Four countries report more H5N8, H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in poultry

Three countries—Bulgaria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Iraq—recently reported more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks, and Cambodia confirmed another H5N1 detection at a farm in Phnom Penh.

Bulgaria's outbreak occurred at a commercial layer farm in the city of General Toshevo, located in the country's northeast, according to a government veterinary statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. All 140,000 birds are slated for culling to control the spread of the virus.

Elsewhere, the DRC reported five H5N8 outbreaks that occurred in village ducklings at different locations in Ituri province in the northeast of the country in November and December of 2017, according to a new report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Taken together, the virus killed 4,307 of 7,482 birds. The DRC reported its first H5N8 outbreak in June 2017 and was among a handful of African nations to report H5N8 outbreaks last year.

In Iraq, the country's agriculture ministry reported two more H5N8 outbreaks, one in Diyala province that began on Feb 19 and the other in Baghdad province that started on Feb 21. Of 134,950 susceptible birds at the two locations, the virus killed 42,500, and the survivors were destroyed as part of the outbreak response.
Mar 5 AFD post
Mar 3 OIE report on H5N8 in the DRC
Mar 4 OIE report on H5N8 in Iraq

Cambodia, meanwhile reported another in a small but steady stream of recent H5N1 outbreaks. The latest event began on Feb 15 at a farm in Phnom Penh, killing 20 of 98 birds. Authorities culled the remaining birds.
Mar 4 OIE report on H5N1 in Cambodia


Yellow fever reported in 2 more Europeans who traveled to Brazil

Two more travelers from European countries became ill with yellow fever after visiting Brazil, where an outbreak is under way, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its latest weekly communicable disease update. Both were unvaccinated.

One of the patients is a Romanian tourist who visited Ihla Grande, an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, and was hospitalized in Bucharest with liver and renal failure, rash, myalgia, and fever. The patient's yellow fever case was confirmed by serologic testing.

The other patient is a 44-year-old Swiss man who has a confirmed infection and is in critical condition. The ECDC said the man was probably also infected on Ilha Grande.

Since the first of the year, the ECDC has reported two other similar cases in travelers to Brazil, a 42-year-old French woman who was probably infected while visiting a botanical garden in Minas Gerais state and a 46-year-old Dutch man who had had stayed in two villages north of Sao Paulo. Both were unvaccinated.
Mar 3 ECDC weekly communicable disease threat report


Source identified in South Africa's Listeria outbreak

South Africa's Department of Health yesterday announced that an investigation into a large Listeria monocytogenes outbreak under way since January 2017 has identified as a culprit ready-to-eat processed meat products made at an Enterprise facility in Polokwane, the capital of Limpopo province, located in the central part of the country.

In a statement, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, MD, said as of Mar 2, 948 lab-confirmed Listeria cases have been reported, 180 of them fatal, for a case-fatality rate of 27%.

South Africa's outbreak is notable, because it is the world's largest recorded outbreak of listeriosis, Reuters reported today, quoting Peter Ben Embarek, PhD, who leads the World Health Organization's International Food Safety Authorities Network.

Interviews with 109 sick people revealed that 93 had eaten ready-to-eat processed meat products before they became ill, of which polony, a product similar to bologna lunch meat, was the most common.

On Jan 12, nine children under age 5 were seen at the same hospital for fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, and the pediatrician suspected foodborne illness. On the same day, investigators collected samples of two unrelated polony brands from the daycare center, which, with a stool sample from one of the kids, were positive for Listeria. All were of the ST6 sequence type found in earlier illness samples.

Environmental sampling conducted at the Enterprise facility in Polokwane found Listeria in more than 30% of samples, of which the ST6 outbreak strain was confirmed in at least 16 samples. Motsoaledi said tests on products from another Enterprise plant located in another city and an RCL Wolwehoek facility were positive for Listeria, but so far the sequence type isn't known.

Recalls are under way, and the health department is advising the public to avoid all processed ready-to-eat meat products, due to the risk of cross-contamination.
Mar 4 South African health department statement
Mar 5 Reuters story


PACCARB votes to promote, fund One Health antibiotic-resistance efforts

Late last week a subcommittee of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) unanimously passed two resolutions to promote federal antibiotic-resistance programs and to maintain or bolster funding to those programs, Medscape reported.

PACCARB was established via executive order in 2014 by President Barack Obama and includes experts in a range of scientific fields. It uses a One Health approach to combat antimicrobial resistance. The public meeting addressing the two resolutions was held via teleconference on Mar 2.

The first resolution, addressed to Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, says, "Federal efforts to address antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections must be included as part of the Department's all-hazards approach to protecting our nation and in legislation to be maintained as a priority."

In the resolution, PACCARB chair Martin J. Blaser, MD, and vice chair Lonnie J. King, DVM, go on to write, "Although initiated through Executive Order, we unanimously recommend that the PACCARB be codified into law to sustain the One Health partnerships formed and continue its mission to produce reports and recommendations that influence federal CARB-related activities, both domestic and abroad."

The second resolution proposes that 2017 funding levels for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative (ARSI) and for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's healthcare-associated infection and antibiotic-resistance programs must be maintained or increased. It also said related research by the US Department of Agriculture must be fully funded.

Blaser and King write in the second resolution, "The current federal efforts that are using One Health approaches to fight antibiotic-resistance are at risk of being undermined by significant loss or redirection of funding."
Mar 2 Medscape story (free registration required)
meeting page

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