NEWS SCAN: Subway workers tested, malaria drug resistance, community groups and emergency response

Jun 21, 2010

Some Subway food handlers test positive in Salmonella outbreak
Several food handlers at Illinois Subway restaurants linked to a Salmonella outbreak have tested positive for the pathogen, which has prompted the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to require Salmonella testing for food handlers at all 46 Subway restaurants that have been implicated in the outbreak. The IDPH said Jun 18 that the workers must have two consecutive negative test results before they can return to work. Meanwhile, the count of cases in the outbreak of Salmonella serotype Hvittingfoss increased by 7 today, to 97 in 28 counties, the IDPH said. In the Jun 18 statement, officials said all the patients reported to that point, including 25 who had been hospitalized, were recovering. A Subway official said Jun 18 that the chain has stringent requirements for hand washing, sanitation, and use of gloves during food handling.
Jun 18 IDPH Salmonella statement
In other developments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Jun 18 listed the 15 states reporting cases of Salmonella Chester in an outbreak linked to Marie Callender's frozen dinners. The 15 states are California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. Among 15 patients with available information, 6 were hospitalized. Minnesota officials announced Jun 18 that Salmonella Chester had been found in an unopened Marie Callender's brand frozen dinner. ConAgra Foods last week recalled all Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen dinners.
Jun 18 CDC statement

Malaria drug resistance feared along Cambodia-Vietnam border
Regional authorities are investigating whether resistance to the malaria drug artemisinin has spread to an area along the Cambodia-Vietnam border, according to a report in the Phnom Penh Post, citing a World Health Organization (WHO) official. Steven Bjorge, the WHO's malaria team leader in Cambodia, said health officials in southern Vietnam are testing to see if resistance has emerged in a border area near Cambodia's Kratie province. In February the WHO reported there was evidence of artemisinin-resistant malaria along the Cambodia-Thailand border and said it threatened recent gains in the fight against malaria. Bjorge told the Post that it's too soon to tell whether recent reports are isolated cases or a sign that artemisinin resistance has spread from the Cambodia-Thailand border area to other places.
Feb 25 WHO statement on artemisinin resistance

Report calls for boosting community groups' role in emergency response
Faith-based and community organizations have the capacity to help vulnerable groups in emergencies but could better assist with response activities if they were better integrated into formal community and government planning and response frameworks, according to a report today from the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions (IHSS). The group is a research consortium led by RTI International, a research institute based in Triangle Park, N.C., and supported by two US Department of Homeland Security divisions. The study identifies four strategies to address the challenges, which include training staff members on disaster response, building surge capacity within the organizations, improving coordination between agencies, and developing information management systems to track organizations, volunteers, clients, and resources. The 79-page report is available on the IHSS Web site.

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