NEWS SCAN: Flu-related pneumonia, new H5N1 vaccine virus, polio drop in Nigeria, malaria news

Jul 8, 2010

Pneumonia signals more severe course in kids hospitalized for flu
A study covering five influenza seasons showed that children hospitalized for flu treatment were more likely to need intensive care or to die if they experienced pneumonia. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Emerging Infections Program Network, investigators identified 2,992 children who were hospitalized with flu and had a chest radiograph in the 2003 to 2008 flu seasons. Thirty-six percent (1,072) of the patients had flu-associated pneumonia. Compared with the children who had no pneumonia, these patients were significantly more likely to need intensive care unit admission (21% versus 11%), suffer respiratory failure (11% versus 3%), and to die (0.9% versus 0.3%). Significant risk factors for flu-associated pneumonia were asthma and an age between 6 months and 4 years. The study appeared in the July issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.
July Ped Infect Dis J abstract

WHO unveils new H5N1 recombinant vaccine virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that a new recombinant H5N1 avian flu vaccine virus is available to institutions, companies, and pandemic vaccine developers. The new vaccine virus, A/chicken/Vietnam/NCVD-016/2008, is based on a clade 7 virus shared by the Vietnamese government. Most H5N1 vaccines already in country stockpiles are based on clade 1 or 2 H5N1 viruses. Clade 7 H5N1 viruses haven't been linked to outbreaks since one in China's Shanxi province in 2006, but a 2008 study in chickens seized at the Vietnam-China border revealed that clade, according to previous reports. The new vaccine virus was developed by the WHO Collaborating Center for the Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza at the CDC in Atlanta.
Apr 14, 2009, CIDRAP News story

Polio cases down sharply this year in Nigeria
Reported cases of wild poliovirus (WPV) have dropped sharply so far this year in Nigeria, one of four countries that have never eliminated WPV transmission, according to the CDC. In 2008 Nigeria reported 798 WPV cases, highest in the world. In 2009 the count dropped to 388 cases, and from January through June of this year only 3 cases were reported, the CDC said in the Jul 9 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Cases of circulating type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus also have dropped steeply, from 148 in 2009 to 8 in the first half of this year. The CDC said increased engagement of traditional, religious, and political leaders has improved acceptance of vaccination and supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) in Nigeria in the past 18 months. With continued progress, the report says, WPV transmission in Nigeria could be disrupted in the near future. But it cautions that enhanced surveillance, further strengthening of SIAs, and immediate immunization responses to newly identified cases will be necessary.
Jul 9 MMWR article

Malaria news: drug warning, research centers
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today warned of potentially serious side effects from unapproved use of the malaria drug quinine sulfate (Qualaquin) for the prevention or treatment of night-time leg cramps. The FDA said between Apr 2005 and Oct 2008 it received reports of 24 serious or life-threatening cases and two fatalities. Side effects included low blood platelets and hemolytic uremic syndrome/thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which can lead to permanent kidney damage. The manufacturer of the drug, AR Scientific, has launched a risk management plan to alert consumers and healthcare providers about the risk of unapproved use. The FDA approved the drug in 2005 to treat uncomplicated malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
Jul 8 FDA statement
In other malaria developments, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) today announced $14 million in funding to establish 10 international centers of excellent for malaria research.  The 7-year awards will fund centers in regions where the disease is endemic, including Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Latin America. The goals of the centers are to integrate field and clinical approaches to the epidemiology, transmission, and pathogenesis of malaria in endemic geographic regions, which could lead to new interventions and control strategies.
Jul 8 NIAID news release

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