Rare hamster-related case of tularemia reported

first_imgJan 6, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – A 3-year-old Colorado boy fell ill with tularemia after a bite from a pet hamster last year in the first documented case of its kind in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today.”Tularemia has not been associated previously with pet hamsters,” the CDC says in the Jan 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published online today. “Clinicians and public health officials should be aware that pet hamsters might be a potential source of tularemia.”Tularemia in the United States is usually linked to insect bites or handling carcasses of small animals, particularly rabbits. The disease is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, one of the six biological agents deemed most likely to be used by terrorists.The Colorado boy’s family had bought six hamsters from a Denver pet store in January or February 2004, according to the CDC report. All the hamsters died of a diarrheal disease within a week after they were bought, but one of them bit the boy on a finger before it died. A week later the boy had fever and swollen axillary lymph nodes. His symptoms persisted despite treatment with amoxicillin clavulanate.Seven weeks after the onset of the boy’s symptoms, an axillary biopsy and subsequent laboratory tests led to the detection of F tularensis. The boy had had no other risk factors for exposure to tularemia, such as tick or mosquito bites or contact with game meat. He improved after treatment with ciprofloxacin, the article says.Investigation revealed that many hamsters kept at or recently bought from the Denver pet store had died around the time of the boy’s illness, the report says. But because no carcasses were available for testing, officials couldn’t confirm that the hamster was the source of the infection. However, a pet cat that lived at the store had a positive serologic test for tularemia, though it was not sick. In view of the circumstantial evidence and the lack of other possible risk factors, the hamster was the most likely cause of the boy’s illness, investigators concluded.The CDC speculates that wild rodents carrying tularemia might have “infested the pet store and spread the infection to hamsters by urinating and defecating through metal screens covering hamster cages.” A similar scenario led to a tularemia outbreak among monkeys in a zoo once before, the report says.Tularemia has been associated with “hamster hunting” in Russia but has not been previously linked with pet hamsters in the United States, the CDC says. No further cases were found after the pet-store owner was advised to set traps to control wild rodents, the article concludes.CDC. Tularemia associated with a hamster bite—Colorado, 2004. MMWR 2005 Jan 7;53(51 & 52):1202-3See also:CIDRAP overview of tularemialast_img read more

Two human H5N1 cases noted; poultry outbreaks expand

first_imgNov 28, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Two more human cases of H5N1 avian influenza have been confirmed in recent days in Vietnam and Indonesia, while poultry outbreaks are spreading in China and Romania.The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed Nov 25 that a 15-year-old boy from Vietnam’s Haiphong province has H5N1 infection, which Vietnamese authorities announced last week. The boy has been discharged from a hospital and is recovering, the WHO said. He is the 66th Vietnamese to contract avian flu.A 16-year-old boy was confirmed today as having Indonesia’s 12th avian flu case, according to a Nov 26 report by Agence France-Presse (AFP). He was hospitalized in good condition in the West Java capital of Bandung, said Hariadi Wibisono of the Indonesian health industry, as quoted by AFP.”Tests [on blood] taken from the 16-year-old boy, both locally and by the World Health Organization, show that he is a bird flu patient,” Wibisono said. The WHO hasn’t updated its case count to reflect confirmation of the case.The WHO said it would send a team to the eastern Chinese province of Anhui to investigate human deaths from H5N1, according to the English version of the China People’s Daily Online. Two deaths have been confirmed in that province.China wrestles with poultry outbreaksChina has reported seven new outbreaks in poultry in less than 10 days, according to the English version of the Chinese People’s Daily Online on Nov 25. Outbreaks have led to the culling of about 17,000 birds in an Inner Mongolian village, according to a Nov 25 report China filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Bloomberg News reported on Nov 26 that China has had 27 poultry outbreaks this year.Romanian poultry case outside Danube deltaRomanian officials found the H5N1 virus in a remote village 70 miles from the Danube River delta, leading to a cull of roughly 17,000 poultry in the village of Scarlatesti, Reuters news service reported on Nov 26. Samples from a turkey in Scarlatesti were positive in initial testing in Romania; follow-up testing will occur in a laboratory near London, the story said.The cull in Scarlatesti led to the firing of two of the country’s chief veterinarians, Reuters reported today, after a television station aired film showing inhumane culling.A private TV station showed footage of a man wringing the neck of a goose and then throwing the bird into a fire. The Reuters report indicates some birds were not dead before being thrown into the flames.Animal rights groups were angered and said that Romania wasn’t complying with standards it must meet to succeed in its bid to join the European Union, Reuters reported. Poisoning with gas is a generally approved method for culling large flocks, Reuters said, citing experts who insist that any culling method must be safe, humane, and efficient.See also: WHO confirmation of 66th Vietnamese casehttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2005_11_25/en/index.htmlChina’s Nov 25 and Nov 23 reports to OIEhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/China%20Follow-up%20report%20No10.pdfftp://ftp.oie.int/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/infos_san_archives/eng/2005/en_051125v18n47.pdfRomania’s Nov 27 reports to OIEhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/Romania%20Follow%20up%20No10.pdfhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/Romania%20Follow%20up%20No9.pdflast_img read more

