Enoki mushroom Listeria outbreak sickens people in 2 states

News brief

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms that has hospitalized two people in two states.

Enoki mushrooms have long, thin stems and are a popular ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food, usually eaten cooked in soups, stir fries, and hot pots. In 2020, the CDC reported the nation's first Listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms imported from South Korea. Since then, federal and state officials have ramped up testing of enoki mushrooms, which has resulted in many positive samples and a number of product recalls.

In the latest outbreak, the cases were reported from Michigan and Nevada. The patients' samples were collected in the first part of October. Both are men, ages 30 and 42. Both reported eating enoki mushrooms or eating at restaurants that had menu items that contained the ingredient.

Whole-genome sequencing suggests that the patients' samples are closely related and that they probably got sick from the same food. The samples are similar to an imported November 2021 sample that triggered a product recall. However, the company at the center of that recall has not been identified as the source of the outbreak.

The CDC warned people who are pregnant, older than 65, or have weakened immune systems to avoid eating raw enoki mushrooms. It also urged restaurants not to serve raw enoki mushrooms.

In an import alert issued on Jul 1, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that in fiscal year 2021, 42% of enoki mushrooms sampled from South Korea were contaminated with Listeria and that it's unlikely that contamination is an isolated incident. The FDA said enoki mushrooms may be a high-risk reservoir for Listeria owing to the difficulty of maintaining good hygiene practices at the medium-sized plants where the mushrooms are usually grown.

DRC and Yemen confirm more polio cases

News brief

Two countries—the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Yemen—reported new polio cases this week, both involving vaccine-derived strains, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said in its latest weekly update.

In the DRC, six cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) were reported from Haut Lomami, bringing the total for the year to 47. The country also reported 17 cVDPV2 cases from four different provinces, 11 of them from Tanganyika, lifting the 2022 total to 188.

Yemen reported four more cVDPV2 cases from three locations, putting its total at 154 this year.

Parental doubt may be driving low COVID vaccine uptake in US kids

News brief

As of July, less than 4% of US children 6 months to 4 years old had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with 59% of parents of unvaccinated children saying they were open to it, and 37% expressing reluctance.

The data, from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, were published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

On Jun 18, the CDC recommended that children aged 6 months to 4 years be vaccinated against COVID-19. Uptake, however, has been low, with only 5.9% of those younger than 2 years and 8.8% of those aged 2 to 4 years receiving one or more doses as of Nov 9.

CDC researchers analyzed data from 4,496 National Immunization Survey-Child COVID Module phone interviews of parents of children in this age-group from Jul 1 to 29.

In December 2021, before the COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for preschoolers, 41.3% of parents said they would definitely have their child vaccinated, but that figure fell to 33.5% in May 2022.

By mid-July 2022, only 3.5% of children were vaccinated. Of the parents of unvaccinated children, 59.3% said they were open to vaccination (22.6% said they definitely would, 16.4% probably would, and 20.3% were unsure), while 37.2% stated their reluctance to do so (13.0% probably wouldn't, and 24.3% definitely wouldn't).

Parents of Hispanic (66.2%), Black (61.1%), and Asian (83.1%) children were more likely to consider vaccination than those of White (52.9%) parents, and parents living in rural areas (45.8%) were less open to vaccination than those in urban areas (64.1%). Only 1.6% of rural children were vaccinated, compared with 4.2% in urban areas.

Parents of unvaccinated children expressed less confidence in the safety of the vaccine and were less likely than those of vaccinated children to report receipt of a clinician recommendation to vaccinate. Of parents open to vaccination, 25% said their clinician recommended it, and 57% said the vaccine was safe.

"COVID-19 vaccine recommendations from a health care provider, along with dissemination of information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine by trusted persons, could increase vaccination coverage among young children," the researchers wrote.

Uganda reports another Ebola case in Kampala

News brief

Uganda has confirmed one more Ebola infection in its outbreak, a 24-year-old woman from Kampala, the World Health Organization (WHO) Uganda office said in its most recent update.

The woman is a contact of a person who is listed as a probable case. Her illness lifts the country's total to 141 lab-confirmed cases. No new deaths were reported over the past few days, keeping the total at 55, for a case-fatality rate of 39% among the confirmed cases.

The country has also reported 22 suspected cases, all of them fatal.

Uganda's outbreak began in early September and involves the less common Sudan strain. Since then, illnesses have been reported from nine districts, though two earlier-affected locations have gone 42 days with no new cases. In an update yesterday, the WHO African regional office said the outbreak is slowing in six districts, overall.

Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, director of the WHO African office, said the spread to a third urban area—Jinja—earlier this week is concerning and places a strain on response efforts, but Ugandan officials are keeping pace with the evolving situation. "But with the virus constantly on the move, we must press even harder to stay ahead," she said.

The WHO has launched a $88.2 million appeal to support Uganda's Ebola response and support preparedness in neighboring countries, but so far, only 20% of the funds have been received, Moeti said.

Global group battles antimicrobial resistance with new One Health effort

News brief

The Quadripartite, a group made up of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the UN Environment Program, and the World Organization for Animal Health, launched a new platform to tackle the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threat to human and animal health and ecosystems called the Antimicrobial Resistance Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Platform.

The platform will take a One Health approach to confronting the challenges of bacterial AMR, which causes 1.3 million deaths worldwide each year, and AMR in livestock and other animals, on which 1.3 billion people rely on for income, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

"This platform will be vital in raising the profile and urgency of addressing AMR while building and maintaining political momentum and public support," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD. "It will help to drive global coordination so that our collective response is more strategic, resource efficient and sustainable."

The platform will attempt to bring stakeholders together and on task to combat and reverse AMR in line with the Global Action Plan and National Action Plans previously published by the WHO.

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