News Scan for Jul 30, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine disparities
Cake mix linked to E coli outbreak
Vaccine-derived polio in Africa

US COVID-19 vaccine disparities linked to socioeconomics

US COVID-19 vaccine disparities (CVD) were linked with income, education, political views, and race, according to a study yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers looked at vaccination rates in 756 counties, or 51.5% of the US population, on Apr 19, when almost half of adults were at least partially vaccinated. Weighted average CVD across counties was 16.0 percentage points, with an average of 35.9% of White people and 19.9% of Black people vaccinated per county. While this was less of a disparity compared with the flu vaccine (18.8 percentage points, 51.6% and 32.8%), stronger associations were seen for most other socioeconomic indicators.

CVD had a negative association with median income (estimate -2.20 vs 1.14 for flu vaccine disparities), proportion of Black residents (-5.24 vs insignificant relationship), and Republican voting in the 2020 election (-6.45 vs -1.52). The greater the disparity in high school graduation in the county, the greater the CVD (2.01 vs 0.19). Vehicle ownership and home IT rate (eg, internet access) were both uncorrelated for CVD.

"To the extent that another pandemic is almost inevitable, our findings underscore the importance of spotlighting the inequity in vaccination rates between Blacks and Whites," the researchers write, noting that the CVD results were consistent when looking at Mar 27, Apr 7, and May 20 data as well.

"A clear theme in our results is the centrality of socioeconomic privilege and political ideology," they continue. "Disparities in high school graduation rates were key drivers of CVD: A county in the 75th percentile of education disparity has a 10.7 percentage point difference in high school graduation rates between White and Black residents, corresponding to an estimated increase in CVD of 2.7 percentage points compared to a county with no high school disparities."
Jul 29 Proc Nat Acad Sci study


Raw cake batter linked to multistate E coli O121 outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week announced that an Escherichia coli O121 outbreak associated with cake mix has sickened at least 16 people in 12 states.

So far, all of the identified patients are female, and 75% are children younger than 18—a group known to experience more severe E coli infections. Seven people have been hospitalized, and one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney complication. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses began on Feb 26, and the most recent illness onset was Jun 21. Affected states are spread throughout the United States, with Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio each reporting two cases. The following states reported a single case: Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

The CDC added that the true number of sick people is likely much higher than what has been reported, given that many people may have recovered and weren't likely tested for E coli.

Of eight people interviewed about the foods they ate, six said they tasted or ate raw batter made from a cake mix. No specific brand or type has been identified, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting a traceback investigation to assess if a common source is involved.

The CDC has said eating raw cake batter poses foodborne disease risks, which can be reduced by baking and cooking. In 2016, a complex investigation identified flour processed from one facility as the source of E coli O121 in an outbreak that sickened 56 people from 24 states.
Jul 28 CDC outbreak announcement
Nov 22, 2017, CIDRAP News story "
Report details unlikely culprit of E coli outbreak: flour"

In other E coli developments, Greater Omaha Packing, based in Nebraska, has recalled nearly 300,000 pounds of raw beef intended for nonintact use after routine samples revealed E coli O157:H7, according to a statement yesterday from the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The products were sent to processors in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska. No illnesses have been reported.
Jul 29 FSIS statement


Vaccine-derived polio infects more people in Africa

Two African countries—Nigeria and Senegal—reported more polio cases this week, both involving circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), according to the latest weekly update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Nigeria reported 18 more cases, 12 from Jigawa state, 2 each from Yobe and Borno states, and 1 each from Adamawa and Bauchi states. The country has now reported 49 cVDPV2 cases this year, compared to 8 for all of 2020.

Senegal reported one more case, involving a patient from Thies, bringing its total for 2021 to 13.
Jul 29 GPEI update


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