23 January 2018
Volume: 52 Issue: 3
- Yellow fever in Brazil - ECDC assessment
- H5N6 findings in wild birds in England
- Zoonotic bacteria and parasites in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs
- Salmonella Agona outbreak - infant formula milk
- Pulled pork products - Salmonella recall
- Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2018
- Sanchi oil spill contamination
- Cars and vans - CO2 emission targets
HPS Weekly Report
23 Jan 2018
Volume 52 No. 3
Yellow fever in Brazil - ECDC assessment
On 18 January 2018, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued a further assessment of the risk to EU/EEA countries and citizens associated with the on-going outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil.
The 2016-2017 yellow fever outbreak in Brazil was declared over in September 2017, yet the upsurge of human cases since December 2017 and non-human primate epizootics since September 2017 indicate a resurgence of yellow fever virus circulation in Brazil, particularly in São Paulo state.
The detection of non-human primate cases in the vicinity of the metropolitan regions of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro is of concern, particularly in light of the start of the mosquito activity season in December 2017 and the suboptimal vaccination coverage in some areas. There is an increased likelihood of peri-urban or urban cycles of yellow fever transmission, which significantly increases the number of potentially exposed people.
The Carnival, one of the largest international mass gatherings in Brazil, will take place from 9 to 14 February 2018. During the Carnival, the number of EU/EEA travellers to Brazil is expected to increase, hence the number of travel-related cases among unvaccinated travellers may increase in the coming months.
The risk of yellow fever importation and subsequent transmission in the continental EU/EEA is currently very low because the virus has to be introduced by viraemic travellers in an area with an established, competent and active mosquito vector population.
Further advice for clinicians advising travellers is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
H5N6 findings in wild birds in England
Bird flu has been detected in dead wild birds in Dorset and Warwickshire, England, with more cases expected over the coming weeks. The Dorset findings were the first confirmed cases of H5N6 in the UK this winter, and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months.
This is different to the H5N6 strain which affected people in China last year and HPS has assessed the risk to public health as very low. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has also offered reassurance that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for consumers.
In response to the latest findings, Defra has introduced an England-wide avian influenza prevention zone which will require poultry keepers to introduce additional biosecurity measures, though this does not currently include a requirement for mandatory housing of poultry.
There are no restrictions on Scottish bird keepers at present and the Scottish Government will continue to monitor the situation across the UK and the rest of Europe, carefully. While findings in wild birds are not unexpected for the time of year, it is a timely reminder for all bird keepers to maintain good levels of biosecurity and to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock.
The risk level for an avian influenza incursion in Scotland remains at ‘medium’ for wild birds and ‘low’ for domestic poultry and other captive birds, provided good biosecurity is in place. There are currently no restrictions on bird keepers in Scotland, and bird gatherings are permitted under licence. The current avian influenza prevention zone does not prevent bird keepers based in England from attending bird gatherings in Scotland.
The APHA Alerts Service provides a reliable source of updates. More information on the AI Prevention Zone currently in place in England is available on the UK Government website.
Source: Scottish Government Avian Influenza webpage, 22 January 2018
Zoonotic bacteria and parasites in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs
Feeding raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) to companion animals has become increasingly popular. Since these diets may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, they may pose a risk to both animal and human health. A study recently described in the Veterinary Record tested a range of Dutch commercial RMBDs for the presence of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens, 35 commercial frozen RMBDs from eight different brands being analysed.
As a result, Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 was isolated from eight products (23%) and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases-producing E. coli in 28 products (80%). Listeria monocytogenes was present in 19 products (54%), other Listeria species in 15 products (43%) and Salmonella species in seven products (20%). The parasites, Sarcocystis cruzi and S. tenella were both found in four products (11% each) while two products (6%) were positive for Toxoplasma gondii.
The results of this study demonstrated the presence of potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen RMBDs that might be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and, if transmitted, posing a risk for human beings. Non-frozen products posed the further risk of zoonotic parasitic infections. The researchers considered that awareness should therefore be raised among pet owners concerning the risks associated with feeding their animals RMBDs. They stressed the particular inappropriateness of feeding RMBDs to ‘therapeutic pets’ or pets living in the environment of people with a weakened immune system.
Source: Veterinary Record, 13 January 2018, with related commentary.
Salmonella Agona outbreak - infant formula milk
On 17 January 2018, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in collaboration with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a further risk assessment concerning the outbreak of Salmonella Agona which has been linked to the consumption of infant formula. The assessment concluded that the widespread recall of several infant formula products made by a French processing company was likely to significantly reduce the risk of infants being infected by S. Agona, according to the risk assessment published today by ECDC and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). However, as long as there are potentially contaminated products circulating, new cases may still be detected.
The outbreak of S. Agona linked to the consumption of infant formula has been ongoing in France since August 2017. So far, the outbreak has affected 39 children under one year of age with 37 in France, one in Spain confirmed by whole genome sequencing (WGS) and one in Greece, considered to be associated with this event.
Investigations identified seven different brands of infant formula from a single processing company in France as the vehicles of infection. All products manufactured since 15 February 2017, including products other than infant formula, have been recalled and/or withdrawn, as a precautionary measure.
Recalled products have been distributed to 13 countries in the European Union (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and the UK) and to 54 other countries.
Most of the batches involved in the investigation have not yet passed the expiry date and may still be available to consumers, which is why the detection of new cases cannot be excluded.
Source: ECDC News Release, 17 January 2018
The current issue of ECDC’s Communicable disease threats report notes that Scotland reported two infant cases of S. Agona with onset of symptoms in March and April 2017. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) comparative analysis of these two cases showed that the two Scottish cases were not linked to the current outbreak in France.