Federal marshals serve inspection warrant to NJ food company

first_img Michael Chappell, the FDA’s acting commissioner of regulatory affairs, said in the press release that the FDA’s action against the company was warranted because the company wasn’t willing to share information the FDA needs to ensure food safety. “The FDA uses all appropriate legal means necessary to obtain information and fully investigate firms or individuals who put the health of consumers at risk,” he said. Apr 8 FDA press release In 2007 following a spate of foodborne illness outbreaks, the Bush administration unveiled a new food protection plan that proposed giving the FDA the authority to require companies to recall unsafe foods. On Feb 9 New Jersey officials placed an embargo on Westco’s distribution facility to block the company from sending out potentially contaminated peanut products. The FDA said it hasn’t received any reports of illnesses or deaths linked to Westco products. Sebastian Cianci, FDA spokesman, told CIDRAP News that the firm cooperated with the federal warrant and turned over records. “But it will be some time before we know what information we can glean from the documents,” he said, adding that investigators hope the records will reveal the firm’s customers so that the FDA can notify them that they may have received Westco products that contained ingredients from PCA. The company, Westco Fruit and Nuts Inc, had also refused a Mar 23 FDA request to recall the products it made with peanut ingredients from PCA. Companies are required by law to allow the FDA to inspect the company facilities and access distributions records, but the agency doesn’t have the authority to order mandatory recalls, the FDA said today in a press release. The company also rebuffed the FDA’s Mar 26 request for distribution records. The FDA today repeated its Mar 23 warning for consumers to check their homes for Westco products, dispose of the ones they find, and wash their hands after handling the products. The FDA said between Nov 19, 2008, and Dec 30, 2008, Westco receive three shipments of oil-roasted salted redskin jumbo peanuts from PCA’s Blakely, Ga., facility. Westco repacked the peanuts into different size configurations and used them in a variety of mixed nut and trail mix products until early February 2009. See also: The outbreak, which involved Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium, has sickened at least 691 people from 46 states and possibly contributed to nine deaths. Nearly 4,000 products containing PCA peanuts or peanut ingredients have so far have been recalled in what is shaping up to become the nation’s largest ever ingredient-driven foodborne illness outbreak. Nov 6, 2007, CIDRAP News story “US food safety plan calls for FDA recall power” “They are asking me to commit suicide based on presumption,” he said. “They have no proof that anyone got sick from eating whole redskin peanuts roasted in oil.” He told ABC that he had the nuts tested at an FDA-approved lab and that they showed no evidence of contamination. Jacob Moradi, Westco’s owner, told ABC News on Mar 23 that his products were safe and that a recall would destroy his business. Sending US Marshals to obtain distributions records doesn’t happen very often, Cianci said. “It is safe to say this is an uncommon event.”  Apr 8, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – US Marshals today executed an inspection warrant at a New Jersey fruit and nut company after it refused to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) access to its distribution records related to peanut products received from Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), a Virginia-based company linked to the recent national Salmonella outbreak.last_img read more

