News Scan for Jul 17, 2019

MERS in Saudi Arabia
Ground bison E coli
Executive flu vaccine action

Two more MERS cases recorded in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed two new cases of MERS today, in Riyadh and Buraydah. The cases were noted in an update to an epidemiologic week 29 report.

A 36-year-old man from the capital, Riyadh, was diagnosed as having Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), but the ministry does now know if the man had camel exposure. His infection is listed as "primary," which means it is unlikely he contracted the virus from another person.

A 70-year-old man from Buraydah was also diagnosed as having the virus, and is listed as a "primary" case. His camel contact status is also unknown.

These are the third and fourth cases recorded in July, three of which have been recorded in the last 2 days.
Jul 17 MOH report


Ground bison linked to E coli outbreak in 7 states

Yesterday Northfork Bison Distributions Inc., a Canadian food company, recalled several ground bison products after the meat was linked to a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coliO103 and O121 infections in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 21 people in seven states had been sickened in the outbreak. Eight people have been hospitalized, and there have been no deaths.

"Recalled ground bison was sold to distributors as ground bison and bison patties, referred to as Bison Burgers and/or Buffalo Burgers," the CDC said. "Consumers should not eat and restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve, recalled ground bison products."

New York State has reported the most cases, with 9, followed by Florida (4), Pennsylvania (3), New Jersey (2), and 1 case each in Connecticut, Michigan, and Missouri.

Illness start dates range from Mar 18 to Jun 18, and 67% of case-patients interviewed recalled eating bison burgers in the weeks prior to illness.

Yesterday Northfolk volunteered to recall all questionable products produced from Feb 22 through Apr 30. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), there have been no reported illnesses in Canada.
Jul 16 CDC update
Jul 16 CFIA warning


Trump preparing to overhaul flu vaccine development

According to a Politico story yesterday, sources close to President Donald Trump say he is preparing an executive order that will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to overhaul seasonal flu vaccine production and encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.

"Trump would direct the health department to develop an alternative to seasonal flu vaccines, which are largely produced overseas and grown in hen's eggs," the article said. "Trump also would create an interagency task force led by health and global security officials to monitor progress and explore new economic incentives to develop better vaccines."

The executive order would aim to shift production to newer vaccine technologies, including cell-based or recombinant technologies.

The move may come as a surprise since Trump has been associated with the anti-vaccine movement in the past, tweeting in 2014 that vaccines were linked to autism. But recent severe flu seasons, underperforming seasonal vaccines, and a 2018 meeting with Bill Gates on the importance of a universal flu vaccine may have changed Trump's mind, the story said.
Jul 16 Politico news story

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