NEWS SCAN: Vietnam clears H5N1 project, H9N2 seroprevalence, tempeh Salmonella update

May 21, 2012

Vietnam approves new H5N1 project
Vietnam's agriculture ministry has approved a project to fight avian influenza in poultry and humans, supported by $300,000 from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported yesterday. The project will be implemented within the next year in nine cities and provinces: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Can Tho, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Tri, and Lang Son, according to the report. The goals of the program are to improve management of the national health system, ensure equal access to health services, strengthen information sharing, and promote collaborative efforts for fighting avian influenza. Vietnam is among the countries where the H5N1 avian flu virus is endemic in poultry.
May 20 VNA story

About 6% of poultry workers in India study have H9N2 antibodies
About 6% of poultry workers in and around Pune, India, had antibodies to H9N2 avian flu in their bloodstreams, according to a study in PLoS One. Researchers from the National Institute of Virology in Pune, located in Maharashtra state, analyzed serum samples from 338 poultry workers in a region known to have had H9N2 outbreaks in poultry. Workers from farms and live-bird markets responded to an invitation to participate in the study. The investigators found that 21 workers (6.2%) had antibodies to H9N2, by either hemagglutination inhibition (HI) or microneutralization (MN) assay and using a titer of 40 or higher as the cutoff. If test results were taken separately, 4.7% of workers had antibodies by HI and 3.8% by MN. Serum samples from 249 members of the general public were all negative for H9N2 antibodies. The authors said the study "showed low prevalence of antibodies against AI H9N2 virus, which is comparable with reported studies from South-East Asia." Nonfatal illnesses caused by H9N2 viruses have been reported in a few children in Hong Kong and elsewhere in China in recent years.
May 18 PLoS One study
CIDRAP overview of avian flu in humans

Tempeh starter culture cited as source in Salmonella outbreak
A tempeh starter culture from a Maryland firm has been identified as the source of a Salmonella outbreak centered in North Carolina that has grown to 83 cases, according to a media report and health officials. The Asheville, N.C., Citizen-Times reported that investigators traced the outbreak strain, Salmonella Paratyphi B, to a tempeh starter culture supplied by Tempeh Online, Rockville, Md., to Smiling Hara Tempeh of Asheville. David Sweat, MPH, foodborne disease epidemiologist with the North Carolina Division of Public Health in Raleigh, today confirmed the report, saying the Salmonella strain in the starter culture matched isolates from finished tempeh and from patients. "We believe the starter culture was the original source of contamination," he told CIDRAP News. The Citizen-Times story said the US Food and Drug Administration was investigating where the starter culture was produced. In addition, the story said the number of cases in the outbreak had increased to 83 as of May 18, 20 more than reported a week earlier, with 62 cases in the Asheville area (Buncombe County). Sweat said today he was not aware of any more cases reported since then. Tempeh is a meat substitute used in vegetarian dishes.
May 19 Citizen-Times story

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