NEWS SCAN: Ground beef E coli recall, cantaloupe import ban lifted, H1N1 septicemia, kids' face mask, GAVI funding for 37 countries

Sep 28, 2011

Kansas firm recalls ground beef in wake of Ohio E coli illnesses
A Kansas meat producer has recalled about 131,300 pounds of its ground beef, based on an investigation by Ohio public health officials into Escherichia coli O157:H7 illnesses in Butler County, the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said in a statement. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., based in Emporia, Kan., is recalling 73% lean ground beef packaged on Aug 23, including 5-pound Kroger-brand chubs sent to distribution centers in Indiana and Tennessee, 3-pound Butcher's Brand chubs shipped to distribution centers in North Carolina and South Carolina, and 3-poung generic label chubs that were shipped to distribution centers in 12 states: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. The products have a "best before or freeze by" date of Sep 12, 2011, with the establishment number "245D" labeled on the package seam. FSIS said it became aware of the possible contamination on Sep 26 when the Ohio Department of Health notified it about E coli illnesses that had onset dates from Sep 8 through Sep 11. A leftover sample of ground beef collected from a sick patient's home on Sep 19 was positive for E coli O157:H7 in tests conducted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The FSIS did not say how many cases have been linked to the outbreak. Pat Burg, director of the Butler County Health Department, said four children got sick after eating the meat with their family during the second week of September, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. A 9-year-old child was hospitalized for 10 days for severe diarrhea, according to the report. The FSIS said an investigation into the illnesses is continuing. It said consumers may still have the product in their freezers, and FSIS encouraged the public to check for the products that are subject to the recall and discard any they find.
Sep 27 FSIS recall notice

FDA lifts import ban on Del Monte cantaloupe
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday lifted its import alert on Del Monte cantaloupe, saying the Guatemalan farm linked to a Salmonella outbreak earlier this year has passed food-safety inspections, the New York Times reported. Del Monte in turn dropped a lawsuit against the agency, according to a story yesterday on The Packer, a Web site that covers the produce industry. An FDA spokesman said the agency rescinded the ban because Del Monte submitted an independent audit of the farm that showed it was following good agricultural practices as well as tests that showed its cantaloupes were pathogen free, according to the Times. In return for the lifted ban, according to The Packer, the company said in a press release that it has dropped its Aug 22 lawsuit against the FDA, which claimed the import alert threatened "the viability of a major import source for cantaloupes" and that the FDA outbreak investigation was based on "erroneous speculation, unsupported by scientific evidence." The Del Monte release says that the agreement between the FDA and the company shows that the agency can work with importers to achieve mutual food safety goals.
Sep 27 Times article
Sep 27 The Packer story

H1N1 septicemia may portend more severe outcome
The presence of RNA from the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in the blood is strongly associated with a severe clinical presentation and a specific mutation, according to Hong Kong researchers. As detailed in a PLoS One study published yesterday, the research team analyzed data from 139 patients with confirmed 2009 H1N1 admitted to Hong Kong hospitals from May 2009 through April 2010. Of these, pandemic H1N1 viral RNA was detected in 14. They found that viremia was strongly associated with a severe clinical presentation (P = 0.0025, odds ratio = positive infinity). They also found the D222G/N hemagglutinin mutation in 90% of the blood samples with 2009 H1N1 viremia. The authors say this mutation is associated with bloodstream dissemination of the virus.
Sep 27 PLoS One study

FDA clears first face mask for use in children
The FDA cleared the first hospital face mask designed for children, the agency said in a release today. The Kimberly-Clark Pediatric/Child Face Mask is designed for use by 5- to 12-year-olds in healthcare settings to help reduce the spread of airborne respiratory tract bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. "Children are not small adults," said Susan Cummins, MD, chief pediatric medical officer at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in the news release. "This pediatric face mask helps fill an unmet need for medical devices that are specifically designed for children's unique anatomy and growing bodies." Performance tests showed appropriate air flow and filtering ability for children.
Sep 28 FDA news release

GAVI to fund rotavirus, other childhood vaccines for 37 countries
The GAVI Alliance announced yesterday it has approved funding for childhood vaccines in 37 developing countries, with 16 countries to launch rotavirus vaccination and 18 to introduce pneumococcal vaccines. Twelve of the 16 countries introducing rotavirus vaccination and 12 of 18 starting pneumococcal vaccination are in Africa. The funding applications approved by GAVI's executive board also include pentavalent vaccine in five countries and other types of vaccines in 12 countries, the organization said in a press release. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in children under age 5, while pneumococcal diseases including pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis kill half a million children yearly, the release noted. The funding of pneumococcal vaccines in 18 more countries will increase the total to 37 since the vaccines were first introduced in Nicaragua and other GAVI-supported countries in December 2010. "The high number of approved applications for funding for new vaccines in this latest round is yet another milestone in the fight to prevent child deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases," Dr Margaret Chan, World Health Organization director-general, said in the press release. The GAVI Alliance, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, is a public-private global health partnership that includes governments, United Nations agencies, the World Bank, vaccine makers, research institutions, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, and other groups.
Sep 27 GAVI press release with link to list of countries receiving funding

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