News Scan for Jun 03, 2015

Vets and animal antibiotics
More anthrax shipments
H5 avian flu in Ghana
Novel bunyaviruses

FDA releases rule putting animal antibiotics under veterinary oversight

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday released its final Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), a rule that aims to put all uses of medically important antibiotics in food animals under veterinary supervision by the end of next year.

The rule is part of the FDA's strategy to promote the "judicious use" of antimicrobials in food animals so as to limit the development of bacterial resistance to the drugs. It aims to stop the use of medically important antimicrobials for production purposes such as promoting animal growth.

"The VFD final rule outlines the process for authorizing use of VFD drugs . . . and provides veterinarians in all states with a framework for authorizing the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes," the FDA said in a press release.

The rule requires veterinarians to issue all VFDs "within the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship," meaning, among other things, that veterinarians must examine the animals to be treated or at least visit the facility where they are housed and must provide for follow-up evaluation and care, the agency said.

The VFD will be fully implemented in December 2016, the FDA said in a fact sheet. "Once the changes are fully implemented, it will be illegal to use these medically important antibiotics for production purposes, and animal producers will need to obtain authorization from a licensed veterinarian to use them for prevention, control, or treatment of a specifically identified disease," it said.

All 25 drug companies affected by the VFD agreed to work with the FDA to remove production uses from the approved uses of their products and to change their marketing status from over-the-counter availability to availability only under veterinary oversight, said Michael R. Taylor, JD, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in an FDA Voice blog post.

"The VFD rule respects the diversity of circumstances that veterinarians encounter on the farm, but also ensures that their oversight is in line with nationally consistent principles," Taylor wrote.
Jun 2 FDA press release with links to more information
fact sheet
Jun 2 FDA Voice
blog post


Official: 51 labs in 17 states may have been shipped live anthrax

The number of labs that may have received live Bacillus anthracis—which causes anthrax—from a US Army facility has grown to 51 and the numbers of affected states and foreign countries to 17 and 3, respectively, CNN reported today.

In addition, officials are investigating whether live B anthracis samples were also shipped to the Pentagon building itself, CNN said in a separate report today.

Numbers reported late last week were 24 labs in 11 states, plus two countries, South Korea and Australia. Canada was added to the list yesterday. The samples were shipped from the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense (DoD) Robert Work announced the new numbers today, adding that a lab or labs in the District of Columbia were also involved. He said no suspected or confirmed anthrax cases have been reported, and the samples contained low concentrations of the bacterium, which would pose a low risk to healthy people.

The pathogens were supposed to have been killed before being shipped, and the DoD is exploring why that didn't happen, Work said.

The other CNN report noted that the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the Pentagon's police force, is one of the agencies that received questionable shipments. Its shipment is being tested to see if the bacteria received are live.

The DoD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on May 29 that they were investigating the incident.
Jun 3 CNN report on involved labs and states
Jun 3 CNN report on possible Pentagon involvement
Jun 1 CIDRAP News item on investigations


H5 strikes 31,000 chickens in Ghana

Ghana officials have identified three outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) caused by an H5 strain that have involved more than 31,000 chickens, the country's first HPAI outbreak since H5N1 hit poultry there in 2007, according to a report posted yesterday by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

By far the largest outbreak involves a farm housing 30,807 laying and broiler chickens. Backyard flocks of 100 and 360 birds were also hit by the virus, which has not yet been subtyped. All the premises are in Greater Accra region in southeastern Ghana, along the Gulf of Guinea.

The outbreaks began in mid-April to mid-May.

All told, 2,780 chickens died from the disease, and the remaining 28,477 were slaughtered or euthanized to prevent disease spread, for a total of 31,267 affected poultry.
Jun 2 OIE report


Scientists identify 2 new bunyavirus groups, note arthropod origin

German researchers discovered two new groups of viruses within the bunyavirus family in Ivory Coast, and their whole-genome analysis of bunyaviruses collected from mosquitoes indicates an arthropod origin for the viruses, according to results published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The family Bunyaviridae contains important human pathogens such as Rift Valley fever virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, and hantaviruses, as well as viruses that cause serious animal diseases like Schmallenberg virus. Previously the family comprised only five groups, or lineages.

Researchers from the University of Bonn and the German Center for Infection Research analyzed 432 samples taken from mosquitoes in the Ivory Coast. They discovered particles of unknown bunyaviruses in 26 of the samples. Through genetic analysis they discovered the new groups, which they named Jonchet and Ferak viruses.

Cell-culture studies determined that the new viruses ceased to grow at mammalian body temperatures, making them unlikely to infect people and other vertebrates, the authors reported.

"In addition, we reconstructed the evolutionary history of host associations of the entire family of viruses, demonstrating for the first time that viruses affecting vertebrates developed from arthropod-specific viruses," said coauthor Sandra Junglen, PhD, of the University of Bonn in a university press release.
Jun 2 Proc Natl Acad Sci abstract
Jun 2 University of Bonn news release

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