The Independent and Health-Informed Tourist?

Mers-virus-3D-imageFULLBy Scinceside – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

An innocuous visit to Dubai
A young friend of my extended family was recently taken seriously ill and ended up in a London hospital following a short trip to Dubai to visit a partner working abroad for a few months. The symptoms of the infection, taken together with the location, and the fact that the trip involved taking a camel ride, led the hospital to suspect deadly MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). Acting on that basis, the partner was tested in a local hospital in Dubai and sent home to wait-out the 14 day transmission window for this disease.

About MERS
Its caused by a coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and infection is linked to travel in the Middle East and close contact with camels, camel secretions and uncooked camel products. The fatality rate is 40%, but deaths are usually linked to underlying medical conditions which weaken the immune response. There is no vaccine: disease transmission is controlled by hygiene, by contact tracing of confirmed cases and the wearing of personal protective equipment by hospital staff (1). Since 2012, 27 countries (including UK) have reported 2266 cases, the majority in Saudi Arabia, with a serious imported outbreak in 2015 in South Korea.

Fortunately the friend turned out not to have MERS but it was a very difficult and traumatic 24 hours finding information to reassure relatives (40% fatality is a scary statistic) … and it set me thinking:

How much can you be expected to know as an independent traveller and what is the responsibility of your tour organiser to inform you? Continue reading

Excessive use of antimicrobials in intensive livestock farming as One Health issue

One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day November 3rd 2016

Most antibiotics in livestock farming are used in aquaculture, but significant amounts are also used in terrestrial livestock species, particularly in poultry and pigs.

Livestock

Most antibiotics in intensive livestock farming are used for non-therapeutic purposes

Approximately 70% of antibiotics are used for non- therapeutic purposes, i.e. many antibiotics are used in sub- therapeutic doses and over prolonged periods, which leads to the development of genes that confer antimicrobial resistance to animal pathogens. These genes can subsequently be transferred to human pathogens and it is estimated that 75% of recently emerging diseases in humans are of animal origin.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) problems are further exacerbated by the fact that antibiotic resistance genes were found in bacteria long before antibiotics were ever used on super-pathogens in farm animals.

AMR is a worldwide problem, which clearly affects both animal and human health, and hence it is truly One Health issue.

 

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Why Latin America is nearer elimination of rabies than Africa

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"World Rabies Day" is September 28th. Copyright: CC, Global Alliance for Rabies Control   
   
Rabies: a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals, transmissible through the saliva to humans and causing madness and convulsions. Rabies is fatal once symptoms appear.

Latin America is doing far better at managing, controlling and ultimately eliminating rabies from the region. Africa is failing to make the same gains and a rethink is required: can the lessons learned in Latin America be  applied or adapted to Africa?

At  the biennial RSTMH meeting “Challenges in Disease Elimination” held in Cambridge [September 12-16th, 2016], Katie Hampson [University of Glasgow] described the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)'s surveillance & management framework operating in Mexico and Brazil,  and devised to support the elimination of rabies in 25 PAHO countries. She also described the work of Tanzanian colleagues who have developed a “pragmatic approach to surveillance” for the African setting where resources are constrained.

Current situation of rabies control in Latin America vs Africa

The short answer is that in Latin America, PAHO, which exists to “strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the peoples of the Americas”, has concentrated on vaccinating the dog population against rabies and interrupting transmission. African countries have no similar regional support structure for their health ministries and rely on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)  of humans bitten by dogs, to achieve a form of control of rabies. PEP vaccination only saves lives if the bitten person has timely access to a well-stocked clinic, and the money to pay for the shots. In remote and rural areas, this can lead to grim choices: which child do you treat if you only have money for one?  We heard at the RSTMH of an African mother with several children bitten by the “family dog”, who having travelled a great distance to reach the vaccine, was then faced with that very choice.

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Workshop on “Food Security: Infectious Diseases in Farm Animals”- Invited Lectures, Day 2

St. Catherine’s College, Manor Road, Oxford,  UK,  4-7th April 2016 

Attended by M Djuric, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, on 5th April 2016 (Day 2)

This workshop meeting was jointly organised by the Pirbright Institute, Woking, UK and Cairo University, Egypt and was sponsored by the British Council Research Links Programme.

The aims of the workshop were to build long-term and sustainable links between scientists in the UK and Egypt working in the field of infectious diseases of poultry and livestock.

The second day of the workshop  consisted of two sessions and included  four invited expert and engaging presentations by Professor Mohamed Shakal, Professor Fiona Tomly,  Professor Javier Guitian and Dr Roberto La Regione.

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Venue: St. Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford

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Workshop on “Food Security: Infectious Diseases in Farm Animals” brings together animal and veterinary scientists from Egypt and the UK

St. Catherine’s College, Manor Road, Oxford, UK,  4-7th April 2016 

Attended by M Djuric, CAB International, Wallingford, UK, on 5th April 2016 (Day 2)

This workshop meeting was jointly organised by the Pirbright Institute, Woking, UK and Cairo University, Egypt and was sponsored by the British Council Research Links Programme.

There were 50-60 delegates in attendance at the meeting, with approximately one-half of delegates coming from various faculties and Research Institutes of Cairo University. The other half of participants came from the UK, including the Pirbright Institute, Woking, Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London, Surrey University and Roslin Institute, Edinburgh.

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Venue: St. Catherine's College, Manor Road, Oxford

In total, 21 oral presentations, excluding invited speakers, and 17 posters were included in the meeting programme.               

A representative of the British Council, Shaun Holmes, was scheduled to provide information on Newton Fund News and Future Funding Opportunities on day three of the meeting. I attended on behalf of CABI on day two of the event.

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How effective are current measures for protecting horses from African Horse Sickness?

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

African horse sickness is a serious and often fatal disease of horses, mules and donkeys caused by African horse sickness virus (AHSV), of the genus Orbivirus in the family Reoviridae. It can also affect zebras, camels and dogs, but not humans. Zebras and donkeys rarely develop serious disease.

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The virus is spread by infected insects (mosquitoes and biting midges) and causes fever, heart and respiratory problems in affected animals.  Death is common and can occur suddenly.

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Veterinary visits to become mandatory in European farming

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK

The European Agriculture Council has formally approved a draft law on animal diseases that are transmissible among animals and potentially to humans (zoonoses).

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The provisions in the law on farm animal health visits stipulate that professional animal owners are to receive regular animal health visits from a veterinarian for disease prevention, detection and biosecurity. This new piece of legislation aims to merge and update existing scattered directives and regulations into a single and coherent law.

It is announced as an important step forward, since visits by vets are the cornerstone of the ‘prevention is better than cure’ strategy and indispensable for the prevention and early detection of known and emerging transmissible diseases. The role of the veterinarian in achieving this is defined and highlighted. The veterinary profession also has an active part to play in raising awareness of animal health and of One Health, or the interaction between animal health, animal welfare and public health.

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