NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Vietnamese birds, triple-reassortant flu, cell-based vaccines, pig-related MRSA, Salmonella in peppers

Mar 4, 2010

H5N1 detected in more Vietnamese flocks
Vietnam's agriculture ministry yesterday reported H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in two more provinces, Tuyen Quang and Ha Giang, both in the northern part of the country, Voice of Vietnam reported today. The outbreaks involved chickens in family poultry holdings. The two outbreaks were included in a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday that detailed seven outbreaks that occurred near the end of February. The virus hit two farms and birds in five villages. Affected provinces were Tuyen Quang, Nghe An, Ha Giang, Ca Mau, and Khanh Hoa. The outbreaks killed about 2,800 birds, and 5,300 more were culled to contain the disease.

Patients infected with triple-reassortant swine, seasonal flu
A reassorted influenza A virus containing parts of a swine-origin H1N1 virus distinct from pandemic H1N1 flu—as well as parts of seasonal H1N1 flu—was isolated from three patients, according to a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. All the patients worked at the same large hog operation in Saskatchewan, Canada. The authors write that this genetic combination is, to their knowledge, unique and resulted from a reassortment between seasonal H1N1 and a triple-reassortant influenza virus that emerged in North American swine during the late 1990s.
Mar 3 J Infect Dis abstract

FDA releases final guidance on cell-based viral vaccines
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week released final guidance to help manufacturers who are developing cell-based viral vaccines to address emerging and pandemic threats, such as pandemic influenza. "The development of safe and effective vaccines is critical toward protecting Americans against an influenza pandemic," said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a Mar 2 release. "This final guidance recognizes that a new generation of medical products using innovative methods is needed to ensure we are better prepared today than we were yesterday." FDA scientists spent more than a decade conducting research for the document and consulting with experts and the public. Currently, all licensed flu vaccines are produced in chicken eggs and take months to produce. Cell cultures are already being used in licensed vaccines against diseases such as rubella and polio.
Mar 2 FDA guidance
Mar 2 HHS press release

Pig-related MRSA causes human infections in two countries
Government and private scientists in Canada say they have picked up several cases of human infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ST398, a strain that has been found colonizing pigs and pig farm workers in the European Union, Canada, and the United States, but rarely causes human infections. Five out of 3,687 MRSA isolates from Manitoba and Saskatchewan that were analyzed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg were found to be type ST398, carrying a novel subtype of the key resistance gene. The patients had no known contact with livestock or agriculture. Separately, a Danish team reports that it found infections caused by ST398 passing within a family and causing serious illness in a newborn.
Mar 3 Emerging Infectious Diseases report on Canadian cases
Feb 3 Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases abstract

Case count in salami-linked Salmonella outbreak reaches 245
The case count in a Salmonella outbreak linked to pepper-containing sausage products from a Rhode Island company has reached 245, an increase of 7 since the last update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday. The latest illness onset date reported is Feb 16, and the number of affected states remains at 44, plus Washington, DC. Of 187 patients with available information, 48 (26%) were hospitalized. Daniele Inc., based in Pascoag, R.I., has issued several recalls of salami and other sausage products in the outbreak, and several companies that supplied black or red pepper to Daniele have recalled products as well.
Mar 3 CDC update

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