News Scan for Dec 03, 2019

More blackberry hepatitis A cases
Bushmeat zoonotic risk
Nepal dengue outbreak

More illness reported in blackberry-linked hepatitis A outbreak

Federal health officials today said 2 more hepatitis A infections have been reported in an outbreak linked to fresh blackberries from Fresh Thymes markets, raising the total to 16. One more state—Missouri—is reporting a case, putting the number of affected states at six.

So far, no deaths have been reported, and nine people have been hospitalized for their infections. The most recent illness onset is Nov 15.

The epidemiological investigation shows that patients ate conventional blackberries from Fresh Thymes Farmers Market stores in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the traceback investigation suggests that the berries came from a distributor that ships fresh berries to Fresh Thymes markets in 11 states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The FDA has urged consumers in the 11 states who bought the blackberries between Sep 9 and Sep 30 to discard them and if they ate them to talk to a health provider about receiving postexposure prophylaxis for hepatitis A.
Dec 3 FDA update
Dec 2 CDC


Bacteria testing on Tanzanian bushmeat reveal zoonotic threats 

Tests on bushmeat samples in Tanzania's Western Serengeti revealed 27 different bacteria groups, some of which included Bacillus, Brucella, Coxiella, which include species that cause anthrax, brucellosis, and Q fever. A research team from Penn State and their collaborators in Africa published their findings yesterday in Scientific Reports.

For the study, they collected 56 bushmeat samples from the main large herbivores, including buffalo, zebra, and giraffe, from the Serengeti National Park and surrounding areas.

With broad genetic sequencing, they characterized the microbiomes in each sample. The most common phyla (bacteria group) they found were Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. Within the phyla, they found DNA signatures of bacteria within the Bacillus, Brucella, and Coxiella genera, all of which are potentially dangerous zoonotic pathogens. They also found a high prevalence of bacteria in the Clostridium genus, which causes diseases such as botulism and tetanus. The microbiomes in samples from wildebeest collected during the dry season contained more than 78% Clostridial species.

They concluded that the findings provide a better understanding of microbiomes linked to major food sources in Tanzania and point to a need for more investigations on potential health risks regarding the harvest, trade, and consumption of bushmeat in sub Saharan Africa.

Vivek Kapur, PhD, associate director of the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences at Penn State, said in a press release from the university that understanding which bacteria are present is needed to help plan ways to curb outbreaks, and the group's next objective is to fine-tune the focus on specific pathogens to more accurate gauge the disease threat. "Ultimately, our goal is also to help build capabilities for rapid diagnosis and risk mitigation in the countries of origin to address these risks before they become a problem globally," he said.
Dec 2 Penn State press release
Dec 2 Sci Rep


Nepal faces growing dengue outbreak linked to increasing temperatures

More than 14,000 cases of dengue have been diagnosed in Nepal since May, according to an article today in The Guardian. The cases, which include six deaths, represent an unprecedented outbreak tied to warmer temperatures that have made the Himalayan country more hospitable to the mosquitoes that carry the virus.

Dengue was first documented in 2004 in Nepal, but until this year only minor outbreaks in the southern part of the country had been recorded. This year, 67 of Nepal's 77 districts, including those at higher elevation, have reported cases of the viral disease, The Guardian reports, and some officials estimate that the actual number of cases has topped 100,000.

"The role of climate change in poor countries where the health system is not robust is very big," Meghnath Dhimal, chief research officer at the Nepal Health Research Council, told the British newspaper. "There has been a rapid geographical expansion of dengue, especially from the lowland to the highland."

Experts attribute the outbreak to the climate crisis, an extended rainy season, and rapid urbanization.
Dec 3 Guardian

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