Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FAO and OIE join forces to tackle foot-and-mouth disease globally

It was reported in Bangkok today that the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have come together to lay out a strategy in the global fight against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
According to an FAO media release Wednesday, at the FAO/OIE global conference in Bangkok today, Hiroyuki Konuma, the FAO regional representative for Asia and the Pacific noted, "Recent FMD outbreaks around the globe demonstrate that animal diseases have no boundaries, can have a devastating impact and require a global response.”
This was demonstrated earlier this year with the outbreak in Egypt and the threat it posed on North Africa and the Middle East.
Although there is no threat to human health with FMD, the economic and food supply impact can be devastating.
The strategy put ahead by the two organizations is patterned after the successful eradication of rinderpest.
According to the FAO's chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth, “this was a joint effort by scientists, governments, donors, veterinarians and farmers, which clearly shows that we can reduce and even eliminate the threat of major diseases".
Techniques such as better surveillance, coordination and control will be used to reduce outbreaks and eventually eliminate the disease.
According to the release, The Global Strategy combines two tools developed by FAO and the OIE:
1. The OIE tool, called the Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway (PVS), evaluates national veterinary services with the aim of bringing them into compliance with OIE quality standards. Reliable veterinary services ensure the quality and safety of livestock production. In turn, strong veterinary systems protect the safety of food sources, trade and animal health, and as such, are a global public good.
2. FAO developed the Progressive Control Pathway for Foot-and-Mouth Disease, the PCP-FMD, which guides countries through a series of incremental steps to better manage FMD risks, beginning with active surveillance to establish what types of FMD virus strains are circulating in the country and neighbouring areas.
The final goal of the FMD Global Strategy is to decrease the impact of FMD worldwide by reducing the number of disease outbreaks in infected countries until they ultimately attain FMD-free status, as well as by maintaining the official FMD-free status of countries that are already free.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry from Missouri hatchery


Salmonella Montevideo, one of the many strains of salmonella has been linked to outbreaks in everything from salami todietary supplements in recent years.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced at least 66 people have fallen ill in 20 states in a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry from a Missouri hatchery.
An investigation into the outbreak has linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live baby poultry from Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.
The multistate outbreak has been reported from 20 states to date to include:
Alaska (1), California (2), Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Iowa (2), Kansas (10), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (22), Nebraska (5), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota (1), Vermont (1), and Wyoming (1).
The CDC reports 16 of the individuals infected required hospitalization. One death was reported in Missouri, but Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor in this person’s death.
A third of those taken ill were children age 10 or younger.
This is the second hatchery implicated in a multistatesalmonella outbreak. Recently, the CDC reported on a different Salmonella outbreak linked to live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio. As of June 7, 123 people have been sickened in that outbreak.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Avian botulism outbreak kills dozens of birds in Hawaii

Photo/US Government Photo

Hawaii wildlife officials say that in the span of a week, 67 birds have been found dead of avian botulism at Kahana Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului.
According to a Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) news release Friday, wetland biologists and others involved in managing lands with associated wetlands have been notified of the outbreak.
The paralytic disease has killed adult birds on their nests, also causing the eggs to be lost to include adult and juvenile Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Ducks.
Wildlife officials say because botulinum toxin can be produced in most wetlands, and transported to new wetlands by dead or dying waterfowl, landowners and managers, both public and private, are being asked to frequently survey their wetlands for sick and/or dead birds, remove any dead or dying birds from the wetland, and contact local DOFAW biologists for guidance.
According to the USGS National Wildlife Center:
Avian botulism is a paralytic disease caused by ingestion of a toxin produced by the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria is widespread in soil and requires warm temperatures, a protein source and an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment in order to become active and produce toxin. Decomposing vegetation and invertebrates combined with warm temperatures can provide ideal conditions for the botulism bacteria to activate and produce toxin. There are several types of toxin produced by strains of this bacteria; birds are most commonly affected by type C and to a lesser extent type E.
Birds either ingest the toxin directly or may eat invertebrates (e.g. chironomids, fly larvae) containing the toxin. Invertebrates are not affected by the toxin and store it in their body. A cycle develops in a botulism outbreak when fly larvae (maggots), feed on animal carcasses and ingest toxin. Ducks that consume toxin-laden maggots can develop botulism after eating as few as 3 or 4 maggots.
Healthy birds, affected birds, and dead birds in various stages of decay are commonly found in the same area. The toxin affects the nervous system by preventing impulse transmission to muscles. Birds are unable to use their wings and legs normally or control the third eyelid, neck muscles, and other muscles. Birds with paralyzed neck muscles cannot hold their heads up and often drown. Death can also result from water deprivation, electrolyte imbalance, respiratory failure, or predation.
Earlier this year a botulism outbreak in Hanalei, Kauai resulted in over 300 sick and dead birds being collected by USFWS refuge staff. Additionally, numerous other botulism fatalities have also been reported at wetlands throughout the state.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rwanda bans import of cattle from Uganda due to foot and mouth disease

