- In today’s Recommendation for Industry, we discuss the typical increase of respiratory disease in the fall and how to prepare now. Read more below.
- Low testosterone in men may raise risk of COVID hospitalization. A study from JAMA Network Open found that men with low testosterone levels and COVID-19 were more than twice as likely as men with normal concentrations to be hospitalized. Men with chronically low testosterone concentrations have decreased muscle mass and less strength, both of which contribute to reduced lung capacity and ventilator dependence. The researchers noted that male hypogonadism has been tied to obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and chronic lung disease.
- CDC panel recommends updated COVID boosters. Vaccine advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended two updated COVID-19 boosters that target the circulating BA.4/BA.5 Omicron subvariants. After discussions today, which included extensive presentations from CDC experts, scientists from Moderna and Pfizer, as well as comments from the public, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) passed the recommendation with 13 yes votes and 1 no vote for both boosters in separate votes. Immunization with the updated shots can begin as soon as the CDC director formally accepts ACIP’s recommendation.
- Monkeypox slows in UK, US as CDC notes diagnosis issues. In the United States, the doubling time for the outbreak has stretched to 25 days, from an average of 8 days throughout July. Cases in Britain could be declining due to behavior changes, proper diagnosis, and saturation of the at-risk population. New York City now has enough monkeypox vaccine supply to begin offering second doses. The vaccine is available by appointment only, and people who received their first dose at least 10 weeks earlier will be notified by email or text that they are eligible.
- US schools, colleges see monkeypox cases. A case was identified at a Greenwood, South Carolina middle school but health officials assured parents there were no close contacts or exposures and no reason for concern. The University of Pittsburgh is the latest college to report a monkeypox case in a student. The student is recovering in isolation, and close contacts have been identified and notified of the case. Belgium has reported its first monkeypox death in an individual who had underlying medical conditions. There have been 18 deaths reported worldwide as of today. In total, the World Health Organization has confirmed nearly 53,000 cases worldwide.
Food Safety & Public Health
- Argentine officials probe deadly unexplained pneumonia outbreak. Health officials in Argentina are investigating an unexplained pneumonia outbreak cluster linked to a healthcare facility in Tucuman province in the northern part of the country that has sickened 10 people so far, 3 of them fatally, according to government and media sources. Testing at the local health lab was negative for known respiratory viruses and other bacterial and fungal causes. Officials said initial testing has ruled out COVID-19, hantavirus, and Legionella. In a separate statement, the ministry said 5 of the 10 patients remain hospitalized in serious condition, with 4 of them requiring mechanical ventilation.
- More people sick as outbreak linked to Wendy’s spreads to 2 more states. Another 13 people have been confirmed sick in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to lettuce on sandwiches from Wendy’s restaurants. Two states have been added to the outbreak. Half of the 97 outbreak patients have been so sick that they had to be admitted to hospitals. Of the 43 hospitalized people, 10 have developed a kind of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Among the 67 people with detailed food histories, 81 percent reported eating at Wendy’s restaurants. States currently with reported food borne illness related to this outbreak are Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York.
Recommendations for Industry
Be Prepared: Fall Typically Brings Increased Respiratory Disease
Although infectious respiratory disease (COVID, flu, etc.) are currently trending in a good direction, it’s not too soon to begin preparing for the typical increase in fall cases and transmission. With September bringing in the unofficial start to fall, cooler weather and more indoor gatherings – including school classes, sports, and other events – the potential for respiratory disease transmission increases as well.
There has been some concern about higher rates of flu this fall due to a July surge in Australia (which has since quieted down), and the number of immunologically naive people due to COVID protections (staying away from crowds, wearing masks, etc.). This makes it important to continue focusing on wellness checks, advising those who are ill to stay home, and encouraging vaccinations.
While we won’t be sure how flu will impact the U.S. until we get a bit further into fall, TAG will be tracking cases, reporting transmission rates, and providing recommendations for helping to keep your workforce healthy and productive.
