NEWS SCAN: Grant for smallpox antiviral, final sprout outbreak total, poliovirus in Delhi sewage

Feb 16, 2011

BARDA grant awarded for new smallpox antiviral
The US federal government announced today it will spend $24.8 million to help develop a new antiviral drug to treat smallpox. A press release states that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), awarded the contract to Chimerix, Inc., of Durham, N.C., for CMX001, one of two smallpox antivirals in advanced development. The BARDA contract can be renewed for up to 4 additional years for a 5-year total of potentially $81.1 million, according to the release. BARDA Director Dr. Robin Robinson said, "In the event of a smallpox outbreak, a smallpox antiviral could augment our plans to use a vaccine because an antiviral medication can treat people who get the vaccine too late for the vaccine to be effective. An antiviral can save lives." He said BARDA plans to have two antiviral smallpox drugs in the federal stockpile. Under the contract, Chimerix will continue developing CMX001, conduct safety and efficacy studies, and ensure drug quality, all of which needs to be done for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared smallpox eradicated globally in 1980, but the disease remains a bioterror threat. Last month a leading smallpox expert said that both CMX001 and an experimental drug called ST-246, made by SIGA Technologies of New York, N.Y., are in advanced development.
Feb 16 HHS press release
Jan 11 CIDRAP News story on smallpox

CDC puts final sprout Salmonella outbreak total at 140
Fifteen more patients have been sickened in a Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- outbreak linked to an Illinois company's alfalfa sprouts, pushing the total number to 140, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Feb 11 in a final update on the outbreak. Four more states (Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina) reported cases, raising the number affected to 26, plus the District of Columbia. The latest illness onset date is Jan 18, and the hospitalization rate for patients for whom information is available is 24%, the same figure as in the CDC's last update on Jan 14. No deaths were reported. The CDC said the genetic pattern associated with the Salmonella serotype is common in the United States and that some of the cases that have been identified may not be linked to the outbreak. Many of the sick people ate sandwiches made with sprouts at Jimmy John's outlets. An investigation by state and federal officials found that a sample from runoff water at Tiny Greens Organic Farm in Urbana, Ill., was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. An FDA inspection report on the sprout producer, released earlier this month, also found a variety of possible contamination sources, including biofilms on surfaces and questionable antimicrobial treatment for seeds. These types of practices have been implicated as contamination sources in several other sprout-linked outbreaks.
Feb 11 CDC Salmonella outbreak update

Poliovirus detected in Delhi's sewage
Although polio cases dropped a dramatic 94% in India in 2010, WHO tests conducted that year revealed poliovirus in sewage in the capital, Delhi, according to an Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) story yesterday. From April to December last year, officials with the WHO and Delhi government, as part of the National Polio Surveillance Project (NPSP), took samples from five sites along the Yamuna River, which becomes increasingly polluted with sewage as it flows through Delhi. "Both type 1 and type 3 polio viruses were detected in the sewage samples from Delhi during 2010," said Hamid Jafari, WHO-NPSP project manager, referring to the two endemic poliovirus strains in India. "The environmental surveillance is very strategic, since Delhi is a major hub of migrant labourers and also because of its proximity to the historically polio endemic and high-risk areas of Uttar Pradesh," he added. A Delhi official said the positive results cause concern because of the risk to children. The last positive sample was found in August, before October's highly attended Commonwealth Games were held in the city. Last year India confirmed only 42 polio cases, down from 741 the year before.

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