NEWS SCAN: More West Nile cases, psittacosis in Hong Kong, prison-brew botulism

Nov 28, 2012

CDC reports 38 more West Nile cases, 2 deaths
Another 38 cases of West Nile virus infection, including 2 deaths, have been reported in the United States in the past week, raising this year's tally to 5,245 cases with 236 deaths, according to today's update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fifty-one percent of the reported cases were listed as neuroinvasive disease. The CDC has described this year as the worst WNV season since 2003. The agency said it would issue its next WNV update Dec 11 but then provide no further reports until final data are available in the spring.
CDC WNV case count chart

Psittacosis confirmed in Hong Kong illness cluster
Psittacosis, a bacterial infection typically acquired from birds such as parrots, has been confirmed as the cause of serious respiratory illnesses among three of five workers at an animal health center in Hong Kong, the territory's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced yesterday. The three patients, aged 55, 62, and 27, tested positive for Chlamydophila psittaci by polymerase chain reaction, the CHP said. Two of the three remain hospitalized, but one, the 27-year-old, was released Nov 22. The three are among five men working at Hong Kong's New Territories North Animal Management Centre (NTNAMC) who were hospitalized with respiratory illnesses. They are all employees of Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). The CHP said another eight AFCD employees at the NTNAMC, among 59 who were contacted, have respiratory symptoms and will be tested for psittacosis. The cases had prompted testing for the novel coronavirus that recently infected six men from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The CHP said earlier that 3 of 16 parrots at the animal facility had died, and another 10 were subsequently euthanized. Psittacosis disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Nov 27 CHP announcement

Eight Arizona inmates treated for botulism linked to prison brew
Eight inmates from a maximum-security prison in Arizona have been hospitalized for treatment of suspected botulism apparently caused by drinking illicit alcohol brewed by prisoners, according to a Nov 26 Reuters report. Seven of the prisoners needed mechanical ventilation and were being treated with a botulinum antitoxin, a Pinal County official told Reuters. The inmates are from the state prison complex in Florence, Ariz. The men apparently got sick from drinking "pruno," a drink brewed from fermented fruit. The story noted that four other Arizona prisoners were hospitalized with botulism after drinking pruno in August. In 2011, eight Utah prisoners suffered botulism after drinking pruno. In a report on that outbreak, the CDC said prisoners sometimes add potatoes or other root vegetables to pruno, which may introduce Clostridium botulinum spores.
Nov 26 Reuters story
Oct 4 CIDRAP News item on Utah outbreak

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