Communication expert endorses WHO’s delay on pandemic declaration

first_imgJun 12, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – A well-known risk-communication expert said the World Health Organization (WHO) acted wisely in delaying its declaration of an influenza pandemic until yesterday, but he simultaneously expressed concern that the move may lead to complacency about the situation.The WHO drew considerable criticism for putting off announcing a phase 6 pandemic alert in the face of evidence that the virus was spreading on several continents. But Peter M. Sandman, PhD, a New Jersey-based consultant and close watcher of pandemic preparedness, said the WHO’s go-slow approach gave the world a chance to get used to the idea that a pandemic declaration was coming soon.However, he also worried that declaring a pandemic of an illness that is usually mild may lead many people to think that a pandemic is not a serious concern.Sandman observed, as have others, that the WHO has been trying to steer a course between unduly frightening people and lulling them into complacency.Officially, yesterday’s WHO announcement means that the H1N1 virus is spreading in communities in more than one region of the world. The virus first emerged in April in the United States and Mexico and has since spread to 74 countries. Its spread in places far from North America, including Australia, Chile, and the United Kingdom, had led to growing pressure on the WHO to announce that a pandemic was under way.But at the urging of several governments, the WHO held off on taking the step for weeks out of concern that it would cause excessive alarm in a world that has learned to link the concept of a pandemic to the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which rarely infects humans but kills about 60% of those it does infect.”I think WHO was wise to wait to declare H1N1 a pandemic, while clearly signaling that it would do so soon,” Sandman commented yesterday by e-mail.The delay has given everyone a chance to get used to the idea, allowed governments and companies time to adjust their preparedness plans, shown due deference to governments that urged delay, and allowed time for the evidence of H1N1 transmission in widespread parts of the world to grow indisputable, he said.”Those are all good objectives,” Sandman said. “An urgent health necessity would have trumped all of them, but I have trouble seeing what urgent health necessity would have been served by an earlier declaration. (It is worth remembering that the WHO’s recommended action steps for phases 5 and 6 are identical.)”An adjustment reaction likelySandman said the pandemic announcement is likely to cause anxiety in some people, who will undergo an “adjustment reaction”—a temporary state of overanxiety that can lead to precautions that are unnecessary or premature. This response is natural, and it typically passes soon, leaving people more concerned than before they learned about the threat but not overly anxious.”The key task of leaders is to guide the adjustment reaction instead of ridiculing it,” Sandman stated. “That helps people get through it more quickly. And it helps people come out in a better place.”He said leaders need to try to keep people who initially reacted with fear from later swinging to the opposite extreme, where they “end up feeling foolish for having been concerned, angry at those who warned them, and resistant to later evidence that the situation is worsening (a virulent pandemic second wave, for example).”But Sandman said he is much more concerned about complacency than fear in response to the WHO announcement: “Instead of learning from swine flu that influenza is a more serious disease than they thought and that a severe pandemic is an ever-present threat that deserves more preparedness that it has received, what millions of people ‘learned’ (mislearned) is that pandemics are a paper tiger and health officials are fear-mongers.”Insofar as the phase 6 declaration has an effect, I think confirming complacency will be a more important and more long-lasting effect than provoking a fearful adjustment reaction.”He hoped to hear the WHO, in its press conference yesterday, talk very explicitly about the dual concerns of undue alarm and complacency, but he was somewhat disappointed by what he heard.”It is disappointing that [yesterday’s] actual news briefing contained comparatively little that spoke to either concern,” he said. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda “said much less than they might have said to validate that people may overreact temporarily but will recover quickly; that their governments should neither ridicule the overreaction nor take inappropriate ‘precautions’ in deference to it; that the pandemic we declared today isn’t the much more virulent pandemic we have lived in fear of since 2004; and that that more virulent pandemic may still be on the horizon (whether from H1N1, or H5N1, or a reassortment of the two), requiring both vigilance and preparedness.”On the other hand, he said WHO officials in several press interviews preceding the announcement did make some comments about these considerations, especially the adjustment reaction.Markets unfazed by declarationSandman also observed that world markets mostly rose yesterday, apparently unfazed by the WHO announcement. The Dow Jones average was up 31.9 points.”In other words, investors do not expect an economically damaging response to the phase 6 declaration; they are betting that few if any governments are going to close borders or take other steps that would materially damage economic prospects,” he said.Meanwhile, a business continuity specialist with Marriott International said today that the business world’s reaction to the pandemic declaration is likely to be moderate.”I think the initial response will generally remain quite restrained as businesses and governments have had a few weeks to adjust their plans to the realities of a more moderate H1N1 pandemic,” said Penny Turnbull, senior director of business continuity at Marriott.”It also appears that there is a good understanding that the virus may change in the coming months, requiring more restrictive policies and procedures to be implemented—particularly in the realm of community mitigation measures,” she said. “In the meantime, overall the response seems quite well scaled to the risk. In these early weeks I think this is the most important message—make sure the response is scaled appropriately and be ready to escalate as, and when, necessary.”See also: Index of Sandman’s writings about H1N1 flu risk communicationhttp://www.psandman.com/index-infec.htm#swineflu1Sandman’s periodic updates on the topichttp://www.psandman.com/col/swinecomm.htmlast_img read more

