NEWS SCAN: FDA tests find Listeria , Oregon ethics complaint dismissed, duration of pertussis protection, H5N1 in India, malaria scorecard

Sep 20, 2011

FDA tests find Listeria on farm's cantaloupe, packing equipment
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators have found Listeria monocytogenes in cantaloupes and environmental samples collected in their search for the source of contamination in Jensen Farms cantaloupes grown in Colorado's Rocky Ford region, according to a statement yesterday. The positive samples were from cantaloupe taken from a Denver-area store and from equipment and cantaloupe at Jensen Farms' packing facility in Granada, Colo. Tests confirmed that Listeria found in the samples matches one of three different strains associated with a multistate outbreak. Yesterday the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the outbreak total has grown to 35 people, including 4 deaths, in 10 states. It said CDC officials are working with partners in other states to determine if more Listeria cases are linked to the outbreak. A team of federal and Colorado authorities, with assistance from Jensen Farms, are conducting an environmental assessment to determine how the contamination occurred and how to prevent recurrence, the FDA said.
Sep 19 FDA press release

Panel dismisses ethicscomplaint against Oregon epidemiologist over outbreak
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) has dismissed an ethics complaint filed by Del Monte Fresh Produce against the state's senior epidemiologist after Del Monte cantaloupes were implicated in an outbreak of salmonellosis earlier this year, according to a story yesterday in The Oregonian. OGEC Executive Director Ronald Bersin said the company's complaint against William Keene raises issues that fall outside the commission's purview, which looks into use of public office for personal gain. On Mar 22 Del Monte recalled its cantaloupes grown in Guatemala after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of possible Salmonella contamination. The outbreak eventually sickened 20 people in 10 states. In the ethics complaint, Del Monte Fresh Produce accused Keene of conducting "an apparently cursory investigation" and committing a "clear error of judgment" in the inquiry. Del Monte also stated last month that it intended to sue the FDA and the Oregon Health Authority over their outbreak response, but it has yet to file the lawsuit.
Sep 19 Oregonian article
Aug 30 CIDRAP News story on lawsuit plans

Survey suggests pertussis vaccine may lose effectiveness after 3 years
Pertussis vaccine in children may lose effectiveness after 3 years, according to preliminary data from a recent outbreak in California that were presented at an infectious disease conference yesterday in Chicago. Results of a survey of 15,000 children in Marin County, home of a 2010 pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak involving more than 8,000 cases, showed that those who hadn't been vaccinated in 3 years had a 20-fold increased risk of contracting the disease, according to an article today from Agence France-Presse (AFP). Lead researcher Dr David Witt, of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, California, said, "Older kids and younger kids seemed to be pretty well protected but the age of 8 to 12 was the vast bulk of the cases. And when we examined that, it was correlated to being more than 3 years from the last vaccine booster dose." He cautioned that more research is necessary, however, as he presented the data at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, sponsored by the American Society of Microbiology. The CDC recommends five pertussis shots by the time a child enters kindergarten, then a booster dose at age 11 or 12. "It's a little too soon to say much" about the long-term effectiveness of that booster, said CDC epidemiologist Lara Misegades in an Associated Press (AP) article today.
Sep 20 AFP story
H5N1 hits birds in India's West Bengal state
India's agriculture ministry yesterday reported an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in rural backyard poultry in the Nadia district of West Bengal state, located in the eastern part of the country. In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), officials said the outbreak, which began on Sep 14, sickened 2,285 of 65,401 susceptible birds, killing 849 of them. Culling is under way in a 3-kilometer (km) zone around the outbreak area, with compensation for poultry owners. In addition authorities temporarily closed poultry markets and have prohibited the sale and transport of poultry within a 10-km radius. Sites where culling took place will be disinfected. India's last H5N1 outbreak was reported on Sep 8 and involved backyard poultry in Assam state, also in eastern India.
Sep 19 OIE report

Africa launches malaria scorecard
African leaders and their international partners have announced a new scorecard for tracking African nations' progress in fighting malaria. At the United Nations General Assembly in New York City yesterday, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) said that its Scorecard for Accountability and Action tracks country progress toward such key targets as financing and delivery of anti-malaria stocks like mosquito nets, policy issues for malaria control, and overall malaria mortality. The scorecard also tracks indicators for maternal, newborn, and child health. ALMA chair and Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said in a press release, "We, the leaders of Africa, are ultimately responsible for keeping our citizens safe from malaria. With the help of this new tool, ALMA is committed to delivering on our promise to end malaria deaths for our citizens and for all of Africa." Among successes noted in the latest scorecard is that of Rwanda, which launched large-scale distribution of 6.1 million nets in just over a year to reverse a surge of malaria cases.
Sep 19 ALMA press release
ALMA Scorecard information page

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