News Scan for Jul 15, 2013

Farm bill and food safety
More poliovirus in Israeli sewage
Drug resistance in EU
Malaria 'war room'

House farm bill could further delay FSMA

The subdivided farm bill that the US House of Representatives passed last week contains a little-known provision which could further delay implementation of the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Food Safety News (FSN) reported.

Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) added language to the bill that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a "scientific and economic analysis" of FSMA regulations, which could delay regulations in a process already dramatically behind schedule.

Sandra Eskin, director of the food safety campaign at the Pew Charitable Trusts, told FSN, "What this provision does is totally undermine the process we have for regulations in this country," adding that the FDA has already published cost-vs-benefits reports.

The House split the long-stalled farm bill in two and passed a version that included farm programs but omitted the nutrition section, which accounts for 80% of the bill's cost, FSN reported.

Consumer advocates are hoping staunch FSMA supporters in the Senate will ensure the provision is stripped out in committee during the House and Senate bill-reconciliation process, according to the story. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) on Twitter called the House version "a farm bill that nobody wants."
Jul 12 FSN story


WHO: Poliovirus found in sewage at 10 Israeli sites

Wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) has been isolated in 30 sewage samples from 10 sampling sites in Israel, mostly in the south, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed today.

The samples were collected from Feb 3 through Jun 30, the agency said, and most appear to not have been reported in the media. "All viruses have been detected in sewage only; no cases of paralytic polio have been reported," the WHO said in its update and added that the findings indicate wide geographic circulation of WPV1 for a prolonged period.

Less than 1% of WPV infections result in acute flaccid paralysis, according to background information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the virus can be excreted in the stool for several weeks.

"Health authorities in Israel are continuing to conduct a full epidemiological and public health investigation to actively search for potential cases of paralytic polio and any un-immunized persons," the WHO said in today's update.

Environmental sampling has increased in Israel, where routine immunization coverage has been around 94% or higher over the past 8 years. Israel is planning supplementary vaccination with oral polio vaccine to augment immunization efforts begun last month, the agency added.
Jul 15 WHO update
CDC background information on polio


EU survey: CPE a growing problem in health facilities

A recent survey of 39 European countries on patterns of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), a highly resistant pathogen, found that most have reported single hospital outbreaks, but situations are deteriorating in many countries over the past 3 years.

The experts were polled in February as part of a new European survey project, and the first results appeared in the Jul 11 issue of Eurosurveillance, according to a press release today from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In an earlier risk assessment the ECDC said that the transfer of patients between hospitals, especially between countries, boosts the risk of spreading CPE.

Only three countries reported no CPE cases: Iceland, Montenegro, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Single or sporadic cases were reported by 22 countries, and 11 reported regional or national spread.

Three countries—Greece, Italy, and Malta—reported that CPE is regularly isolated from patients in most hospitals. Thirty-three of the respondents said Klebsiella pneumonia was the most common CPE in their countries. New Delhi metallo (NDM)-beta-lactamase was linked to a few hospital outbreaks in some countries.

National experts who took the survey said the availability of guidance on CPE infection-control measures is increasing, but 46% of countries still lack recommendations.

The authors of the report said the findings highlight an urgent need to boost lab standards to allow active surveillance and preventive actions.
Jul 15 ECDC statement
Jul 11 Eurosurveillance report


Malaria Situation Room for Africa launched

The WHO and its partners launched the Malaria Situation Room over the weekend to provide critical malaria intelligence to 10 African countries, according to a release from the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership.

The Situation Room, with 3 years of operational funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will work with countries to track funding and essential commodities and collate data. It is designed to anticipate bottlenecks and devise solutions using a network of partners, according to the RBM Partnership news release.

The new resource is spearheaded by the WHO and RBM Partnership, working with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance and other affiliates. It will help combat malaria in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Niger.
Jul 13 RBM Partnership news release

WHO briefing note on Malaria Situation Room

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