The Health Protection Scotland (HPS) Travel and International Health team have recently carried out a revision of their cholera recommendations, for medical professionals, on all TRAVAX country pages. This has resulted in eight countries having a cholera recommendation removed and three countries having a cholera recommendation added.
Countries most at risk from cholera are mainly in Africa and Asia but outbreaks can occur in other areas affected by floods and natural disasters. The TRAVAX outbreaks page gives access to the most up-to-date information.
The mainstay of prevention of cholera continues to be through care with food and water precautions and good hand hygiene practices. Cholera vaccine may be considered for:
- humanitarian aid workers in affected areas
- those working in refugee camps or slums
- travellers visiting areas currently affected by a cholera outbreak, if unable to take effective precautions with water
The general public can access further advice on cholera on the fitfortravel website.
Source: TRAVAX, 5 August 2019
On 7 August 2019, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its sixth update of a rapid risk assessment on Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The update addresses the impact of active chains of EVD transmission reported outside the outbreak’s epicentre, specifically in Goma, a provincial capital in the DRC.
Goma has an airport serving international flights to several African countries including the Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia. This increases the risk that citizens of the EU/EEA living and travelling in the DRC may get infected, and potentially introduce the disease to their home countries. However, the risk of the introduction of Ebola to the EU remains very low.
Source: ECDC, 7 August 2019
On 9 August 2019, the final report of the independent review on the Buchanan and St Ambrose schools in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, was published.
The review was commissioned by the Scottish Government to investigate health and safety concerns raised by parents, staff and the local community regarding the school campus.
The concerns centred around the potential health risks arising from previous use of the land on which the campus was built. In particular, there were concerns about the quality of water in the school mains supply and possible issues relating to soil contamination.
The report concluded that the schools were safe and that there was no link between the school campus and illness.
The report found:
- Water samples all pass drinking water quality standards. The review recommends North Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Water should further sample water in the coming months to address some minor quality issues.
- The methane membrane under the school building was installed correctly and no landfill related gases were detected at that time and now.
- Fifty soil samples were taken from soft landscaped areas, fifteen from raised beds and tested for various contaminants. The concentrations measured in soils, with the exception of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at one location, are not of concern.
- Elevated levels of PCB were found in one sample pit on the periphery of the site. The review recommends North Lanarkshire Council completes a full and independently verified removal of the chemical as soon as possible.
- The review recommends a site recovery group, made up of site users and community leaders, provides an open and transparent channel for any concerns to be raised regarding the well-being of those on the campus.
Source: Scottish Government, 9 August 2019
On 8 August 2019, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, opened a new £6 million project which uses new renewables technology to harness energy from waste water. The Stirling District Heat Network project was launched while the first minister was visiting the city as part of the 50th Travelling Cabinet.
The project received £2 million funding through the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, and was developed in conjunction with Stirling Council and Scottish Water Horizons. It is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to provide affordable and low-carbon heat to Stirling’s local community.
The announcement was part of a new package of announcements made in Stirling, which is aiming to become Scotland’s first carbon neutral city, with the aim of helping to tackle the global climate emergency. The cabinet met in the city to discuss key issues affecting the local community, including climate change, and included direct engagement with local residents.
The cabinet also announced that £300,000 will be invested to expand the Climate Ready Classrooms initiative to help young people aged 14-17 develop their understanding of climate change, its causes and potential impacts. The programme aims to engage with at least 50% of Scotland’s secondary schools in the next two years and accredit almost 5,000 young people as carbon literate.
Source: Scottish Government, 7 August 2019
The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland has published its annual report, which shows that Scottish Water’s compliance with the stringent standards for drinking water remains high, at 99.90%.
The report covers drinking water quality in Scotland during 2018, and states that a total of 319,124 regulatory tests were carried out on Scotland’s drinking water last year. Of those taken from samples at consumers’ taps, 99.90% met the required standards, which was a slight reduction from the previous year’s results.
The report also shows that the number of water quality incidents requiring detailed investigation by the DWQR was lower than in previous years.
Source: Scottish Government, 5 August 2019
The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) has opened a consultation seeking feedback on its scientific opinion about the risks to human and animal health, relating to the presence of chlorinated paraffins in food and feed.
Chlorinated paraffins have been produced since the 1930s for a variety of purposes and are used as additives in lubricants, flame retardants in the rubber industry and in plastics and sealants, among other uses.
Chlorinated paraffins may be released into the environment through product use or improper disposal and therefore may also contaminate food and feed.
The open consultation can be accessed on the EFSA website, with the deadline for submitting comments being 17 September 2019.
Source: EFSA, 6 August 2019
The Scottish Environmental Incident Surveillance System (SEISS) recorded the following incidents in the past week:
- Emergency services were called to an incident at a single-storey taxi workshop in Woodend Industrial Estate in Cowdenbeath just before 8am on 6 August 2019. Police said they had no reports of any casualties. Attendance by the emergency services followed eyewitness reports on social media of multiple explosions at the site. The fire service said the blaze had been extinguished and one fire engine remained at the scene. This was reported by BBC News.
- Moray Council was alerted to the possible presence of blue-green algae in the water by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). As a result, the council have taken samples from Elgin's Cooper Park pond amid fears over harmful bacteria. Signs have also being put in place at the location. The public are advising people to stay away from the area, and to ensure their dogs do not drink any water from the pond. This was reported by the Northern Scot.
For more detailed information, visit the SEISS website, or contact either Ian Henton or Colin Ramsay at HPS on 0141 300 1100.