HPS Weekly Report
12 Feb 2019
Volume 53 No. 06
HPS issue annual surveillance reports on Campylobacter and Salmonella
Measles in Europe: record number of both sick and immunized
More children in the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Region are being vaccinated against measles than ever before. Progress, however, has been uneven between and within countries, leaving increasing clusters of susceptible individuals unprotected, which has resulted in record numbers of people being affected by the virus in 2018. In light of measles data for the year 2018, the WHO urges European countries to target their interventions to those places and groups where immunization gaps persist.
Measles killed 72 children and adults in the European Region in 2018. According to country reports issued monthly through the year, 82,596 people in 47 of 53 countries contracted measles. Further, in countries which reported such data, 61% of cases required hospital treatment. The total number of people infected with the virus in 2018 was the highest this decade, with three times the total reported in 2017 and 15 times the record low number of people affected in 2016.
The surge in measles cases in 2018 followed a year in which the European Region achieved its highest ever estimated coverage for the second dose of measles vaccination (90% in 2017). More children in the region received the full two-dose series on time in 2017 than in any year since the WHO started collecting data on the second dose in 2000. Coverage with the first dose of the vaccine also increased slightly to 95%, the highest level since 2013. However, progress in the region, based on achievements at the national level, can mask gaps at sub-national levels, which are often not recognized until outbreaks occur.
Source: WHO Europe, 7 February 2019
WHO recommends limiting antibiotic use during the flu season
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appealed for careful antibiotic use in order to preserve their effectiveness for when they are truly needed. To advise doctors on which antibiotics to use for common infections and which to preserve for the most serious ones, the WHO have divided antibiotics into three categories in its Model List of Essential Medicines: Access, Watch and Reserve.
- The Access group comprises antibiotics that are first and second choices for common infections, which should be widely available.
- The Watch group includes antibiotic classes that should be prescribed only if there is a higher risk of bacterial resistance developing.
- The Reserve group consists of last-resort options.
Source: WHO Europe, 5 January 2019
An increase in reports of acute flaccid paralysis in the UK, 1 January 2018 to 21 January 2019
In October 2018, Public Health England (PHE) observed an increase in routine EV-D68 laboratory detections of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), with a total of 40 cases reported in the UK through 2018. Many of these were reported months after the initial diagnosis. PHE and other UK national public health agencies reminded clinicians of the potential respiratory and neurological associations of EV-D68 infection and the requirements for appropriate microbiological investigations, including exclusion of poliomyelitis.
In November 2018, PHE began to receive reports of AFP. A national task force was established to investigate the apparent increase. The preliminary epidemiological, clinical and microbiological features of cases as at 21 January 2019, have been described in a paper published in Eurosurveillance.
Tackling global climate change
A joint agreement to tackle climate change has been signed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy. Scotland and New Jersey have set ambitious climate and clean energy targets, recognising the importance of decarbonising the energy sector and in particular the role of offshore wind.
The two administrations have agreed to:
- share experience and best practices on tackling climate change
- work with like-minded countries, states and regions to increase ambition on climate change
- promote business and economic opportunities created by the transition to a low carbon economy
Funding provided to improve protection against floods
Communities across Scotland will receive more than £700,000 additional funding to improve flood protection. This includes £300,000 to support the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in its role as the strategic flood risk management. It is also proposed to increase this amount by a further £200,000 to £1.6 million for 2019 to 2020.
The Scottish Flood Forum will receive £33,000 in 2019 to 2020 to work with stakeholders to raise awareness of the importance of making flood resilient repairs and installing flood protection measures for property.
An amount of £180,00 has been made available to gather Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data, which surveys terrain and will provide robust data to improve assessment and management of flood risk.
Source: SEPA, 6 February 2019
UNICEF UK calls for action to protect children from air pollution
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) UK has claimed that around a third of UK children are growing up in areas with unsafe levels of air pollution, and, without urgent intervention, toxic levels of air pollution are expected to persist for the next ten years.
The report, 'Healthy air for every child: a call for national action', calls on the UK government to set legally binding targets to meet the World Health Organization(WHO) recommended limit values for particulate matter (PM) across the UK by 2030 and take urgent action to meet existing targets on Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). A commitment to the development of a cross-governmental healthy air for children action plan, setting out a national framework to protect children and young people from toxic air where they are most at risk, is also suggested as an action. The report suggests a commitment to a Little Lungs Fund, providing ring-fenced funding to protect children and young people from toxic air. This amounts to a minimum of £215 million in the first year and yearly replenishments until 2030, or for however long air pollution levels remain unhealthy.
Rio Carnival 2019, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In 2019, the Rio Carnival will take place from 1 to 9 March 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with an expected one million participants. It is likely that travellers from Europe will attend the event. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has advised that prior to travel to Brazil, Rio Carnival participants should ensure that all their vaccinations are up to date in accordance with the national immunisation schedule in their country of residence. Two doses of measles-containing vaccine (usually MMR), rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and polio are advised. In addition, the meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine should be considered, as should vaccinations against hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever.
Source: ECDC, 7 Feb 2019