NEWS SCAN: More listeriosis cases, irradiation for Salmonella , German baby deaths, H1N1 and bacterial co-infection, reducing HAIs

Nov 3, 2011

Increases in cantaloupe Listeria outbreak count: 6 cases, 1 death, 2 new states
Six cases and one death have been added to the Listeria outbreak total linked to Colorado-based Jensen Farms cantaloupe, bringing the count to 139 cases and 29 deaths in 28 states, according to an update yesterday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nevada and Utah have reported their first case each since the last CDC update, on Oct 25. In addition, one woman who was pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage, as previously reported. The agency advises people not to eat whole or pre-cut Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe from Jensen Farms but emphasizes that cantaloupe grown elsewhere are safe to eat. The outbreak is the nation's deadliest foodborne disease outbreak in two decades.
Nov 2 CDC update

Irradiation shown effective in reducing Salmonella on chicken meat
Irradiation effectively reduced Salmonella on chicken breast meat, but modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) did not show an advantage over vacuum packaging in controlling the pathogen, according to a study by Iowa State researchers in the Journal of Food Protection. The scientists inoculated meat samples with 5 log per gram of Salmonella and then applied either a 0.5-, 1.0-, or 1.5-kilogray (kGy) dose of irradiation. The meat was then either vacuum-packed or packed using MAP that contained high carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels. Irradiation at 1.5 kGy reduced the Salmonella population by an average of 3 log, and Salmonella colonies did not grow but persisted in both types of packaging after 6 weeks of proper refrigeration.
November J Food Prot abstract

Germany probes fatal drug-resistant infections in newborns
Germany's health ministry said the Robert Koch Institute is investigating the deaths of three babies at a neonatal unit in a Bremen hospital from drug-resistant bacterial infection, Deutsche Welle, a German broadcast news service, reported today. The bacteria involved in the outbreak, which has sickened four other infants, have the extended-spectrum beta-lactamase factor, which confers resistance to some antibiotics, according to the report. The hospital has closed the neonatal unit. The first death occurred on Aug 8, sparking questions about possible delays in reporting. The third baby died on Oct 27. Karla Gotz, health ministry spokeswoman said the source of the infection hasn't been found. In August 2010, deaths of babies at a neonatal unit in Mainz led to calls for more staffing in German clinic and a new law requiring hygiene standardization across the country's 16 states, according to the report.
Nov 3 Deutsche Welle story

Study: One third of hospitalized H1N1 patients co-infected with bacteria
Being 50 or older and having multiple complications may raise the risk of bacterial co-infection with pandemic 2009 H1N1 flu, which occurred in about a third of patients, according to a retrospective study of hospitalized H1N1 patients in Malaysia. Researchers gathered data on 50 consecutive patients and used muliplex polymerase chain reaction to confirm H1N1 flu and to test for other viruses. They tested for bacteria in respiratory or sterile-site samples. Of the patients, 17 (34%) were co-infected with a second respiratory pathogen: 14 (28%) bacterial and 3 (6%) viral. Mycoplasma pneumoniae was the most common bacterial co-infection, found in five patients, followed by Staphylococcus aureus, in three. Univariate analysis showed that an age of 50 or higher and the development of clinical complications were both associated with a higher risk of bacterial co-infection. The research team also noted that a high neutrophil count on admission may indicate bacterial co-infection.
Nov 3 Virol J abstract

HHS awards $34 million in fight against healthcare infections
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced yesterday it has awarded $34 million in grants and contracts to combat healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). The awards include projects to develop, test, and promote the use of new modules of the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), a proven method to prevent and reduce HAIs, according to an AHRQ news release. Since 2008, AHRQ has been promoting the nationwide adoption of CUSP to reduce central-line-associated blood stream infections. The new modules target three additional infections: catheter-associated urinary tract infections, the most common HAI; surgical site infections; and ventilator-associated pneumonia. "With this investment, we are building on proven strategies to give doctors and health care teams the help they need to ensure that patients are safe from infections," said AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, MD. The agency said HAIs affect at any point in time 1 in 20 hospital patients.
Nov 2 AHRQ press release

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