NEWS SCAN: Cholera in Haiti, Listeria kills two, MRSA variant

Jun 3, 2011

Cholera cases spike in Haiti's capital
Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, is experience a surge of new cholera infections, according to aid groups working in the area. An official from Oxfam, an international confederation of 14 organizations, said yesterday that the impact of the disease on the city's Carrefour area is currently worse than during the height of the country's outbreak in November 2010. Mimy Muisa Kambere said in a statement that the area is registering 300 new cases a day, compared with 900 per week earlier in the outbreak. However, she added that the death rate is lower than before, because people are getting treatment faster.
Jun 2 Oxfam statement
In a related development, the American Red Cross said today that it is reopening a treatment center in Carrefour to handle the spike in cholera cases in and around Port-au-Prince. In a statement, the group said it was stepping up other outbreak response efforts as Haiti enters its rainy season. It is deploying teams of health educators to cholera hot spots and is sending text messages to people in high-risk areas to notify them about treatment center locations and share cholera prevention tips.
Two die of Listeria in Denver
Three Listeria infections, two of them fatal, are being investigated in Denver, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced yesterday. Those who died were a man in his 30s and a woman in her 60s. All three cases involve people of Hispanic heritage, the CDPHE said. The source of the cases was unknown and under investigation. Alicia Cronquist, a CDPHE epidemiologist, urged the public to take precautions to avoid Listeria, including avoiding soft cheeses unless they are made with pasteurized milk, hot dogs and deli meats unless reheated to 165ºF, refrigerated pate or meat spreads, and refrigerated seafood. Those at high risk include people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and those older than 60, she noted. Colorado has only about 10 cases of listeriosis per year on average, the statement said.
Research groups detail new MRSA variant
Two research groups have identified a new variant of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to two studies that appeared yesterday and today in different medical journals. One group reported finding the new type in patients in Irish hospitals, and their study appeared yesterday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Another group detected the strain's emergence in human and cow populations in the United Kingdom and Denmark and detailed its results in Lancet Infectious Diseases. The new strain isn't identified as MRSA by current lab tests, which has implications for clinical diagnosis and treatment. Irish and German researchers used high-throughput DNA microarray screening to identify the new strain, which belongs to a genetic lineage clonal complex seen only previously in cows and other animals, according to an ASM press release. While preparing their study for press, the researchers learned that a UK group had identified a bovine MRSA strain with a nearly identical genetic pattern that had emerged in both bovine and human populations in the United Kingdom and Denmark. They identified the MRSA strain in bulk milk, and they also found it when they looked for the strain in veterinary and human MRSA reference lab collections. They say the findings suggest that cows may be reservoirs for human MRSA.
Jun 2 Antimicrob Agents Chemother abstract
Jun 3 Lancet Infect Dis abstract

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