NEWS SCAN: Food safety meetings, hemorrhagic fever probe, US-China epi link

Jun 29, 2010

Federal groups announce two public food safety meetings
Federal agencies involved with food safety efforts today announced that two joint public meetings have been scheduled to hear stakeholder feedback on how to monitor progress on improving the safety of the nation's food supply. The public meetings, slated for July 21 in Chicago and Oct 20 in Portland, Ore., represent the second phase of an initial meeting held Mar 30. At the first meeting the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussed the methodological and data challenges in the development of feasible and effective ways to measure food safety improvements. Federal officials hope to hear from stakeholders such as consumer groups, industry, public health experts, and state and local officials. The federal agencies will present information on the Obama administration's Food Safety Working Group goal of developing ways to assess the effectiveness of food safety measures, such as the FDA's new shell egg rules.
Jun 29 USDA press release

WHO investigates suspected hemorrhagic fever in Republic of Congo
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that it is helping investigate a suspected acute hemorrhagic fever outbreak in northern Republic of Congo. It said it has received reports of five suspected cases, including three deaths, of residents of an isolated forest village of 100 in Mokoke district. The three deaths were among male forest hunters who presented with similar symptoms, which included nosebleeds, bloody diarrhea, cough, and fever after a 1- to 2-week hunting trip to Odzala National Park in the western part of the country. Investigators from the Republic of Congo health ministry and the WHO are in the field assessing the outbreak and obtaining clinical samples that will be tested at labs in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Jun 29 WHO statement

US, China launch Shanghai epidemiology center
In a collaboration to study and investigate chronic and infectious diseases, Chinese and American health authorities today opened an epidemiology center in Shanghai, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Steven B. Thacker, CDC deputy director, told the AP that the CDC is providing the center with training and technical assistance. He said the center will help meet the global demand for better trained field epidemiologists who can not only track disease outbreaks such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), but also other health issues related to medicines and food. Thacker said the CDC has trained more than 3,000 epidemiologists across the globe since it started its international programs three decades ago.

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