News Scan for Apr 01, 2015

Risk of severe C diff
Late notice of Salmonella in cukes
Lassa outbreak in Benin

Study: C diff type 027 predicts severe outcome

Infection with Clostridium difficile ribotype 027 independently predicts severe disease and mortality, but demographic and clinical factors are stronger predictors of severe disease, according to a study yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

A US team analyzed data from 1,144 patients who had C difficile. They found that detection of stool toxin A or B by enzyme immunoassay did not predict severe disease or mortality, whereas infection with type 027 independently predicted both (adjusted odds ratio of 1.73 and 2.02, respectively).

However, concurrent antibiotic use, metastatic cancer, congestive heart failure, liver disease, and using a proton pump inhibitor were all stronger predictors of severe disease, 30-day mortality, or both. And being female was associated with a 2.48 adjusted odds ratio of severe disease.

In a related commentary, Abraham Goorhuis, MD, PhD, of the Center for Tropical and Travel Medicine at the University of Amsterdam, said, "This study adds to the body of evidence that the type 027 strain is intrinsically virulent. . . However, in the individual patient, demographic and clinical parameters seem to be stronger predictors."
Mar 31 Clin Infect Dis abstract
Mar 31 Clin Infect Dis
commentary (subscription required)


CDC says it didn't pinpoint cukes as Salmonella cause till too late

An official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the reason that the agency didn't report until this February on a cucumber-related Salmonella outbreak that occurred last summer was because the investigation did not determine the source until it was too late to help the public, Food Safety News reported today.

Matthew Wise, PhD, MPH, who led the outbreak response team, said the CDC first suspected tomatoes in part because the genetic fingerprint of the outbreak strain matched one associated with numerous outbreaks in recent years caused by tomatoes grown in the Delmarva growing region of Maryland. In mid to late August, officials noted that a large number of patients lived in or traveled to the Delmarva region.

In September, however, the investigation shifted to cucumbers, which are a much less common source of Salmonella infections. And it took till late September before scientists could trace the cucumbers back to a single farm. By then, Wise said, it didn't make much sense to send out an alert because cases had tapered off. The last illness appeared on Sep 30.

The short shelf life of cucumbers was also a factor, as customers weren't likely to still have them in their homes, the story said. The CDC first detailed the outbreak, which included at least 275 patients, in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) update on Feb 20.
Apr 1 Food Safety News story
Feb 20 CIDRAP News scan on MMWR report


WHO details late 2014 Lassa fever outbreak in Benin

A Lassa fever outbreak in Benin in West Africa involving at least 16 cases and 9 deaths in November first caused concern about possible Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in an update.

Local and WHO officials were first alerted to the outbreak after four hospital workers in Tanguieta in the northwestern part of the country died over the course of 2 weeks from a severe febrile illness, some with signs of hemorrhagic fever.

After tests ruled out Ebola, Lassa fever was suspected, even though the nation had never had a confirmed case, because cases were reported last year in Nigeria, Benin's neighbor to the east. Lab tests confirmed the diagnosis.

A woman living in a village near Tanguieta had died from Lassa fever 2 days after giving birth to a girl. The baby fell sick at 2 weeks and was taken to the hospital, which led to the infection and death of a pediatrician, two other health professionals, a language interpreter, and other patients and contacts. An international team and national health officials initiated an Ebola-type response plan, and the outbreak was brought under control quickly, with no new cases since late November.

"The measures the team introduced brought the Lassa fever outbreak quickly under control, and they would have been just as effective for an Ebola outbreak," said Dr. Youssouf Gamatie, Benin's WHO representative.
Mar 31 WHO report

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