NEWS SCAN: Flu vaccine in pregnant women, cholera numbers, pepper probe postmortem

Dec 23, 2010

About half of pregnant US women have received flu shot
Almost half of pregnant women in the United States had received the influenza vaccine by mid November, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released yesterday. The survey, of 1,396 women who were pregnant for at least part of the time since August, found that 44.8% had been vaccinated. Rates ranged from 35.1% in 18- to 20-year-olds to 52.0% in those 40 to 44, according to the Internet panel survey conducted Nov 11 to Nov 22. The most common vaccination venue was a doctor's office (57.3%), followed by a pharmacy (11.8%), the workplace (7.5%), and a hospital (7.1%). About two-thirds of doctor-office vaccinations were in obstetricians' offices. The top reasons for not getting vaccinated were concerns over personal safety (56.8% of those opting out), followed by an unjustified fear of contracting flu from the shot (53.7%) and safety concerns for the fetus (48.6%).

Haiti's cholera epidemic exceeds 121,000 cases
CDC numbers released today indicate that the cholera outbreak in Haiti has reached 121,518 cases and that the Dominican Republic and Florida have confirmed 59 and 5 cases, respectively. According to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), as of Dec 17 Haiti had seen 63,711 cholera-related hospitalizations and 2,591 deaths. Intensive surveillance in the Dominican Republic has identified 399 suspected cases, with laboratory assays confirming 59 of 327 cases tested. "Three confirmed cases were attributed to importation from Haiti," the report stated. Also, as of Dec 18, the Florida Department of Health had confirmed five cholera cases in Floridians who had traveled to Haiti. The CDC confirmed that isolates from four confirmed Dominican Republic cases and all five Florida cases were Vibrio cholerae O1, serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor, which matched the Haiti outbreak strain. "More cholera cases associated with the current outbreak in Haiti are expected," the report said. In related news, angry Haitian mobs have killed 45 people variously described as "witch doctors," "natural healers," "sorcerers," or "voodoo priests" across the country over concern that they were magically spreading cholera, according to a Brisbane Times article.
Dec 24 MMWR report
Dec 23 Brisbane Times article

CDC offers postmortem on Salmonella outbreak tied to pepper
A Salmonella Montevideo outbreak caused by contaminated pepper used in salami lasted more than 9 months and involved 272 cases in 44 states, the CDC said today in a detailed MMWR report on the investigation. The outbreak lasted from July 2009 until mid April 2010. As reported at the time, the outbreak was linked to sausages made by Daniele Inc., a Rhode Island company. The contaminated pepper was applied after the salami had undergone microbe-killing processing, the CDC noted. "Companies are not required to treat spices, and manufacturers are not required to use treated spices in their products," the report says. However, the Food and Drug Administration is working with spice trade groups and with other agencies to develop recommendations on spice safety standards. The report also notes that store membership and shopper cards proved useful in tracking down the food source of the outbreak.
Dec 24 MMWR article
Feb 26 CIDRAP News story on the outbreak

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