The municipality of Vir has started a three-month control of illegal landlords

first_img“We carry out actions in order to primarily protect all legal landlords and all our citizens who are conscientiously and legally engaged in tourism. During the three summer months, we will conduct a detailed registration of all guests, commercial and non-commercial, in the field, because our ultimate goal is to suppress and eradicate undeclared work.”Says the director of the Vir Tourist Board, Srdjan Liverić.  “Our task is to provide tourists and all guests of the island with a top tourist and catering service and to create programs and facilities to make their stay on the island as beautiful and fun as possible. A few years ago, we raised the standard of events at the Vir Summer to the highest possible level, which was recognized not only by our guests, but also by all residents of Zadar County who visit the island as a picnic destination in the summer season. The reason is simple: there is always something going on at Vir”Points out the director of Vir tourism Kristina Perić. Also, just as illegal renters do not pay tourist tax, the same amount is not poured into the municipal treasury, from which funds are allocated for the promotion and development and arrangement of the entire infrastructure. Precisely with the aim of combating illegal renters from the end of June in the Municipality of Vir, they started intensive quarterly tourist controls with the ultimate goal of combating the gray economy. Finally, another interesting fact is that there is currently no hotel in Vir, and all guests are accommodated in private accommodation. Illegal landlords are the biggest threat to legal landlords who pay all their obligations to the state. Apart from the fact that illegal landlords do not pay taxes and all other levies prescribed by law, they also lower prices and are therefore unfair competition. From 27.06. Municipal Police of the Municipality of Vir, TZO VIR, State Inspectorate and MIA of the Department for Foreigners control the registration of tourists, weekenders and their guests in the settlements Kozjak, Pedinka, Site, Torovi and Šepunatka, carry out increased control of registration of tourists, weekenders and their guests .center_img In the first six tourist months, Vir achieved better statistical indicators of tourist arrivals and overnight stays than in the record year of 2018, so with 363.671 overnight stays (357.654 last year) and 30.242 arrivals of domestic and foreign guests (last year 30.136) it set new tourist records. It is interesting that the Municipality of Vir is the only tourist destination that does not fight against illegal landlords in such an intensive way. Also, the question always arises: Do you want to report a neighbor who is illegally renting an apartment to guests? Why not, because this is how you turn out to be fools. While you pay all obligations, from VAT, sojourn tax, etc.… others do not, and such a neighbor is your direct competition. As they point out from the Municipality of Vir, the action is part of a three-month intensive control that will be carried out in all Vir settlements with the ultimate goal of combating the gray economy in tourism and protecting all renters who duly fulfill their legal obligations. Photo: Municipality of Virlast_img read more

