NEWS SCAN: Ricin case arrest, E coli O121 outbreak, flu C in hospitalized kids, CDC polio efforts

Apr 29, 2013

Second Mississippi man arrested in ricin mailings
J. Everett Dutschke, 41, a former martial arts teacher from Tupelo, Miss., was arrested early on Apr 27 in connection with ricin-laced letters sent earlier this month to President Obama and two other officials, the New York Times and other media reported. The arrest came less than 4 days after authorities released the first suspect arrested in the case, Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, Corinth, Miss., who said Dutschke had tried to frame him. The tainted letters were sent to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Judge Sadie Holland of Lee County, Miss., Justice Court, as well as Obama. Law enforcement officials told the Times that the letters had been carefully written to mimic Curtis's phrasing and concerns. Curtis, an Elvis impersonator, and Dutschke had quarreled for years, mostly online, on a variety of topics, the Times reported. The story said Dutschke could face life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. At a court appearance by Dutschke today, a judge refused to set bond for him, according to NBC News. The story said law officers reported finding traces of ricin, a potent poison derived from castor beans, in Dutschke's home, office, and cars, but he maintains he is innocent.
Apr 27 Times story
Apr 29 NBC News story

Five more sick in multistate E coli O121 outbreak
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced 5 more Escherichia coli O121 infections linked to Farm Rich frozen food snacks, raising the outbreak total to 32. According to an Apr 26 update, 3 more states are reporting cases, lifting the affected number to 18. States reporting their first cases include California, Colorado, and Florida. Nine patients have been hospitalized so far, two of them with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney complication. Investigations so far point to the Farm Rich products as one likely infection source, but the CDC and state officials are interviewing sick patients to determine what other exposures they had the week before they became ill. Earlier stages of the investigation found the E coli O121 outbreak strain in two different products from the homes of sick patients. The outbreak was first announced on Mar 29, and the company has recalled more than 10.5 million pounds of not fully cooked frozen mini meals and snack items.
Apr 26 CDC outbreak update|
Apr 5 CIDRAP News scan "Three more sickened in multistate E coli O121 outbreak"

Study: 13% of hospitalized flu patients had influenza C
About 13% of influenza cases in children at a hospital in Spain were attributable to influenza C, and these patients has similar clinical courses to other pediatric flu cases, according to a prospective study in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. Researchers tested all children younger than 14 years who were hospitalized for a respiratory tract infection from September 2005 through July 2012. Influenza was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction in 128 patients during this time (6.2% of all confirmed viral infections). Of those, 89 (69.5%) had influenza A, 21 (16.4%) had influenza B, and 17 (13.3%) had influenza C. All but 4 of the influenza C patients had a co-infection with up to three viruses (such as adenovirus, bocavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, or rhinovirus). Aside from this distinction, the flu C patients had similar clinical profiles to those of the other flu patients.
Apr 25 Ped Infect Dis J abstract

CDC's commitment to polio eradication remains steadfast
Although polio hasn't occurred in the United States for decades and remains endemic in only three countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, the CDC is an active collaborator in the intensified efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to wipe out the disease worldwide by 2018, according to an agency update. About 440 CDC workers have provided technical expertise and support through the agency's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) since late 2011, when CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, activated the EOC to partner with GPEI. The workers have completed 362 field deployments to Angola, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, and other areas to strengthen polio surveillance and immunization programs. In addition, more than 500 people have been deployed abroad to work through CDC's STOP Transmission of Polio (STOP) program, which trains public health volunteers to improve polio surveillance and vaccination campaigns. Among other CDC activities are performing in-depth reviews of other countries' polio eradication efforts to spot gaps and needs and publishing reports jointly with the World Health Organization on eradication efforts. In 2012, 223 cases occurred, 217 (97%) of them in the three endemic countries.
Apr 26 CDC update

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