NEWS SCAN: EU foodborne illness trends, Clinton cholera comments, firefighting Crypto

Mar 8, 2012

EU foodborne illness trend shows drop for Salmonella
An annual report today on zoonoses and foodborne illness outbreaks in the European Union (EU) showed that Salmonella infections fell by nearly 9% in 2010, marking the sixth consecutive decrease. The report, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA), linked the decline in human Salmonella cases to programs that have successfully reduced the bacteria's prevalence in EU poultry, especially laying hens. The report found that Campylobacter is still the most frequently reported zoonotic infection since 2005, with levels increasing in each of the past 5 years and rising 7% from 2009 to 2010. Johan Giesecke, ECDC chief scientist, said in a statement, "The increasing trends in human cases of Campylobacter highlight the need of further joint efforts. For this, EFSA and ECDC will continue to strengthen their links with all important partners and foster collaboration." The report found an increase in infections with Shiga toxin/verotoxin–producing Escherichia coli, along with decreases in Yersinia enterocolitica, trichinellosis, and listeriosis. Overall, the number of foodborne outbreaks in the EU in 2010, which included about 43,000 cases and led to 25 deaths, was lower than in 2009. The role of vegetables as outbreak sources increased compared with earlier years.
Mar 8 ECDC-EFSA report
Mar 8 ECDC-EFSA press release

Bill Clinton cites UN role in Haiti cholera outbreak
During a visit to Haiti yesterday, former president Bill Clinton acknowledged that a United Nations' peacekeeper brought cholera into the country during the international response to the country's earthquake disaster, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Addressing reporters at a hospital in Mirebalais, the town in which UN peacekeepers from Nepal had their base, Clinton said the peacekeeper was the "proximate" cause of the outbreak, but added that the key cause was Haiti's lack of proper sanitation. "Unless we know that he knew or that they knew, the people that sent him, that he was carrying that virus and therefore that he could cause the amount of death and misery and sickness, I think it's better to focus on fixing it," he told the group, according to the AP. Clinton was touring Haiti as a special UN envoy to Haiti. In May 2011 a report from an independent UN panel stopped short of blaming Nepalese soldiers at the peacekeeping base as the source of the outbreak, though an epidemiologic study from French researchers who were on the scene during the early days of the outbreak built a stronger argument for the peacekeeper source. The outbreak has sickened about 526,000 people and led to about 7,000 deaths.
Mar 7 AP story

Cryptosporidium outbreak linked to firefighting exposure
Twenty firefighters who battled a barn fire near the Michigan-Indiana border in June 2011 came down with cryptosporidiosis, the first known outbreak linked to firefighting, according to a report today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The blaze occurred at a Michigan farm, and firefighters from an Indiana station helped the Michigan responders. The farm housed 240 week-old calves. Within 12 days of fighting the fire, about 20 of 34 who responded reported gastrointestinal symptoms. Stool sample analysis revealed Cryptosporidium parvum. During the outbreak investigation, health officials found the parasite in calf fecal samples and in the farm's swimming pond.  Firefighters who had direct contact with the calves were more likely to be infected, and five of nine who were exposed to the pond water were infected. Tests also found water from a well on the farm had high bacterial concentrations and was unfit for drinking. Health officials recommended that the farmer treat the well water with chlorine and avoid using the pond for swimming. They also recommended methods for decontaminating the fire trucks, clothing, and other equipment to avoid further exposure to the firefighters. No other cases were reported.
Mar 7 MMWR report

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