NEWS SCAN: Pandemic library, business preparedness, TB and HIV, global malaria map, antibody production

March 24, 2009

Pandemic flu resource library launched online
To improve the nation's preparedness for pandemic influenza, a clearinghouse of pandemic communication materials was launched yesterday by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), a group of more than 400 communication specialists from public health agencies and some private groups. The Pandemic Influenza Resource Library offers a wide variety of materials for state and local pandemic planning, such as fact sheets, posters, public service announcements, guidebooks, and questionnaires, the group said. Visitors to the site can add their own pandemic materials.
[Pandemic flu library home page]

British report finds business preparedness nearly static
The business sector in the United Kingdom has improved little in the past decade in its preparedness for disasters and disruptions, including those caused by epidemics, according to a recent report by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Cabinet Office. The report, based on a survey of 1,012 senior executives, says that 52% of organizations have a business continuity plan, up from 47% in 2008, but overall preparedness is "near-stagnant," the CMI said in a news release. The two top concerns facing organizations were electronic attacks and human disease, such as pandemic influenza, cited by 58% and 57%, respectively.

WHO says 25% of TB deaths are HIV-related
In its annual report on tuberculosis (TB), the World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of new TB cases was stable in 2007, but one out of four TB deaths was related to HIV, twice as many as previously recognized. There were an estimated 1.37 million new cases of TB among HIV-infected people, with 456,000 deaths. The report also reveals that the proportion of African TB patients who were tested for HIV in 2007 was 37%, compared with just 4% in 2004. The annual report was released to mark World TB Day today.
[WHO statement on TB death rates]
[WHO statement on World TB Day]

Researchers create global map of malaria prevalence
Researchers have created a global map of malaria prevalence, based on 8,000 local surveys of Plasmodium falciparum infection rates, and published it in PLoS Medicine. The researchers report that the global level of malaria endemicity is much lower than indicated by historical maps. Nevertheless, in 2007, 2.4 billion people still had some level of risk for the disease, and 60% of them were living in areas with a stable risk of transmission. That included 690 million people in Central and Southeast Asia, 660 million in Africa, and 40 million in the Americas.
[PLoS Medicine press release]
[Full text of report]

Company wins DoD contract for fast antibody, vaccine production
Xcellerex, Inc., of Marlboro, Mass., today announced its receipt of an $11 million phase 2 contract from the US Department of Defense to develop technology for accelerated manufacturing of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines. The new contract follows successful completion of a 12-month phase 1 contract, said the company, which is collaborating with Dowpharma, Biopharm Services, and deltaDOT on the project. The aim of the project is to help protect the US military from biologic threats.
[Mar 24 Xcellerex statement]

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