NEWS SCAN: Novel coronavirus case, VHF airline guidance, more West Nile cases, Salmonella in tahini

Nov 21, 2012

Fourth case of novel coronavirus infection reported
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health this week confirmed the world's fourth case of infection with a novel coronavirus first identified in September, the Saudi Gazette reported today. The Saudi native was admitted to a hospital in Riyadh but has improved after treatment, and tests at a reference lab outside the country were positive for the new coronavirus. Few other details were provided. The first reported case was fatal, while the second and third case-patients remain hospitalized in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, respectively.
Nov 21 Saudi Gazette story

ECDC panel publishes airline trace-back guidance for viral hemorrhagic fevers
A European expert advisory panel recommends trace-back of airplane passengers only if Lassa, Ebola, or Marburg hemorrhagic fever is confirmed in an index patient and other criteria are met, the group reported in BMC Public Health today. The panel, commissioned by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), undertook a thorough review of the literature and consulted viral hemorrhagic disease (VHF) experts. Given that "no evidence of transmission of VHF during air travel exists to date," the panel recommends trace-back investigations to begin only if: (1) the index case had symptoms during the flight, (2) the flight was within 21 days after pathogen detection, and (3) for Lassa fever, if exposure of body fluid has been reported. The panel recommends beginning trace-back only after confirmation of the index case and including only passengers and crew with direct contact, passengers who sat on either side of the index patient, and crew and cleaning personal of the index patient's section of the aircraft.
Nov 21 BMC Public Health abstract

US West Nile cases, deaths still rising
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today that it received reports of 79 more West Nile virus (WNV) infections over the past week, raising the nation's total for the year so far to 5,207. Five more deaths were reported, pushing that number to 234, according to the CDC's update. The nation's WNV activity is at the highest for the third week of November since 2003. New York was added to a list of states that make up 80% of the cases. The others are Texas, California, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Michigan, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Ohio, and New York.
Nov 21 CDC WNV update

CDC details Salmonella outbreak in Lebanese tahini
A report of the first US outbreak of Salmonella serotype Bovismorbificans associated with tahini (sesame seed paste), an ingredient used in hummus and other Mediterranean-style foods, demonstrates the difficulty of tracing ingredient-driven outbreaks and emphasizes the importance of PulseNet in identifying disease clusters in geographically dispersed cases. The report, in the current Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), describes the identification and investigation of 23 culture-confirmed cases of Salmonella Bovismorbificans having indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns that occurred in seven states and the District of Columbia (DC) from September through November 2011. Many of the cases were identified through PulseNet, the national database of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories. In May 2012, trace-back investigation found that contaminated tahini used in hummus and perhaps other foods served at three Mediterranean-style restaurants in DC and northern Virginia was the probable source of the outbreak. The tahini came from a common manufacturer in Lebanon.
Nov 23 MMWR report

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