News Scan for Jun 18, 2013

Berry-linked hepatitis infections
;
Pertussis booster poll
;
Israel polio update
;
Q fever in Brazil

CDC reports 12 more cases in berry-linked hepatitis outbreak

Twelve more hepatitis A infections are under investigation in a hepatitis A outbreak linked to a frozen berry blend, raising the number of suspected cases to 118, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday.

The dozen new cases come on top of 7 new cases the CDC reported yesterday. The number of affected states remained at eight., all in the Southwest. Of 112 patient with available data, 80 (71%) reported eating Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix from Costco. The product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores.

The latest illness-onset date is Jun 8. Investigations are ongoing, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is inspecting the company's processing facility and finalizing a testing protocol for products. The outbreak strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.

The berry mix contains products from the US, Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.
Jun 18 CDC outbreak update

 

Adult memories hazy about last pertussis booster

Most adults can't remember when they last received a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, which suggests a gap in protection for newborns, according to the results of a University of Michigan poll released yesterday.

Though national recommendations suggest that adults receive a booster shot within the past 10 years, 61% of adults don't know when they were last vaccinated. The poll found 20% reported receiving the vaccine within the recommended time frame and 19% said they last got it more than a decade ago.

Despite the foggy memories about the vaccine, the poll found wide support for parents' right to insist visitors be vaccinated before seeing a newborn in the hospital; 72% strongly agreed, and 61% said parents should make sure all adults be vaccinated before visiting newborns at home.

The survey was administered in January 2013 to a random group of 2,182 adults who are part of a nationally representative Web panel.
Jun 17 University of Michigan press release
Jun 17 University of Michigan pertussis poll


More positive sewer samples prompt call for polio vaccination in Israel

Israeli health officials today announced that they would begin making sure all children up to age 6 have been vaccinated against polio, based on more detections of the virus in some of the country's sewage systems, the Times of Israel reported.

The location of the latest finding—the third since April—is the Negev towns of Tel Sheva, Ar'ara, and Shocket. Dr Itamar Grotto, who heads the country's public health services, told Israel Radio today that several thousand children are not vaccinated because of parental refusal for religious reasons or because the parents don't follow through with the appointments. Health officials are calling for parents to bring their children in for vaccination and for parents to learn about the risks of the disease.

Routine sampling turned up evidence of polio virus in the sewers. Israel has not reported a polio case since 1988, though environmental sampling was positive in 1991 and 2002, according to theTimes report.
Jun 18 Times story


Brazil probes possible Q fever outbreak

Brazilian health officials are investigating a possible Q fever outbreak, according to a media report in Portuguese translated and posted by ProMED Mail, the online reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

So far 81 suspected cases around Belo Horizonte, the capital of Brazil's Minas Gerais state, were reported from June 2010 to Februay 2013, and six patients showed evidence of the disease, caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnettii, in April serology tests. Minas Gerais is in southeastern Brazil.

Though the disease is more common in other parts of the world, including some European countries, it is rare in Brazil.

The report quoted a surveillance official who said most of the patients did not have contact with animal illness reservoirs. In an editorial note that accompanied the report, ProMED Mail said Q fever is infectious with a very low inoculum and can be aerosolized over a significant distance.

Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary reservoirs, but the bacteria have been found in other livestock species. Human infections typically occur from inhaling contaminated barnyard dust. 

C burnettii is considered a Category B US bioterrorism agent, meaning it is moderately easy to disseminate and causes moderate morbidity and low mortality.
Jun 17 ProMED Mail post

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