Jan 6, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – Though flu activity is still below epidemic thresholds in most of the Northern Hemisphere, increases in areas such as Spain, northern Africa, and part of Canada suggest that the season is starting, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.Meanwhile, most flu markers in the United States showed low levels of activity, but three regions saw the percentage of doctor’s visits for flu-like illness rise above their baselines, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).So far H3N2 is the dominant influenza strain in the Northern Hemisphere, with small numbers of 2009 H1N1 cases reported over the past few weeks, the WHO said.In most of Europe, flu activity remained at interseasonal levels, but Spain and Turkey reported notable increases in flu virus detections, according to the WHO. The number of positive respiratory samples at European sentinel sites doubled from the previous week.The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in its weekly update today said the flu season has begun in Europe. Though the H3N2 virus is dominant so far, making up about 94% of the viruses that have been subtyped, the 2009 H1N1 virus “features significantly” in the severe flu infections that have been reported so far.The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for flu more than doubled from the previous week, rising from 9.3% to 23.4%, the ECDC said.Most countries reported low-intensity flu activity, with the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain reporting local spread, according to the ECDC. Nine countries and the United Kingdom reported sporadic activity.So far all viruses that have been tested for antiviral resistance were sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors, the ECDC said.In a virus characterization report today, Europe’s influenza lab network said the H3N2 viruses collected since February 2011 fall into seven distinct genetic categories, but that the most recently collected isolates are within group 3 and have evidence of altered antigenicity when compared to the vaccine strain. The ECDC said in background information that the match between the circulating strains and the vaccine is “reasonable.”The WHO said countries in northern Africa and the eastern Mediterranean region, including Algeria, Tunisia, and Iran, have reported increasing levels of flu activity since October. In temperate parts of Asia, flu levels rose slightly in countries such as China, where influenza B is predominant.In tropical locations, flu activity remained low except for Costa Rica, which has reported increasing numbers of H3N2 detections, the WHO reported.Some parts of Canada, such as British Columbia, flu levels have persistently increased since the middle of December, though as a whole, flu indicators are still at interseasonal levels, the WHO said.The CDC reported that US flu activity increased last week, but levels were still low. Overall, the percentage of doctor’s visits for flu-like illness remained below the national baseline, but the level rose above regional baselines for the first time this season in three areas: the Northeast, the Midwest, and the Northwest.However, the percentage of deaths from pneumonia and flu dropped slightly and remained below the epidemic threshold, and the CDC received no reports of pediatric flu deaths.Of the flu viruses collected last week, 47% were H3N2, about 10% were influenza B; and 43% were unsubtyped. No novel flu infections were reported.No states reported widespread flu activity, and only one state—Colorado—reported regional spread.See also:Jan 6 WHO global flu updateJan 6 CDC flu updateJan 6 ECDC flu updateJan 6 ECDC flu virus characterization report
Hospitals around the country vary considerably in how they define and address an important class of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, and this inconsistency may be contributing to the rise of resistant strains, according to a new report in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (ICHE).In a related development, survey results released by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) indicate that about 70% of state health departments make an effort to promote antimicrobial stewardship, but only a few states have formal policies on that topic.Findings from SHEA research networkThe ICHE study was a survey of hospitals’ approaches to multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria (MDR GNB), which include such common healthcare-associated pathogens as Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and the Enterobacteriaceae family, which includes Klebsiella pneumonia, among other species.The survey was directed to 170 hospitals in the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Research Network in an effort to assess how they define and deal with MDR GNB.Sixty-six hospitals (39%) from 26 states and 15 other countries responded to the survey, according to the report. More than 80% of those reported having experience with each of the resistant strains mentioned. More than 78% said they had encountered GNB resistant to all antibiotics except colistin, an older drug that’s known for kidney toxicity.The hospitals reported many different specific definitions of MDR with respect to the different pathogens: 14 for Acinetobacter, 18 for Pseudomonas, and 22 for Enterobacteriaceae species.The most common definition for multidrug resistance was resistance to three or more classes of antimicrobials, but other definitions included resistance to one or more specific antibiotics or antibiotic classes or susceptibility to two or fewer antibiotics (other than polymyxin or tigecycline).The varied definitions influenced decisions on isolating patients. For example, 48% of hospitals used isolation for Enterobacteriaceae species only if they were resistant to more than three antimicrobial classes, while 15% set the isolation bar lower for those species.Isolation