News Scan for Jun 16, 2014

WHO concern over Iraq
New chia Salmonella cases
H7N9 risk factors

WHO voices concern over public health in Iraq

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday said it is working with local and international health partners in Iraq to address pressing concerns—including measles and polio risks—of populations hit hard by recent instability there.

The humanitarian situation has deteriorated rapidly in recent days, the WHO said, especially in parts of Ninewa, Salaheddin and Diyala provinces, with more than a half million people fleeing their homes in and around Mosul.

"Immediate and critical health risks of concern to WHO include the spread of measles, which is endemic in Mosul and could potentially lead to outbreaks, especially in overcrowded areas where internally-displaced persons are located," the agency said in a statement. "The spread of polio is also a high risk as new cases were reported in the country earlier this year as a result of the Syria crisis."

The WHO has deployed a public health expert to Mosul to help assess healthcare gaps and has provided medical supplies for mobile clinics in Dohuk. It has also provided emergency health kits for 20,000 people for 3 months, trauma kits, and diarrhea kits.
Jun 15 WHO statement


Canada reports 10 more chia-linked Salmonella cases, 2 new strains

Canada has confirmed 10 more cases of salmonellosis tied to chia seed powder products, raising the country's outbreak total to 44, and implicated two new strains, according to a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) update posted the evening of Jun 13.

The cases are in four provinces: Ontario, 26; British Columbia, 10; Alberta, 5; and Quebec, 3. Patient ages range from less than 1 year to 89 years, and 33 are female. All 26 patients contacted reported eating chia seed products, with 23 of them consuming chia seed powder.

Six case-patients have been hospitalized, five of whom have been discharged, the PHAC said. The status of the other patient is not known.

The new Salmonella strains are Oranienburg and Saintpaul, the PHAC reported. It had previously confirmed that Salmonella Newport and Hartford were tied to the outbreak.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued recall warnings for these chia-seed-containing products: Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturallyorganic, Pete's Gluten Free, Noorish Superfoods, and Madegood.

As of Jun 11, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 21 cases in 12 states tied to the outbreak.
Jun 13 PHAC update


Study: Visiting live-bird markets tied to H7N9 risk

Visiting a live-poultry market more than tripled the risk of H7N9 avian flu infection, while keeping backyard poultry did not elevate the risk at all, according to a case-control study in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Researchers from both the Chinese and US CDC analyzed data on 89 lab-confirmed H7N9 case-patients and 339 matched controls. They found that 55% of patients and 31% of controls reported any contact with live poultry. In addition, 67% of patients and 35% of controls had visited a live-poultry market, for an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 3.4.

In contrast, backyard poultry were not associated with an increased H7N9 risk. Matched ORs for obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and immunosuppressive drugs were 4.7, 2.7, and 9.0, respectively.

The authors conclude, "China should consider permanently closing live poultry markets or aggressively pursuing control measures to prevent spread of this emerging pathogen."
Jun 13 Clin Infect Dis abstract

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