News Scan for Nov 19, 2018

Saudi MERS case
Parents’ flu-vaccine decisions
Infant botulism cases
New Jersey adenovirus death

MERS infects one more in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia yesterday reported a new MERS-CoV case for epidemiologic week 47, which involves a 52-year-old man from Riyadh.

The ministry of health said the man didn't have a history of recent contact with camels and wasn't known to have been exposed to another known MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case. He is currently hospitalized.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia reported two other MERS case-patients, one who apparently had no contact with camels or another sick patient and another who was exposed as a household contact.

The new cases lift the global number of MERS-CoV illnesses reported since 2012 to 2,267, at least 803 of them fatal.
Nov 18 Saudi MOH update

Poll: 'Echo chamber' may be obstacle for children's flu vaccination

Parents who decide not to vaccinate their children against flu may be exposed to a limited range of information, contributing to an "echo chamber" that seems to reinforce negative opinions, according to a new poll from the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

The nationally representative web-based poll, administered in October 2018, included responses from 1,977 parents who have at least one child ages 1 to 18 years old.

According to the findings, nearly one-third of parents said they were not planning to get their child vaccinated against flu this season, even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older be vaccinated against flu every year.

Four in 10 parents said they based their flu-vaccine decisions on information from sources other than their child’s healthcare provider, and those in that group were less likely to have their child vaccinated. Common sources of information for those who opted out included family, close friends, and other parents. That group reported seven times as many sources of information that made them question or decline the vaccine, and researchers said the volume of negative information may make it less likely that they will change their minds.

In contrast, the most common source for parents who wanted the flu vaccine was their child's healthcare provider, nurses, and medical staff. However, one in five parents said the child's provider did not make a vaccine recommendation.

Sarah Clark, MPH, poll codirector, said in a University of Michigan press release that child health providers are critical for building the rationale for annual flu vaccination and to answer parents’ questions about safety and effectiveness. "Without clear guidance from the provider, parents may be left with misinformation, such as the suggestion that flu vaccine causes the flu," she said.

According to Clark, several possible recommendations could explain the echo chamber. For example, some parents may seek out specific people and information sources that support their position on vaccines, so that what they learn is in line with their already formed opinions. She said it's important to acknowledge that children's providers aren't the sole or primary influence. "For these families, we need to explore other mechanisms to convey accurate information and allow parents to hear a more balanced viewpoint," Clark added.
Nov 19 University of Michigan press release
Nov 19 Mott Poll report


Texas notes four cases of infant botulism tied to honey pacifiers

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) issued a health alert concerning four recent cases of infant botulism tied to honey pacifiers.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the pacifiers were purchased in Mexico, but are widely available online. All four cases have been reported since August.In recent years, Texas has reported seven to eight cases annually.

Honey is not recommended for consumption for babies under 1 year of age because it can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, which acts as a neurotoxin in infants.

"Investigators noted that these honey pacifiers and other food-containing pacifiers are available for sale at retailers as well as online, and that parents may not be aware of their potential danger," the DSHS said on their website. "Infants (children less than 12 months of age) should not be given honey, or pacifiers containing honey or other food products, because of the risk of contracting infant botulism."
Nov 16 DSHS health alert
Nov 16 FDA press release


One more death reported in NJ peds facility’s adenovirus outbreak

One more patient has died in an adenovirus type 7 outbreak at a pediatric health facility in New Jersey, raising the fatality count to 11, according to an update yesterday from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDH).

The outbreak at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has sickened 35 people, including 34 residents and 1 staff member.

In another development, the health center, which cares for medically fragile pediatric patients, has finished separating patients without symptoms in the respiratory unit from those who are sick with adenovirus, which includes grouping residents by lab testing status and symptoms, the NJDH said in a Nov 17 statement. Because of a drop in patients, the center now has space to separate the patients and was able to meet the Nov 21 deadline for completing the action.

The NJDH said it is requiring Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation to hire a certified infection control practitioner and a physician or a physician practice with board certification in infectious diseases.

Meanwhile, the case count in an adenovirus outbreak at a separate children health center, Voorhees Pediatric Facility, involving the less serious type 3 strain remains at 8, with no deaths, the NJDH said.
Nov 18 NJDH update
Nov 17 NJDH statement

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