On 31 July 2019, the Scottish Government announced plans to treat more people for hepatitis C, with the aim of effectively eliminating the condition in Scotland six years ahead of the target set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have also published a report on the hepatitis C elimination strategy to accompany the release of the government’s plan.
The Scottish Government has committed to increase the number of people treated for the potentially fatal blood-borne virus to at least 2,500 in 2019-2020, then to at least 3,000 annually from 2020-2021.
In Scotland, there are an estimated 21,000 people living with hepatitis C, which causes progressive damage to the liver. By increasing the number of people treated annually, NHS Scotland hope to be able to effectively eliminate the condition by 2024.
During 2018-2019, NHS Scotland exceeded the target to treat 2,000 people for hepatitis C.
Source: Scottish Government, 31 July 2019
On 29 July 2019, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published their annual epidemiological reports on tick-borne encephalitis and on Zika virus disease for 2017.
Data for 2017 reported 3,079 cases of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in EU/EEA countries, 2,550 (83%) of which were confirmed. TBE showed a seasonal pattern in 2017, with 78% of cases occurring from May to November, while 42% of cases occurred from June to August.
In 2017, the outbreak of Zika virus disease in the Caribbean and the Americas during 2015 to 2016 had subsided, leading to a significant decrease in the number of travel-associated infections in EU/EEA countries, where a total of 274 cases were reported.
Up to date guidance is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: ECDC, 29 July 2019
The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST) is deploying more public health specialists to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as the country’s Ebola virus outbreak reaches the one-year mark.
Those being sent to support the DRC government’s existing efforts include a data scientist, an epidemiologist (an expert in tracking outbreaks) and an infection and prevention control expert, who will work with local scientists. The deployment is at the request of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), following the recent decision to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The UK-PHRST has worked closely with the DRC government, the WHO and other partners to scale up its response since August 2018, when the current outbreak started. Since that time, there have also been confirmed cases in neighbouring Uganda.
The WHO has also released a statement on the first anniversary of the Ebola virus outbreak, calling for continued solidarity and help from the international community to tackle the outbreak.
Information and guidance on viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) can be accessed on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) website. Additionally, information on VHF can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
A recent update on the Ebola virus outbreak for health professionals can be found on the TRAVAX website.
Source: Public Health England (PHE), 1 August 2019
The Public Health England (PHE) team investigating cases of listeriosis linked to sandwiches and salads in NHS hospitals in England has confirmed that, since the last update on 26 June 2019, there has been another death, bringing to six the total number of deaths linked to this outbreak.
The individual who died was one of the nine previously confirmed cases. The individual is considered to have acquired listeriosis from Good Food Chain products while at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
PHE continues to test all samples of listeria on an ongoing basis to check if they are linked to this outbreak. To date, thirty-four samples have been tested, with none linked to the outbreak.
There have been no new cases of listeriosis linked to this outbreak. Investigations are continuing and the public should be reassured that the risk continues to be low.
No cases have been reported in Scotland so far.
Source: PHE, 2 August 2019
On 31 July 2019, a major campaign to protect the UK’s water resources was launched in partnership with more than 40 environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators, including the Environment Agency, Water UK, Ofwat, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).
The British public are being asked to help ensure clean, healthy and readily available water resources are provided for future generations.
It is claimed the climate emergency and population growth are putting increasing pressure on the water environment, and the UK is facing hotter and drier summers with an increased risk of water shortages. The UK has less available water than most other European countries and the average person uses 150 litres per day.
Source: Environment Agency, 31 July 2019
Food waste recycling in Scotland is at its highest ever level, according to new reports published by Zero Waste Scotland.
A total of approximately 158,500 tonnes of household and commercial solid food waste was collected in 2017, compared with the 2013 figure of 111,500 tonnes.
The increase has prevented the equivalent of 41,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, similar to taking more than 22,000 cars off the roads for a year.
The findings are from the Scottish anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas sector survey 2017 and the Scottish composting sector survey 2017.
Producing electricity, heat and gas from food waste through AD allows the capture of energy stored in food that would otherwise be sent to landfill or incinerated. Using this waste helps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
The rise has been helped by the introduction of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 compelling businesses to recycle food waste. As of 2016, Scottish businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste per week have been required to present food waste separately for collection.
The increase has also been supported by a growth in the availability of food recycling facilities to Scottish households via their local council, with 80% of Scottish households now having access to food waste recycling.
Source: Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS), 26 July 2019
Official statistics published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) show that the food hygiene rating scheme is being used more than ever before to assess food hygiene standards.
The public attitudes tracker survey monitors changes in consumer attitudes to food-related issues, and covers consumers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The latest results, from May 2019, show the public’s use of hygiene stickers has jumped to 66%, compared to 60% in the previous wave from November 2018.
85% of respondents reported being aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from. The most commonly reported ways of knowing about hygiene standards were via food hygiene ratings stickers (66%) and the general appearance of the premises (59%).
Source: FSA, 31 July 2019