According to the current HPS Weekly National Seasonal Respiratory report for week 4 (week ending 28 January 2018), published on 1 February 2018, the overall assessment remained amber representing moderate seasonal activity. The report also noted that:
- There had been a further significant reduction in the GP consultation rates for influenza-like illness (ILI) which was highly suggestive that the peak in GP consultations had now been passed.
- The colour indicator for influenza in closed settings had reduced from amber to yellow, representing normal season activity. There was continuing reduction in virological detections of influenza in secondary care. Influenza B detections remained stable in secondary care settings.
- It was difficult to assess the contribution of influenza to the very high statistically significant excess in all cause mortality reported in weeks 52, 1, 2 and 3, but ICU mortality due to laboratory-confirmed influenza remained within the normal seasonal range.
- Vaccine uptake rates increased in week 3. It would not be too late to be vaccinated - vaccination of those eligible for seasonal influenza remained the most important preventative measure to reduce influenza.
- An increase in community circulation of influenza prompted the issue of a CMO letter in week 50 and the advice that GPs may prescribe antivirals remained in force.
On 5 February 2018, the Scottish Health Minister launched a Scotland-wide campaign to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. The radio, print and social media campaign will reach people across the country, and every community pharmacy in Scotland will display posters warning of the signs of sepsis. It is being delivered in partnership with sepsis awareness and support charities FEAT, Scotland’s Sepsis Charity and Finding Your Feet. Specific materials will be displayed in GP surgeries and hospitals to complement work being done through the Scottish Patient Safety Programme to also raise awareness among healthcare teams.
More information on the symptoms of sepsis is also provided by NHS Inform.
Source: Scottish Government, 5 February 2018
Commenting on recent findings of new settlements of Aedes aegypti, the main vector species of dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has called for strengthened surveillance and vector control preparedness for mosquito-borne diseases.
ECDC argues that, if these are not implemented in time, Aedes aegypti will inevitably spread within the affected EU outermost regions, such as Madeira and Canary Islands, and may be a source of vector introductions into continental EU, increasing the risk of local outbreaks of arboviruses so far limited to more tropical climates.
In December 2017, officials from the Spanish outermost region of the Canary Islands reported the detection of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on the island of Fuerteventura, a popular destination for travellers. Earlier in the year the comeback of Aedes aegypti in Egypt, which has been facing local outbreaks of dengue around the Red Sea coast and travel-related cases among European travellers in recent years, was confirmed.
In the past, Aedes aegypti has been responsible for large outbreaks of yellow fever and dengue in the Mediterranean region. After having proliferated during the 18th and 19th centuries, it disappeared mid-20th century from the Mediterranean countries.
Since 2007, the species is established on the Portuguese outermost region of Madeira as well as around the Black Sea. In Madeira, Aedes aegypti was the vector of a 2012-2013 dengue outbreak. Recent VectorNet data show that the species is now further spreading to the west along the Black Sea coast of Turkey.
Source: ECDC, 1 February 2018
The Infection Prevention Society, which represents professionals working in infection prevention and control, is requesting nominations for their annual awards programme. These awards give those working in the field the opportunity to recognise and celebrate excellence in infection prevention and control across teams, branches and workplaces.
A team, an IPS branch or an outstanding ‘link practitioner’ (including non-IPS members) can all be nominated for an award in the following categories:
- Category 1: IPS Practitioner of the Year
- Category 2: IPS Team of the Year sponsored by Daniels Healthcare Ltd.
- Category 3: IPS Branch/Special Interest Group of the Year
- Category 4: IPS Link Practitioner of the Year
The Awards application process is simple requiring just the completion of a short online entry form. Assistance in completing the application form is available in the award guidance also available on the website.
The closing date for receipt of completed applications is midnight on Friday 8 June 2018. For any other queries, contact IPS by email or phone 01506 292023.
On 1 February 2018, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) announced that they would be undertaking a review of meat cutting premises and cold stores. The review, which will be established later this month, comes in the wake of serious non-compliance issues identified at cutting plants operated by 2 Sisters Food Group and Russell Hume and will be industry-wide.
