NEWS SCAN: Early E coli prevention, EU measles tally, rotavirus vaccination, TB vaccine trial

Dec 1, 2011

Who will pay for early E coli interventions in beef cattle?
Food safety experts say that a vaccine and probiotics are available to combat dangerous Escherichia coli in beef at a cost of only about a penny a burger, but the question of who will pay for early interventions remains a major hurdle, a USA Today report said. The vaccine was introduced by Pfizer Animal Health in 2010, costs $4 to $6 per animal, and is said to eliminate O157:H7 E coli in 85% of cattle and reduce levels shed in manure by 98%, according to Pfizer. Other vaccines are in the works as well. Probiotics are beneficial bacterial cultures added to feed that out-compete harmful E coli in cattle's digestive tract. An effective dose costs $2 to $4 per animal, according to the story. Consumers are willing to pay 1 to 2 cents per pound for safer beef, the story says. "The question is no longer, 'Can we get the technologies?' We've got them, or they're soon to arrive. The question is 'How do we implement?'" said Guy Loneragan, professor of food safety at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. The major obstacle may be determining who foots the bill for preventive steps taken long before slaughter. Cattle growers and feedlots are in a position to use the tools but wouldn't benefit. And food companies would place themselves at an economic disadvantage if they demanded the steps while others didn't. So far only two small operations in Kansas have added the steps, according to the story, but if a mega corporation like McDonald's or Wal-Mart were to adopt the practices, "the industry will turn around on a dime," according to one industry executive.
Nov 28 USA Today article

EU measles cases remain at high levels
The World Health Organization's (WHO's) European Region has reported 26,074 measles cases this year as of Oct 26, according to a report today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). For comparison, the region reported 30,639 cases in 2010. So far this year outbreaks have been reported in 36 of 53 countries in the region, which first saw measles cases increase sharply beginning in late 2009. The median age of patients was 15 years. About 28% were hospitalized, and nine deaths were reported. France has had the largest ongoing outbreak, accounting for 14,025 of the reported cases. Six genotypes were reported, with D4 the most common. The report said measles from Europe has accounted from most importation into the United States since 2008, with 20 importations this year so far, just over half with links to France. The WHO said several factors are contributing to high numbers of measles cases in Europe, including lack of knowledge about the seriousness of the disease, vaccination skepticism, fear of side effects, and limited access for underserved populations. New strategies are needed to portray the risks of the disease and the benefits of vaccination, the report said.
Dec 2 MMWR report

Latin American and Caribbean nations embrace rotavirus vaccination
Latin American and Caribbean countries are making steady progress with immunization against rotavirus disease, but coverage in some countries is below that for the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine, suggesting some gaps in vaccine delivery, US and international health officials reported today in MMWR. The vaccine was first introduced to six countries in the region, including Mexico, in 2006, and is now administered in 14 nations. The researchers estimated, based on country surveillance systems, that in 2010 the median rotavirus vaccine coverage was 89%, with 7 million of the region's infants vaccinated. They wrote that the findings show that new vaccines can reach target populations fairly quickly and that lessons learned in the region might help health officials in Africa and Asia as rotavirus vaccine is launched in the next few years. Rotavirus infection is the world's leading cause of diarrhea-related hospitalizations and deaths in children younger than 5.
Dec 2 MMWR report

Phase 1 trial of TB vaccine launched in South Africa
A candidate tuberculosis (TB) vaccine produced by Vienna-based Intercell is undergoing a phase 1 clinical trial in South Africa, according to a press release today from Statens Serum Institut (SSI) of Copenhagen and Aeras, a Rockville, Md., non-profit that supports vaccine development. The vaccine is designed to protect people infected with TB from developing active TB disease. The trial is being conducted by the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative at its field site in Worcester, South Africa, marking the first time a South African research institute has led a phase 1 trial of a TB vaccine. "The development of urgently needed new TB vaccines requires a global effort," said SSI Vice President Peter Andersen. The candidate vaccine, SSI H56-IC31, contains recombinant TB proteins and IC31, Intercell's proprietary adjuvant. The trial involves 25 adults, including some with latent TB infection.
Dec 1 SSI/Aeras news release

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