News Scan for Jan 28, 2022

New EU rules on veterinary antibiotics
US flu levels stable
Polio in 3 countries

New EU rules on antibiotic use on farms take effect

New rules limiting the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals in the European Union went into effect today.

The revamped legislation on veterinary medicinal products, adopted 3 years ago by the European Commission, bans the use of antibiotics—including those used in medicated feed—to prevent disease in groups of animals, and restricts the use of antibiotics to control the spread of disease. It also reinforces a ban on the use of antibiotics for growth promotion, obligates member states to collect data on sales and use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, and provides incentives to stimulate development of new veterinary medicines.

EU officials say the legislation will support reaching the goals of the European One Health Action Plan and the Farm to Fork Strategy against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which aims to reduce sales of antibiotics for farmed animals in the EU by 50% by 2030.

"The new rules will ensure that, as of today, treatments by antimicrobials for animals will be administered when, and only when, there is a real need for them," Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a press release. "Together with the new legislation on medicated feed, which will ban the preventive use and restrict prescriptions of antimicrobial in medicated feed, the new rules will significantly strengthen the fights against AMR."  

In a related document released today, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) said that, while it welcomed the new regulations, it's concerned about the probability for widespread noncompliance because there's little indication Europe is moving away from the type of intensive farming systems that rely on the routine use of antibiotics.

To ensure that the new EU regulations are implemented in full, EPHA put forth 10 recommendations that it believes could help achieve significant cuts in livestock antibiotic use. These include limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock to individual treatments, collecting data on antibiotic use by species and farming system to identify factors linked to high antibiotic use, restricting use of highest-priority critically important antibiotics in livestock, improving hygiene on farms, and providing animals with access to the outdoors.
Jan 28 European Commission press release
Jan 28 EPHA report


US flu activity stable, with levels of flulike illness declining

US flu activity remains stable, with the virus circulating at similar levels over the past 2 weeks and overall levels of respiratory illness declining, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today in its weekly FluView report.

The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) decreased nationally again, falling to 2.8% from 3.5% the previous week, and visits are trending downward for every age-group. But the percentage remains above the national baseline. The CDC says flu is just one of several respiratory viruses that are co-circulating, and the contribution of flu to ILI levels varies by region.

The number of jurisdictions reporting high or very high flu activity, another indicator of clinic visits for flu, fell to 12 from 16 the previous week, and the number reporting moderate activity fell to 6 from 12. The number of hospitalizations fell slightly, and the percentage of specimens testing positive for flu at clinical labs rose slightly, to 1.9% from 1.8% the previous week.

No pediatric deaths were reported for the week. The CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 2 million flu illnesses, 20,000 hospitalizations, and 1,200 deaths.

The vast majority of flu viruses remain influenza A strains (97.2%), with the H3N2 strain accounting for 100% of subtyped samples at public health labs. The CDC says most of H3N2 viruses identified so far this season are genetically closely related to the vaccine virus, but some antigenic differences have been observed as the viruses continue to evolve.

The CDC also notes that flu vaccination coverage this season is lower than last season.
Jan 28 CDC FluView


DRC, Nigeria, Ukraine report more polio cases

Three countries—two in Africa and one in Europe—reported more polio cases this week, all involving circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said in its latest weekly update.

In Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 2 cases, both in Maniema province, which are included in its total for 2021, which now stands at 21. Nigeria reported 5 new cases, 1 each in Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Katsina, and Plateau states. They are also counted as part of the country's 2021 total, which has risen to 393.

Ukraine reported a case in Zakarpattia, its second case for 2021. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) weekly communicable threat report had more details about the infection. It said the Ukrainian health ministry announced the case on Jan 24, which involved an unvaccinated child whose acute flaccid paralysis symptoms began on Dec 13.

An analysis of the virus suggests that it is related to a recent case in the country's Rivne region, and a further epidemiologic investigation is under way. Besides the earlier cVDPV2 case, the Ukraine in November reported a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) case in an unvaccinated 12-year-old girl from Zakarpattia region.
Jan 27 GPEI update
Jan 28 ECDC communicable disease threat report

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