News Scan for Jan 17, 2014

News brief

Report: Bangladeshi doctor died of MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia

A Bangladeshi doctor who was working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, died of a Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection on Jan 15, according to an Arab News report today. The case has not yet been announced by Saudi authorities.

Mohammed Humayun Kabeer, 55, who was working as a surgeon at Prince Salman Hospital, died after 9 days of hospitalization, the story said, citing unnamed hospital personnel as the source of the information.

Kabeer had what was thought to be a cold when he was first hospitalized, but he was later moved to the intensive care unit, the story said. He died of multiple-organ failure caused by MERS-CoV.

The story ends a 2-week lull in reports of MERS-CoV cases; the most recent case was reported on Jan 3 and involved a 33-year-old male healthcare worker in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The story is unusual in that it names the patient, which is rarely if ever done in Saudi media reports on MERS-CoV.

If the new case is confirmed, it will raise Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV count to 142 cases and 58 deaths. The Saudi Ministry of Health has not announced any new cases since Dec 25. The World Health Organization's (WHO's) global tally, which does not yet include the doctor's case, stands at 178 confirmed cases and 75 deaths.
Jan 17 Arab News story


H5N1 avian flu found in South Korean ducks after 2-plus-year lull

South Korea, declared avian flu–free for the second time in September 2011, has lost that status with a report of H5N1 avian influenza on a duck farm 300 kilometers from Seoul, according to a story in the Korea Herald today.

More than 20,000 ducks on the farm in Gochang-gun, North Jeolla province, have been culled. The source is thought to be excreta of a flock of birds that flew over the farm Jan 6.

More than 3 million poultry are being raised in the area around the farm. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says 24 farms and 1 slaughterhouse have bought a total of 173,000 ducks from the farm over the past 3 weeks.

Since 2006, 23 outbreaks avian flu have been reported from North Jeolla, with damages of an estimated $104 million, says the story. The most recent outbreak, in the first half of 2011, resulted in the culling of 3 million birds.
Jan 17 Korea Herald story
Latest (May 18, 2011) CIDRAP News scan on H5N1 in South Korean poultry


WHO calls Peshawar top poliovirus reservoir

Peshawar, a large city in northwestern Pakistan and the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, contains the largest reservoir of endemic poliovirus in the world, the WHO said today, according to Reuters.

Polio eradication efforts in Pakistan have been plagued by attacks on vaccination teams from the Taliban and other extremists who have denounced immunization campaigns as Western plots to sterilize Muslim children. Northwestern Pakistan has been especially hard hit by the violence, and some of the attacks have come in Peshawar.

The old city of Peshawar is crowded and dirty, with open sewers, Reuters reported, making it a fertile breeding ground for polio. Peshawar has had 45 polio cases in the past 5 years, The Hindu reported today.

"The virus has not been seen in all parts of Pakistan. It's in very limited areas that we have problems in accessing," Elias Durry, MD, head of the WHO's polio eradication efforts in Pakistan, told Reuters.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the only countries in the world in which polio is endemic, but Pakistan was the only country to see an increase in cases from 2012 to 2013.
Jan 17 Reuters report
Jan 17 Hindu story


Study: MRSA risk almost 3 times higher near large pig holdings

The risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization may be almost three times higher in people who live near large facilities that house swine, according to an Iowa study published yesterday in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (ICHE).

The investigators analyzed data from 1,036 MRSA patients admitted to the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System from Jan 1, 2009, through Dec 31, 2011. The overall incidence of MRSA carriage among rural patients was 6.8%.

The researchers found that living within 1 mile of a swine concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) was associated with a relative risk of 1.9 of MRSA colonization. After they controlled for multiple admissions and age, the relative risk rose to 2.8. The authors said that Iowa is home to about 7,000 swine CAFOs.

The authors concluded, "Although the exact mechanism by which residential proximity to large swine CAFOs increased risk of MRSA is unknown, it appears that there is potential for drug-resistant strains of S. aureus in animals to transmit to people living at close distances. . . . Typically, in Iowa, manure is spread on surrounding fields, and MRSA can be aerosolized from this manure to human food or water sources."

They note, however, that they were unable to control for direct livestock contact with patients or indirect contact via household members.

Last September, a different US group reported in JAMA Internal Medicine that living near farms where swine manure is used as fertilizer or near high-density livestock operations may increase a person's risk of having a MRSA infection. The authors said that study was the first to suggest such a link.
Jan 16 ICHE study
Sep 16, 2013, CIDRAP News story on JAMA Intern Med study


Food Safety Scan for Jan 17, 2014

News brief

Chicken-linked Salmonella outbreak grows to 430 cases

A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to chicken from Foster Farms in California has now sickened 430 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday. That number represents 14 new cases since the CDC's previous update, on Dec 19.

As noted previously, the vast majority of cases (74%) have been in California (see CDC map below). Of the 14 new cases, 11 have been from California and 1 each in Arizona, Idaho, and Virginia.

Illness-onset dates range from Mar 1 to Dec 26, 2013. Patient ages range from 1 to 93 years, with a median of 18. Of 359 patients with available information, 137 (38%) have been hospitalized. Also, 13% of case-patients have developed blood infections as a result of their illness, compared with 5% in a typical Salmonella outbreak, the CDC said.

Three Foster Farms facilities linked to the outbreak made substantive changes in slaughter and processing methods after the outbreak began that allowed them to continue operations, according to an Oct 10, 2013, notice from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). One of the plants, however, was subsequently shuttered by the USDA on Jan 8 because of roaches and other "egregious insanitary conditions."

The company has not recalled products because of the outbreak.
Jan 16 CDC update
Dec 19, 2013, CIDRAP News Scan on previous update
Jan 9 CIDRAP News Scan on plant closing



Slaughtered cow in Germany found to have L-type BSE

An asymptomatic cow in Germany was, upon slaughter, found to have a very rare form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), says a notice today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The 10-year-old animal was from Oder-Spree district, Brandenburg county, in northeastern Germany. As part of the German targeted BSE ("mad cow" disease) surveillance system, Western blot testing was done at the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute on samples from the cow and found to be positive for L-type BSE. This type is atypical and generally not associated with consumption of BSE-infected feed.

The animal never entered the food supply chain so posed no danger to human health, the report said. Epidemiologic investigation found that five offspring of the cow had already been slaughtered; the remaining two offspring, still at the farm of origin, were slaughtered and destroyed.

Tracing of cattle born on the farm from 1 year before through 1 year after the infected cow's birth identified five animals that were subsequently destroyed.
Jan 17 OIE notice


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