FDA releases new 5-year plan for veterinary antimicrobial stewardship

News brief
Chickens with antibiotics and feed
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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released an updated 5-year action plan for supporting antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings.

The plan from the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) contains a series of actions organized under three goals: 1) Align antimicrobial drug product use with the principles of antimicrobial stewardship; 2) Foster antimicrobial stewardship on veterinary settings; 3) Enhance monitoring of antimicrobial resistance and use in animals.

While the plan addresses antimicrobial use in all animals, the actions primarily target use of medically-important antibiotics in food-producing animals, who are treated with many of the same antibiotics used in human medicine. Although the FDA eliminated the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock and poultry in 2017, critics say medically important antibiotics continue to be overused on US farms and that the agency has failed to curb inappropriate use.

Enhanced data collection

Among the goals for the 5-year period (2024 to 2028) are finalizing guidance for appropriate duration of use for antibiotics fed to food-producing animals. CVM also says it intends to facilitate the development and implementation of a sustainable system for collecting data on antibiotic use and resistance on US farms, and to publish more reports on those data. Although the agency currently collects antibiotic sales data, there is little data on how those drugs are used in food-producing animals.

"Collecting and analyzing data on antimicrobial drug use in animals remains a critical gap to understand the emergence of antimicrobial resistance and its potential relationship to use of antimicrobials in animals," the plan states.

Other goals in the plan include publishing a strategy for promoting antimicrobial stewardship in companion animals, collaborating with partners to characterize the diseases that are significant drivers of antibiotic use in food-animal production, encouraging research into antibiotic alternatives for food-producing animals, and completing a pilot national survey to establish baseline antimicrobial resistance data in aquatic ecosystems.

"CVM remains committed to working collaboratively with interested stakeholders as we continue our efforts to mitigate the development of antimicrobial resistance and protect human and animal health," the agency said.

New poll finds nearly half of adults expect to get new COVID vaccine

News brief

The latest vaccine monitoring poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that nearly half of US adults will definitely or probably get the updated COVID-19 vaccine, a pattern the group said is higher than previous booster campaigns but lower than the initial primary series rollout.

The online and telephone poll, conducted during the second week of September, found that 23% will definitely get the new COVID vaccine and 23% will probably get it. As in earlier polls, vaccination intentions reflect a political divide, with Democrats more likely to be vaccinated than Republican respondents.

older couple bandages
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Despite solid uptake intentions for adults, most parents don't intend to have their children vaccinated against COVID, despite a universal recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone ages 6 months and older be immunized. Fewer than 4 in 10 parents said they will get their kids vaccinated against COVID.

KFF also asked about intentions to receive other vaccines, finding that most (58%) of adults have already received or plan to receive the flu shot. Also, most (60%) of adults ages 60 and older said they have already gotten or plan to receive the new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine. Partisan divides for flu and RSV vaccines were still present, but not as sharp as for the COVID vaccine.

Looking to general practice for clues about long COVID

News brief
long covid
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In another new study to quantify the clinical features of long COVID, or post COVID condition (PCC), authors publishing in PLoS One describe the key clinical features noted in the UK general-practice setting.

Using information about symptoms recorded in primary care consultation notes, the study authors reviewed the health records of those diagnosed by a general practitioner (GP) in England during the first year of the pandemic.

Authors compared symptoms among patients following confirmed COVID-19 to produce a list of 89 symptoms and the 30 most common symptoms. The goal was to define the basis on which GPs were suspecting or diagnosing PCC.

Fatigue, shortness of breath common

Symptoms recorded from a total of 11,015 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 15,841 suspected COVID-19 cases, 15,846 possibly exposed patients (with a viral or respiratory illness), and 18,098 unexposed controls were included in the study.

We found that increasing age, female sex, and severity of acute COVID-19 were associated with developing Long Covid.

The authors wrote that the symptoms with the strongest associations with PCC were fatigue (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 3.46; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.87 to 4.17), shortness of breath (aHR 2.89; 95% CI, 2.48 to 3.36), palpitations (aHR 2.59; 95% CI, 1.86 to 3.60), and phlegm (aHR 2.43; 95% CI, 1.65 to 3.59).

"Consistent with prior literature, we found that increasing age, female sex, and severity of acute COVID-19 were associated with developing Long Covid," the authors said.

China reports fatal H5N6 avian flu case

News brief

China has reported a fatal H5N6 avian flu infection in a 68-year-old man from Chongqing, the country's fourth largest city, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said in a statement today.

The man's symptoms began on August 5, and he was hospitalized 5 days later. He died on August 20. An investigation revealed that he had been exposed to live domestic poultry before he got sick.

chicken close up
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China has now reported six H5N6 cases this year. The last case was reported in the middle of August, in a woman from Sichuan province.

H5N6 is known to circulate in poultry in some Asian countries, and the first human case was reported in 2014. Of 88 global cases, 87 have been reported from China. Laos is the only other country that has reported a human H5N6 case. Infections involving the strain are often severe or fatal.

Colorado reports fatal plague infection

News brief

Health officials in Colorado this week announced a fatal plague infection in a resident of Archuleta County, located in the southwest corner of the state.

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) said an investigation is underway. It said it monitors prairie dog die-offs to track potential plague threats, and it urged area residents to report the sudden disappearance of active prairie dog colonies.  "Residents should not eradicate or kill prairie dogs on their property as this increases the risk of exposure to plague-infested fleas," SJBPH said.

plague infected rat flea
Plague-infected rat flea.
CDC / Dr. Pratt

Colorado reports sporadic Yersinia pestis cases every year, and officials routinely urge people to take precautions, such as protecting pets from fleas and staying out of areas where wild rodents are found. In late June, Colorado reported a plague case in a patient from Montezuma County, also in the southwestern part of the state.

COVID-19 third leading cause of death in Australia in 2022

News brief

Last year, COVID-19 killed 9,859 Australians, behind only heart disease and dementia (including Alzheimer’s) as the leading causes of death in the country.

Heart disease killed 18,643 Australians in 2022, and dementia killed 17,106.

"An infectious disease (influenza and pneumonia) was last in the top 5 leading causes of death in 1970," the Australian Bureau of Statistics said in the press release. "Deaths due to COVID-19 were a significant contributor to the increase, causing just under 10,000 deaths and mentioned as a contributing factor on a further 2,782 death certificates. The Omicron variant was the dominant strain during 2022, with multiple waves across the year associated with the variant."


The Omicron variant was the dominant strain during 2022, with multiple waves across the year associated with the variant.

The government said the rate of death from COVID-19 had increased to 27.1 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 24.5 in 2020.

An aging population contributed to the increased COVID-19 deaths, as the median age of citizens who died from COVID-19 in 2022 was 85.8 years.

COVID-19 was not the only respiratory virus to see a jump in deaths: 305 people died from influenza in 2022. This contrasts with 2 people in 2021, the lowest number of annual flu deaths on record.

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