Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – May 15th, 2005

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

May 13, 2005

World Bank Announces Funding Increase to Combat Malaria

The World Bank announced that it would increase funding in the fight against malaria by $500 million, raising its commitment to $1 billion over the next five years. The funding will expand anti-malaria efforts particularly in Africa where most of the disease’s annual one million deaths occur. A World Bank report, “The Global Strategy and Booster Program” acknowledges that the global effort of the last five years against malaria has been unsuccessful, and that additional monies and a new approach are needed to combat the disease.

Specifically, the report suggests creating a special task force to ensure that anti-malarial efforts are a component of lending programs for impoverished nations. The World Bank will increase the distribution of bed nets and anti-malarial programs and provide support to countries that lower taxes and tariffs on medicines to treat the disease, the report said. Funds will be raised both from the public and private sectors.

Approximately 60 percent of the estimated 350 to 500 million episodes and over 80 percent of the one million deaths from the mosquito borne disease take place in Africa, burdening the health system and halting economic growth in the continent, say African officials with the World Health Organization. According to The Lancet medical journal, the global rate of infection and deaths from malaria have actually increased since the Roll Back Malaria partnership, which includes the World Bank and the World Health Organization, was initiated in 2000.

The continent of Africa is the region hardest hit by malaria outbreaks, followed by Southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and western Pacific.

To read the complete report, “The Global Strategy and Booster Program,” please go to:
Rolling Back Malaria: The World Bank Global Strategy & Booster Program 2005 ( PDF)
Pet Rodents Linked to Salmonella Cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that 15 cases of multi-drug resistant Salmonella infection that occurred over the last year have been identified in hamsters, mice and rats, marking the first human Salmonella outbreak linked to pet rodents. A joint investigation by the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Public Health (MDH) that also included a review of isolates submitted to the PulseNet National Salmonella Database in 2004, showed 28 matching human case-isolates from 19 states.

Of the 22 patients interviewed, 13 came into contact with rodents at pet stores, two patients became ill through secondary exposure and seven had no rodent contact. Four people remained under investigation and two were lost to follow up, according to the CDC. Symptoms included abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Six patients were hospitalized, but none died.

The CDC has advised that healthcare workers consider pet rodents a potential source of Salmonella and obtain cultures when investigating outbreaks. In addition, the agency also recommends that improved hygiene in rodent cages and reducing unnecessary antimicrobial use are preventive steps.

To read more from the CDC about Salmonella and animals, please go to:
http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/salmonellosis.htm
WHO Concerned Over Polio Reappearance

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that a strain of polio, which in the last two years has infected Africa and the Middle East, is strikingly similar to a strain that has been recently identified in Indonesia. This recent data has raised concern that the outbreak has made the Southeast Asian nation the sixteenth country to be re-infected with the disease since 2003.

In the wake of eight people being diagnosed with polio in the last month, Indonesian health workers have conducted house-to-house vaccinations, intensified surveillance and devised plans to vaccinate 5.2 million children under the age of 5 by July. WHO officials believe that the spread of the disease from Africa to the Middle East and now to Southeast Asia is accelerated by the frequent travel from Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula.

Almost all of the cases of the disease have been linked back to Nigeria in 2003, when many Muslims in the country refused to immunize their children at the urging of hard-line Islamic clerics. The yearlong boycott of United Nation’s led vaccination drives significantly impaired the ability of health officials to control the disease.

Since immunization efforts began anew in July, instances of polio in Nigeria have decreased by 40 percent.

To read more about WHO global efforts to eradicate polio, please go to:
http://www.polioeradication.org/

‘Chlorine Tree’ Unveiled by Chlorine Chemistry Council*

The Chlorine Chemistry Council unveiled the Chlorine Tree™, an interactive web site (http://www.chlorinetree.org) showcasing the positive contributions chlorine makes in the areas of health, safety, nutrition, security, transportation, lifestyle and high-tech innovation. The site provides visitors the opportunity to explore the various chemical “branches” by navigating a virtual tour that utilizes videos, animation, sound, photographs and text.

As a commodity chemical, chlorine and its co-product, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) are used in more than half of all commercial chemistry applications to create hundreds of secondary compounds, which in turn contribute to plastics, pharmaceuticals and thousands of other modern-day products. During the last century, the chlor-alkali industry has grown to a $70 billion business in the U.S. that contributes to an estimated 45 percent of the gross domestic product.

The Chlorine Tree™ offers visitors detailed descriptions of individual projects, a narrated video, background documents, links to other web sites and additional information regarding the essential role chemistry plays in everyday life.

To visit and review the new Chlorine Tree™ web site, please go to: http://www.chlorinetree.org

* The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Council.

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