NEWS SCAN: EU recommends H5N1 vaccine, low-path avian flu in poultry, peramivir benefits

Nov 22, 2010

EU regulators recommend H5N1 vaccine
The European Union's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), advisors to the European Medicines Agency, on Nov 18 recommended approval of an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine, called Pumarix, is a split-virus, inactivated vaccine that contains an adjuvant, according to a statement from the CHMP. It is a mock-up vaccine that contains 3.75 micrograms of hemagglutinin from influenza A/H5N1/Indonesia/05/2005. The CHMP said the vaccine will be used only in an officially declared pandemic and after the matching pandemic flu vaccine strain is included.
Nov 18 CHMP statement

Low-path H7 flu viruses tougher on turkeys than ducks, chickens
US researchers report that turkeys may be more susceptible to clinical illness from low-pathogenic H7 avian influenza viruses than ducks or chickens are. The scientists, from the US Department of Agriculture and the University of Delaware, exposed turkeys, ducks, and chickens to 12 different low-pathogenic H7 viruses found in North America. They found that all three species could be infected with all 12 viral strains as shown by seroconversion, although not every strain triggered seroconversion in every individual bird, according to the report in Virology Journal. Illness severity varied with different combinations of species and isolates, but there was a consistent trend for turkeys to get the sickest. All 12 isolates caused illness in the turkeys, and 9 of 12 caused turkey deaths; turkeys shed virus at higher titers than ducks or chickens did. Only three isolates caused observable disease in ducks, and only six did so in chickens. Genetic sequencing showed that some of the viruses had features indicating adaptation to poultry, but none of these features correlated with disease severity. H7 avian flu viruses, like H5 viruses, can mutate into highly pathogenic forms.
Nov 19 Virol J article

Study shows benefits for single-dose peramivir
A single intravenous dose of the neuraminidase inhibitor peramivir at two different doses reduced the duration of influenza symptoms when compared to placebo and was well tolerated, according to a Japanese study among 300 healthy outpatients. The findings appear in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Patients with confirmed influenza were randomized to receive either one 300-mg or 600-mg dose of peramivir or placebo. They kept a 14-day diary of their symptoms, and researchers collected nasal swabs at baseline and on days 2, 3, 5, and 9. Researchers also obtained blood and urine samples. The predominant flu strain during the study period was seasonal H1N1. Both doses of peramivir showed significant clinical and antiviral effects. No serious side effects were noted, and adverse events were similar to the placebo group. The authors concluded that use of IV peramivir is an effective way to manage uncomplicated flu in adults, but more studies are needed to assess similar use in high-risk or hospitalized patients. The authors noted that the US Food and Drug Administration reviewed their study findings before issuing an emergency use authorization that applied to immunocompromised and severely ill patients during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
Nov Antimicrob Agents Chemother abstract

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