News Scan for Jan 30, 2015

Two more MERS cases
Drug-resistant bacteria
BSE case in Norway

MERS-CoV case count in Saudi Arabia increases by 2

Two men have been stricken with MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia, bringing the total case count since June 2012 to 845, according to an update today from the country's ministry of health (MOH).

One case-patient is a 37-year-old expatriate in Riyadh who is in critical condition. He is not a healthcare worker, nor has he had any known animal exposure or contact with MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patients in either the community or healthcare setting. He does have preexisting disease, however.

A 76-year-old Saudi from the city of Hafoof is the other new case-patient. He has preexisting disease as well and also has a history of animal exposure. He has had no known exposure to MERS-CoV patients in the community or healthcare settings, and he is in stable condition.

No new recoveries or deaths are reported in today's update, leaving those numbers at 475 and 364, respectively.
Jan 30 MOH update

Meanwhile, a MERS-CoV situation report today in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) puts the total number of lab-confirmed cases globally as of Jan 23 at 956, with at least 351 deaths. (The CDC numbers as well as World Health Organization [WHO] numbers lag behind those in Saudi daily reports.)

The report says 504 of those cases occurred between March and May of 2014, most of them in Saudi Arabia. It notes that another rash of cases has occurred recently, with the WHO confirming 102 cases, 97 of them in Saudi Arabia, from Aug 1, 2014, through Jan 23 of this year.

The CDC warns travelers to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula to wash hands often, avoid contact with ill persons, and seek medical care if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms after returning home.
Jan 30 MMWR report


European report notes link between antibiotic use, resistance

Use of certain antimicrobial drugs in both animals and humans in Europe is associated with resistance to those drugs in bacteria from both populations, and in some cases antimicrobial use in food animals is associated with resistance in people, according to the first integrated analysis of drug-resistance data from people, animals, and food, published today by European authorities.

The report stems from investigations by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Investigators analyzed data from all of 2012.

The team found that, pound-for-pound, antimicrobial use is higher in European food animals than in people. The report states, "Overall, a positive association was observed between antimicrobial consumption in food-producing animals and occurrence of resistance in bacteria from such animals for most of the [drug] combinations investigated." The strongest such associations were for Escherichia coli, while associations were also noted for Salmonella and Campylobacter.

The researchers also noted an association between people's consumption of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins and resistance to third-generation cephalosporins in E coli from humans. And human use of fluoroquinolones likewise increased fluoroquinolone resistance in E coli in people.

For both cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, the team found positive associations between resistance in E coli in food-producing animals and resistant in E coli in people.

The authors conclude, "These results should be interpreted with caution owing to current data limitations and the complexity of [antimicrobial resistance], which is influenced by several factors besides antimicrobial consumption. They recommend steps to address current data limitations for this type of study and stress the responsible use of antimicrobials in both humans and animals.
Jan 30 news release on the ECDC/EFSA/EMA report
Full report


Norway reports first BSE case

Norwegian veterinary officials detected the country's first case of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE, or "mad cow disease") in a 15-year-old cow that was slaughtered because of old age and injuries, according to a Norwegian Food Safety Authority report issued yesterday to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Tests conducted as part of Norway's BSE surveillance program found that the animal was positive for the atypical BSE type H of the prion disease. The cow was born in Norway and did not show signs of neurologic illness prior to slaughter.

The cow lived in a herd of 27 Scottish Highland cattle on a beef cattle farm. The carcass was destroyed after it tested positive for BSE, and no part of it entered the food system.

Norwegian health officials also plan to cull four animals deemed at risk, two of which are offspring of the affected cow and two of which are members of its birth cohort.
Jan 29 OIE

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