HPS Weekly Report
20 Nov 2018
Volume 52 No. 46
Norovirus season starts
Latest figures show that NHS boards have reported an increase in norovirus and health professionals across NHSScotland are working to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks arising.
Norovirus, sometimes referred to as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, is a highly infectious stomach bug which causes sickness and diarrhoea and can rapidly spread in health and social care settings, as well as in the wider community. Most people make a full recovery within a couple of days, however some people (usually the very young or elderly) may become dehydrated and require hospital treatment.
The best way to stop norovirus spreading is to stay at home for at least 48 hours after symptoms have stopped to avoid spreading it further. Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water as alcohol based hand rubs are not effective for norovirus.
Further information on norovirus can be found on NHS Inform
HPS produce guidance for use in all care settings before and during outbreaks of norovirus, and this year have produced new guidance and supporting tools specifically for care homes
The norovirus public facing campaign materials are now available with posters and leaflets being issued to boards. These materials and social media messages can be viewed on NHS Inform
Levels of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in UK retail meat remain low
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have published the Year Three results of an EU survey commissioned to assess the frequency of certain types of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) E. coli in raw UK retail pork and beef.
Year Three of the survey was carried out between January and December 2017 during which 314 beef and 310 pork samples were purchased from retail premises in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and tested for specific types of AMR E. coli.
The survey generates baseline data on certain types of AMR E. coli found in retail meat in the UK, which informs assessment of the risks found, and steps needed be taken, in order to reduce exposure to AMR.
Overall, the results showed that less than 1% of the samples were positive for ESBL or AmpC E. coli, which are specific types of AMR. These results are similar to what was found in Year One of the survey. However, one beef sample was found to be contaminated with an E. coli containing the mcr-1 gene, which confers resistance to the antibiotic colistin.
Source: FSA, 13 November 2018
Two ECDC surveys published on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use in hospitals and long-term care facilities in the EU/EEA
Findings from two surveys released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on European Antibiotics Awareness Day (15 November) show that practices in antimicrobial use vary from country to country throughout Europe and that, overall, there is room for improvement.
The surveys also showed that healthcare-associated infections remain a serious issue, with 8.9 million cases occurring each year in both hospitals and long-term care facilities. Overuse of antimicrobials – mostly antibiotics – and varying infection prevention and control practices may result in the increased emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria in the EU/EEA.
The studies showed that there is still unnecessary use of antimicrobials in hospitals and in long-term care facilities. The surveys also confirm that healthcare-associated infections remain a public health issue in the EU/EEA. ECDC estimates that on any given day, one-in-15 patients in European hospitals, and one-in-26 residents in long-term care facilities, have at least one healthcare-associated infection. Many of them were caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria.
The surveys can be accessed on the ECDC website
Retrospective surveillance and enhanced case-finding of congenital rubella syndrome cases – generic protocol
Fellows of the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) programme have developed a generic protocol on behalf of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which allows countries in the EU/EEA to estimate the incidence of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) cases in their countries.
The study protocol describes a process that can used to retrospectively identify probable CRS cases in infants in the three years preceding the study’s implementation and allows countries to evaluate the completeness of their current CRS surveillance system.
The protocol can be accessed on the ECDC website
Source: ECDC, 16 November 2018
Update on measles outbreaks across England
Public Health England (PHE) has advised the public to ensure they have had two doses of MMR vaccine after outbreaks of measles were confirmed across England.
Between 1 January 2018 and 31 October 2018, there have been 913 laboratory-confirmed measles cases in England. This steep rise in cases (when compared to 259 laboratory-confirmed measles cases in 2017), was associated with outbreaks linked to importations from Europe which had led to limited spread in the community, particularly among teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were younger.
The measles outbreaks previously reported in different parts of the country are now under control, and there has been a sharp decline in the number of measles cases reported.
Source: PHE, 12 November 2018
European Testing Week: 23-30 November 2018
European Testing Week begins on 23 November and is an international campaign that encourages partner organisations—in community, health care and policy institutions - throughout Europe to unite for one week with the aim of increasing testing efforts and promoting awareness on the benefits of earlier hepatitis and HIV testing.
This initiative has progressed since it started in 2013 and has grown to be a widely recognised international event with hundreds of organisations participating every year. Each organisation volunteers their own time to organise their activities for European Testing Week, as well as creating displays showcasing the united effort needed in order to increase testing awareness at all organisational levels.
More details and campaign materials can be accessed on the European Testing Week website
Annual report on infection and associated risks among drug users published
The new 'Shooting Up' report, co-authored by Public Health England (PHE), Health Protection Scotland (HPS), Public Health Wales (PHW) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) Northern Ireland, was published on 19 November.
This annual national report describes trends in the extent of infections and associated risks and behaviours among people who inject drugs in the UK up to the end of 2017.
The report can be accessed on the PHE website