- In today’s Recommendation for Industry, we discuss the long-term impacts of infectious diseases. Read more below.
- Rising COVID levels in Europe especially affect seniors. COVID activity continued to rise in many European countries last week, up 14% compared to the previous week in people ages 65 and older, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said today in a regular update. The pooled rate in Europe for all age-groups has been rising for the past 3 weeks, and the impact on seniors is leading to rising hospital indicators. Within the U.S., the BA.5 proportion dropped from 81.5% to 79.2% of sequenced samples. Meanwhile, the BF.7 subvariant rose from 3.3% to 4.6%, BA.2.72 rose from 1.5% to a share of 1.8%, and BA.4.6 rising slightly from 12.7% to 13.6%. Additionally in the U.S., the 7-day average for new daily cases was at 43,692, the CDC said yesterday, down from a 7-day average of 47,112 reported a week ago. Hospitalizations and deaths also continued downward trends. So far, 11.5 million people have received the updated COVID booster, up from 7.5 million the previous week.
- Omicron infection more effective than earlier variants against BA.4/BA.5 reinfection. Pre-Omicron infection at least 90 days before reinfection was 35.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 12.1% to 52.7%) effective against symptomatic BA.4/BA.5 reinfection and 27.7% (95% CI, 19.3% to 35.2%) effective against symptomatic or asymptomatic BA.4/BA.5 reinfection. Pre-Omicron infections occurred a median of 518 days before symptomatic BA.4/BA.5 infections, compared with a 189-day interval between the initial Omicron infection and the BA4/BA.5 reinfection—or a difference of 329 days. For any BA.4 or BA.5 reinfection, the difference was 309 days (490 vs 181). The study authors noted that BA.4 and BA.5 can escape neutralizing antibodies such as those conferred by previous infection or vaccination.
Food Safety & Public Health
- Monkeypox study spotlights role of sexual transmission. A new study of GeoSentinel Network data involving 226 monkeypox cases from 15 countries shows that, of 219 patients for whom data were available, 216 (99%) reported sexual or close intimate contact in the 21 days before symptom onset. The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for Abbott’s monkeypox test, which will offer real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results for clinicians. The test relies on swabs of lesions. This is the first commercial test to be authorized for monkeypox detection. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct 7 reported 172 more monkeypox cases, raising the national total to 26,557. The global total stands at more than 60,000 cases in 105 countries.
- Report: Monkeypox case rates 5 times higher in Black Americans. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data reveals that monkeypox case rates in the US disproportionately affect Black and Latino Americans, with Black Americans having case rates 5 times of those found among White peers (14.4 cases vs. 2.6 per 100,000). In global news, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its seventh monkeypox situation report on the current outbreak, noting 25 total deaths worldwide this year due to the virus. Thirteen of the deaths are in Africa.
- The US CDC has said that “Seasonal flu activity is low at this time, but there are signs that activity is beginning to increase.” For example, NY is seeing cases at 4x now than where they were at this time last year and Boston is reporting that pediatric cases of the flu are rising.
- According to the EU health authority ECDC, the most recent outbreak of bird flu is the worst such epidemic ever recorded in Europe. Nearly 2,500 outbreaks were detected in poultry farms during the 2021-2022 bird flu season, according to a report by the agency released on Monday. 48 million animals were killed.
- Health risks in the Žalec, Slovenia water supply system continue after some 100 locals sought medical help due to digestive issues earlier this week. Norovirus was detected in the water system.
- Pertussis (whooping cough):
- The FDA announced it approved a vaccine administered during the third trimester of pregnancy to prevent pertussis — whooping cough — in infants younger than 2 months of age. When the vaccine (Boostrix, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals) is administered, it boosts antibodies in the pregnant mother, which are transferred to the developing baby, according to a press release from the FDA. Infants younger than 2 months of age are too young to be protected by the childhood pertussis vaccine series. This is the first vaccine approved specifically for use during pregnancy to prevent a disease in young infants whose mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy.
- Tips for tailgaters looking to avoid food poisoning this football season. Penn State Extension food safety experts have compiled pointers for those planning to tailgate this season and are offering tailgaters a free brochure of food safety tailgating tips that can be downloaded here.
- New E. coli outbreak traced to frozen falafel sold at Aldi stores. The FDA has reported 20 people infected with five requiring hospitalizations in relation to the E. coli outbreak related to falafel from Aldi’s. The sick individuals are located in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The affected products were sent to 36 states and individuals are advised to throw away this product if you have not yet consumed it.
- Cider recalled in Quebec because of lead contamination. Le Verger à Ti-Paul Inc. of Saint-Elzéar, Quebec, Canada, is recalling their company’s brand of Cider because of lead contamination. Consumers and retailers should not use, sell, serve, or distribute the affected products.
- Gaton’s Foods Dairy expands recall of cheeses sold in Canada over Listeria concerns. Gaton’s Foods Dairy has expanded its recall of certain Nature’s Best and Zavat Chalavfrom brand cheeses from the marketplace because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. For the complete list of currently recalled cheeses, click here.
