NEWS SCAN: Controlling cholera in Haiti, resistance to food safety fees, EU measles update

Sep 19, 2011

Cholera in Haiti can be controlled, CDC expert says
Cholera may persist in Haiti, but it doesn't have to be a source of recurring epidemics, an expert from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a presentation at a national medical meeting today. When he was asked if cholera is in Haiti to stay, Scott F. Dowell, MD, MPH, said, "Cholera can become endemic. We've documented that it is in water sources around Haiti—there's documentation that it's in Haitian shellfish and crustaceans. It's possible that it'll be around for some time, but there isn't a reason it has to be an epidemic threat." He said controlling the disease requires getting clean, chlorinated water to all Haitians, adding, "We do firmly believe it is controllable." He commented that Haitians have shown a willingness to chlorinate their own water, something that has not always been true elsewhere. Since the cholera epidemic began in October 2010, Haiti has had roughly 450,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths, making it "far larger than any other recent outbreaks," Dowell said. He is director of the CDC Division of Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response. He spoke during a Webcast presentation on emerging issues in infectious disease, part of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Chicago. The conference is the annual infectious diseases meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
ICAAC meeting main page

Meat industry groups oppose food safety inspection fees
Meat, poultry, and egg industry associations dislike the idea of paying food safety inspection fees, a plan included in the US Department of Agriculture's proposed budget for fiscal 2012, they said in a recent letter to the congressional "Super Committee" working on deficit reduction. In the letter, 20 trade groups said the proposed inspection fees would force them to pass the costs along to consumers, resulting in "a food safety tax on consumers." The associations said food safety inspection costs have been paid out of tax revenue for 100 years and that this should continue. Imposing fees on food processors "will make what is now an equitable funding mechanism into something inherently regressive," the letter said. "Low and middle-income families will be hit the hardest by the tax, because such families spend a higher portion of their income on food than do wealthier Americans." Among the signers of the letter were the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Farmers Union, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Processors Association, and a number of other national and state-level groups. The letter was sent to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which is assigned to cut future federal spending by $1.5 trillion.
Copy of trade groups' Sep 13 letter on AMI site
Sep 13 AMI press release

EU measles outbreak tops 28,000 cases
The number of measles cases in the European Union has topped 28,000, an increase of more than 2,000 since the end of July, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported in a Sep 16 update that covers through August. The number of cases per month has declined since July, which fits with the seasonality of the disease in temperate climates, it said, adding that countries with low immunization rates might see cases numbers rise, now that schools are back in session. July saw 5,000 new cases, and the EU logged about 21,000 from January through June. France still has the highest number of cases, accounting for more than half the 2011 total. Other countries that had marked increases in measles cases this year include Romania, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, the ECDC said. Countries that reported their first outbreak of the year in August include Ireland, Finland, and the French overseas territory La Reunion. Only four of 30 EU countries that monitor for measles have been free of the disease: Cyprus, Hungary, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Sep 16 ECDC update

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