News Scan for Jun 27, 2013

H7 in plane passenger
West Nile in US
Pomegranate recall
Polio drive donation
Salmonella from blood draw

Canada investigates H7 findings in American air passenger

Canadian health officials said an American man hospitalized in Edmonton after getting sick on a plane tested positive for an H7 virus after traveling to China, though he doesn't have an active flu infection, the Canadian Press reported today.

The elderly man was on a flight from Cairo to San Francisco when he got sick and became unconscious, and the airline diverted the plane to Edmonton.

Gregory Taylor, acting chief public health officer for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said the man may have had a diabetic coma. But the man had aspiration pneumonia at the hospital.

Given his travel history, including to southern China in late May, an infectious disease specialist ordered a host of tests, according to the report. Tests showed past infection with an H7 virus but were negative for an active viral infection.

Taylor said that health officials aren't sure if he was infected with H7N9, but the case is a reminder that diseases can spread swiftly and broadly through airline travel. The man had also traveled to Singapore and India, where he was severely ill and was hospitalized.

The man's condition is improving, according to the report.
Jun 27 Canadian Press story

CDC: West Nile up dramatically in 2012, other arbovirus numbers stable

In its annual update on arboviruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today confirmed that 5,674 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) infection occurred last year, up from 712 in 2011 and the highest since 2003. US infections with other arboviruses remained at low levels.

Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), though responsible for only 15 cases, proved the deadliest arbovirus, with a 33% case-fatality rate, the CDC said in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Of 5,780 nationally notifiable non-dengue arboviral disease cases in 2012, 5,674 (98%) were caused by WNV. La Crosse virus was second, with 78 cases, down from 130 in 2011.

Other 2012 totals: EEEV, 15 (4 cases in 2011); Powassan virus, 7 (16); St. Louis encephalitis virus, 3 (6); and Jamestown Canyon virus, 2 (3). Five of the 15 EEEV cases were fatal.

Of the WNV cases, 2,873 (51%) were neuroinvasive. The median age of patients was 56 years, and 56% were male. Overall, 3,491 (62%) patients were hospitalized, and 286 (5%) died. The median age of patients who died was 77 years.
Jun 28 MMWR report


Second company recalls frozen fruit over hepatitis concerns

The Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Ore., has voluntarily recalled 5,091 cases (61,092 8-ounce bags) of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels because the fruit may be linked to a multistate hepatitis A outbreak, the company said in a news release yesterday.

"Based on an ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an illness outbreak, the kernels have the potential to be contaminated with Hepatitis A virus," the company said in the release, posted on the FDA Web site.

The pomegranates are imported from Turkey.

No illnesses are associated with the product, and product testing has shown no evidence of hepatitis A virus, but the decision to recall the lots was made "from an abundance of caution," Scenic said in the release.

The fruit was shipped from February through May to distribution centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington state and possibly to retail stores in other states.

As of Jun 26, 122 people have fallen ill in the outbreak. Townsend Farms, of Fairview, Ore., has recalled certain lots of its Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, a frozen berry and pomegranate mix that was linked to the outbreak.
Jun 26 Scenic Fruit recall notice


Billionaire donates $1.25 million to polio efforts in Nigeria

Billionaire gas tycoon Sir Emeka Offor is donating $1.25 million to Rotary International's PolioPlus program toward efforts to eradicate the disease in Nigeria, the world's hardest-hit nation, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday.

In a statement, Offor said, "Polio should have no place in our world."

Nigeria—one of three polio-endemic countries remaining, besides Afghanistan and Pakistan—has been a hurdle in polio eradication efforts, in part because of opposition of vaccination efforts from Muslim extremists.

This week Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an extension of their fund-raising partnership through which they hope to raise up to $525 million to fight polio.
Jun 26 AP story
Jun 26 CIDRAP News Scan on funding announcement


Report: Salmonella likely contracted during blood draw

Public health officials today reported what they say is the first evidence of an occupationally acquired Salmonella infection in a phlebotomist, a professional who draws blood from patients, according to an MMWR report.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) was notified on Jan 25 of two patients who had Salmonella I 4,12:i:1,2 infection with isolates that had indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, according to the report. The cases were part of a multistate outbreak linked to frozen mice bought to feed snakes.

That same day MDH lab personnel identified a third patient who also harbored the outbreak strain. This patient reported no contact with feeder rodents but was a phlebotomist who had drawn blood (while wearing gloves) from both of the other patients.

The phlebotomist had drawn blood from the first patient on Jan 13 and the second on Jan 14 before experiencing salmonellosis symptoms on Jan 17.

"This investigation documents the first reported case of occupationally acquired Salmonella infection in a phlebotomist and underscores the personal risk that health-care workers face when caring for patients," the authors concluded.
Jun 28 MMWR report

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