NEWS SCAN: Avian flu, Lassa fever in UK, farm workers and food contamination, meningitis in Nigeria, Salmonella update

Feb 20, 2009

H5N1 outbreaks strike Nepal, Laos
Nepal's agriculture ministry today reported another H5N1 outbreak in poultry, the second since mid January, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. The virus hit birds in Jhapa district in the eastern part of the country. Elsewhere, animal health officials in Laos recently reported H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in five villages in Phongsaly province that prompted authorities to cull 903 chickens and 39 ducks to control the spread of the virus, the Vientiane Times reported yesterday.
[Feb 20 Xinhua story]

UK reports two Lassa fever cases, one fatal
A patient died from Lassa fever in London on Feb 17 after becoming ill while working in Mali, the United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said in a Feb 18 statement. The HPA said it was working with London's University College Hospital to identify staff who helped care for the patient. The patient is UK's second such case in as many months. On Jan 23, the HPA said a resident who returned home from Nigeria was diagnosed as having Lassa fever.
[Feb 18 HPA statement]
[Jan 23 HPA statement]

Minimizing farm workers' role in food contamination
Health officials should keep in mind the role of farm workers in disease transmission when addressing food safety issues, according to a report that will appear in the March issue of the Journal of Environmental Health. The author, Jennifer Ibrahim, PhD, from Temple University, wrote that produce companies can prevent the spread of foodborne disease by vaccinating all workers, enforcing occupational health and safety laws, and providing understandable information on sanitation.
[Feb 20 Temple University press release]

WHO reports meningitis outbreak in Nigeria
The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday reported a meningococcal disease outbreak in Nigeria, where the health ministry has reported 1,364 suspected cases and 108 deaths in 19 of the country's 35 states and Abuja. An international vaccine-coordinating group approved the release of 268,750 polysaccharide vaccine doses for mass vaccination campaigns in two affected areas in Jigawa state.
[Feb 19 WHO statement]

Salmonella cases and recall numbers rise
The number of people sickened in the nationwide peanut-related Salmonella outbreak rose to 654 cases in 44 states, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday. The most recent illness onset date was Feb 3. The Food and Drug Administration said the number of recalls related to the outbreak has risen to more than 2,500 products in 19 different categories.
[CDC investigation update]
[FDA outbreak recall update]

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