News Scan for Apr 29, 2014

More Ebola cases in Guinea
Youth anthrax guidance
Food safety funding

Guinea reports six more Ebola cases

Guinea's health ministry has reported six more cases in the country's Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, lifting the total to 224, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update yesterday.

So far, of 202 patients tested, 121 have been lab confirmed, the agency said. Two more deaths have been reported, pushing that number to 143, an increase of 2 since the WHO's previous update on Apr 25.

The new cases are from only two of the outbreak's six locations: Conakry, Guinea's capital, and Guekedou. The WHO said last week that the outbreak situation appears to be improving, but it said today that it's likely that Guinea officials will report more new cases in the weeks ahead.
Apr 28 WHO update

In related developments, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today shared more details about a software tool it developed that health officials in Guinea are using to respond to the outbreak.

In an Apr 9 statement, the WHO said responders were updating Epi Info, an outbreak information management system, with data from the field and that it would be used as the main portal for all partners.

The CDC said in a press release that the viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) application is designed to speed up contact tracing, one of the most challenging steps in investigating an outbreak. The Epi Info VHF tool also helps collect and manage epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory information for each case. The system is designed to easily work in locations where Internet network connections are limited.

The CDC began developing the software in 2012 following Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Apr 29 CDC press release


AAP, CDC release clinical guidance on anthrax in youth

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC yesterday published clinical guidance for the prophylaxis (prevention) and treatment of children and young adults up to age 21 in the event of a deliberate release of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax.

The guidance, published in the AAP's Pediatrics journal, was first initiated in November 2012 when the AAP convened experts to develop workgroups that produced the report.

The guidance covers public health response to a B anthracis release, the various forms of anthrax, indications for anthrax immune globulin or raxibacumab antitoxin, corticosteroid use, oral drugs for post-exposure prophylaxis, recommendations regarding breastfeeding, and other considerations unique to children and young adults.

An AAP news release on the guidance says, "The nature of the pathogen, and fairly rapid progression to serious, life-threatening conditions, requires that pediatricians be well-informed and prepared in advance, so they can minimize morbidity and mortality from an anthrax release.

"While the distribution of anthrax countermeasures, such as antimicrobials and vaccine, will emanate from the public health and disaster response sector, pediatricians will play an important role in supporting families in their understanding of and compliance with treatment recommendations and addressing their concerns."
Apr 28 AAP/CDC report
Apr 28 AAP/CDC executive summary
Apr 28 AAP news release


Health groups push for FSMA funding

Eight US public health advocacy groups implored Congress in a letter yesterday to increase funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the upcoming budget to ensure implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, The Oregonian reported yesterday.

The letter says that the FDA "needs a substantial increase in funding to make the promise of a safe food supply a reality." It was sent to members of the Senate and House subcommittees in charge of the agency's funding.

The FDA has posted seven proposed FSMA rules scheduled to take effect in 2016, and funding of food safety measures is critical, said Sandra Eskin, JD, head of food safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts. "We believe this year and next year are critical periods in the life of this bill," Eskin said.

The letter was signed by the Center for Foodborne Illness, Research & Prevention; Center for Science in the Public Interest; Consumer Federation of America; Consumers Union; Food & Water Watch; National Consumers League; the Pew Charitable Trusts; and STOP Foodborne Illness.
Apr 28 Oregonian story

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