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News Scan for Aug 20, 2021

News Scan for Aug 20, 2021

Study finds antibiotics, other medications in urban streams

Screening of a network of urban streams in Baltimore revealed high concentrations of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, researchers reported this week in Environmental Science & Technology.

The analysis of 371 water samples collected weekly over the course of a year (November 2017 to November 2018) detected 37 unique compounds belonging to 11 pharmaceutical classes. The antibiotic trimethoprim was the most frequently detected compound (137 detections in 371 samples), while acetaminophen was the compound with the highest concentrations. Antidepressants were also frequently detected.

Among the sites tested, higher concentrations and more compounds were found in streams with higher population densities.

Using their weekly estimates to calculate the annual loads of pharmaceuticals at the outflow point (Baltimore’s Inner Harbor), the researchers estimated that the equivalent of 30,000 tablets of acetaminophen, 1,700 doses of antibiotics, and 30,000 doses of antidepressants flow into the harbor each year.

The authors note that because the sewage produced by residents of this urban stream network is transplanted to a wastewater treatment plant outside the watershed, the source of the compounds is likely leaking sewer pipes rather than wastewater effluent.

“These results demonstrate the importance of developing, maintaining, and improving sewage infrastructure to protect water resources from pharmaceutical contamination,” they wrote.
Aug 18 Environ Sci Technol abstract

Two Wisconsin H1N2v flu cases linked to county fair

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported two variant H1N2 (H1N2v) flu cases, both involving patients 18 or older who attended the same county fair in Wisconsin that had swine exhibits.

One adult was hospitalized, and both have recovered from their infections. No human-to-human cases have been linked to either person.

The illnesses lift the number of variant US flu cases this year to seven. Of those, three were H1N2v cases, including an earlier case in Wisconsin. All of the variant cases this season were linked to contact with swine or being on a property with swine before symptom onset.
Aug 20 CDC Fluview

H5N6 avian flu infects 1 more person in China

For the second day in a row, a new H5N6 avian flu infection was reported in China, this time in Guangdong province in the south, according to a statement from Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP). The new case marks China’s 16th H5N6 infection of the year, part of a sharp uptick in human illnesses.

The report said the patient is a 52-year-old woman in the city of Huizhou. It didn’t have other details, such as the date of symptom onset, likely exposure to the virus, or her current clinical condition.

Yesterday, China reported an H5N6 case involving the husband of a woman whose illness was reported about a week earlier. The couple, from Hunan province, had both shopped at a live-animal market and cooked and eaten a duck they bought at the facility.

H5N6 circulates in poultry, mainly in China and other Asian countries. However, China and Laos are the only nations that have reported human infections, which are often severe or fatal. People infected with the virus usually have a history of exposure to live poultry or their environments. China has now reported 40 cases since 2014.
Aug 20 CHP statement


Benin reports H5 avian flu outbreak; Taiwan notes new H5 reassortant

Agriculture officials in Benin reported a highly pathogenic H5 avian flu outbreak in poultry, the country’s first since 2018, signaling an expansion of recent avian flu activity in Africa.

According to a notification today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the outbreak began on Jul 26 at a layer farm in Oueme department near the border with Nigeria. The virus killed nearly all of the 6,661 susceptible birds.

Other African nations have also reported H5N1 outbreaks over the past few months, including Ivory Coast, Togo, Mali, and South Africa.
Aug 20 OIE report on H5 in Benin

In other avian flu developments, animal health officials in Taiwan reported a new highly pathogenic H5N2 subtype, according to a government statement translated and posted today by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.

The virus was detected in dead ducks found in Yunlin County. The statement said the virus is genetically similar to H5N8 viruses that recently circulated in South Korea. Genetic sequencing reveals, however, that the H5N2 virus is different from other H5N2 strains that circulate in Taiwanese poultry.

AFD notes that, since 2015, Taiwan has reported at least three new highly pathogenic H5 strains, involving H5N2, H5N3, and H5N5.
Aug 20 AFD post

WHO panel extends polio emergency as Nigeria reports more cases

The World Health Organization (WHO) polio emergency committee met earlier this month and decided that the global situation still warrants a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), though it noted encouraging trends with both wild poliovirus and vaccine-derived poliovirus. The group declared the PHEIC in 2014, and the meeting on Aug 4 was the 29th to discuss the newest developments.

In a WHO statement today, the committee notes that wild poliovirus type 1 transmission continues to fall, with only 1 case each in Afghanistan and Pakistan this year, compared with 94 during the same period in 2020. Environmental positives in the two countries have also declined sharply. The experts emphasized that, despite commendable progress, there is no room for complacency and that vaccination gaps are worsening in many Afghanistan provinces with COVID-19–related immunization interruptions in both countries.

The committee also said the number of vaccine-derived poliovirus cases this year has also dropped sharply, with no new emergences, though genetic analysis has found eight instances of international spread. They also noted an outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 3 in China, bringing the number of countries reporting vaccine-derived outbreaks to 31.

WHO emergency committees typically meet every 3 months, or more often as needed.
Aug 20 WHO statement

In other polio developments, only one country—Nigeria—reported new cases this week, all 26 of which involve circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), according to the latest weekly update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

In a separate development, the GPEI weighed in yesterday on the unrest and transfer of power in Afghanistan to the Taliban. It said it is closely monitoring developments and assessing disruptions in polio eradication efforts and other essential health services. The GPEI said it has been operating amid insecurity and conflict in the country for many years and will continue working with all groups to deliver assistance.

“Together with our partners, the people of Afghanistan, national and provincial authorities, we will do everything in our power to continue this critical work,” the GPEI said.
Aug 19 GPEI update
Aug 19 GPEI
statement on Afghanistan

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