Salmonella outbreak tied to ground beef climbs to 333 cases

A Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to tainted ground beef products has sickened 87 more people, raising the outbreak total to 333 people in 28 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in an update.

The latest illnesses include people from three more affected states—Michigan, Mississippi, and West Virginia—and 32 of the newly reported patients have been hospitalized, raising that total to 91 (33%). No deaths have been reported. The latest illness onset is Nov 9.

The outbreak, first reported in October, has been linked to JBS Tolleson, Inc., beef products, which were produced in late summer and distributed to several retailers, including large ones such as Winn-Dixie, Walmart, and Sam's Club. As of Dec 4, the company has recalled about 12 million pounds of its non-intact raw beef products.

The CDC is urging consumers to check their freezer for beef recalled by the company, which bears the establishment number "EST 267," and if they find it, to return it to the store or throw it away.
Dec 12 CDC update


Cat-human SFTS noted in Japanese veterinary workers

A veterinarian and a veterinary nurse from the same Japanese animal clinic contracted severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) after treating a cat that was infected with the tickborne virus, Animal Pharm, an animal health online news outlet, reported on Dec 10. The story was cited in a post yesterday on ProMed Mail, the online reporting system of the International Society for Infectious diseases.

Both of the veterinary workers sought medical care for tiredness and fever after treating the cat, and their blood samples were positive for the SFTS virus. The veterinarian was hospitalized, and both the vet and the nurse recovered from their infections.

Cat-to-human SFTS transmission has been reported in Japan before. In 2016, a woman from the western part of the country died from SFTS after she was bitten by a stray cat, according to a July 2017 Kyodo news service report. Also, the Animal Pharm report said that in 2017 Japan reported the world's first human SFTS case contracted from an infected dog.

ProMED Mail moderator Tom Yuill, PhD, emeritus professor in the department of wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said though SFTS is a serious disease and a significant public health threat, subclinical or mild infections can occur, as well. He added that there is also some evidence of person-to-person transmission, which appears to occur only rarely. The virus is thought to be endemic in some Asian countries, including China, South Korea, and Japan.
Dec 11 ProMed Mail post
July 2017 Kyodo news


Study: 15% of babies with prenatal Zika exposure have health problems

In an ongoing effort to gauge the frequency of health problems in babies exposed to Zika before birth, researchers from Brazil today said 14.5% of children by age 12 to 18 months had at least one delay related to vision, hearing, language, motor skill, or cognitive function. The team reported its findings today in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 113 babies exposed to Zika during their mothers' pregnancies who were evaluated had at least one imaging exam, an eye exam, audiometry testing geared to newborns and young children, and the Bayley III screening to test cognitive, language, and motor skills.

Eye abnormalities were present in 6.25% of children, hearing problems were found in 12.2%, and 11.7% had severe delays in language, motor skills, or cognitive function.

The researchers said the use of brain imaging can help predict neurodevelopmental problems, but they cautioned that the testing didn't hint at potential delays in 2% of cases. They also said 16% of babies who had early abnormal findings on imaging went on to have normal cognitive, language, and motor skills by the time they were 12 to 18 months old.

The findings aren't far from earlier estimates. For example, a report in August from the CDC on disabilities in babies linked to prenatal Zika exposure found that 6% of evaluated children seen  during their first year of life had at least one defect, with an overall 14% affected—about one in seven children.
Dec 12 N Engl J Med letter
Aug 7 CIDRAP News story "
1 in 7 kids exposed to Zika in utero suffers defects, delays"


Saudi Arabia records new MERS case in Najran

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) today recorded one new case of MERS-CoV for epidemiologic week 50, the first case reported in December.

A 45-year-old man from Najran is hospitalized after being diagnosed as having MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The man had no camel contact. The source of his infection is listed as "primary," meaning it is unlikely he contracted the virus from another person.

Last month, Saudi Arabia reported eight cases of MERS-CoV, including two fatalities.

The new case raises the global total since the virus was first detected in humans in 2012 to 2,276, at least 806 of them fatal.
Dec 12 MOH
news scan on November cases


H5N8 avian flu outbreaks strike Iranian poultry again

Iran's agriculture ministry has reported three more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks in poultry, according to a notification yesterday from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The detections occurred at three different locations in East Azarbayejan province in the country's far northwest, with start dates ranging from Nov 15 to Nov 19. All three involved turkeys and chickens, two affecting village birds and the other a livestock market.

Taken together, the virus killed 158 of 300 birds, and authorities culled the survivors as part of the outbreak response. The three outbreaks are classified as resolved.

The outbreaks come about 2 weeks after Iran reported an H5N8 outbreak in Tehran province, the country's first involving H5N8 since 2017.
Dec 11 OIE report on H5N8 in Iran


Experts outline steps to bolster diagnostics for epidemic preparedness

Three infectious disease experts, in a commentary yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, state the case for accelerating the development of diagnostics for epidemic preparedness and propose a five-pronged strategy that includes such steps as strategic partnerships and data sharing.

The authors, Rosanna Peeling, PhD, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Maurine Murtagh, PhD, of the Murtagh Group in San Francisco; and Piero Olliaro, MD, with the University of Oxford and the World Health Organization, write, "Diagnostics are needed to detect the cause of epidemics and facilitate effective control and prevention." Yet they point out that developing such tests takes far too long for responding effectively to an epidemic caused by an emerging pathogen.

In addition to detailing the current needs for and landscape of diagnostics, the experts detail a five-pronged approach that emphasizes:

  • Conducting a global landscape analysis of diagnostic availability
  • Fostering strategic partnerships to accelerate test development, particularly with vaccine companies to identify novel diagnostic targets
  • Creating and sharing repositories of data, reagents, and specimens
  • Involving key public and private stakeholders, including regulatory bodies and policy makers, to ensure rapid access to diagnostics for researchers
  • Promoting research and access to diagnostics in the countries that need them most

The authors propose, "The public sector should provide the directional perspective to these developments, a role that the [United Nations] Special Programme for Research and Training has traditionally had for drugs and diagnostics. This approach would involve a sequence of actions starting with designing the right products all the way to putting them into use."
Dec 11 Lancet Infect Dis commentary

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