NEWS SCAN: West Nile toll grows, US-China food safety pact, polio concerns in Nigeria

Dec 12, 2012

CDC reports 142 more West Nile cases, 7 fatal
Since its last update on Nov 28 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received 142 more reports of West Nile virus (WNV) infections, along with 7 more deaths. The new cases push the nation's total so far to 5,387 infections and 243 deaths, according to the CDC's update yesterday. Fifty-one percent of the infections were reported as neuroinvasive. The agency said the number of cases reported so far this year is the highest for the second week in December since 2003. Thirteen states accounted for 80% of the cases, with Texas the hardest hit, reporting about a third of the nation's total. The CDC said that yesterday's WNV update is its last until it releases final data for 2012 in the spring of 2013.
Dec 11 CDC update

FDA renews agreement with China on food safety
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has renewed for another 5 years an agreement with the Chinese government to help ensure the safety of food and feed exported from China to the United States. The agreement between the FDA and China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) was originally signed in 2007, the FDA noted in a statement yesterday. The FDA said the agreement will enhance its ability to identify high-risk foods coming from China; facilitate FDA inspections of Chinese food processing facilities; focus on high-risk foods from China, such as canned and acidified food, pet food, and farmed fish; and create ways for the FDA to accept information from the AQSIQ on registration and certification. In November 2008 the FDA opened offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, and it has increased its inspections of Chinese facilities from none in 2007 to 85 in 2011. In addition, FDA experts have conducted workshops for Chinese industry officials on requirements for high-risk foods, and Chinese regulators have increased their oversight of canneries that export food to the United States. The FDA also said it has deepened its understanding of China's food safety system, developed important relationships with Chinese regulators, and now meets regularly with them to discuss issues of concern.
Dec 11 FDA statement
Text of US-China agreement

Groups sound alarm over Nigeria polio rise
The European Union and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have both raised concerns about a recent rise in polio cases in northern Nigeria, according to media reports. Yesterday an EU official aired concerns about the situation in Kaduna state, where 10 cases of wild poliovirus were reported from five of its local government areas, AllAfrica news reported today. Dr David Macrae, who heads an EU delegation to Nigeria, told reporters that the EU supports immunization efforts in northern Nigeria and noted that the area needs access to potable water. UNICEF raised similar concerns, which were detailed in a communique issued after a meeting between UNICEF and officials from Kaduna, seven other states, and the country's Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Daily Trust, a Nigerian newspaper based in Abuja, reported yesterday. The statement called on the states and the FCT to refocus their efforts in light of the rising number of unimmunized children in the area. It set a goal of reducing the number by at least 50%. Nigeria is one of three countries in which polio is endemic and the only one of the trio to record more cases this year so far than last year.
Dec 12 AllAfrica news story

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