practices also varied considerably by pathogen, the researchers found. For example, more than 90% of hospitals isolated patients infected with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), while 74% isolated those with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)–producing bacteria.The duration of isolation—if used—also varied, ranging from the period of active illness to indefinite.The authors comment that an international panel of experts published proposed definitions of MDR, extensive drug resistance, and “pandrug” resistance in 2012. Despite this, “We found that approximately one third of respondents were not using the proposed definition of MDR for isolation purposes,” they write.”Differences in definitions and practices for multidrug-resistant bacteria confuse healthcare workers and hinder communication when patients are transferred between hospitals,” Marci Drees, MD, MS, lead author of the study, commented in a SHEA press release.”The danger these inconsistencies represent affects not only individual hospitals, but the broader community because patients are frequently transferred between healthcare centers, including long-term care facilities, furthering their spread,” she added.Most states track resistanceThe aim of the ASTHO survey was to assess what measures health departments are using to promote antimicrobial stewardship and what incentives and tools the agencies need. The effort targeted healthcare-associated infections (HAI) coordinators in the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico; 36 of the 52 departments (69%) responded, according to a summary posted by ASTHO.The survey was conducted in July 2013, but the results have not been released publicly until now, ASTHO spokesman Scott Briscoe told CIDRAP News.The responses revealed that 56% (19 of 34) of the agencies collect surveillance data on antimicrobial resistance, though only 12% (4 of 34) receive funds for the work.Twenty-five states, or 69%, reported that they engaged in antimicrobial stewardship activities, such as education and training, communications, surveys, collaborations, or demonstration projects. Most of the efforts targeted healthcare workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities.Just five states reported having developed or implemented a policy on antimicrobial stewardship, according to the report. The states were not named in the ASTHO report.Examples of the policies included a law requiring hospitals to evaluate judicious use of antibiotics, regulations that expand the reporting of resistant organisms and antibiotic-susceptibility rest results, and working with long-term care facilities on Clostridium difficile and the appropriate use of antibiotics.Another six states, also not named, reported they had considered developing stewardship policies but had not yet done so.The respondents also listed a number of measures that they thought would motivate antimicrobial stewardship activities, such as training, certification of individuals or facilities, state or national awards for facilities, and time for infection preventionists to work on stewardship.See also: Mar 6 ICHE studyMar 7 SHEA press release on ICHE studyASTHO issue brief on survey of state efforts
Continental has named Anouré Fenstermaker as marketing communications manager for its Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket (CVAM) business unit. The announcement was made by Howard Laster, head of Aftermarket – North America Continental Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket, who indicated Fenstermaker’s appointment was effective March 19. She will be responsible for directing all of CVAM’s public relations and marketing communication efforts.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisementFenstermaker’s core responsibilities include managing all communication, press, creative and marketing services, as well as corporate branding for CVAM overall and for each of the company’s market divisions, which include automotive aftermarket, custom vehicle enthusiasts, marine, RV, vehicle diagnostics and special OEM. She also will direct and manage all tradeshow activities and assist the management team with product sales/marketing activities, as well as the development of sales tools and training materials, promotions and customer-specific programs.Laster noted, “We are extremely excited to have Anouré head up our marketing team. Anouré comes to us with a wealth of experience in marketing management and marketing communications strategies. Her expertise will prove to be an invaluable asset to our diverse business activities in the North American market. We look forward to her contribution and guidance.”Prior to joining Continental, Fenstermaker was the marketing director for IntegraONE (Allentown, Pennsylvania), a value-added reseller of information technology solutions. She was responsible for developing and implementing a host of strategic marketing initiatives and tactics including live/online client events, tradeshows, conferences and seminars. She also managed the marketing staff, outside agencies, digital marketing and social media campaigns, website and SEO, content marketing, PR and advertising. In addition, Fenstermaker worked closely with the company’s many technology solutions partners (OEMs) on joint marketing initiatives.AdvertisementFor the past 17 years, Fenstermaker also has been an independent marketing consultant under AF Marketing Group with clients in healthcare, technology, software development, non-profit and other eindustries.Fenstermaker holds an Master of Business Administration from Kutztown University with concentration in marketing/communications. She also has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Muhlenberg College with a double major in international business (political science/economics) and psychology. Fenstermaker has been the committee secretary for Boy Scouts of America, Minsi Trails Council, Troop #66 for more than 18 years.
