NEWS SCAN: Early Salmonella egg warning, cholera vaccination in Guinea, veterinary training

Jun 4, 2012

Iowa lab warned of Salmonella in hens before 2010 egg outbreak
Months before a 2010 multistate outbreak of Salmonella in eggs was made public, an Iowa State University (ISU) lab found Salmonella in sick laying hens at Iowa farms owned by former egg magnate Jack DeCoster and warned the egg producer that the pathogen "almost certainly" was in its eggs, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The ISU Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory found Salmonella in manure at several Iowa egg-laying plants and in hens' internal organs about 4 months before the August 2010 recall of 550 million DeCoster eggs, the story said. Birds on the farms were dying in unusually high numbers, and by late April, 43% of DeCoster poultry houses tested positive for Salmonella. On May 1 of that year, ISU scientist Darrell Trampel, DVM, PhD, told a colleague that the lab had isolated Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), the outbreak strain, from the livers of dead hens from two farms that each housed tens of thousands of chickens. "If SE is in the livers of the laying hens, it is almost certainly in the eggs," he wrote in an e-mail. He also informed DeCoster manager Tony Wasmund, both on that day and on May 11, when similar findings were seen in dead hens from three Iowa plants, according to the story. The laboratory released its testing records in response to a subpoena from NuCal Foods, a California cooperative that bought contaminated DeCoster eggs and is now suing. ISU lab operations director Rodger Main, DVM, PhD, said SE doesn't have to be reported to state or federal officials, and doing so would violate confidentiality agreements between the lab and food producers, who pay for the voluntary tests. The 2010 outbreak sickened at least 1,900 people nationwide.
Aid group vaccinates 117,000 to fight cholera in Guinea
The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) announced recently that it vaccinated 117,000 people to fight a cholera outbreak in Guinea, marking the first time Africans have been give a two-dose oral vaccine during an outbreak. Working with the Guinean Ministry of Health, MSF vaccinated people in the coastal region around Boffa, 150 kilometers north of Conakry, capital of the West African country, MSF said in a May 31 statement. "We were faced with an outbreak and we wanted first to protect people by vaccinating them, and to limit the spread of cholera," said Dr Dominique Legros, MSF's innovation initiative manager in Geneva. MSF and a partner group, Epicentre, plan to monitor the course of the Boffa outbreak and the effectiveness of vaccination over the next 6 months. "The results of this surveillance will be analyzed and used to develop a comprehensive global response strategy for future epidemics, which will enable MSF teams to deploy quickly to vaccinate communities and protect more people," the group said. It commented that vaccination is a promising new tool for fighting cholera, but it must be complemented by treatment, improved hygiene, and the provision of safe water and sanitation.
May 31 MSF statement

NRC: Too few vet students going into research, public health
Colleges are not preparing enough veterinarians to serve in academic and research capacities, according to a report from the National Research Council (NRC). The report says that, although the supply of veterinarians is growing, most graduates seek training in companion-animal or pet medicine and not enough are prepared for faculty teaching or research positions or for jobs in state diagnostic laboratories, federal research and regulatory agencies, and the pharmaceutical and biologics industry. College debt also drives veterinary students away from pursuing PhD training, according to an NRC news release. The shortage could hamper filling "jobs overseeing and enforcing food safety and animal health standards, conducting research in human drug development and advances in pet health, and participating in wildlife and ecosystem management, infectious disease control, biosecurity, and agro-terrorism prevention," according to the press release. Alan Kelly, BVSc, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the committee that wrote the report, said, "We must ensure that schools train qualified veterinarians in sync with the diverse and growing array of societal needs."
May 30 NRC news release
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