Photo/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Movement of cattle from Uganda to Rwanda has been banned following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Uganda’s western districts of Ntungamo and Isingiro.

Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) has dispatched a team of veterinary officers at the borders to enforce the ban.

Dr Christine Kanyandekwe Deputy Director General for animal resources extension in RAB told The New Times, “We have temporarily stopped the entry of animals from Uganda and we have put the foot-bath containing a disinfectant at all entry points to prevent the disease”.

She said the disease is 20 kilometres away from Kagitumba border and most emphasis is put on porous borders where infected animals like cows, goats, sheep and others could be sneaked into the country.

According to the USDA, Foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved ruminants. FMD is not a threat to people and no human health risks are associated with the disease. FMD is caused by a virus. Signs of illness can appear after an incubation period of 1 to 8 days, but often develop within 3 days. There are seven known types and more than 60 subtypes of the FMD virus. Vesicles (blisters) followed by erosions in the mouth or on the feet and the resulting excessive salivation or lameness are the best known signs of the disease. FMD, however, can be confused with several similar diseases, including vesicular stomatitis and swine vesicular disease. Whenever mouth or feet blisters or other typical signs are observed and reported, laboratory tests must be completed to determine whether the disease causing them is FMD.

Though the virus has a relatively low mortality rate of 2-5%, to stop the rapid spread of the disease, slaughtering of large quantities of animals is required.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Insecticide fungus may help curb dengue fever

Grasshoppers killed by Beauveria bassiana-Photo/USDA

The viral, mosquito- borne disease, dengue fever has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades with over 2.5 billion people – over 40% of the world's population – are now at risk from dengue.
Australian researchers are attempting to slow the spread of the deadly disease by use of a common soil fungus.
According to a Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) news release Friday, initial testing by the QIMR’s Mosquito Control Laboratory showed the Beauveria bassiana fungus killed Aedes aegypti, the mosquito which carries the viral disease.
QIMR’s Dr Jonathan Darbro, lead author of the study published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, says the results of the testing are very promising.
In laboratory and “semi-field” conditions, the soil fungus also reduced how often the mosquitoes bit humans according to the study.
Darbro says although the fungus doesn’t kill the mosquitoes as quickly as chemical pesticides, because it kills slowly, mosquitoes are less likely to evolve a defense against the fungus.
“They’ll still live long enough to reproduce, so natural selection isn’t pushing as hard for the mosquitoes to resist the fungus as they would for a chemical insecticide”, he said.
Beauveria bassiana is being used as a biological insecticide to control a number of pests such as termites, thrips, whiteflies, aphids and different beetles where it acts as a parasite on the insects and causes white muscardine disease.
Dr Darbro said the next challenge would be finding a way to infect mosquitoes en masse.
Mosquitoes need to land on the fungal spores to get infected. Spores can be sprayed onto surfaces such as cloth, but they need to be surfaces where these mosquitoes would land in the wild. The most likely candidates would probably be places where mosquitoes would land to rest or lay eggs,” Dr Darbro said.
Each year there are more than 50 million global cases of dengue and its more severe form, dengue haemorrhagic fever, annually. The virus kills 20,000 people each year. There is no vaccine, and prevention relies almost exclusively on controlling the mosquito carriers.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

