The Perfect Enemy | News Scan for May 23, 2022
July 1, 2022

News Scan for May 23, 2022

COVID-19 and thyroid dysfunction
Peanut butter Salmonella
Fourth DRC Ebola death
Unexplained hepatitis in UK
More avian flu in 3 states
Read Time:5 Minute

COVID-related thyroiditis still detectable 1 year later in some patients

While COVID-19–related thyroid inflammation usually resolves shortly after the acute illness, about half of participants in a study presented today at the 24th European Congress of Endocrinology still had thyroid abnormalities a year later. The congress is being held May 21 to 24 in Milan, Italy.

University of Milan researchers monitored levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone and examined the gland with ultrasound for 1 year in more than 100 hospitalized patients with thyroiditis and COVID-19, according to a European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) news release,

Uptake of the imaging tracers technetium or iodine, which indicates thyroid function, was still lower than normal in about two thirds of patients at 9 months. After 1 year, the thyroid was still visible on ultrasound—even if reduced in size—in half the patients.

Thyroid function is important to metabolism, growth, and development and helps regulate numerous bodily functions by steadily releasing hormones into the bloodstream, the authors said. And when the body needs more energy during growth, cold temperatures, or pregnancy, the thyroid releases extra hormone.

Thyroiditis is common in patients who have moderate to severe COVID-19, the researchers noted, and has an important role in dysfunction of the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis. The resulting thyroid hormone imbalance is typically mild but is more pronounced in severe COVID-19.

The researchers said that they don’t know if the findings have any long-term clinical consequences.

Lead author Ilaria Muller, MBBS, PhD, said that thyroid dysfunction and COVID-19 are linked. “Knowing that thyroid hormones correlate with the disease severity is important, and the fact that the thyroid gland seems directly involved in SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) viral infection needs to be taken into account,” she said in the release.
May 21 ESE news release

Salmonella outbreak linked to Jif peanut butter sickens 14 in 12 states

Over the weekend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a Salmonella Senftenberg outbreak linked to Jif peanut butter that has sickened at least 14 people in 12 states. Two people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been recorded.

Because of potential contamination, on May 20 the J.M Smucker Co. announced a voluntary recall of peanut butter produced at a Smucker’s facility in Lexington, Kentucky. Several types of peanut butter were recalled, including creamy, crunchy, natural, and reduced fat, the CDC said. Lot code numbers 1274425 through 2140425, with “425” at the end of the first 7 numbers, should be disposed of immediately.

According to a statement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the peanut butter was distributed to retailers nationwide.

In epidemiologic investigations, all five case-patients interviewed reported eating peanut butter before they got sick, and four of them (80%) reported eating different types of Jif peanut butter. Texas and Georgia each reported two cases, while Washington, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts each reported a single case.

Symptom-onset dates range from Feb 17 through May 1. “The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella,” the CDC said.
May 21 CDC
May 20 FDA


DRC reports fourth Ebola death in Equateur province outbreak

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on May 19 reported a fourth case, which was fatal, in its latest Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Equateur province in the country’s northwest, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office said in a May 20 tweet.

The country had gone about 2 weeks with no new cases, raising hopes that the outbreak was winding down.

The patient is a 12-year-old boy in Wangata, part of Mbandaka, where the outbreak is centered. The boy died from his infection. So far, all four of the people sickened in the outbreak have died from their infections.

Last week the WHO said outbreak responders were monitoring 295 active contacts and that so far, 809 people have been vaccinated.

The outbreak is the DRC’s 18th battle with Ebola and is the third since 2018 to hit Equateur province. Genetic analysis suggests that the latest event probably resulted from another jump from animals to humans, rather than persistent virus from a survivor.
May 20 WHO African regional office tweet
May 17 WHO African regional office tweet

UK reports more unexplained hepatitis cases, posts investigation update

The United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) recently reported 34 more unexplained hepatitis cases in children, raising its total to 197 cases as of May 16. Along with the May 20 update it posted its third technical briefing on the investigation. Eleven children needed liver transplants, and so far, no deaths have been reported.

Though researchers are still weighing several potential causes, they noted that adenovirus is the most frequently detected virus in samples tested. Of 170 kids who underwent adenovirus testing, 116 were positive. For 13 others, it wasn’t possible to rule out an adenovirus cause. Adenovirus subtyping of 35 available blood samples showed 41F was the most common type present.

Of 169 kids who were tested for COVID-19 on or around the time of hospital admission 15% were positive. SARS-CoV-2 serological testing is underway, as is toxicological testing.

The most common clinical symptom was jaundice, followed by vomiting, pale stools, and other gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea.
May 20 UKHSA update
May 20 UKHSA technical briefing

High-path avian flu hits more poultry in 3 states

Three states reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks in poultry, one of which struck another commercial turkey farm in Minnesota, according to the latest updates from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

In Minnesota, the turkey farm outbreak occurred in Dakota County in the southern Twin Cities area at a facility that housed 57,000 birds. The state also reported another outbreak in backyard poultry, this time at a location in Polk County in the northwest.

In other developments, two western states—Idaho and Wyoming—reported more outbreaks in backyard flocks. Idaho reported the virus in birds at a location in Ada County, which surrounds Boise. Wyoming reported an outbreak in Campbell County, which is in the northeastern part of the state near Gillette.

So far, the APHIS has reported 344 outbreaks, 181 of them involving commercial flocks. The number of birds lost just passed 38 million. So far, 35 states have reported outbreaks in commercial or backyard poultry.
USDA APHIS poultry avian flu updates