NEWS SCAN: Anthrax vaccine stoppage, Haiti travel advice, virus-sharing conflicts, egg safety, H1N1 vaccine acceptance

Oct 29, 2010

Expired product interrupts Air Force anthrax vaccinations
All US Air Force medical facilities were ordered to stop giving anthrax immunizations Oct 26 after officials determined that many centers had given expired vaccine earlier in the month, according to a report yesterday by, an information service operated by the organization Military Advantage. An Oct 26 memo from the head of the Air Force Medical Operations Agency said the suspension would continue until treatment centers can confirm that their vaccine stocks are current, the report said. It was unclear how many Air Force personnel had received expired doses of the vaccine, according to the story. Anthrax and smallpox immunizations are required for military personnel deployed to high-risk areas such as the Middle East.
Oct 28 report

CDC issues advisory for holiday Haiti travelers
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today warned Americans traveling to Haiti to celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day with friends and family to take precautions to protect themselves from cholera. In a press release sent to journalists, the CDC advised travelers to take water purification tablets or other supplies for keeping water safe, eat food that is thoroughly cooked and hot, follow good hygiene practices, and pack oral rehydration salts in case of illness. It also warned travelers returning from Haiti to seek medical care right away if they experience watery diarrhea within 5 days.Yesterday the CDC published a dispatch about the outbreak, which began on Oct 21, in Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report (MMWR). It said so far 4,722 cases and 303 deaths have been reported in Haiti, totals consistent with the most recent situation report on the outbreak from the Pan American Health Organization. The CDC's laboratory experts have confirmed the Vibrio cholerae O1 isolate as serotype Ogawa, biotype El Tor. So far no cholera cases have been identified in travelers from Haiti to the United States. The CDC said cholera epidemics have not been reported previously in Haiti and that the population is highly susceptible to the disease.
Oct 28 MMWR cholera outbreak dispatch

Pathogen sharing conflicts slow global biodiversity talks
Conflicts over sharing viruses and other pathogens have become a stumbling block to international negotiations at a United National biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan, the London-based Guardian reported yesterday. Today is the last day of the conference, and some participants fear that time will run out before the biodiversity agreement can be reached and signed. Developing countries want assurances that if they share pathogens they share benefits from research and patents, but pharmacy lobbies in some developed countries are pushing for more access and more limited benefit sharing. The Guardian reported that countries have a variety of policies on the matter and have had to consult with officials from their own countries during the talks, which has slowed progress on an agreement. Monitoring compliance on virus-sharing issues has been a sticking point for other countries. The issue of virus sharing has come up several times on the world health stage, especially concerning H5N1 avian flu surveillance and vaccine development.
Oct 28 Guardian story

Egg producrs call for vaccinating hens against Salmonella
An egg producers trade group is developing egg safety standards that would go beyond federal regulations, according to a story in the Des Moines Register today. Howard Magwire, vice president of government relations for United Egg Producers (UEP), said producers "want nothing else to happen like what happened in Iowa," referring to the Salmonella outbreak this summer that sickened more than 1,800 and led to the recall of 550 million eggs. US Department of Agriculture workers regularly inspect egg packing facilities, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for henhouses, where Salmonella contamination often originates, according to the story. UEP is developing industry standards that will duplicate the FDA's production rules but add a requirement to vaccinate all hens against the pathogen. Because of contamination that the FDA found in feed at one of the Iowa farms involved in the outbreak, UEP is also considering adding sanitation standards for feed mills, Magwire said.
Oct 29 Des Moines Register article

Most Hong Kong nurses didn't want H1N1 vaccine
Even when asked only weeks after the H1N1 pandemic was declared last year, only about a quarter of Hong Kong nurses expressed willingness to get vaccinated, according to a study published today. Of the 267 nurses who responded to a questionnaire in late June 2009 (67% response rate), only 27% said they were willing to accept influenza vaccination if vaccine was available. Researchers reported that having been vaccinated for seasonal flu in the previous year raised willingness to accept the vaccine to 34%, a statistically significant increase. The most common reasons for eschewing the vaccine were concerns about side effects (in 83% of those not wanting vaccination) and about vaccine effectiveness (59%).
Oct 29 BMC Infect Dis abstract

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