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SeaBird has signed an addendum to the charter party relating to M/V Hawk Explorer to further extend the lease on current payment terms from May 31, 2016 to February 28, 2017. At the end of the lease, the company will have the option to purchase the vessel and related equipment for USD 1.75 million.Alternatively, the company may at its discretion extend the lease for a firm period up to and including November 30, 2017, at which point it will have the option to purchase the vessel and related equipment for USD 67,800.During the initial lease period, SeaBird may at its sole discretion terminate the charter on August 31, 2016 or November 30, 2016.M/V Hawk Explorer joined SeaBird in 2006 after being converted to 2D-source vessel in Gdynia Poland.
SRA issues advice on Quinn administration Quinn Insurance in administration More than 2,900 law firms and sole practitioners could be left without professional indemnity insurance (PII) on Monday when the Irish High Court decides the fate of Quinn Insurance, the Irish insurance company that was forced into administration last week. Quinn covers around 10% of the solicitors’ PII insurance market. The Irish Financial Regulator, which regulates Quinn Insurance, has petitioned the court to appoint a permanent administrator to Quinn Insurance. If the court accepts the Financial Regulator’s arguments, solicitors holding Quinn policies will almost certainly have to buy new policies with other insurers, or enter the assigned risks pool (ARP), within four weeks The Irish High Court placed Quinn Insurance in provisional administration on 30 March following a petition by the Financial Regulator. Administrator Grant Thornton is understood to be delivering a financial report on Quinn Insurance to the regulator today, which will be presented in court on Monday. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has advised firms with Quinn policies to sit tight pending the outcome of Monday’s hearing. It is understood that Grant Thornton has told the SRA that Quinn has sufficient financial reserves to pay claims on PII policies, but an SRA spokesman could not confirm this. Martin Ellis, head of the solicitors’ practice group at broker Prime Professions, which provides 1,900 sole practitioners with Quinn PII policies, said: ‘If a new policy has to be put in place, then insurers aren’t going to do it for nothing.’ However, he predicted that policies would be allowed to run until 30 September regardless of the outcome of Monday’s hearing. A spokeswoman for PYV, another major Quinn broker, said that PYV is advising clients in line with the guidance of the Financial Regulator and SRA. ‘As an independent broker, we are not tied to any one insurer,’ she said. An SRA spokesman said that Quinn policyholders could be given a time extension to find alternative policies if necessary.Grant Thornton and the Financial Regulator have been analysing financial guarantees, estimated to be worth €448m (£394m) altogether, set up by subsidiaries of Quinn Insurance. The guarantees are alleged to have been used inappropriately to set off debts from other companies that make up the Quinn group conglomerate. Quinn Insurance said last week that the guarantees were fully disclosed in the accounts of its 24 subsidiaries, but the Irish Independent claimed this week that the existence of the guarantees was disclosed in the published accounts of just one Quinn Insurance subsidiary, Quinn Logistics, with no indication of their value. Quinn said this week that the guarantees were contained in the filed accounts of eight Quinn Insurance subsidiaries, to which the Financial Regulator has full access, and that the guarantees are worth less than €448m. Solicitors’ rules state that law firms must find alternative cover or apply to enter the ARP within four weeks if an insurer has provisional administrators appointed. However, the SRA said that the concept of ‘provisional administration’ as determined by the Irish High Court in the Quinn case falls outside the definition in its rules. Meanwhile, SRA figures show that £33m worth of claims are currently filed against law firms in the ARP, the insurer of last resort for firms unable to obtain PII on the open market. Some £5.5m is due in premiums from ARP firms, but just £2m has been paid to date. Read previous articles on Quinn Insurance:
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Having worked within the marine, offshore and energy industries for almost 30 years, Liang brings a wealth of experience and vast network of contacts to WSS’ operations in Asia.Sean Neilan, sales and marketing director in Asia Pacific at WSS, said that Liang will now play an important role in the company’s strategic initiative towards the offshore market. www.wilhelmsen.com