CDC dengue fever test gets FDA approval


A new diagnostic test for the detection of the dengue virus has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States, can be performed using equipment and supplies many public health laboratories already use to diagnose influenza.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release Wednesday, the new diagnostic test developed by the CDC, called the CDC DENV-1-4 Real Time RT PCR Assay will help diagnose dengue within the first seven days after symptoms of the illness appear. The test can detect all four dengue virus types.
The press release states that unlike other FDA-approved dengue assays, which detect the IgM antibody, the new molecular test detects evidence of the virus itself, which would speed up diagnosis.
Another benefit of the new assay is that it can be performed using equipment and supplies that many public health laboratories already use to diagnose influenza. This makes it possible to begin using the test in the many laboratories in the United States and internationally that already run influenza Real-Time PCR assays, a frequently used flu test also developed by CDC.
Jorge L. Munoz-Jordan, Ph.D., chief of the Molecular Diagnostics and Research at the CDC Dengue Branch said concerning the new assay, “Patients will be diagnosed sooner than before, and public health laboratories will have a clearer picture of the true number of dengue cases. Dengue is now a reportable disease in the United States, and the availability of state-of-the-art dengue diagnostics will improve patient management and the public health response to dengue."
The CDC says the test will be available beginning July 2, 2012.
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

MenHibrix receives FDA approval

The first combination vaccine for preventing meningococcal disease and Haemophilus influenzae disease in infants as young as six weeks received approval the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) press release Thursday, the FDA approved the vaccine MenHibrix for use in children aged six weeks through 18 months.
MenHibrix is a vaccine indicated to prevent invasive disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroups C and Y and Haemophilus influenzae type b.
The vaccine was developed as to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended immunization schedule for Hib vaccination and to enable vaccination against meningococcal groups C and Y without the need for extra injections.
Leonard Friedland, M.D., Vice President, Head, Clinical and Medical Affairs, North America Vaccine Development, GSK Vaccines said, “MenHibrix gives healthcare providers the option of combining Hib immunization with meningococcal C and Y immunization without increasing the number of shots for infants and toddlers.”
The MenHibrix vaccination protocol involves administration of four doses given at 2, 4, 6, and 12–15 months of age, although the first dose can be given from six weeks of age and the last at up to 18 months of age. Approval of the vaccine was based on data from international clinical trials involving 7,521 infants and toddlers, approximately half from the United States.
Without vaccination, babies and toddlers under two years of age can be particularly at risk from these illnesses, the early symptoms of which are often difficult to distinguish from other common childhood illnesses, according to the FDA.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium N. meningitidis. The most common vaccine-preventable serogroups are C and Y. No vaccine is currently available in the United States to protect against serogroup B.
Haemophilus influenzae type b, which most commonly presents as meningitis. Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States among children younger than 5 years of age before the introduction of effective Hib vaccines. The disease has been virtually eliminated through routine infant vaccination.
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Scientists say Feds underestimate the risks of ‘Plum Island, Kansas’

The devastation to the nation’s food supply could be dramatic if an animal pathogen like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) accidentally got out into the nation’s heartland through either natural disaster or human error.
This is why Congress asked the independent National Research Council (NRC), part of the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) evaluation of the safety of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas. Their findings can be found in a 100-page report published Friday.
The $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) would replace the aging Plum Island Animal Research Center, which is located on a relatively remote island off the tip of Long Island.
This is the second time in as many years that the NRC questioned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s evaluation of the safety of NBAF.
Although the NRC committee stated that the DHS Updated Site-Specific Risk Assessment (uSSRA) was a substantial improvement over the 2010 report in terms of clarity and methods used, it was still "inadequate in critical respects."
In the committee’s evaluation of the uSSRA, they say that the DHS sometimes relied on “questionable and inappropriate assumptions” in its evaluation.
More specifically, the committee notes that the uSSRA’s demonstrated extremely low probabilities of release are based on overly optimistic and unsupported estimates of human error rates, underestimates of infectious material available for release, and inappropriate treatment of dependencies, uncertainties, and sensitivities in calculating release probabilities.
The committee’s overall conclusion says the uSSRA is technically inadequate in critical aspects and is an insufficient basis on which to judge the risks associated with the proposed NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas.
The University of Maryland’s, Gregory Baecher, chairman of the report-compiling committee said in a statement:
“Because a pathogen release from the NBAF could have devastating agricultural, economic, and public health consequences, a risk assessment that reaches inappropriate conclusions could have substantial repercussions”.
In addition to FMD, the NBAF would house the Nepha and Hendra viruses that can spread to humans, swine fever and the Japanese encephalitis virus.
This report follows a USA Today story earlier in the week that the $214 million bioterror germ lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has had repeated problems with airflow systems designed to help prevent the release of infectious agents.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

