News Scan for May 28, 2015

More avian flu in Minnesota, Iowa
Respiratory protection for HCWs
Funding for Haiti

Avian flu strikes farms in Minnesota and Iowa

State officials in Minnesota and Iowa today announced one new avian influenza outbreak apiece, both of them on turkey farms.

Minnesota's Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that one more turkey flock is "presumptive positive" for avian flu. The outbreak occurred in Renville County, located in the south-central part of the state. The DPS said details on the outbreak's flock size will be released soon.

The outbreak is the fifth to hit Renville County. So far 98 Minnesota farms have been affected by the outbreaks, which involve the highly pathogenic H5N2 subtype, according to the DPS.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) today reported a probable H5 outbreak at a farm in Harrison County, which is that jurisdiction's first outbreak. Hamilton County is in central Iowa.

The event occurred at a turkey farm with about 17,000 birds that had experienced increased morality. Test results will be confirmed at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. The outbreak lifts Iowa's number of recent outbreaks to 68.

In a related development, the USDA said it is looking for contractors in several areas to help respond to the outbreak. Its needs list includes landfills, carbon sources (eg, compost and wood chips), transportation, heavy equipment, environmental disposal, and hazardous material handling.
May 28 Minnesota DPS news release
May 28 IDALS news release
May 28 USDA announcement


Feds release resources for respiratory protection of health workers

Three new resources from federal agencies and a national nursing organization aimed at protecting healthcare personnel from aerosol-transmissible diseases (ATDs) were released yesterday. They include a toolkit for hospitals, an online course for nurses, and an educational monograph with information from the field.

The "Hospital Respiratory Protection Toolkit: Resources for Respiratory Program Administrators" was adapted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) from a guide developed in 2012 by the California Department of Public Health and the Public Health Institute.

Its stated purpose is to assist hospitals in developing and implementing effective respiratory protection programs for healthcare personnel. Included are reviews of the hazards in a healthcare setting, the use of respirators and facemasks, approaches to infection control measures, and managing a protection program.

The free 10-module online learning resource is called "Respiratory Protection Education & Resource Web Kit" and was developed by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN). The training runs about 90 minutes and is worth 1.5 CNE credits.

The monograph, "Implementing Hospital Respiratory Protection Programs: Strategies from the Field," is from the Joint Commission, NIOSH, and the NPPTL. It "features examples, strategies, new resources, and a variety of implementation approaches . . . solicited from the field and vetted through an eight-member Technical Expert Panel."

An Avian Flu Diary blog post yesterday about the new releases said, "This week's MERS infection of a doctor in South Korea serves as another reminder that [health workers] are at particular risk of ATDs . . . and of the importance of always taking the proper precautions around potentially contagious patients spread by contagious patients they are attending."
Hospital toolkit
Online learning module
May 27 Avian Flu Diary thread


World Bank makes $50 million available to Haiti for cholera prevention

The World Bank yesterday approved a $50 million grant to aid in increasing access to clean water and sanitation in Haiti, which has been hard hit by cholera since an epidemic began there in 2010, according to a World Bank press release.

The monies will support the 6-year Sustainable Rural and Small Towns Water and Sanitation project, which "aims to save lives by preventing cholera and waterborne diseases in high prevalence zones, and strengthen the capacity of local agencies to deliver water and sanitation services" in those areas, says the release.

Goals of the project include providing access to improved water sources for 300,000 people through such things as new or repaired household connections and water kiosks, construction of latrines in schools and other public places, and hygiene and sanitation education and promotion.

While progress against cholera has been made, heavy rains in the first quarter of this year caused a sharp rise in disease. Cases in 2011 numbered about 11,000 per month; they dropped to a monthly average of 2,200 in 2014 but have now risen to 3,400 this year. Waterborne diseases are among the leading causes of infant death in Haiti.

The World Bank has made funds available previously for cholera prevention, to the tune of at least $35 million.
May 27 World Bank press release

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