Personalization of content as the leading strategy of hotel brands

first_imgAccor’s digital strategy over the past five years has mainly focused on increasing direct bookings through a halo of luxury and exclusivity. So far, their personalization strategy has focused on customizing the experience during the experience, but also on revenue management. Magnuson Hotels Accor Marriott Marriott directs most of its artificial intelligence through the Bonvoy mobile app. Based on user data, intentions, and attribution data, the application makes complex recommendations regarding the destination offer. Another major initiative is Marriott’s partnership with Salesforce to launch a customer recognition platform, which provides a view of each guest’s profile. The goal is to gather all customer interactions so that Marriott staff can act on the information received. Storing this data also allows Marriott to serve digital content based on behavioral and demographic data. Best Western Consumers require a personalized experience. Airbnb has invested heavily in artificial intelligence to learn from the bookings of their “Experiences” program upon completion of the accommodation reservation. “Historical data show that Japanese travelers, when visiting Paris, prefer lectures and workshops (such as perfume making), while American tourists prefer experiences with food and drink,” explains one of the scientists on the machine learning project. But interestingly, the Airbnb homepage is not personalized for unsubscribed users who have recently searched, but is static. Caesar’s IHG Companies today have more data than ever before to launch personalization. And the good news is that personalization and artificial intelligence are still in the infancy of most hotels and catering companies. So the field is wide. Hilton recently hired more than 150 scientists to help collect more than a billion data a day. One of the main areas of activity is their communication via e-mail, which now functions as an automatic one-on-one communication. “Today we send fewer e-mails than before, but engagement and key business indicators are better. More e-mail does not result in higher revenue – personalized mail and communication result in higher revenue, ”said Wesley Albaugh, Hilton’s personalization manager. Approximately 80 percent of digital personalization is done via email communication, so it’s no surprise that Hilton has invested in optimizing this channel. All IHG marketing communications, whether via email, SMS or Facebook Messenger, come from a single platform so that personalization and contextualization can include centralized analytics. They are also integrated with language processing tools to improve the “virtual assistant” and shorten customer service query processing time. Radisson Caesar’s, like many other Las Vegas brands, had to rely on innovation to attract younger consumers who are not interested in gambling. Their technologies use a deep learning algorithm that creates an “emotional profile” of customers and communicates to each individual, via e-mail, in an appropriate manner. These personalized messages led to a 12 percent increase in email openings. And Choice “threw himself” into the waters of artificial intelligence to optimize revenue. “Even the results of the small investment in artificial intelligence have been outstanding,” explains Terrilin Tourangeau, director of loyalty marketing. Best Western was the first large hotel chain to launch artificial intelligence ads aided by IBM’s Watson program. Also, since 2014, they have been using personalized email communication as well as geolocation. Personalization has become one of the primary digital strategies in the tourism sector. So at least many travel companies claim. But whether personalization is really implemented in the digital structure of online platforms, we will check in the analysis of emails, landing pages and ads conducted by the Hospitality Net website. Magnuson plans to simplify basic personalization with the ability to select a location at the top of their website. However, it is unclear which new content will be delivered after the search. Hilton Airbnb Their interactions with brands like Amazon have become standard – they want a customized experience that anticipates their wants and needs. Amazon makes about 35 percent of its sales through a referral mechanism. Choice Hotels In 2018, Radisson appointed Accenture as a global experience agency to use the data obtained for targeted campaigns. The agency said it plans to increase traffic with selected content and implement a “chatbot” specifically designed for event planning and meetings. Source: Hospitality Net Cover photo: Pixabay.comlast_img read more

With a new investment, Valamar Riviera has shown how a destination with a story and added value is developing