In the last six months, the FSA and FSS have faced two serious incidents involving major players in the meat sector. People rightly expect food businesses to keep to the rules designed to keep consumers safe and to sustain public trust in food. Food businesses have a duty to follow the regulations.
In the light of these recent incidents, the FSA and FSS will be taking forward reviews of cutting plants and cold stores used for meat. Further details will be published later this month and the results will be fully available to the public.
Source: FSS, 1 February 2018
The FSA and FSS announced on 1 February 2018 that their investigations into the major non-compliances found at the Russell Hume plants in England and Scotland was intensifying. They had already stopped these plants’ production of meat products, ensured the withdrawal and disposal of the products and were now looking at the root cause of the incident and any culpability. The investigation was looking into all aspects of the business to establish more details about the serious and widespread problems so far identified and this would determine whether additional enforcement action should be taken.
It remained the case that there was no indication that people had become ill through consumption of meat supplied by Russell Hume and the agencies continued to assess the situation working with the relevant public health bodies.
Slaughterhouses, cutting plants and game handling establishments require veterinary control in accordance with Article 4(7) of Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 and must be approved by the FSA in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and by FSS in Scotland. However, unlike slaughter houses, cutting plants do not require veterinary control on a daily basis and are inspected through periodical and unannounced visits by the FSA, FSS or local authorities.
Source: FSS, 1 February 2018
Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) is pleased to publish the Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) analysis of the public bodies’ climate change reports 2016 to 2017. The document is the second of its kind, which details Scotland’s public bodies climate change activities.
The report highlights the efforts of 180 public bodies across Scotland in reducing carbon emissions from the public sector last year. The overall 8% reduction in emissions is a result of factors including the direct efforts of public bodies through emission reduction projects and increased use of renewables, and a cleaner electricity grid. These all point to the public sector driving forward action in moving Scotland towards a low carbon society.
Produced and published by KSB on behalf of the Scottish Government as part of the charity’s work to support and develop the Sustainable Scotland Network, the document also details that since 2015 to 2016:
- there has been a 20% increase in carbon savings from implementation of mitigation projects across the sector
- there has been a 20% increase in reported carbon savings from renewable generation
- there was a reduction in 6% of waste tonnage going to landfill
- there was a 2.2% drop in electricity consumption
In addition, almost 60% of public bodies reported renewable generation with solar panels featuring prominently, closely followed by biomass generation.
Source: KSB, 30 January 2018
Aviation and shipping is the focus of the ‘Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM)’ report published on 31 January 2018 by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The two sectors have seen tremendous growth over past years amid a boost in economic growth, which has stimulated international trade and travel. However, the sectors have come under increased scrutiny over their rising emissions and how they can meet European Union decarbonisation goals.
By 2050, global aviation and shipping together are anticipated to contribute almost 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions, unless further mitigation actions are taken. Further, transport, including aviation and shipping, continues to be a significant source of air pollution. It is also the main source of environmental noise in Europe and contributes to a range of environmental pressures on ecosystems.
The two transport sectors face complex challenges in reducing their environmental impacts. The report notes that in many ways the sectors are locked into established ways of operating which can be difficult to change. For example, past investments in conventional airport and seaport infrastructure can delay the uptake of more sustainable technologies, and opportunities to encourage alternative cleaner modes of transport like rail, for shorter trips. Similarly, the long lifespan of airplanes and vessels can hamper a faster shift to cleaner technologies. Other hurdles to be overcome include the lack of research on cleaner fuels for both aircraft and ships, as well as the costs involved in producing them.
Source: EEA, 31 January 2018
The use of diesel fuel continues to dominate across the EU, according to the report ‘Fuel quality in the EU in 2016’, also published by the EEA on 31 January 2018. In 2016, 71.8% (257,206 million litres) of fuel sales in the EU was diesel and 28.2% (100,838 million litres) was petrol. Diesel sales increased by 3.8% from 2015, whereas petrol sales remained almost unchanged. The fuel quality report gives the latest annual update on the volumes and quality of petrol and diesel used for road transport. Each year EU member states report this information under requirements set out in the Fuel Quality Directive.