Pulled pork products - Salmonella recall
James Hall is recalling SPAR BBQ Pulled Pork (product code 413151) and Woodland BBQ Pulled Pork (product code 561092) with ‘use by’ dates up to and including 25 January 2018 because the products may contain Salmonella. Both products have been sold at SPAR stores.
As a precautionary measure, the company is asking all customers who have bought either product not to use it, and to return it to their nearest SPAR store, where they will receive a full refund.
Source: Food Standards Scotland (FSS) Alert, 19 January 2018
Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2018
Experts in animal health and welfare management met for a high-level panel hosted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at the occasion of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2018, held in Berlin from 18-20 January, and organised by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Within the framework of livestock production, this multi-stakeholder group composed of international, regional and national policy makers and government representatives tackled issues linked to policy-making, climate stewardship and societal needs. The panel acknowledged animal health and welfare as two cornerstones for the global transition to sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock production models, and OIE International Standards as key components in achieving a stronger, more resilient livestock production.
During the round-table, ‘Animal Health and Welfare: Two cornerstones for the future of globally diversified livestock production’, hosted by the Director General of the OIE, targeted discussions identified four essential elements required for animal health and welfare to become a base for the management of livestock production worldwide.
In their conclusions, the panellists highlighted:
1. That it is crucial for public decision-makers to commit to encouraging donors and financial institutions to support programmes aimed at improving animal health and welfare.
2. That every effort should be made:
to promote compliance with international standards relating to animal health and welfare, for trade purposes as well as for designing national strategies
to ensure the best possible transparency of epidemiological information on the emergence of animal diseases, by immediately notifying such information via the OIE World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS)
to contribute to the proper implementation of global strategies for the control of animal diseases, while keeping in mind the need for prudent use of veterinary medicinal products, especially antimicrobials
to encourage a greater respect of animals, as a positive component of sustainable production systems
3. They also noted that the practical fulfilment of these commitments requires a coordinated approach between the partner international organisations, such as the Tripartite collaboration established between WHO, FAO and the OIE.
4. Lastly, the panellists strongly emphasised that the success of any actions in favour of the livestock sector can only be assured if they are accompanied by capacity-building programmes for national Veterinary Authorities aimed at the sustainable resilience and efficiency of these services.
Based on these conclusions and on those of the second high-level panel hosted by the EU, approximately 70 Ministers of Agriculture gathered at the Ministers’ Conference on Saturday, 20 January published a common communiqué on: ‘Shaping the Future of Livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently’.
Sanchi oil spill contamination
An emergency ocean model simulation shows that waters polluted by the sinking Sanchi oil tanker could reach Japan within a month. The new simulation also shows that although pollution is most likely to reach the Japanese coast, it is also likely to affect Jeju Island, with a population of 600,000. However, the fate of the leaking oil is highly uncertain, as it may burn, evaporate, or mix into the surface ocean and contaminate the environment for an extended duration.
These latest predictions have been made possible by new information about where the Sanchi oil tanker finally sank. Based on this update, the team of scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the University of Southampton have run new ocean model simulations to assess the potential impact of local ocean circulation on the spread of pollutants. These simulations were run on the global ocean circulation model, NEMO.
The Sanchi tanker collision originally occurred on the border between the Yellow and East China seas, an area with complex, strong and highly variable surface currents. However, in the following week, the stricken tanker drifted before sinking much closer to the edge of the East China Sea, and to the major western boundary current known as the Kuroshio Current. The predictions of these new simulations differ significantly from those released last week, which suggested that contaminated waters would largely remain offshore, but could reach the Korean coast within three months. Using the same methods, but this new spill location, the revised simulations find that pollution may now be entrained within the Kuroshio and Tsushima currents.
These currents run adjacent to the northern and southern coasts of southwestern Japan. In the case of contaminated waters reaching the Kuroshio, the simulations suggest these will be transported quickly along the southern coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu islands, potentially reaching the Greater Tokyo Area within two months. Pollution within the Kuroshio may then be swept into deeper oceanic waters of the North Pacific.
The revised simulations suggest that pollution from the spill may be distributed much further and faster than previously thought, and that larger areas of the coast may be impacted. The new simulations also shift the focus of possible impacts from South Korea to the Japanese mainland, where many more people and activities, including fisheries, may be affected.
Cars and vans - CO2 emission targets
All car and van manufacturers met their carbon dioxide (CO2) specific emission targets in 2016, based on current European vehicle test rules, but they will need to continue their efforts to meet future agreed-to cuts. These are the findings of the latest report tracking progress on CO2 emission targets for new passenger cars and vans published on 18 January by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The EEA report, ‘Monitoring CO2 emissions from passenger cars and vans in 2016’, gives an updated summary of CO2 emission levels of new passenger cars and vans in the European Union (EU) in 2016 based on measurements performed in the laboratory using a standard European vehicle test cycle.
The findings largely confirm preliminary data the EEA published for cars and vans last year. They show that new passenger cars sold in the EU in 2016 had CO2 average emissions of 118.1 grams (g) CO2/kilometre (km), which is 28% lower than in 2004 when monitoring started, and lower by 1.2% only, when compared with 2015. The average emissions from vans sold in 2016 were 163.7g CO2/km, below the 2017 target of 175g CO2/km and a reduction of 9.2% since monitoring first started.
In order to meet their respective future targets, (95g CO2/km for cars by 2021 and 147g CO2/km for vans by 2020), average CO2 emissions for new cars and vans will need to continue decreasing at a similar pace.
Data on manufacturer’s individual performances show that all car and van manufacturers met their CO2 specific emission targets in 2016. While certain manufacturers would have exceeded their specific emission target, if considered individually, they met their obligations as members of pools.