On 7 January 2020, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) published quarterly epidemiological data on Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI), Escherichia coli bacteraemia (ECB), Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB), and surgical site infection (SSI) in Scotland, for the period July to September (Q3) 2019, under the mandatory programmes for surveillance of CDI, ECB, SAB, and SSI in Scotland. This report provides data for the third quarter of 2019 in 14 NHS boards and one NHS special health board.
The report, and an appendix detailing all cases and denominator data for each NHS board and overall for Scotland, can be viewed on the HPS website.
An outbreak of measles is currently affecting a number of the Pacific Islands, including American Samoa, Republic of Marshall, Solomon Islands and Tokelau. As a result, some of the islands in the region are introducing new entry requirements for certain travellers to prove measles immunity, either through evidence of vaccination or previous measles infection.
Travellers planning to visit the Pacific islands should check with their embassy to find out if any new requirements have been put in place prior to travel. Foreign Embassy contacts can be found on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.
Further information is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
On 11 December 2019, the 23rd meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding the international spread of wild poliovirus was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The committee agreed that the situation still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and recommended the extension of the temporary recommendations. The committee provided the director-general with updated risk categories as below:
- A certificate requirement for polio vaccination under IHR (2005) is required for countries listed below, which are infected with WPV1, cVDPV1 or cVDPV3 with the potential risk of international spread:
- Afghanistan (WPV1)
- Pakistan (WPV1)
- Nigeria (WPV1)
- Indonesia (cVDPV1)
- Malaysia (cVDPV1)
- Myanmar (cVDPV1)
- Philippines (cVDPV1)
- There is no certificate requirement under IHR (2005) for countries listed below, which are infected with cVDPV2, with potential or demonstrated risk of international spread, with the exception of Nigeria and the Philippines, which are also infected with WPV1 or cVDPV1. However, travellers are encouraged to carry proof of polio vaccination:
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- States no longer infected by WPV1 or cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection by WPV or cVDPV are listed below:
Advice for travellers and further information can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: WHO, 20 December 2019
Chinese New Year for 2020 officially begins on 25 January and ends on 8 February 2020. This year is the year of the rat.
The potential health risks will vary between individuals depending on the amount of time spent in China, the areas being visited and leisure pursuits undertaken. Risk factors such as age, pre-existing health conditions and medications, pregnancy etc should be taken into account during a travel consultation.
Travellers are advised that, although human cases of avian influenza are rare, visitors to China should avoid exposure to wild birds and poultry.
Information and advice on travel to China, and the risks posed by avian influenza, is available to view on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
New EU Official Control regulations came into force across the UK on 14 December 2019. The regulations aim to strengthen public health protection and the integrity of the food and feed chain in the UK.
The EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) Regulation (EU) 2017/625 is part of the EU Commission’s Smarter Rules for Safer Food initiative, which aims to modernise, simplify and strengthen official controls across the food chain, including plant and animal production, food manufacturing and supply, and processing and distribution.
The OCR will repeal and replace existing legislation which is integral to the activities of Food Standards Scotland (FSS) as the national authority responsible for the delivery of official food and feed controls in Scotland, and other food and feed enforcement bodies such as local authorities.
While the OCR introduces more prescriptive controls in certain areas, greater flexibility is provided in others, and the overall impacts on the existing food and feed official control regime in Scotland are expected to be broadly policy neutral.
The Official Feed and Food Controls (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 will provide for the execution and enforcement of the OCR in relation to FSS’s areas of responsibility for food and feed law. Most of the changes update legislative references and remove references to requirements which no longer have effect.
The Official Controls (Agriculture etc.) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 make provision in respect of official controls and other official activities at border control posts; genetically modified organisms for the purposes of feed and food production; animal health requirements; prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health from animal by-products and derived products and welfare requirements for animals.
Source: FSS, 14 December 2019
2019 was an important year for the World Health Organization's European Region (WHO Europe), from working towards more affordable health care, to electing a new regional director. The region also celebrated some important anniversaries, including a quarter century of the Regions for Health Network and 30 years of tackling the most significant environmental threats to human health. The WHO has published a timeline infographic, which looks back at some key moments of the last year. The stories highlight achievements across the region as well as some specific country initiatives.
In 2019, the UK lost its measles-free status from the World Health Organization (WHO), as child vaccination rates in the country fell across the board.
On 20 February 2020, the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) will host an event designed specifically for healthcare professionals, which will focus on the factors contributing to the decline and what can be done to address falling vaccination rates.
Topics to be covered include:
- Why vaccination rates are falling, looking at the data, trends and factors involved.
- Understanding the extent to which vaccine hesitancy and misinformation around vaccines is affecting vaccination rates, with a particular focus on the impact of social media.
- Direct experiences from frontline staff who talk daily with patients, parents, and children.
- Appropriate responses to questions and concerns raised.
Further information and registration details are available on the conference website.