News Scan for Jul 05, 2013

Invasive meningitis in Europe
Europe's healthcare-linked infections
Hepatitis from fruit

European countries cite invasive meningitis in men who have sex with men

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warns of an increased risk of invasive meningitis in men who have sex with men (MSM) after recent reports of cases from three countries, said a news release today on a rapid risk assessment issued Jul 3.

The seven cases of invasive serogroup C Neisseria meningitides infection occurred sporadically or in small clusters in Germany (3 cases), France (3), and Belgium (1). The strain involved is associated with an outbreak in New York City from 2010 to 2013 that had a high case-fatality rate.

The ECDC recommends that member states consider doing retrospective investigation for the disease in young men to identify other potential cases and to also consider vaccination with conjugate meningococcal vaccine against serogroup C for outbreak control if any clusters are identified. Meningococcal vaccine is part of routine immunization programs in 14 European Union States at present, says the report, but few have conducted catch-up campaigns, so adult immunity remains low.

There is no evidence of links between the cases in the three countries or to the New York cases. Further study is needed to find out how the infection is being transmitted, says the ECDC.
Jul 5 ECDC news release
Jul 3 ECDC rapid risk assessment
Jan 3 CIDRAP News item about New York outbreak

Survey: 1 in 18 European hospital patients has healthcare-related infection

On any given day, about 80,000 patients in European hospitals—or 1 in 18—have at least 1 healthcare-associated infection (HAI), and 1 in 3 receives 1 or more antimicrobials, say results of the most comprehensive prevalence survey to date of HAI and antimicrobial use in hospitals in Europe.

The ECDC survey covered more than 1,000 hospitals in 30 countries and collected data on the number of infections, the microorganisms involved, how often and for what indications antimicrobials were used, and what infection control structures and processes were in place.

Patients admitted to intensive care units had the highest prevalence of HAI, and most common were respiratory tract, surgical site, urinary tract, and bloodstream infections.

The ECDC's recommendations, based on the survey results, center on putting infection control programs in place at national and hospital levels, further developing European Union–wide guidance, improving surveillance, enhancing infection prevention and control programs, improving patient education, and developing HAI research.

Said ECDC Director Marc Sprenger in a press release, "The survey confirms that healthcare-associated infections pose a major public health problem and a threat to European patients." He added, "Many of these infections could be prevented by sustained, multifaceted infection prevention and control programmes . . . as well as prudent use of antibiotics."
Jul 4 ECDC news story
Jul 4 press release
Full ECDC report
Interactive database

Hepatitis outbreak from berries grows in US; Europe has similar outbreaks

The number of people in the United States known to have become ill with hepatitis A after eating a frozen berry blend containing pomegranate seeds from Turkey has grown to 140 from 8 states, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update today.

The fruit involved is Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. All persons who became ill purchased the berry mix at Costco stores, although the product is also sold at Harris Teeter stores.

Townsend Farms voluntarily recalled certain lots of the product on Jun 4 and expanded that recall on Jun 28; on Jun 26, Scenic Fruit Co. of Gresham, Ore., recalled a pomegranate product because of possible contamination.

In other hepatitis developments, northern Italy has seen a 70% increase in hepatitis A cases from Jan 1 through May 31 of this year over the same period last year. Total cases through May number 352, according to yesterday's issue of Eurosurveillance.

Investigation is ongoing, but so far the only common food eaten by case-patients is mixed berries. The genotype and sequence of the virus isolated in the Italian outbreak is different from that in the US outbreak, according to the story.

Elsewhere, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) are experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A that began in October 2012. As of Jun 27, 103 cases have been reported.

A case-control study combined with trace-back investigation points to frozen berries, particularly strawberries, as the source. Investigation continues, and the countries' public health and food agencies have recommended that consumers boil frozen berries before eating them.
Jul 5 CDC update
Jul 4 Eurosurveill article on Italian outbreak
Jul 4 Eurosurveill article on Nordic outbreak


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