By Christina Larson
Science – As flu season bears down, the world is warily eyeing China. A novel H7N9 avian flu strain emerged here in March, infecting at least 135 people and killing 45 before petering out in the summer. Now it is back, with four human cases in southern China in the past month. More cases are a certainty, and researchers, public health experts, and vaccinemakers are preparing for the remote but real possibility that H7N9 will explode into a pandemic.
For now, the signs are reassuring. Sustained human-to-human transmission would be needed for H7N9 to cause widespread illness. But so far, there have been only a handful of possible instances of people infecting each other. In 70% of cases, victims are believed to have picked up the virus directly from live poultry, says Masato Tashiro, head of a World Health Organization (WHO) flu collaborating center in Tokyo. H7N9 is “still looking for ways to adapt well to humans,” says George Gao, deputy director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC).
The Meat Site – Safer food, less waste, more efficient food production and better use of natural resources are just some of the goals inspiring the work of a new research group at the University of Lincoln in the UK.
The Agri-Food Technology Research Group aims to develop new technological solutions for all stages of food production including cultivation, harvest, processing and packaging.
Agri-food is the largest industry in Lincolnshire and food security is also one of the major challenges identified by the UK Research Councils.
The Pig Site – Our understanding of the importance of influenza A infection in pig production has evolved rapidly over the past 15 years. Greg Wideman of South West Ontario Veterinary Services explained the impacts of those developments to the 2013 London Swine Conference.
Recent detection of novel subtypes of influenza A, such as H3N2, H1N2 and pandemic H1N1 in swine have heightened our awareness of this pathogen as a primary cause of swine disease and significant zoonotic (from animals to people) and reverse zoonotic (from people to animals) risk.
This paper reviews some ways in which influenza A impacts the pig producer and swine veterinarian… Continue Reading
Source: The Pig Site, November 29, 2013
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Science – The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology has retracted a much-criticized paper that links a strain of genetically modified (GM) maize with severe diseases in rats. The paper’s author, French biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, slammed the decision, which he said is an attempt by the GM crop industry to muzzle scientists who put into question the safety of its products.
Séralini’s paper sparked a media storm when it was published in September 2012. While some commentators presented the study as proof that GM food is “poison,” many scientists dismissed the study as flawed, and several official bodies also found it wanting.
The Poultry Site – A total of 316 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 37 states, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The source of infection has been traced to sales of young poultry from agricultural stores, which are mainly frequented by small-scale and hobby farmers.
According to the latest CDC report – dated 19 August – among 199 ill persons with available information, 51 (26 per cent) have been admitted to hospital; 59 per cent of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger.
By Kate Kelland
MSN News — Research published in the British Medical Journal analyzing a family cluster of cases of the bird flu infection H7N9 in eastern China found it was very likely the virus “transmitted directly from the index patient (a 60-year-old man) to his daughter.”
Experts commenting on the research said while it did not necessarily mean H7N9 are any closer to becoming the next flu pandemic, “it does provide a timely reminder of the need to remain extremely vigilant.”
By Eli Epstein
MSN News – Despite advances in food safety and consumer awareness, food recalls impact millions of Americans every year. In July alone, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 17 food and beverage items were pulled from shelves for a wide variety of reasons. They include the detections of disease-causing bacterium such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli; the presence of undeclared milks, nuts, eggs and wheat; and also instances of Hepatitis A tainting.