NEWS SCAN: BSE probe update, dog-food plant missteps, chikungunya in Cambodia, WHO disease statistics

May 16, 2012

Investigators find no feed problems in California BSE case
Investigators have found no irregularities in feed records associated with the fourth US case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a May 15 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The case was reported Apr 24 in a 10-year-old California dairy cow, which had been culled for lameness and was held out of the food and feed supplies. In the report, John Clifford, DVM, of the USDA said an investigation of feed records from the dairy cow's farm uncovered no anomalies, and audits of all the feed suppliers to the farm showed they were in compliance with regulations. The case has been described as atypical BSE, which may be caused by a mutation rather than by eating contaminated feed, the usual cause of the disease. It was the first BSE case found in the United States since 2006.
May 15 USDA report to OIE

FDA cites inadequate testing, equipment at Salmonella-linked dog-food plant
Citing a lack of adequate testing and the use of duct tape, cardboard, and other noncleanable material on equipment, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Diamond Pet Foods has not taken all reasonable precautions to prevent contamination at a plant implicated in a Salmonella outbreak. Diamond has recalled 11 different brands of dog food after its products were linked to Salmonella Infantis infections in at least 15 people. In a "form 483" report posted yesterday, the FDA highlighted four deficiencies at the Diamond Pet Foods plant in Gaston, S.C.: (1) no microbiological analysis or other assurance that incoming animal fat will not cause contamination, (2) lack of adequate hand-washing stations, (3) paddles on a conveyer had gouges and cuts, " which exhibited feed residues," and (4) cardboard, duct tape, and other noncleanable surfaces were observed on equipment and had food residue. The report resulted from a weeklong inspection that began Apr 12.
May 15 FDA 483 report
May 11 CDC update on the outbreak

Chikungunya spreading in Cambodia
After being free of chikungunya virus infections for 50 years, Cambodia has had about 1,500 cases in the past year, according to a Xinhua report published today. The disease was first identified in the country in 1961, but it then disappeared until last year, the story said. Dr. Char Meng Chuor, director of the country's National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, put the number of cases reported since then at 1,500, as the disease has spread from provinces bordering Thailand to those bordering Vietnam. He said the hardest-hit province is Preah Vihear, with 1,041 cases.
May 16 Xinhua story

WHO reports some progress toward Millennium goals for infectious diseases
The World Health Organization (WHO) today described mixed results in the battles against major infectious diseases, in an update on progress toward the health components of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The goals were set by the UN in 2000, with targets for 2015. The WHO said tuberculosis (TB) cases have increased along with world population in recent years, but more people are being successfully treated. For example, TB mortality among HIV-negative people dropped from 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 1990 to 20 per 100,000 in 2009. With malaria, 42 countries are on course to meet their MDG reduction targets, though there were an estimated 225 million cases and 781,000 deaths in 2009. The supply of insecticide-treated bed nets and access to antimalarial drugs have increased, but not enough to meet the need in most places, the report said. On the HIV front, new infections per year dropped 17% from 2001 to 2009, with 2.6 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths in 2009. In addition, 1 billion people suffer from neglected tropical diseases, such as lymphatic filariasis, the WHO said. More than 220,000 cases of cholera were reported in 2009, an increase from 2008.
WHO fact sheet on progress toward MDG health goals
May 16 WHO press release on World Health Statistics 2012 report
Full WHO report

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