NEWS SCAN: Flu in Europe, flu toolkit for prenatal care, hazelnut food safety, yellow fever in Sierra Leone

Mar 11, 2011

Flu activity eases across much of Europe
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that flu activity in its European region is decreasing in 22 countries, with Armenia, Iceland, and Ukraine reporting increases. Georgia is the only country to report high-intensity flu activity, down from five countries reporting that level the previous week. Georgia also reported that flu was severely affecting its healthcare system. Hospitalizations for severe flu infections are high in Ukraine, Romania, and Russia. The 2009 H1N1 virus and influenza B are co-circulating in northern and western Europe, with H1N1 dominating in central and eastern areas.
Mar 11 WHO European update

CDC offers flu brochure for prenatal care providers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a 15-page brochure to help prenatal care providers implement the agency's recently updated guidance on responding to flu and flu risks in pregnant women and labor and delivery settings. The "toolkit" brochure covers clinical presentation, prevention, treatment and prophylaxis, infection control, and intrapartum and newborn considerations, and it also offers information for patients. In the updated guidance, released Mar 7, the CDC no longer urges women with suspected or confirmed flu to wear a mask during labor, but the agency still recommends that facilities consider separating sick mothers from their babies.
CDC toolkit for prenatal care providers
CIDRAP News item about updated CDC guidance

E coli outbreak gets hazelnut industry's attention
An Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened patients in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin has prompted the hazelnut industry to reconsider its food safety practices, the Oregonian, based in Portland, reported yesterday. Minnesota officials recently detected the outbreak strain on in-shell hazelnuts from a sick patient's home. Oregon growers supply nearly all of the US hazelnut supply. Larry George, an Oregon state senator and co-owner of George Packing, a company that supplied some of the recalled hazelnuts, told the Oregonian that the industry knows it needs to enhance food safety. He said the company needs another kill-step during processing to reduce contamination risk, but he said it would be difficult to use the same fumigation process used for almonds, because it would shorten hazelnut shelf life. In December 2009 an Oregon hazelnut producer recalled its shelled nuts after product testing found Salmonella contamination, though no illnesses were reported.
Mar 10 Oregonian story

Sierra Leone reports yellow fever outbreak
Sierra Leone's health ministry has notified the WHO about two yellow fever cases in the same village in Southern province's Bonthe district, the WHO said in a statement today. The patients sickened in the outbreak are a 40-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man, neither of whom had been vaccinated against the disease. The country's health ministry launched an immunization campaign on Mar 5, targeting Bonthe district with 144,479 vaccine doses. So far this year two other African countries, Ivory Coast and Uganda, also reported yellow fever outbreaks. In January Uganda reported three lab-confirmed cases near the border with South Sudan, and about a week later the Ivory Coast reported 12 confirmed cases, according to earlier WHO reports. Sierra Leone's last yellow fever outbreak occurred in January 2009.
Mar 11 WHO statement

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