Lawyers must be able to represent their clients free from physical attack, senior bar figures have said, amid concerns that a Bangladesh lawyer has been unlawfully detained. Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem (pictured), a member of the bar of England and Wales, was taken from his Dhaka home late in the evening of 9 August by men claiming to be security forces, according to a statement from the Bar Council and Bar Human Rights Committee issued today.Local media reports said Bin Quasem ‘was whisked away by men in plain clothes’ who identified themselves as security forces. The police, however, said they had no information about the detention. ‘We do not know anything about it,’ Dhaka police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman told bdnews24.com.No information has been given on where the barrister, who is also a member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, is being held, by whom or under what suspicion or charge.Quasem is a member of the defence team at the International Crimes Tribunal, set up to prosecute perpetrators of atrocities in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence. He is part of the defence team for his father, Mir Quasem Ali, the former leader of the Bangladeshi opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami, who is appealing his 2014 death sentence to the Bangladesh Supreme Court.Bar Council of England and Wales chair Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said Quasem’s disappearance highlighted the dangers faced by lawyers in jurisdictions where the rule of law is under threat. ‘Lawyers play a crucial role in ensuring the administration of justice and must be able to represent their clients free from physical attack and fear of persecution,’ she added.Bar Human Rights Committee chair Kirsty Brimelow QC said reports of Quasem’s detention were in the context of an ongoing clampdown on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists in Bangladesh.‘The [committee] calls upon Bangladesh to provide urgent confirmation of Mr Quasem’s safety and whereabouts, and to either charge him with a specific crime for which there is credible evidence, or immediately release him,’ Brimelow said.‘Furthermore, Bangladesh must comply with its international law obligations and provide clear proposals on strengthening protections for lawyers, judges and human rights defenders. Accountability is required over the abductions of Mr Quasem and others.’
Alaska shares it! If you see Alaska’s official social media accounts sharing the contest, then it is indeed legitimate. Alaska’s official Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/alaskaairlinesand features a verified blue check mark next to the name. This mark indicates Facebook has confirmed this is the official page representing the brand. If you did click on the coupon, a counter appeared. 259 tickets left, 258 tickets left. Better hurry! FacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享According to Alaska Airlines a recent offer of free roundtrip tickets circulating around social media is a scam. Official rules are prominent. Every contest Alaska features or partners on with a third-party, will always feature official rules in the original post or on the contest landing page. How can you tell a legitimate promotion from a scam promotion? Alaska airlines posted a few things to look out for before you decide to enter a contest. You were then prompted to ‘share’ the coupon with three friends, and then you would qualify for tickets. All you had to do was forward a link via email or click on a Facebook, Twitter or a few other logos. In a post on their website from the Airline they stated: Several times each year, Alaska’s social media team sees an influx of bogus promotions from websites pretending to be Alaska Airlines. These websites claim to offer free roundtrip tickets, but these are scams that are not affiliated with Alaska Airlines and may put you at risk for computer viruses or identity theft. The scam has been circulating through Facebook and Twitter claiming that Alaska Airlines was giving away two airlines tickets “to anywhere we fly!” The fake coupon used the Alaska Airlines logo. It has a photo of an Alaska jet flying over snowy peaks. Then, below the coupon was this tie-in to recent news: “Alaska Airlines is giving away ticket to celebrate their merger with Virgin Airlines.” It uses current branding. Earlier this year Alaska updated its logo and the face on the tail of its airplanes. Outdated branding is a sure sign of a fake contest. Story as aired: