NEWS SCAN: House passes preparedness law reauthorization, kids' foodborne illness risk, amoxicillin for lung infections

Dec 19, 2012

House passes final version of preparedness reauthorization law
The US House of Representatives today in a 383-to-16 vote passed legislation to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (passed in 2006), which now awaits action by the Senate before it goes to President Obama's desk. In a statement today, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who introduced the bill, said it represents common ground between House and Senate versions and was developed after months of work and deliberation between leaders in the two chambers. "Given the urgent need to reauthorize our nation's most critical biodefense and preparedness programs, I am hopeful this bipartisan legislation can be quickly passed by the Senate before Congress adjourns," he said. The House passed an earlier version of the bill in December 2011, and the Senate passed its version in early March, according to earlier reports. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2012 continues programs to develop medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear threats, as well as programs to bolster the nation's preparedness for other public health threats, such as pandemic flu. Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonprofit health advocacy group, in a statement today applauded the House passage and urged the Senate to pass the law by the end of the year. Jeff Levi, TFAH's executive director, said in the statement, "It is important, in the final bill, that the Public Health and Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Grant Program, Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) are reauthorized, as they provide vital funding to local and state public health departments to strengthen response capabilities, enhance hospital preparedness and surge capacity, and develop vaccines, drugs and other necessary countermeasures."
Dec 19 Rep. Rogers' statement
Dec 19 TFAH statement

Analysis confirms heightened foodborne illness risk in youngsters
Bacterial foodborne illnesses are more common in children younger than 5 years old than in the general population, even after adjusting for increased medical care–seeking, according to a study led by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). Using foodborne illness data from FoodNet, a system the CDC uses to gather information on confirmed foodborne illnesses from 10 states or parts of states, the research group estimated the number of illnesses in the two groups for five enteric bacteria: Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, nontyphoidal Salmonella, Shigella, and Yersinia enterocolitica. They based their findings on FoodNet data from 2005 to 2008, survey data from 2000 to 2007, and estimates for the 2006 US population. Using a statistical model they projected that the five pathogens cause 291,162 illnesses each year in kids younger than 5, along with 102,746 doctor visits and 64 deaths. Nontyphoidal Salmonella was the top cause, responsible for about 40% of illnesses and physician visits and 60% of hospitalizations and deaths. The researchers reported that lower rates of underdiagnosis don't completely explain the higher rates of the illnesses in children, noting that kids under 5 account for 7% of the population but account for 8% to 13% of E coli O157, nontyphoidal Salmonella, Shigella, and Y enterocolitica illnesses. They concluded that the findings highlight the need for prevention efforts targeted to this higher-risk group.
Dec 17 Pediatr Infect Dis J abstract

Amoxicillin not helpful for lung infections when pneumonia not suspected
When pneumonia is not suspected clinically, the antibiotic amoxicillin provides little benefit for acute lower respiratory tract infections and actually may increase symptoms, according to a study today in Lancet Infectious Diseases. Researchers from a number of European countries analyzed data on 1,038 adults prescribed amoxicillin and 1,023 adults given a placebo for 7 days for lower respiratory tract infection not suspected to be pneumonia. Neither the duration nor the severity of symptoms self-rated as "moderately bad" or worse differed between the groups. And while new or worsening symptoms were significantly less common in the amoxicillin group (15.9% vs 19.3% of patients, respectively), cases of nausea, rash, or diarrhea were significantly more common in the amoxicillin group, with one patient in the group experiencing anaphylaxis. The authors conclude, "When pneumonia is not suspected clinically, amoxicillin provides little benefit for acute lower-respiratory-tract infection in primary care both overall and in patients aged 60 years or more, and causes slight harms."
Dec 19 Lancet Infect Dis abstract

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