News Scan for Dec 16, 2013

AAP slams raw milk
Chikungunya alert
FAO report on zoonoses

AAP says no to raw milk for kids and pregnant women, calls for ban

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) today recommended that all infants, children, and pregnant women avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk, and called for a nationwide ban on the sale of all raw-milk products.

In a policy statement in Pediatrics, the AAP said that 82% of all dairy-related disease outbreaks reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recent decades were caused by raw milk or raw cheese, even though unpasteurized dairy products constitute only 1% to 3% of all dairy products consumed.

"Given the progress we have made in prevention, there is no reason to risk consuming raw milk in this day and age," said Jatinder Bhatia, MD, a coauthor of the AAP statement, in an AAP news release. "Consumption of raw milk products is especially risky for pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly, and the evidence overwhelmingly establishes the benefits of pasteurization on food safety."

"Raw milk poses a significant health risk, since the process of obtaining fresh milk from cows and goats can be fraught with risks of contamination both while milking the animals and during storage," said Mary Glode, MD, another coauthor.

The statement says that health claims from raw-milk advocates have little foundation in science, whereas "numerous scientific analyses have demonstrated that pasteurized milk and milk products contain equivalent levels" of nutrients to those in raw milk.
Dec 16 AAP statement
Dec 16 AAP press release


CDC issues chikungunya alert as St. Martin cases rise to 10

As chikungunya cases on St. Martin in the Caribbean rose to 10 late last week, the CDC alerted US public health officials and clinicians to watch for the disease in patients.

The agency said in a Dec 13 Health Alert Network (HAN) advisory that, as of Dec 12, 10 cases have been confirmed on the French side of St. Martin, and lab testing is pending in further suspected cases. Onset of illness for those with the mosquito-borne disease has ranged from Oct 15 to Dec 4, the CDC said in the advisory.

Chikungunya should be considered in patients who have sudden onset of fever and pain in multiple joints, especially in those who recently traveled to the Caribbean, the alert said.

In addition, healthcare providers should report suspected cases to state or local health departments, health departments should watch for chikungunya cases in returning travelers, and state health departments should report lab-confirmed chikungunya cases to ArboNET, the national surveillance system for arthropod-borne viruses, the CDC said in the HAN advisory.
Dec 13 CDC HAN advisory


FAO: Holistic approach to zoonoses needed in diverse landscape

Animal-origin diseases are expanding at an alarming rate and must be fought proactively rather than after the fact, says a report released today by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that calls for a more holistic approach to managing disease threats at the animal-human-environment interface.

The new report, World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes, says that 70% of new diseases in humans over the past few decades are of animal origin. In an FAO release, FAO official Ren Wang said, "What this means is that we cannot deal with human health, animal health, and ecosystem health in isolation from each other—we have to look at them together, and address the drivers of disease emergence, persistence and spread, rather than simply fighting back against diseases after they emerge."

Among the causes of the surge in emerging diseases are the growth in human population and with it poverty and unsanitary conditions in some areas and a push for more protein-rich foods in others, agricultural expansion into formerly wild areas with the boom in livestock production, climate change that affects disease-transmission dynamics, "intensive" food-production methods, and the rise in international trade and travel that allows organisms "to travel the globe with ease,"  the FAO said. Livestock and wildlife are more in contact with each other than ever before, the report says, as are animals and humans.

A holistic approach to emerging diseases needs to involve professionals in human health, veterinary specialists, sociologists, economists, and ecologists, states World Livestock 2013.

Among key action items are strategies that address the causes above as well as the assembly of better evidence on the drivers of animal disease, improved risk assessment and prevention measures, and development of stronger mechanisms for international information exchange on animal disease management and best practices in livestock rearing.
Dec 16 FAO report (130 pages)
Dec 16 FAO news release

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