News Scan for Feb 18, 2016

More H7N9 cases in China
Two regional food safety centers

China reports 3 H7N9 cases, analysis ties death to longer incubation

Hong Kong health officials today reported three more H7N9 avian flu infections, all of them in adults from Guangdong province in the southern part of China's mainland. Also, a new analysis of the disease found that longer incubation periods are associated with fatal outcomes.

The newly reported patients are from three different cities: a 60-year-old woman from Chaozhou, a 59-year-old man from Jiangmen, and a 76-year-old woman from Zhaoqing, according to a statement from the island's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

All three of the people have underlying health conditions. The report didn't say how any of them were exposed, but nearly all of China's H7N9 cases have involved contact with poultry or their environments in live-bird markets.

The new cases are part of a fourth wave of H7N9 activity in China, in which 53 cases have been reported so far. They lift the overall global total from the disease to 738, according to a case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.
Feb 18 CHP report
FluTrackers H7N9 case list

The study that looked at incubation periods in H7N9 infection was conducted by researchers in China and Hong Kong, with the findings published yesterday in PLoS One.

Of 395 lab-confirmed cases reported from March 2013 through August 2014, exposure data were available for 202. For cases without such information, the researchers assumed the incubation period ranged from 0 to 14 days.

The investigators found a statistically significant link between longer incubation period and increased risk of death. For the 173 fatal cases the mean incubation period was 3.7 days, compared with a mean incubation time of 3.3 days for the 222 nonfatal cases.

The authors concluded that the biological mechanisms that are involved in the association deserve further study.
Feb 17 PLoS One study


FDA announces final 2 regional FSMA food safety training centers

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the final two regional food safety training centers as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), one at Iowa State and one at the University of Vermont.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in October announced funding for the first two regional centers, at the University of Florida in Gainesville (southern region) and at Oregon State University in Corvallis (western region). Also that month the FDA announced that the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI) of Battle Creek, Mich.,, received the nod to establish a national coordination center for FSMA training.

Iowa State's center will be called the North Central Regional Center for Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance, while the University of Vermont's will be the northeast regional center. The FDA did not specify how much money was awarded each institute, but the two previously announced regional centers each received about $1.2 million from the USDA.

The goal of FSMA training programs is "advancing knowledge among food producers to meet FSMA requirements," the FDA said in a news release. The regional centers will foster training opportunities to businesses, develop curricula, and work to address specific FSMA-related needs in their region, the agency added.
Feb 18 FDA news release
Oct 19, 2015, CIDRAP News scan on first 2 regional centers
Oct 6, 2015, IFPTI news release on national center


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