first_imgThus, as part of the newly opened Istra Premium Camping Resort 5 * in Funtana, the islet of Školjić was arranged, aptly named “Histri Island”. It is an archeological site from the Bronze Age that was neglected until recently, and as of this year it offers various entertainment programs. A themed playground for children has been built in the center of the island, where numerous animation programs are held every day from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 15 pm. Toddlers, as well as all other visitors to the camp can participate in various activities and workshops, including making a birdhouse, hunting equipment and time capsules, quizzes, water games and other thematic activities. When arranging the islets, the specificity of the location was taken into account, and the materials, construction technique, layout and other elements of the arrangement are in accordance with the time period of the site.  Cottages in the ground they are also located in Lanterna Premium Camping Resort 4 * where, in addition to entertainment for the youngest, families can rent the Kontići Dwarf Plots, which also have houses in the ground for a complete fairytale experience.  Who develops tourist destinations? Also, this is a great example of how the tourist infrastructure can and must be different, to have some added value and story, and there is no better combination if the whole story is tied to an authentic location, as this one is tied through telling Istrian legends.  Then the development strategy of the city is followed by all other economic entities, including hotel companies, which follow this vision of the development of the city and through synergy together develop the destination. Also, if the city knows where and in which direction it is going, so it attracts future investments, and the whole story just builds on and grows. Unfortunately, Valamar is leading the development story, instead of continuing, which of course is not a problem at Valamar, in fact, every destination can be grateful to have such partners and investors. The problem is in the destinations. Also, no matter how big and strong a tourist company is with resources, it still cannot develop a destination on its own. New attractions of ideas are the work of designer and professor of fine arts Nedjeljko Mikc Cak, all inspired by elements from the rich Istrian history and interesting legends from the peninsula, while the contents were realized with the help of expert advisers of the Archaeological Museum of Istria and harmonized with the expert opinion .  Ultimately, tourist destinations, ie the cities themselves, and not the Ministry of Tourism and the CNTB, develop tourism at the local level. The system or the State is certainly important, because they create certain frameworks for business and development, but the local self-government decides in which direction it will develop. So does tourism. You know those two “foreign” words in our dictionary – strategy and vision. Well, we need that, of course not on paper to collect dust somewhere in the drawer, but for everyone to know in which direction the city / destination is developing and where it wants to be in x years. So the question arises: Who develops tourist destinations? Valamar Riviera invests large funds in the promotion and development of tourist destinations, both through various entertainment content and organization of events, and through infrastructure. But the problem is that big travel companies are practically hauling the whole destination on their own, and it should be the other way around. Namely, Valamar Riviera has arranged four new entertainment and art attractions, which has further enriched the offer of entertainment content in Poreč and Rabac. But the real story is that artistic attractions are associated with the interpretation of Istrian legends. center_img They could have made a classic children’s playground, with no story and no added value, but they didn’t. On the contrary, they told a great new tourist story and showed how to match the story in tourist destinations. Well done to Valamar, but it would be much more efficient to have the right support in the development of tourist destinations. Synergy and win-win for everyone. Ultimately, the destination is not the hotel, but everyone in the destination. Our biggest problem in tourism is that our destinations are not developing strategically and sustainably, and it is with the primary infrastructure such as water, sewage, electricity, parking, garbage, beaches, etc.… we have the most problems. Which is insane, because we have to ask ourselves where the earnings from tourism have been invested all these decades, if not in infrastructure and development, so that cities can receive all these great guests and follow the growth we have been bragging about for years. Well done to Valamar, who understands that the motive for coming is not a hotel but a destination, and that it is necessary to offer more than just the sun and the sea. And this is where quality, authentic and diverse content in a tourist destination comes into force. Most people look at things like this as a cost, but they are very wrong. No, it is an investment that will pay off for Valamar and returns from year to year. In Rabac, as part of the Valamar Collection Girandella Resort 4/5 *, a creative space has been designed for animation programs in the form of a stranded pirate ship. Pirate House located on the beach in Rabac, with its appearance and content it attracts not only the youngest but also the slightly older ones. Inside the boat there is a children’s corner with animators from Valamar, so parents can leave their children to play and look after and carefree time for themselves.  On the island of Sveti Nikola, where the Valamar Collection Isabella Island Resort 4/5 * is located, a fairytale village for elves was built, called “Istrian Fantasy Forest”. The magical installation consists of tree houses and those buried in the ground, reminiscent of houses inhabited by popular hobbits, and has become a favorite place for children on the island.  Valamar, like other hotel companies, does this because they have to, in order to deliver quality and added value, and in order to have that value for money. However, it would be natural and logical for the development to be led by the city / destination, and for everyone else to follow the development policy of the city. And having an investor like this is just a huge plus. Photo: Valamar Rivieralast_img read more