are now recognized as having "negligible" bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk, and they recognized South Korea and Panama as having "controlled" BSE risk status. OIE delegates also accredited two new collaborating centers and four new reference laboratories, raising the OIE network total to 227.
OIE general session information

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