News Scan for Dec 29, 2014

MERS-CoV in Jordan, Saudi Arabia
Caramel apple recalls

Jordan, Saudi Arabia report MERS-CoV cases

Jordan and Saudi Arabia reported three new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases over the past 5 days, according to media and government sources.

Few details were available about Jordan's latest case, other than that the patient is a man who is an "Arab national" who is in stable condition at a private hospital, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Dec 25, citing an official from Jordan's health ministry. The latest case pushes Jordan's MERS-CoV case count to 12, of which 6 were fatal.

In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Dec 26 announced two more infections, involving a 31-year-old woman from Riyadh who is in critical condition and a 70-year-old man from Qurayyat in the northwestern part of the country who is in stable condition.

Officials are investigating if the man had animal exposure, but no exposure was listed for the woman. Neither was thought to have had contact with confirmed or suspected cases in the hospital or in the community. Both had underlying health conditions. The two new infections boost Saudi Arabia's total to 824 cases, including 355 deaths.

In a related development, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Dec 26 posted additional details about three case reports it received from Saudi Arabia between Dec 8 and 16. Illness onsets ranged from Dec 1 through Dec 10. Two of the patients are men, ages 61 and 70, from different cities who have underlying conditions and have a history of frequent contact with camels and often consumed raw camel products. Neither had been exposed to other known risk factors in the 14 days before they got sick. One of the men died, and the other is in critical condition.

The third patient is a 29-year-old foreign woman who got sick after she had contact with a MERS-CoV case-patient while she was working in an isolation ward in Taif. She is hospitalized in stable condition. The WHO said it has been notified of 941 lab-confirmed cases, of which at least 347 were fatal.
Dec 25 KUNA story
Dec 26 MOH statement
Dec 26 WHO statement


Two firms recall caramel apples in wake of Listeria outbreak

Recalls covering 31 states have been issued for two brands of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples potentially linked with an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that has caused 29 illnesses, 3 of them fatal, in 10 states over the past couple of months, say two notices from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

One company, Happy Apple Co. of Washington, Mo., said that apples supplied to its California facility by a firm called Bidart Brothers may be connected with the outbreak. The company voluntarily recalled its Happy Apple caramel apples with best-use-by dates of Aug 25 through Nov 23. The apples come in single as well as three, four, and eight packs, according to a Dec 24 FDA notice.

Happy Apple products are sold in groceries, discount, and club stores in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The company said it "ceased our operations at the end of October as part of our normal, seasonal shut down and the caramel apples produced are no longer available in stores."

Another company, California Snack Foods, also cited Bidart Brothers as a supplier of apples that could be associated with the outbreak. The California company recalled its caramel apples dated Aug 15 through Nov 28. Their product comes in single and three packs, says a Dec 27 release from the FDA. The products were distributed to grocery, discount, and club stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

The company reportedly used the last of its Bidart apples early in November, so they are likely no longer available in stores.

The 29 patients who have contracted listeriosis in the outbreak have all required hospitalization. Listeria was implicated in three deaths and may have contributed to a fourth. No illnesses or deaths have been related to plain apples or caramel candies.
Dec 24 FDA notice
Dec 27 FDA notice
Dec 23 CIDRAP News scan on outbreak


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