NEWS SCAN: Salmonella turtle outbreak, Washington pertussis epidemic, drug-resistant malaria

Apr 5, 2012

Turtle Salmonella outbreaks sicken six more patients
The number of patients sickened in three multistate Salmonella outbreaks linked to pet turtles has risen to 72, an increase of 6 from the total reported last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in an update. One new state—Minnesota—is affected, pushing the number of involved states so far to 17. The number of hospitalizations rose to 12, one more than reported last week. On Mar 30 the CDC announced that the outbreaks involved three different Salmonella strains: Sandiego, Pomona, and Poona. The illnesses are linked to exposure to turtles smaller than 4 inches, which continue to be sold, despite a ban that's been in place for the past three decades. The CDC said today that 43% of the sick patients had bought the small turtles from street vendors. Lab sampling from turtles or from their tanks in the homes of some of the sick patients have yielded two of the outbreak strains. The CDC has advised people not to buy turtles smaller than 4 inches or give them as gifts.
Apr 5 CDC outbreak update

Washington pertussis pace hits epidemic level
The Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) announced that the number of pertussis infections this year has reached epidemic levels, with 640 cases reported so far, according to an Apr 3 press release. The state recorded 94 cases by this time last year, and health officials said this year's level marks the highest number of cases in decades. Cases have been reported in 23 of the state's 39 counties. Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said the department is worried about the rapidly increasing number of cases. "This disease can be very serious for young babies, who often get whooping cough from adults and other family members," she said. "We want all teens and adults who haven't had Tdap [tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis] to be vaccinated to help protect babies that are too young for the vaccine." According to a more detailed report from the WSDH, 42 of the pertussis cases were in babies younger than 1 year old, the age-group that has had the highest rate of infections. The WSDH is launching a public service campaign on the radio and is working to raise awareness among healthcare providers. Of the 13 babies who were hospitalized, 10 were younger than 3 months. In 2010 a pertussis outbreak in California sickened 9,000 people and killed 10 infants.
Apr 3 WSDH press release
Study finds rise in drug-resistant malaria at Thai-Myanmar border
Malaria resistant to artemisinin—a primary malaria drug—has risen substantially in the past several years along the Thailand-Myanmar border, according to a study today in The Lancet. US, UK, and Thai researchers studied 3,202 patients from 2001 to 2010. They found that parasite clearance half-lives, a sign of artemisinin resistance, to rise rose from a mean of 2.6 hours in 2001 to 3.7 hours in 2010. They also found that the proportion of slow-clearing infections (half-life of 6.2 hours or longer) to increased from 0.6% in 2001 to 20% in 2010. They also determined found that the proportion of variation in parasite clearance attributable to parasite genetics increased from 30% in the period 2001 to 2004 to 66% from 2007 to 2010. They estimate that, at this rate of increase, the level of artemisinin-resistant malaria in the area will equal that of western Cambodia (an area known for resistant malaria) in 2 to 6 years.
Apr 5 Lancet abstract

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