News Scan for Jul 09, 2019

News brief

WHO director-general, others warn of DRC instability fueling Ebola

In an interview with The Guardian, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said the political climate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is preventing an end to the current Ebola outbreak.

"The root cause of the problem is lack of peace, the lack of a political solution. The incidence of Ebola, malaria and cholera is the symptom," Tedros told the British newspaper. "I know we can finish this Ebola outbreak…But at the same time it can come back because all the [political and security] conditions remain the same."

The DRC outbreak expanded by 10 cases today, to 2,428 cases, according to the WHO's online Ebola dashboard.

Tedros's comments come 1 day after the UK's International Development Secretary, Rory Stewart, returned from a trip to the DRC and called on G7 world leaders to increase funding for outbreak response.

"There is a real danger, that if we lose control of this outbreak, it could spread beyond DRC’s borders to the wider region and the wider world. Diseases like Ebola have no respect for borders and are a threat to us all," Stewart said in a Department for International Development (DID) news release.

Throughout his interview with The Guardian, Tedros said that while the outbreak is an emergency of the highest order, it is not a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) according to WHO criteria.

Instead of resulting in increased outbreak response funding, Tedros warned a PHEIC designation would further stifle the ' already fragile economy and make combatting the outbreak even more challenging.
Jul 9 Guardian story
Jul 8 DID
press release
WHO online Ebola dashboard


Company recalls pig ear pet treats after testing reveals Salmonella

Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Pet Supplies Plus has recalled its bulk pig ear pet treats after tests showed Salmonella contamination in the wake of a multistate outbreak of salmonellosis potentially tied to such treats.

"Pet Supplies Plus is advising consumers it is recalling bulk pig ear product supplied to all locations by several different vendors due to the potential of Salmonella contamination," the company said in the FDA recall notice. "Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products."

Testing by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development determined that aging bulk pig ear product in one Pet Supplies Plus store tested positive for Salmonella. The company, which has its headquarters in Livonia, Michigan, has pulled the product from all of its stores and has stopped shipping bulk pig ears from its distribution center.

"To date, 45 individuals in 13 states have been diagnosed with Salmonella related illness," the company said. "However, none of these cases are confirmed to be a result of purchasing pig ears from Pet Supplies Plus." At least 12 patients have required hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported. The CDC first alerted the public to the outbreak on Jul 3.

"Even if some of the recalled pig ears were fed to your dog and no one got sick, do not continue to feed them to your dog," the CDC said in an outbreak update. "The investigation is ongoing to determine if there is a common supplier of pig ear dog treats."
Jul 8 FDA notice
Jul 8 CDC update


Studies highlight global burden of foodborne pathogenic E coli

A research team from Belgium, Denmark, and Canada has published two studies in Epidemiology & Infection that underscore the burden of foodborne outbreaks caused by Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

In the first study, the scientists analyzed data from 22 case-control studies on sporadic STEC infections in 10 countries from 1985 to 2012. The studies cumulatively included 2,517 STEC cases and 6,157 controls.

The investigators found beef to be the most significant food item involved in the Americas and Europe, whereas chicken was the most likely culprit in the Western Pacific region. Findings changed little based on whether the food was raw or cooked, or by publication year of the studies. Data were lacking for Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Produce, dairy, and eggs were also implicated, but to a lesser extent. The authors conclude, "Our findings corroborate that interventions aimed at reducing the transmission of STEC via beef and other foods of animal origin, are important priorities in order to reduce the burden of foodborne STEC illness in the population, with additional studies needed to determine if this recommendation holds true for regions outside the Americas and Europe."
Jul 8 Epidemiol Infect meta-analysis

In the second study, the researchers analyzed STEC outbreak surveillance data from 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Western Pacific from 1998 through 2017. They found that results varied by region.

The most important source of food-related STEC illness in the Americas was, again, beef (40% of outbreaks), followed by produce (35%). The pattern was similar in Europe, with 31% of outbreaks tied to beef and 30% to produce. In the Western Pacific, however, produce was responsible for 43% of outbreaks, followed by dairy, at 27%.

"Possible explanations for regional variability include differences in food consumption and preparation, frequency of STEC contamination, the potential of regionally predominant STEC strains to cause severe illness and differences in outbreak investigation and reporting," the authors write.
Jul 8 Epidemiol Infect surveillance study

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