The Scottish Government launched their seasonal influenza immunisation campaign, this year titled Trust the Facts, on 1 October 2019 at the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. The campaign focuses on people with health conditions and children aged from two to five years of age.
Every year, thousands of children are hospitalised for flu and even healthy children can become seriously ill from it. Protecting children can also stop flu spreading to family, friends and others. To date, more than 1.6 million doses of the nasal vaccine have been given to 2-11 year-olds as part of the Scottish Childhood Immunisation Programme, but more parents and carers need to take up the offer for their child to be vaccinated to protect public health.
The campaign is also targeting people with health conditions, such as breathing problems, diabetes and heart or kidney conditions, as those people are 18 times more likely to die from flu than those without a health condition. Every year in Scotland, two-thirds of people who end up in intensive care because of flu have a health condition.
The campaign launch also marked the start of a national advertising campaign to raise awareness of the importance of the vaccination. Developed by NHS Health Scotland, TV and radio adverts will encourage people to contact their GP practice now and get the vaccine. Online adverts will invite people to watch and share short animations.
Public Health England (PHE) has also launched its annual flu vaccination campaign, for the first time offering all primary school children the nasal spray vaccine.
Further information can be found on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and NHS Health Scotland websites.
Sources: NHS Health Scotland, 1 October 2019 and PHE, 4 October 2019
For the first time, more than half of all the world’s infants are protected against the debilitating rubella virus, according to a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, more than 80 countries have eliminated the disease.
This progress has been achieved through broadening access to the safe and highly effective rubella vaccine, especially across lower-income countries. This vaccine has been shown to prevent more than 95% of rubella infections.
Four WHO regions have targets in place to control or stop the spread of the rubella virus. The latest countries to have achieved elimination, meaning the virus has not been circulating for at least 12 months, are Australia, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Oman.
In the last WHO/CDC rubella elimination study, which provided data for 2016, it was estimated that 47% infants were protected against rubella. In 2018, this figure stood at 69%.
Further information about rubella can be found on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) website.
Source: WHO, 4 October 2019
The country-specific recommendations for tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) have been revised and updated on both the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
TBE exists in endemic foci in eastern, central and northern Europe, northern China, Mongolia, Russia, Japan and South Korea. Most clinical cases are reported from the Baltic region, Slovenia and the Russian Federation.
TBE is spread through the bite of an infected Ixodes tick, or less commonly by ingestion of unpasteurised milk and milk products. Transmission is more common during the warmer months of April through to November, when ticks are most active.
Travellers should avoid consuming unpasteurised dairy products and be made aware of the need to prevent tick bites.
Vaccination is advised in endemic areas either ‘sometimes’ or ‘selectively’ and should be considered for:
- those travelling during tick season and who plan outdoor activities in rural or forested areas, such as rambling, camping, cycling and fishing
- those who may be at risk through their occupation, such as farmers or forestry workers
- long-term residents in rural or forested areas
Country-specific advice can be found on the individual country pages of TRAVAX and fitfortravel.
Source: TRAVAX, 1 October 2019
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a rapid risk assessment concerning autochthonous cases of dengue in Spain and France.
On 16 September 2019, the Catalonian Public Health Agency confirmed an autochthonous case of dengue in a resident of Barcelonès County in Catalonia, Spain. The case had onset of symptoms on 6 September 2019, with no recent travel history outside of Spain. Epidemiological investigations in Catalonia are ongoing, and further cases may be detected.
On 20 September 2019, the regional public health agency of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region reported a locally acquired confirmed case of dengue. Four additional cases in the direct vicinity have since been identified. In addition, the regional public health agency of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes reported a locally acquired probable dengue case in a resident of a suburban area of the city of Lyon.
To date, these three events should be considered as independent because epidemiological investigations have not identified any epidemiological links between them. The probability of further local sustained transmission remains very low in Spain and France, and environmental conditions will become progressively less suitable for transmission over the autumn season.
Based on ECDC’s epidemiological assessment, the risk that visitors to the affected area will become infected and subsequently introduce the virus and thus initiate further local transmission in their country of residence cannot be excluded, but remains very low.
Further information for travellers can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: ECDC, 1 October 2019
The UK Government has provided £5 million of aid as part of a programme to manage antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in agriculture and its impact on the environment.
The funding will go to five research partnerships between the UK and Argentina. It has been awarded through the Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF) and will be matched in staff and lab resources by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in Argentina.
