On 5 January 2018, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported a large increase in hepatitis A infections in 2017 compared with previous years. These infections mostly affected men who have sex with men (MSM).
Current advice to travellers stresses that:
- most travellers will be at low risk of hepatitis A
- as with all other illnesses spread by the faecal oral route, precautionary measures should be taken to avoid consumption of potentially contaminated drinks and drinking water and to ensure food is uncontaminated or cooked thoroughly
- personal hygiene when eating and drinking is also important including hand washing prior to eating and using clean plates, cups and utensils
Vaccination should be considered under the following circumstances and is dependent on the individual risk assessment:
- non-immune travellers to developing countries are at most risk of infection
- occasionally cases have occurred in travellers staying in good quality hotel accommodation but the risk is increased for
- those travelling to areas where they will be exposed to unsafe drinking water
- where sanitation conditions are poor
- travellers visiting friends and family
- long stay travellers
- men who have sex with men (MSM)
Further information on hepatitis A is available on TRAVAX (for health professionals) and on fitfortravel (for the general public).
Source: TRAVAX, 10 January 2018
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released US $1.5 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to scale up response to a diphtheria outbreak among the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
The funds are being used to support immunisation, provide essential medicines and supplies, improve capacities for laboratory testing, case management and contract tracing and engage with communities.
Diphtheria is an infectious respiratory disease. It spreads through air droplets by coughing or sneezing. Risk factors include crowding, poor hygiene and lack of immunisation. Between 8 November and 31 December, 28 deaths and 3014 suspected cases of diphtheria were reported from Cox’s Bazar. Nearly 10,594 contacts of these suspected cases have been put on diphtheria preventive medication.
In a vaccination campaign that ended on 31 December 2017, 149,962 children aged six months to six years were administered vaccines for diphtheria and other life threatening diseases. Additionally, 165,927 children and adolescents aged seven years to 15 years were given diphtheria tetanus (DT) vaccine.
School children, living in areas close to the Rohingya camps in Ukhia and Tekhna sub-districts have since been administered a dose of DT vaccine, as part of the outbreak response. Childhood vaccination coverage is already high in Bangladesh. Protecting children with another dose of DT as a precautionary measure, is intended to further curtail the spread of the disease.
Source: WHO South East Asia Regional Office, 2 January 2018
Estimates suggest that by 2025 up to half of new building materials might contain nanomaterials. However, what is known about where and how these ‘ingredients’ are used is incomplete. For all their benefits, these very small-scale particles and fibres could also carry risks.
The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has recently published guidance based on investigations by a team of Loughborough University researchers who set out to discover what is known about the prevalence of nanomaterials in construction, to test possible risks in the lab and to give guidance for manufacturers of nanomaterials or products containing them and people working in construction or demolition.
Source: iosh, 8 January 2018
On 12 January 2018, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opened a public consultation on its draft guidance for the risk assessment of nanoscience and nanotechnology applications in the food and feed chain. The guidance covers the relevant areas within EFSA’s remit, such as novel foods, food contact materials, food and feed additives, and pesticides.
The new document takes account of scientific developments that have taken place since publication of the previous guidance in 2011, particularly studies that offer new insights into exposure assessment and hazard characterisation of nanomaterials.
It also considers nano-specific considerations relating to in vivo/in vitro toxicological studies and outlines a tiered framework for toxicological testing, and proposes ways to carry out risk characterisation and uncertainty analysis.
Interested parties can submit comments until 4 March 2018.
Source: EFSA, 12 January 2018
A research report, RR1121 ‘Overview of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects at HSE’s Buxton Laboratory’, recently published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides an overview of applied scientific work on CCS undertaken at HSE’s Buxton Laboratory. The work includes laboratory-scale and field-scale experiments, evaluation of complex dispersion models for dense-phase carbon dioxide releases, development of decision support tools for pipeline risk assessment and publication of best practice guidelines. In particular, work has focussed on assessing the hazards posed by the accidental release of dense-phase carbon dioxide transported by pipeline. The research has been primarily funded by HSE and industry, with support from the European Union.
HSE’s scientific work is intended to help reduce both the risks and costs of any future development of industrial-scale CCS by contributing to the assessment and control of risks early in the design and deployment of the technology. The research has contributed to the scientific evidence base that, if CCS is deployed in with UK, will inform HSE policy decisions to ensure that the regulatory framework for pipelines is effective and proportionate to the potential risks associated with CCS.