HPS Weekly Report
25 Sep 2018
Volume 52 No. 38
£100,000 for Scottish beach clean-ups
The Natural Environment Minister, Mairi Gougeon, has announced more support to tackle marine litter build-ups on Scotland’s coastlines. A total of £100,000 is being provided to extend the SCRAPbook (Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography) project around the entire Scottish mainland.
SCRAPbook is a collaboration between three charities, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol and the Moray Firth Partnership. It aims to identify the country’s most littered coastal areas to enable targeted clean-up operations and also provide practical help for the areas most affected.
The SCRAPbook map is available for anyone to use and by visiting the website people can see how much litter has been identified and how they might help in their own area.
EEA report on mercury pollution
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report describing the problem of mercury pollution and the challenges in addressing the issue globally.
The report states that mercury presents the biggest risk in rivers, lakes and oceans where it takes a highly toxic form that is absorbed by animals, including fish. The most recent monitoring data shows that nearly 46,000 surface water bodies in the EU, out of approximately 111,000, are not meeting mercury levels set to protect fish-eating birds and mammals. Humans become exposed to mercury mainly when they eat large predator fish, such as tuna or monkfish, which have been eating smaller fish with mercury in their bodies.
The researchers found that current emissions of mercury in Europe are mostly limited to combustion of solid fuels, including coal, lignite and wood. Globally, mercury emissions are much higher due to emissions from additional sources such as small-scale gold mining and industrial processes.
The report explains that one of the main problems with mercury is its persistency; once it is released into the environment, for example through coal burning, mercury can circulate through air, land, water and animals for thousands of years. The current levels of mercury in the atmosphere are up to 500% above natural levels. In the oceans, the concentrations of mercury are about 200% above natural levels.
The report is available on the European Environment Agency website
Source: EEA, 19 September 2018
World Environmental Health Day – 26 September 2018
Every year since 2011, World Environmental Health Day has been celebrated on 26 September. This year’s theme of ‘Global food safety and sustainability’ aims to support the provision of more safe food, to make use of precious water and nutrient resources and for communities to increasingly value sustainable food production.
Food safety is currently being challenged by global dimensions of food supply chains, the need for a reduction in food waste and efficient use of natural resources such as clean water. As our food supply becomes increasingly globalised, the need to strengthen food safety systems in and between all countries is becoming more and more evident.
More information about World Environmental Health Day is available on the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) website
Campylobacter levels in UK-produced chickens
On 13 September, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) noted that the top nine retailers across the UK have published their latest testing results on Campylobacter contamination in UK-produced fresh whole chickens (covering samples tested from April to June 2018).
The latest figures show that 3.7% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination, which are those carrying more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) of Campylobacter. The figure testing positive for the previous set of results (Jan-March 2018) was 3.8%, while for the first publication (July-September 2017) it was 4.6%.
Source: FSS, 13 September 2018
World Rabies Day – 28 September 2018
World Rabies Day is held each year on the 28 September. It is coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) and aims to increase awareness of the disease and its prevention.
The theme this year is ‘Rabies – share the message. Save a life’, which highlights the importance of education and awareness to prevent rabies, and continues the global strategic plan to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030
Approximately 59,000 people die annually from rabies, many of them children. 95% of human victims of rabies are from Africa and Asia and almost all cases are the result of a bite from an infected dog.
The rabies record on TRAVAX (for health professionals) contains information including risk assessment, guidance, pre-vaccination and first aid advice. Information for the general public is also available on fitfortravel
Guidelines for post-exposure rabies management are available from Public Health England
More information on the World Rabies Day campaign is available on the Global Alliance for Rabies Control website
Eurosurveillance report on two cases of monkeypox confirmed in England
A report entitled ‘Two cases of monkeypox imported to the United Kingdom, September 2018’ has been published in Eurosurveillance.The report presents a summary of the presentation and management of both cases, travellers arriving from Nigeria, as well as detail on the public health response managed by Public Health England (PHE).
With respect to any relationship between the cases the report notes that there is no evidence that the cases are epidemiologically linked other than both cases recently travel to southern Nigeria, the location of a recent monkeypox outbreak. Preliminary analysis indicates the monkeypox for both of these cases belongs to the less severe West African clade; one of two clades of monkeypox the other being the more severe Central African clade.
PHE have made efforts to identify contacts and to ensure that they have been risk assessed and followed up appropriately. Of 243 contacts identified 229 are currently under surveillance having been given appropriate information on monkeypox. In addition, 103 of the 229 contacts were offered post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with vaccinia vaccine.
The presentation of two unrelated cases of monkeypox in the UK is unusual but highlights the importance of clinical awareness, obtaining a full travel history for all patients, early recognition and isolation as well as infectious disease surveillance.
Further information on monkeypox and related guidance is available on the PHE website