As an aside on monkeypox, it is encouraging to see that mortality rates are staying low. With the WHO reporting 53,000 cases worldwide, there have been only 18 deaths. As CDC states, infections with the type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak are rarely fatal, with more than 99% of people with the disease likely to survive.
Watch for TAG’s weekly matrix on Thursday for the data and trends on these diseases.
In Case You Missed It:
- In last Thursday’s Recommendation for Industry, we discussed the alternating status of monkeypox and COVID. Read more here.
- FDA authorizes updated COVID boosters from Moderna and Pfizer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has authorized for emergency use bivalent booster shots that target the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants. The FDA specifically approved Moderna’s bivalent vaccine for individuals 18 and older and Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine for people ages 12 and older. Doses should be ready to be delivered sometime in September. The FDA based its authorization on clinical data from trials for a bivalent booster targeting the BA.1 Omicron subvariant, as well as preclinical data on the BA.4/BA.5 version and earlier data from primary vaccination and booster trials. The World Health Organization has said that cases and deaths declined last week. With cases declining, BA.5’s prevalence is still rising and currently makes up 78.2% of cases.
- SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in kids after COVID may peak at 1 to 3 months. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics released data showing that children 0 to 16 years old had SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody levels that peaked at 84% 1 to 3 months after they tested positive for COVID. In addition, those antibody levels remained high for more than a year after. The antibodies were found to be at 70% at 9 to 13 months.
- Chengdu locks down 21.2 million people as Chinese cities battle Covid-19. One of China’s biggest cities, Chengdu has announced its lockdown for 21.2 residents as it has launched a four-day citywide COVID-19 testing as outbreaks are occurring throughout their economically important urban centers. This comes from a report of 157 domestically transmitted infections on Wednesday. Residents are allowed to send on person from their household a day to shop for necessary items. Non-essential employees in Chengdu were asked to work from home and residents were urged not to leave the city unless needed. Residents who must leave their residential compounds for hospital visits or other special needs must obtain approval from neighborhood staffers.
- Texas reports first presumed US monkeypox death. The individual who is reported as the first US fatality was from Harris County, Texas, and was severely immunocompromised. Health officials, despite the recent fatality, continue to state that death caused by monkeypox is rare. In global news, Brazil has reported its second monkeypox death, involving a 33-year-old man who had underlying health conditions. The US total currently reported by the CDC is at 18,989 cases.
Food Safety & Public Health
- September 2022 is the 24th National Food Safety Education Month. This month takes a role in preventing foodborne illness. Every year there are approximately 48 million cases of foodborne illness- 1 in 6 Americans each year. Here are some resources for simple food safety tips that can help lower your chance of getting sick:
- Food Safety Month begins with risk-reducing home handling tips for poultry– Don’t Wash Your Chicken is a collaboration launched by Drexel University and New Mexico State University to educate people on preparing chicken at home. Recent research found that home cooks continue to wash raw poultry because they desire to control the process of preparing food, lack of trust in chicken processing, and the habitual nature of the behavior. Research also revealed that home cooks are willing to change their behavior if they understand the “why” behind the guidance. This program aims to help people understand how chicken is processed before they get it, learn the risks of washing raw poultry, as well how to safely handle and cook poultry at home. The three main takeaways from this program are that washing and rinsing chicken increases the risk of spreading bacteria, chicken has already been washed, and there’s a better and safer way to cook chicken.
- FDA looking into new outbreak, along with 10 other ongoing investigations. A new outbreak reported on August 31st, but not yet posted by the CDC is around Salmonella findings in Mississippi. This outbreak accounts for 99 of 1,350 currently sickened people due to outbreaks in the US. There is no further information on this outbreak currently. The FDA has initiated sample and collection analysis in response to the E. coli 0157 outbreak related to the lettuce of Wendy’s sandwiches. The CDC has reported 84 individuals that have become ill related outbreak.