News Scan for Jul 23, 2013

Infection control in disasters
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Strawberry E coli contamination

APIC releases guide for outpatient infection control during disasters

To help prepare for protecting outpatients from infection during disasters such as pandemics, bioterror attacks, or outbreaks of a novel disease, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) today released a new guide, "Infection Prevention for Ambulatory Care Centers During Disasters."

The 112-page guide provides infection prevention recommendations and resources for developing an emergency plan that includes operational expansion for surges in patients. It focuses on reducing hospital-acquired infections and communicable diseases but says that some diseases, such as smallpox or viral hemorrhagic fevers, require more intensive interventions than those outlined in the guide.

The risk for infection transmission in ambulatory care centers increases during a disaster, especially if hospitals cannot absorb patient surges, APIC said in a release e-mailed to reporters. Topics in the guide include:

  • Program planning
  • Patient scheduling
  • Triage and surveillance
  • Occupational health issues

"Infection prevention must become part of daily practice, as well as a component of the emergency management planning and training scenarios for ambulatory care facilities," said Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, lead author of the guide, and associate professor at Saint Louis University School of Public Health's Institute for Biosecurity.
Jul 23 APIC guide

 

Report details first E coli outbreak linked to strawberries

A 2011 foodborne illness outbreak in Oregon showed the strawberries can be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7, with deer feces as the source, according to a report by state health officials in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The team launched an investigation after noting an increase in the number of Shiga toxin E coli (STEC) cases with the same genetic fingerprint. They identified 15 cases, and 6 patients were hospitalized. Four of them had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal kidney conditions. Two of the patients died.

A structured hypothesis-generating interview, a case-control study, environmental, and trace-back studies identified locally grown strawberries from a single farm as the source of the outbreak. Much of the fruit was sold at unregulated retail outlets, such as farm stands.

The authors also pointed out that the small producer was exempt from good agricultural practice certification requirements proposed by the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

Environmental samples containing deer feces tested positive for E coli matching the outbreak strain. The authors noted that their use of a detailed questionnaire helped them quickly identify a previously unsuspected source of E coli contamination.
Jul 21 Clin Infect Dis abstract

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