On 25 June 2019, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) published the current quarterly data on HIV diagnoses in Scotland. These data, reported by NHS laboratories in Scotland up to 31 March 2019, show the numbers of individuals not previously recorded as HIV-positive, and individuals previously diagnosed elsewhere, but now recorded in Scotland. The data are presented by year of report, NHS board, exposure category, likely area of exposure, and recency of infection (i.e. within the preceding three to four months). Data are also presented on the cohort of individuals diagnosed and living with HIV in Scotland at 31 March 2019.
On 19 June 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign urging governments to adopt a tool to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance, adverse events and costs. The AWaRe tool was developed by the WHO Essential Medicines List to contain rising resistance and make antibiotic use safer and more effective. It classifies antibiotics into three groups, Access, Watch and Reserve, and specifies which antibiotics to use for the most common and serious infections, which ones should be available at all times in the healthcare system and those that must be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort.
The new campaign aims to increase the proportion of global consumption of antibiotics in the Access group to at least 60%, and to reduce use of the antibiotics most at risk of resistance from the Watch and Reserve groups. Using Access antibiotics lowers the risk of resistance because they are ‘narrow-spectrum’ antibiotics (that target a specific microorganism rather than several). They are also less costly because they are available in generic formulations. In the absence of new significant investments into the development of new antibiotics, improving the use of antibiotics is one of the key actions needed to curb further emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. By classifying antibiotics into three distinct groups, and advising on when to use them, AWaRe makes it easier for policy-makers, prescribers and health workers to select the right antibiotic at the right time, and to protect endangered antibiotics.
The campaign web site provides advocacy, communication materials and resources for policy makers.
Source: WHO, 18 June 2019
Spanish public health authorities have confirmed three cases of chikungunya in Alicante. All three people are residents of Iceland and were diagnosed following their return home from Spain. A further possible case in a member of the same family who lives in Norway is being investigated. In southern Europe, chikungunya is transmitted by the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus.
No vaccine is available against chikungunya. Travellers should be aware that avoidance of mosquito bites is the only reliable means of prevention. Methods of bite avoidance include:
- wearing long, loose, lightly coloured clothing to cover up the skin
- the use of insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) applied to any exposed skin
- the use of permethrin, impregnated mosquito nets
- the use of air conditioning if available and/or mesh screening of windows and doors
- eradication of mosquito breeding sites around the home, e.g. open containers, old tyres or flower pots that may collect water
For further information on chikungunya fever, consult the Travax (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Sources: fitfortravel, 17 June 2019 and EuroWeekly News, 15 June 2019
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published 2017 annual epidemiological reports for:
- Brucellosis - in 2017, 381 confirmed brucellosis cases were reported in the EU/EEA.
- Diphtheria - 39 cases of diphtheria due to toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae or C. ulcerans were reported in 2017.
In addition, ECDC has published a 2016 epidemiological report for:
- Congenital toxoplasmosis - in 2016, 242 confirmed cases of congenital toxoplasmosis were reported in the EU/EEA, with France accounting for 81% of all confirmed cases due to the active screening of pregnant women.
Source: ECDC, 19 June 2019
The Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) have issued their updated annual requirements and recommendations for travellers for the Hajj and Umrah in 2019.
Health protection guidance for Hajj 2019 can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Health Protection Scotland (HPS) has produced an information leaflet, available in English, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu, which details how Hajj pilgrims can manage travel-associated risks in order to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.
HPS has also produced an infographic poster, again available in English, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu, which recommends that Hajj pilgrims prepare themselves for travel by visiting their GP six-to-eight weeks before departure. The poster may be displayed in GP surgeries, mosques, social clubs and other venues where they may be seen by those planning to go to Hajj or Umrah. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the information leaflet above.
Sources: TRAVAX and fitfortravel (both 20 June 2019)
The UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) has published its annual report for 2018.
The ECP, a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) expert committee, provides independent scientific advice to UK government and the devolved administrations on matters related to the authorisation and use of pesticides.
Source: DEFRA, 20 June 2019
A report by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) into Scotland’s future energy requirements has highlighted that no energy policy, no matter how well-considered, will be capable of solving all the issues of energy supply and use, and that difficult and costly choices will have to be made. The report, published on 17 June 2019, warns there are no easy options and that all decisions will require compromise and trade-offs, each with significant consequences. However, the challenges present an opportunity for Scotland to explore and develop world-leading, innovative solutions.
The report sets out the significant challenges faced by Scotland, and the rest of the world, as it looks to continue to produce the energy it requires, while attempting to meet its carbon reduction targets.
Source: RSE, 17 June 2019
The latest figures from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) reveal that house fires in Aberdeen dropped by ten per cent in four years. A total of 261 accidental fires in the home were reported to SFRS between April 2018 and March 2019, down from 299 during the same period in 2015 to 2016. This comes as SFRS crews delivered 2,927 free Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) across Aberdeen from April 2018 to March 2019, an increase of 614 on the previous 12 months.
In South Lanarkshire, the number of deliberate fires has fallen to their lowest level in five years. The latest figures show that there were 696 deliberately set secondary fire incidents in the area in the last year, which is the lowest number recorded since the inception of SFRS. The number of accidental fires in the home in South Lanarkshire also fell to 229 between April 2018 and March 2019, down from 244 during the previous year.
Source: SFRS, 20 June 2019
The Scottish Urinary Tract Infection Network (SUTIN), which is part of Health Protection Scotland’s (HPS) Community Health Protection Programme, has launched a children’s hydration campaign, Think2DrinkH20, which aims to convey good hydration benefits for children and young people. The campaign was developed by child specialists, education and NHS partners and national organisations including SUTIN, the Care Inspectorate, Quarriers, NHS 24, NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group and the Scottish Government.
SUTIN have produced a range of campaign materials that can be used in a range of settings including health, education and at home. The resources include a healthy pee chart, record card, posters and social media content.
Source: HPS, 18 June 2019