Recommendations for Industry
The Long-Term Impacts of Infectious Disease
Tis the season for respiratory illnesses, such as flu, COVID, and bronchitis, which can take workers out of commission for at least a week, and often more. Even an illness caused by norovirus, Campylobacter or other foodborne pathogen will keep a worker out for a few days or more. And because illnesses aren’t something anyone plans for, a call from an employee that they (or a child) are sick can leave you scrambling to temporarily fill their position.
This becomes even more of a challenge when potential long-term impacts of these diseases are considered. We’ve all heard about “long COVID,” but did you know that other diseases may also have long-term impacts. Take, for example:
- Norovirus. A recent study has found that there is a link between norovirus and Chron’s disease, with norovirus being one of several viruses and bacteria that can trigger disease onset.
- Influenza. Adults at high risk and children can develop complications from the flu such as pneumonia, bronchitis, heart problems, ear infections, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
- Campylobacter. Infection with Campylobacter jejuni, which causes diarrhea, is one of the most common causes of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) which can take weeks to years for recovery.
The regular seasonal occurrence of the flu, lessening severity of COVID for most people, and generally brief course of food poisoning can cause people to get complacent with transmission avoidance and even simple acts, such as handwashing. But nearly every disease has the potential for long-term complications for some people, which impact not only that person but their families and workplaces as well.
We’ve said it before, we will in all likelihood say it again, maintaining wellness checks of workers, asking those who are ill to stay home, and ensuring personal hygiene, particularly handwashing, is critical for the overall health of your workforce and your business.
In case you missed it:
- In last Thursday’s Recommendation for Industry, we discussed the expected fall increase in respiratory illnesses. Read more here.
- COVID vaccines in pregnancy tied to lower risk of NICU stay, stillbirth. Japanese researchers led the analysis of nine observational studies comparing the pregnancy outcomes of 81,349 women who received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose with those of 255,346 unvaccinated peers through Apr 5, 2022. COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy was tied to lower risk of NICU admission (odds ratio [OR], 0.88), stillbirth (OR, 0.73), and maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection (OR, 0.46) and no significant additional risk of preterm birth (OR, 0.89), SGA (OR, 0.99), low Apgar score (indicator of newborn needing medical attention; OR, 0.94), cesarean delivery (OR, 1.05), postpartum hemorrhage (OR, 0.95), or chorioamnionitis (infection of the placenta or amniotic fluid; OR, 0.95).
- Omicron BA.4.6 makes up nearly 13% of COVID variants circulating in U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday estimated that nearly 13% of the circulating coronavirus variants in the United States were of the BA.4.6 subvariant of Omicron, as of the week ended Oct. 1. Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 were estimated to make up 81.3% and 1.1%, respectively.
- U.S. CDC ends country-specific COVID travel health notices. CDC said on Monday it will only post a travel health notice “for a country if a situation, such as a concerning COVID-19 variant, is identified that changes CDC travel recommendations for that country.”
Food Safety & Public Health
- Ebola kills another health worker in Uganda outbreak. The health worker is a 58-year-old woman who worked as an anesthetic officer. She died at Fort Portal Hospital after a 17-day battle with the disease. At a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said so far, 63 confirmed and probable cases have been reported, including 29 deaths.
- As a result, the U.S. Department of State has announced that “All U.S.-bound passengers who have been in Uganda at any point in the 21 days prior to their arrival will be routed to one of the following designated airports: New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), or Washington (IAD), where they will undergo enhanced screening, including a health questionnaire and temperature checks.”
- Treating and Preventing Head Lice. Back-to-school time in the fall usually peaks with cases of lice. The FDA provides a whole list of ways to prevent getting head lice but note that avoiding direct contact with someone who has head lice is the best preventive measure. Read more ways to prevent head lice here. If your child has head lice, talk with your child’s health care professional or pharmacist about the recommended treatment for your child.
- FDA reveals cantaloupe was behind outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections. First posted on Aug. 17 by the Food and Drug Administration, there has been little information available on the outbreak, except for the patient count, which currently stands at 87. The agency did not report whether the cantaloupe involved was whole fruit or fresh cut. It also did not reveal a grower, packer, distributor, or retailers where the cantaloupe was produced and sold.
- New Zealand links hepatitis A berry cases to EU illnesses. There are 12 hepatitis A infections from eating frozen berries in New Zealand. Eight have been linked by genetic sequencing, meaning they were likely exposed to the same source of the virus. Foodstuffs Own Brands has recalled various Pams brand frozen berry products because of a possible link to the hepatitis A cases. There is some suspicion around a correlation to berries from Serbia currently.
- How to report seafood-related toxin and Scombrotoxin fish poisoning illnesses. A web page provides information on commonly occurring seafood-related illnesses and how to report them to the Food and Drug Administration. To report an illness from raw bivalve molluscan shellfish, email the FDA at [email protected]. The most commonly occurring illnesses are Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP), Puffer Fish Poisoning (PFP), Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning (SFP), and Seafood-associated Rhabdomyolysis (sometimes referred to as Haff disease).
- CDC says outbreak linked to Wendy’s sandwiches is over with more than 100 sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the total number of confirmed patients is 109. As of the report tonight from the CDC the specific source of the E. coli could not be 100 percent confirmed. However, 83 percent of 82 patients for whom the information was available reported eating at Wendy’s before becoming ill.