HPS Weekly Report
06 Nov 2018
Volume 52 No. 44
Access to ultra-low emission vehicles widened
Transport Scotland have announced funding of £700,000, which is believed will give more people the opportunity to use ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).
The Plugged-in Households Grant Fund (PiHHs Grant Fund) will provide an opportunity for not-for-profit housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland to apply for funding to procure the services of a zero emission car club vehicle, for use by their tenants and the wider local community.
The fund will be administered by the Energy Saving Trust, which aims to improve access to ULEVs, whilst allowing more households to consider the scheme as an alternative option to owning an electric vehicle.
More information and application details are available on the Energy Saving Trust website
Air pollution and child health
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a report entitled ‘Air pollution and child health: prescribing clean air’. It examines the effects of both ambient (outside) and household air pollution on the health of the world’s children, particularly those in low and middle income countries. Therefore, it is important to note that much of the data reviewed relates to countries where levels of both indoor air pollution and outdoor air pollution are higher than the current ambient levels in Scotland or the UK. The report was launched on the eve of WHO’s first ever global conference on air pollution and health.
Key findings include:
- air pollution affects neurodevelopment, leading to lower cognitive test outcomes, negatively affecting mental and motor development;
- air pollution is damaging children’s lung function, even at lower levels of exposures;
- more than 40% of the world’s population – which includes one billion children under the age of 15 - is exposed to high levels of household air pollution from mainly cooking with polluting technologies and fuels;
- about 600,000 deaths in children under the age of 15 were attributed to the joint effects of ambient and household air pollution in 2016;
- air pollution is one of the leading threats to child health, contributing to almost 10% deaths in children under five years of age.
The report is available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website
Source: WHO, 29 October 2018
Air quality in Europe
On 29 October 2018, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published ‘Air quality in Europe – 2018’, an updated overview and analysis of air quality in Europe from 2000 to 2016. The report is based on the latest verified air quality data from 41 countries across Europe. It includes figures about the number of people living in places where European Union (EU), and consequently World Health Organisation (WHO), air quality standards are being breached.
Key findings of the report include:
- the percentage of the EU-28 urban population exposed to particulate matter (PM2.5) stood at 6% in 2016, down from 7% the year before. However, approximately 74% of the EU urban population were exposed to concentrations exceeding the stricter WHO guidelines;
- the annual limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) continues to be widely exceeded across Europe. In 2016, 7% of the EU-28 urban population lived in areas with concentrations above the annual EU limit value and the WHO guidelines. This is down from 9% in 2015;
- about 12% of the EU-28 urban population were exposed to ground-level ozone (O3) levels above the EU’s target value in 2016, which is a considerable decrease from 2015 (30%). However, the percentage is still higher than the 7% recorded in 2014. Around 98% were exposed to levels exceeding the WHO guidelines.
The report concludes that 95-98% of people living in European cities are exposed to levels of ozone above the levels set in guidelines issued by the WHO.
The report is available on the European Environment Agency (EEA) website
Source: EEA, 29 October 2018
New bat rabies virus detected in England
Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that an incidence of European Bat Lyssavirus-1 (EBLV-1), responsible for the majority of bat rabies cases reported in Europe, was confirmed for the first time in a dead serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) in the UK. The occurrence underlines the fact that although the risk of catching rabies from a bat is very low, all bats (whatever species) should be considered a potential risk of rabies. All bat bites, scratches or other exposures in the UK or abroad should be assessed by a health professional so that post-exposure treatment can be arranged if needed.
Health Protection Scotland (HPS), PHE, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) have produced a new leaflet for the public on rabies risk associated with bat contact. It provides advice on what to do if someone finds a bat, if a bat comes into their home or if their pet catches a bat, as well as steps to take if they have had contact with a bat.
Source: PHE, 2 November 2018
World Pneumonia Day: 12 November 2018
Established in 2009, World Pneumonia Day is marked every year on 12 November. It aims to:
- raise awareness about pneumonia;
- promote interventions to protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia;
- highlight proven approaches and solutions in need of additional resources and attention.
Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of deaths in children under the age of five, despite being preventable and treatable. Although vaccines and other preventative efforts are decreasing the burden of the disease, more work is still required.
Further information and resources on World Pneumonia Day are available on the Stop Pneumonia website
Japanese encephalitis: review of recommendations
TRAVAX have completed a review of the Japanese encephalitis vaccine recommendations for all countries.
Utilising World Health Organisation (WHO) data, the incidence of Japanese encephalitis from 2013 - 2017 was calculated for each country.
There are currently 22 countries where human cases are reported. Taking into consideration both incidence and the presence of a national immunisation schedule, the risk of travellers acquiring the disease is considered to be small for all affected countries. As such, TRAVAX have ‘downgraded’ their vaccine recommendation from ‘sometimes advised’ to ‘selectively advised - only for travellers at highest risk’.
In affected countries, practitioners should consider vaccinating:
- those likely to be frequently exposed to mosquito bites in rural infected areas (e.g. backpackers, agricultural workers, volunteers);
- long stays (e.g. more than one month) in infected areas;
- repeated visits to risk areas (e.g. flood plains, rice paddies, marshlands);
- short stays during epidemics/outbreaks;
- migrants going to live in an endemic area.
Information and advice for travellers on Japanese encephalitis is available from the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 31 October 2018