On 20 October 2020, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), part of Public Health Scotland (PHS), published its report on selected zoonotic infections in Scotland during 2019.
Zoonoses are diseases and infections that are naturally transmissible between vertebrate animals and humans.
This report summarises laboratory confirmed cases of selected zoonotic infections reported in Scotland during 2019, excluding the main gastrointestinal pathogens, which are covered in detail in separate surveillance reports.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises British nationals against all but essential travel, exempting some countries that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. This advice is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice.
The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages have been updated to include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, with every country being identified as high, moderate or low risk and each rating accompanied by appropriate travel advice. This information will be listed in the ‘Alerts’ section on each country page of fitfortravel and the 'Emerging Health Risks' section of every TRAVAX country page.
This risk-rating is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country and is regularly reviewed. Since September 2020, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has decreased for the following countries:
- Greek islands of Crete, Lesvos, Milos (Serifos), Tinos, Santorini and Zakynthos
- Cayman Islands
- Australia (Victoria state)
The COVID-19 risk rating and travel advice from the FCDO is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice. All travellers are advised to continue following sensible precautions and consider the following sources of information listed below.
Advice for travellers
Before planning and/or booking international travel, please check:
Information relating to travel and COVID-19 is available on the TRAVAX (for healthcare practitioners) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Information on COVID-19 for the general public is available on the NHS Inform (Scotland) and the NHS.UK (rest of the UK) websites.
Information and resources on COVID-19 for health professionals is available on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) (Scotland) and Public Health England (PHE) (rest of the UK) websites.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported an increase in the number of dengue cases in Martinique. From 4 November 2019 to 27 September 2020, 20,520 suspected dengue cases were recorded, including eight severe cases and ten deaths. Of these cases, 7,790 were reported in September 2020, including one severe case and seven deaths.
Advice for travellers
- All travellers to endemic regions are potentially at risk of dengue fever, and should be aware of this infection. Prevention relies on avoiding mosquito bites at all times.
- Travellers developing a fever during or on return from travel are advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Information and advice for travellers on dengue fever is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 12 October 2020
On 9 October 2020, media sources in East Africa reported that three people had died of haemorrhagic fever in the Raja county of Western Bhar-el-Ghazal State in South Sudan. Investigations suggest that 127 similar cases had been recorded since the previous week.
More information for travellers on viral haemorrhagic fever is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 12 October 2020
On 14 October 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its annual global report on tuberculosis (TB).
TB remains the top infectious killer in the world, claiming close to 4,000 lives a day. The WHO report aims to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic, as well as detailing progress in the response at global, regional and country levels.
The report features data on disease trends and the response to the epidemic in 198 countries and territories, including trends on TB incidence and mortality, data on case detection and treatment results, multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), TB/HIV co-infection, prevention, universal health coverage and financing. Also included is an overview of pipelines for new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.
In recognition of the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report also includes a provisional assessment of how the pandemic will affect the TB epidemic, people with TB, and progress towards global TB targets.
Source: WHO, 14 October 2020
The eighth annual World Polio Day takes places on 24 October 2020. Poliomyelitis is an acute enteroviral infection that mostly affects children under five years of age and, in its most severe form, may result in permanent paralysis.
Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched, the incidence of polio cases has dropped by 99.9%. With polio nearly eradicated, the aim now is to sustain the progress made and ensure every child receives the polio vaccine.
More information is available on the End Polio website.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has published the results of a survey revealing a rise in the number of people who are increasingly concerned about a reduction in food quality and standards in Scotland as a result of the UK leaving the EU. Between 1 and 3 September 2020, 1,002 people in Scotland were surveyed, with 77% of respondents being either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ concerned about a drop in standards after 31 December 2020. This is an increase of 8% on the results of similar research in January 2020.
The survey responses highlight:
- There would be strong opposition from the public to any lowering of standards of food.
- The sale of chlorinated chicken and GM foods are of the greatest concern (57%), followed by lowering animal welfare standards (54%).
- Compared with January 2020, there appears to be a hardening of opinion, with more people responding that they will be less likely to purchase poorer quality foods, such as eggs from battery-caged hens and meat from factory farmed animals.
- Only one-in-ten said they would be likely to buy genetically modified (GM) foods, even if they were significantly cheaper.
- Seventy-one percent of those interviewed believed there would be an increase in food crime, up 10% from January, after 31 December 2020.
Source: FSS, 11 October 2020
The eighth International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) takes place from 25 to 31 October 2020. The manufacture and sale of lead paint is still permitted in over 60% of countries, presenting a continuing and future source of lead exposure for children and workers. The focus of this year’s week of action is on the need to accelerate progress towards the global phase-out of lead paint through regulatory and legal measures.
Source: WHO, October 2020
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a new report on urban adaptation in Europe, examining how cities and towns respond to climate change.
The report presents an overview of:
- climate risks to cities and towns
- types of adaptation responses
- the extent of adaptation planning and actions at the local level in Europe
- opportunities to scale-up and speed-up implementation of adaptation to climate change at the local level
Source: EEA, 12 October 2020
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation seeking views on the introduction of new legislation to restrict the sale or commercial supply of plastic plates, straws, cutlery, balloon sticks, polystyrene food and drink containers, and products made from oxo-degradable plastics. These items are the ones most commonly found washed-up on European beaches and were identified in the EU Single Plastics Directive as contributing the majority share of litter found in the marine environment.
Millions of single-use plastic items are used in Scotland each year, including an estimated:
- 300 million plastic straws
- 276 million pieces of plastic cutlery
- 50 million plastic plates
- 66 million polystyrene food containers
Restrictions on the sale or commercial supply of these single use plastic products would support efforts to tackle Scotland’s throwaway culture, reduce problematic litter and promote the use of more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
The consultation is open until 4 January 2021 and responses can be completed on the Scottish Government website.
Source: Scottish Government, 12 October 2020