NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Vietnam, tainted-food penalty bill, Haiti cholera decline, Tajik polio drive, dengue-favorable weather

Apr 19, 2011

Vietnam reports 7 avian flu outbreaks
Seven H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks occurred in poultry flocks in villages scattered among five provinces of Vietnam in late March and early April, the Vietnamese agriculture ministry reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday. Officials said 5,509 of 6,932 susceptible birds got sick and 1,155 died, for an apparent case-fatality rate of 21%, well below what has been typical for outbreaks in Vietnam. Most of the rest of the birds were destroyed to stop the outbreaks. The outbreak start dates ranged from Mar 28 through Apr 8. Causes cited for the outbreaks included the introduction of new animals into flocks, illegal movement of animals, and fomites such as humans, vehicles, and feed. Yesterday's was the fourth H5N1 outbreak filed by Vietnam this year.
Apr 18 OIE report

Senate passes bill to raise penalties for selling contaminated food
The Senate last week passed a bill that would increase penalties for those who knowingly distribute contaminated or misbranded food. Written by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the bill would upgrade such offenses from a misdemeanor to a felony and authorize prosecutors to seek prison terms of up to 10 years. The Senate unanimously passed the measure on Apr 14, Leahy said in a press release. He had tried unsuccessfully to include the bill's provisions in the FDA Safety Modernization Act, enacted in January. Leahy has been pressing for higher penalties for food safety violators since the nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to the Peanut Corp. of America in 2008 and 2009, according to a Food Safety News story today. "On behalf of the hundreds of individuals sickened by recent Salmonella outbreaks, I urge the House to quickly pass the Food Safety Accountability Act and join the Senate in continuing to improve our food safety system," Leahy said.
Apr 15 Leahy press release
Apr 19 Food Safety News story

Cholera cases continue to decline in Haiti
Cholera cases continue to decline in Haiti except in a couple of areas, and activity in cholera treatment centers is slowing, according to an update released yesterday by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Only Nippes department and the Leogane-Gressier region of West department reported an increased rate of cases in the update, which included data as of Apr 4. Since Oct 20, 274,418 cholera cases have been confirmed in the country, including 146,686 hospitalizations (53.4% of cases) and 4,787 deaths, for a case-fatality rate (CFR) of 1.7%, PAHO reported. This represents an increase of 24,481 cases and 117 deaths since the previous update, which included figures through Feb 28. The CFR ranged from 0.8% in Port-au-Prince department to 7.7% in South-East department. The cumulative incidence of cases since the beginning of the outbreak has been 26.2 per 1,000 population, ranging from 4.9 per 1,000 in South-East department to 40.3 per 1,000 in Artibonite department. Overall staffing of cholera treatment centers has dropped as the outbreak has waned, the report said, which raises concern about capacity to cope with a potential surge during the upcoming rainy season. "A gap analysis is underway to identify potential risk areas and to sensitize donors to maintain their support to the cholera response," the report states.
Apr 18 PAHO update

Tajikistan launches polio vaccination campaign
Health workers in Tajikistan yesterday launched a 5-day polio vaccination campaign with the goal of immunizing nearly 1.1 million children under age 5, according to Asia-Plus, a news organization based in the capital, Dushanbe, reported today. The campaign will include a second round of vaccinations in late May to reach another 1.1 million children. Shamsiddin Jobirov, an official with the health ministry's immunization branch, told Asia-Plus that global health groups advised Tajikistan to conduct the polio immunization campaign again this year because of the risk of disease spread from neighboring Afghanistan. In 2010 Tajikistan reported its first polio importation since the country was declared polio-free in 2002.
Apr 19 Asia-Plus story

Size of daily temperature range may affect dengue risk
An international team of researchers is reporting experimental evidence that one factor affecting dengue virus transmission is the extent of daily temperature fluctuations. The researchers found that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are less likely to transmit the virus when the daily temperature range is large (20ºC) than when it is small (10ºC). "Mosquitoes lived longer and were more likely to become infected under moderate temperature fluctuations," which are typical of seasons of high dengue transmission, than under larger temperature fluctuations, which are typical of seasons of low dengue incidence, the scientists said in a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). They came up with the same findings in two experiments in different labs and using different dengue serotypes. The results help to explain seasonal variation in dengue transmission in Thailand, where the daily average temperature varies little through the year and there is no simple relationship between dengue incidence and mosquito abundance, the scientists say.
Apr 18 PNAS study abstract

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