NEWS SCAN: Containing 2 flu strains, global TB funding, new coronavirus

Oct 13, 2010

Containment effective against  dual-outbreak flu on cruise ship
Australian researchers studying simultaneous outbreaks of both pandemic H1N1 and seasonal H3N2 influenza on a cruise ship found that the pandemic strain spread more rapidly among children and that intensive control measures successfully contained the outbreaks. On May 24, 2009—when  Australia had so far confirmed 12 pandemic H1N1 cases—six cruise ship passengers tested positive for influenza A by rapid test. A day later, after passengers had been allowed to disembark in Sydney, 2 of the 4 available respiratory samples tested positive for pandemic H1N1 by polymerase chain reaction and 2 tested positive for H3N2. In response, officials requested that all passengers who were experiencing flu-like illness isolate themselves and that all other passengers quarantine themselves for 7 days after disembarking, a request met with high compliance. Retrospective analysis revealed that, of 1,970 passengers and 734 crew members, 82 (3.0%) were infected with pandemic H1N1, 98 (3.6%) with H3N2, and 2 (0.1%) with both. Among the 45 children who visited the ship's child care center, the infection rate for pandemic flu was higher than that for seasonal flu. The researchers found four subsequent cases epidemiologically linked to passengers but no evidence of sustained transmission to the community or passengers on the next cruise.
Oct 13 Emerg Infect Dis study

WHO asks world to invest in $37 billion plan to cut TB
Public health could be on its way toward eliminating global tuberculosis (TB) if donors fully invest in efforts by the Stop TB Partnership, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. The partnership released a report today detailing how the world can cut global TB death rates in half. It recommends investing in rapid tests, three new drugs (two for drug-resistant TB), and four new vaccines by 2015. It calls for 7 million people to be tested for multidrug-resistant TB and for all TB patients to be tested for HIV, which can be a deadly co-infection. The report calls for providing US $37 billion for TB care between 2011 and 2015, of which about $14 billion still needs to be raised. It recommends an additional $10 billion for research and development. "Ten million people, including 4 million women and children, will lose their lives unnecessarily between now and 2015 if we fail," said Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, one of the Stop TB partners.
Oct 13 WHO press release
Links to full text of Stop TB Partnership report

Researchers find new coronavirus in African bats
A team of American and Nigerian researchers is reporting the discovery in African bats of a new coronavirus that is closely related to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus. The researchers examined gastrointestinal tissue from Nigerian cave-dwelling bats as part of a search for pathogens in places where human-bat contact might lead to interspecies transmission of emerging viruses, according to their report in the journal mBio. Polymerase chain reaction revealed the presence of coronavirus sequences similar to those of the SARS coronavirus in a Commerson's leaf-nosed bat. Further genetic sequencing and phylogenetic analyses led the researchers to conclude that the virus is unique and represents a new subgroup within group 2 coronaviruses. The researchers have tentatively named the virus Zaria bat coronavirus, after the city near where the host bat was captured. They note that SARS-coronavirus-like viruses were reported in Chinese horseshoe bats in 2005.
Oct 12 mBio report

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