The partnerships receiving the award are:
The research will benefit low- and middle-income countries which are disproportionately impacted by AMR. The programme will be delivered on behalf of GAMRIF by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in the UK and by CONICET in Argentina.
The use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock production is a primary contributor to the development and spread of AMR. Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted from animals to humans via direct contact or through the food chain and the environment, which poses a potential significant threat to human health.
Source: UK Government, 2 October 2019
Scotland’s Chief Statistician has announced the publication of a report on emissions of air pollutants in 2017.
The main findings are:
- Since 1990, there have been reductions in emissions for all pollutants, with decreases of 15% for ammonia, 63% for PM10, 65% for NMVOCs, 68% for PM2.5, 71% for nitrogen oxides, 84% for carbon monoxide, 96% for sulphur dioxide and 97% for lead.
- Scottish emissions accounted for 11% of the UK total of ammonia. The main source of Scottish emissions was agriculture, which was responsible for 92% of ammonia emissions.
- Scottish emissions accounted for 9% of UK PM10 emissions, with 32% of Scottish emissions coming from combustion, 26% from industrial processes, 18% from agriculture and 17% from transport sources.
- Scottish emissions accounted for 17% of UK NMVOCS emissions. Industrial processes, mainly breweries and distilleries, accounted for 49% of Scottish emissions, solvents and other product use 19% and fugitive emissions from fuels accounted for 14%.
- Scottish emissions accounted for 8% of UK PM2.5 emissions, with 57% of Scottish emissions came from combustion and 22% from transport sources.
- Scottish emissions accounted for 11% of UK nitrogen oxide emissions. Transport sources accounted for 51% of Scottish emissions, combustion was 31% and energy industries ran to 13%.
- Scottish emissions accounted for 7% of UK carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. Combustion accounted for 68% of Scottish emissions and transport sources ran to 26%.
- Scottish emissions of sulphur dioxide accounted for 8% of UK emissions, with 38% of Scottish emissions coming from combustion, 37% from power generation and 18% from transport sources.
- Scottish lead emissions accounted for 6% of UK emissions. Transport accounted for 51% of Scottish emissions, combustion 24% and industrial processes 20%.
Source: Scottish Government, 4 October 2019
The Scottish Government has opened a consultation on the creation of a deep sea marine reserve in the West of Scotland, as part of the Scottish Marine Protected Area (MPA) network. The government's vision for the marine environment is of clean, healthy, safe, productive and diverse seas, managed to meet the long-term needs of nature and people.
If taken forward to designation, the site would be underpinned by the powers in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. In legal terms, the reserve would have the same status as the other existing MPA’s in offshore waters.
The Scottish Government hopes the reserve, if designated, would help meet international commitments to protect the marine environment in the North-East Atlantic, as required under the OSPAR Convention. Ten of the identified habitats and species in the West of Scotland area are on the OSPAR threatened and/or declining list.
The consultation, which closes on 31 December 2019, seeks views on the case for designating the West of Scotland as a deep sea marine reserve, in particular:
- The scientific case for the designation of the West of Scotland area
- The conservation objectives and potential management advice
- The potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of West of Scotland area
Source: Scottish Government, 27 September 2019
Fireworks are considered an important part of Scottish celebrations and festivals, such as Hogmanay, Bonfire Night and Diwali. However, fireworks can potentially have negative consequences and need to be used safely and handled with care to avoid serious injury. A public consultation and omnibus survey were recently carried out by the Scottish Government to gather views on potential changes to fireworks legislation and regulations in Scotland.
To complement the consultation and omnibus survey, a desk-based review of the evidence has been carried out to provide an understanding of the key issues relating to fireworks. The report sets out the findings of the evidence review on the impact of fireworks in the context of international legislation and regulations. Additionally, a summary of current fireworks legislation and regulations internationally, and a review of the available evidence on the impact of fireworks, relating to social and environmental factors such as injury, pollution, noise and animal welfare, are also included.
Source: Scottish Government, 4 October 2019
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has unveiled its comprehensive vision to help keep Scotland’s communities safe. The SFRS Strategic Plan 2019-2022 sets out the service’s proposed direction over the coming years, which includes delivering a world class and sustainable service, enhancing partnership working and responding to new and emerging risks such as climate change.
Source: SFRS, 1 October 2019