South African canoeist contracted rabies through a dog’s lick

In a follow-up to the tragic death of top canoeist Graeme Anderson, reports out of the South African province of Gauteng say the 29-year-old man that succumbed to rabies did not contracted the deadly virus through a dog bite.
According to an report Wednesday, a Gauteng veterinary official says the Underberg farmer contracted the virus via a dog’s lick.
Chief Director of veterinary services, Dr. Malcolm de Bude said Wednesday it was not commonly known that the rabies virus could be transmitted through abrasions in the skin.
When the rabid dog licked damaged skin on Graeme Anderson's hand, the virus passed into his blood stream.
After spending about five weeks in intensive care, Anderson was declared brain dead last week at a Pietermaritzburg hospital.
Graeme was discovered to be brain dead Wednesday after a SPECT scan was performed. The family decided later to turn off life support.
Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through the saliva from a bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely contracted through breaks in the skin or contact with mucous membranes. It has been suggested that airborne transmission is possible in caves where there are heavy concentrations of bats.
According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.
Animals with rabies can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.
The initial symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. There may be pain and discomfort at the site of the bite. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies postexposure vaccinationsconsists of a dose of human rabies immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine given on the day of the exposure, and then again on days 3, 7, and 14. The vaccine is given in a muscle, usually in the upper arm. This set of vaccinations is highly effective at preventing rabies if given as soon as possible following an exposure.
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

UNICEF report addresses pneumonia and diarrhea in the world’s poorest children

A new report published by UNICEF makes the case that two of the biggest killers of poor children across the globe,pneumonia and diarrhea, needs to be the focus of increased interventions to narrow the child survival gap both among and within countries by increasing commitment, attention and funding.
The report published Friday, "Pneumonia and diarrhoea: Tackling the deadliest diseases for the world’s poorest children", discusses key interventions that must be done in an equitable way to reach the poorest households to give every child a fair chance to grow and thrive.
Pneumonia and diarrhea are two of the leading killers of children under age 5. UNICEF reports these two diseases account for 29 per cent of deaths among children under age 5 worldwide – or more than 2 million lives lost each year.
They are most highly concentrated in the poorest regions and countries and among the most disadvantaged children within these societies. Nearly 90 per cent of deaths due to pneumonia and diarrhea occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The report says that more than 2 million children’s lives could be saved in the 75 countries with the highest mortality burden if each country’s entire population of children under five years of age received the coverage already achieved by the wealthiest 20 per cent in those countries.
UNICEF says this could happen by 2015 if the key interventions are equitable and reach the poorest of these societies.
The key interventions include:
• Vaccination- New vaccines against major causes of pneumonia and diarrhea are available, pneumococcal and rotaviruses are two examples. However, UNICEF reports disparities in access to vaccines exist within countries and could reduce vaccines’ impact.
• Breastfeeding- They report Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life is one of the most cost-effective child survival interventions and greatly reduces the risk of a young infant dying due to pneumonia or diarrhea.
• Water and Sanitation- 783 million people still do not use an improved drinking water source, and 2.5 billion do not use an improved sanitation facility, mostly in the poorest households and rural areas. Nearly 90 per cent of deaths due to diarrhea worldwide have been attributed to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Hand washing with water and soap, in particular, is among the most cost-effective health interventions to reduce the incidence of both childhood pneumonia and diarrhea.
• Treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea- The poorest children in the poorest countries are least likely to receive treatment when sick with these treatable conditions.
UNICEF says it’s time to refocus our efforts on these two leading killers. Not only would it reduce the survival gap between poorest and better-off children, but would also accelerate progress towards eliminating preventable child deaths.
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