News Scan for Aug 20, 2015

Closure on US avian flu outbreaks
Risky contact lens behavior
Aerosolized norovirus

USDA says that H5N8—and most H5N2—outbreaks officially resolved

In two separate reports this week to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced closure to its follow-up to H5N8 avian flu outbreaks and noted that 11 states—because of measures taken after H5N2 outbreaks—are now free to move poultry domestically and internationally.

In the first Aug 17 OIE report, the USDA noted that the last US highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 detection was on May 10, and that all H5N8-related control areas have been released and H5N8 outbreaks closed. Measures like bird carcass disposal and disinfection of premises have been completed, and no wild birds have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks.

"The HPAI H5N8 event is now resolved and closed," the USDA said.

In the second report, also dated Aug 17, the USDA said that H5N2 events in these states are now resolved, clearing the way for national and international transport of their poultry and poultry products: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Notably absent from that list are Iowa and Minnesota, the two hardest-hit states. To that end, the USDA says, "States that have not been released are making good progress and control areas in those states are being removed as they meet the time elements and other measures for release."

Experts anticipate that outbreaks of both H5N8 and H5N2 may well resume in the fall as wild birds again migrate.
Aug 17 OIE report on H5N8
Aug 17
OIE report on H5N2


CDC notes high rate of risky behaviors in contact lens wearers

Almost all US contact lens wearers engage in activities that might place them at risk of an eye infection, and almost a third reported a doctor visit for potential lens-related issues, according to the results of a study published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Risky activities reported by more than half of the 1,141 contact wearers surveyed online include: napping with contacts in (87.1%), showering with contacts (84.9%), keeping cases longer than the recommended 3 months (82.3%), swimming in contact lenses (61.0%), topping off solution in case instead of replacing it (55.1%), and sleeping overnight with contact in (50.2%).

More than 99% percent reported at least one risk behavior.

In addition, 30.2% said they had a red or painful eye while wearing contact lenses that required a doctor's visit, according to the study, which was conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and elsewhere.

The CDC, in a news release, recommended several steps to cut the risk of eye infection, including washing hands before handling contacts. The agency noted that Aug 24 through 28 is Contact Lens Health Week.
Aug 21 MMWR report
Aug 20 CDC news release


Study shows vomiting can aerosolize norovirus

Vomiting can aerosolize virus particles similar to norovirus in infected people, according to a study yesterday in PLoS One that involved a simulated vomiting device.

Investigators from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Wake Forest University constructed a device at one-quarter scale to simulate human vomiting. They then inoculated fake vomit with MS2 bacteriophage, which is commonly used as a proxy for norovirus and doesn't harm humans, to determine if viruses would become airborne during simulated vomiting. They used a biosampler to capture particles.

They found that a small percentage of bacteriophages were aerosolized—but plenty to cause an infection if they were noroviruses, which require only a minuscule dose to be infectious.

"At most, only 0.02% of the total virus in the vomit was aerosolized," said Lee-Ann Jaykus, PhD, of NCSU in a university press release. "But that can still amount to thousands of virus particles—more than enough to infect other people."
Aug 19 PLoS One study
Aug 19 NCSU press release

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