NEWS SCAN: E coli update, antibiotics in food animals, measles in Italy

Jul 22, 2011

Germany reports another E coli death
Germany has linked another death to the sprout-related Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak, raising the total to 44, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported today in an update. It also reported 6 more infections involving hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious kidney complication. Denmark reported one more infection related to the outbreak in a patient who got sick in June. Despite the small number of new cases, the outbreak total reflects a decrease, because 39 German suspected infections have been removed from the tally, which now stands at 3,891, including 776 with HUS.
Jul 22 ECDC update

Congresswoman urges FDA to ban key antibiotics in food animals
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) in a letter yesterday urged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop delaying a ban on the off-label use of cephalosporins in food animals. The FDA announced it July 2008 it would prohibit the extra-label use of cephalosporins, but it never followed through, Slaughter said in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. She wrote, "It has now been almost three years since FDA determined that extra-label cephalosporins as currently used in food producing animals creates a public health risk. While the FDA delays taking action, people continue to become ill from cephalosporin resistant infections. Given the critical importance of the cephalosporin class of drugs to human medicine, we ask that you quickly reissue the prohibition on the extra-label use of cephalosporins in food producing animals." Slaughter, a microbiologist, cited the importance of cephalosporins in treating Salmonella, Shigella, Enterobacter, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus infections, as well as gonorrhea, pneumonia, and many hospital-acquired infections. They make up less than 1% of antibiotics used in farm animals, but about 80% of all antibiotics in the country are fed to animals, according to a Food Safety News (FSN) story today.
Jul 21 letter and press release from Slaughter
Jul 22 FSN story

Study says Italy's measles outbreak similar to elsewhere in EU
Italian researchers yesterday said in Eurosurveillance report that their country's surge in measles cases since 2009 reflects trends seen in a wider European outbreak. From December 2009 through September 2010 they reported 2,151 suspected or confirmed cases. The number of cases varied by region, but most illnesses were seen in adolescents and young adults. Two clusters were reported among ethnic Roma populations, and 13 cases were imported from 11 different countries. Most cases occurred in unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated people. The authors concluded that Italy's measles outbreak resembles that of other European countries, and that regional differences could reflect underreporting, especially in the southern part of the country. Evolving vaccine schedules over the past two decades probably leaves many young people unprotected or partially protected, they wrote, adding that more efforts are needed to communicate the importance of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in youngsters and other age-groups.
Jul 21 Eurosurveillance report

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