NEWS SCAN: Salmonella from salmon & turtles, poultry H5N1 vaccine, flu vaccination summary, malaria vaccine testing, new antibiotic

Oct 2, 2012

Dutch, US Salmonella outbreak linked to smoked salmon
Smoked salmon from a Dutch company named Foppen has apparently caused at least 200 people in the Netherlands and 100 people in the United States to become ill with salmonellosis, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) story yesterday. The National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) in the Netherlands said consumers should not eat Foppen salmon, and Dutch supermarkets have been advised to remove it from stores. The story notes that an international recall is in preparation. The product is sold in the United States through wholesaler Costco, says an Associated Press (AP) story today, but the amount of fish sold in the US has not yet been reported. Foppen processes fish in the Netherlands and Greece; a Foppen spokesman said the contamination has been traced to one production line at the Greek facility, the AP story states. All salmon production at the company has been stopped during the investigation.
Oct 1 AFP story
Oct 2 AP story

More Salmonella from small turtles
Salmonellosis caused by contact with small (less than 4 inches long) turtles or materials from their habitats (eg, water) has now sickened 196 people in 31 states in six distinct outbreaks reported since September 2011, according to a recent update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The case count has increased by 28 since the previous CDC update in early August, according to a story in Food Safety News. No deaths have been reported, but 36 people have been hospitalized, the CDC said. Children 10 years of age or less account for 63% of infected patients, with 29% 1 year or younger; 55% of those affected for whom data are available are Hispanic. Four strains of Salmonella have been implicated in the outbreak—S Sandiego, strain A; S Newport, strain A; S Pomona, strain A; S poona, strain A; and S poona, strain B. Illnesses occurring after Jul 15 may not yet have been reported, so numbers may be higher, the CDC noted. The US Food and Drug Administration has banned the distribution and sale of small turtles for pets since 1975, but a number of cases have involved persons who purchased or handled turtles at souvenir stores, many in the Florida panhandle, or bought turtles from street vendors.
Sep 20 CDC update
Oct 2 Food Safety News article on the outbreaks

New poultry H5N1 vaccine differentiates infected from vaccinated birds
Dutch scientists have developed a poultry vaccine against H5N1 avian flu that contains the neuraminidase (N) gene from human influenza B, which makes it possible to use serologic tests to distinguish between infected and vaccinated birds, according to a report published today in Vaccine. The vaccine thus satisfies the DIVA (differentiating infected from vaccinated animals) principle, facilitating control efforts, the authors say. DIVA vaccines often rely on using a different N subtype than is expected to be in the circulating virus. The drawback of this approach, the authors say, is that two different vaccines with different N subtypes must be available so that they can be switched in case one of them matches the outbreak strain. To overcome this problem, the researchers generated a recombinant flu virus containing the hemagglutinin (H) gene of a highly pathogenic H5N1 strain in combination with the N gene of a human influenza B virus. An inactivated vaccine based on this virus protected chickens against clinical disease and completely prevented virus shedding after they were infected with H5N1. Since the N gene of human influenza B is not present in avian flu strains, the vaccine is suitable as a DIVA vaccine against any highly pathogenic H5 strain and may be used when the N subtype of an outbreak strain is unknown, the scientists say.
Oct 2 Vaccine abstract

CDC sums up flu vaccination info for clinicians
The CDC yesterday issued a document that summarizes its flu vaccination information for healthcare providers for the upcoming season. While noting that vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months or older, the CDC emphasized that immunization is especially important for people who are at higher risk for flu complications, such as kids under 4 years old, adults 50 and older, and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma. It reviewed the vaccine formulations that are available this season and urged clinicians to start vaccinating patients seen for routine care or in the hospital as soon as the vaccine is available. However, the agency recommended that those planning large vaccination campaigns schedule the events after at least the middle of October to ensure that the vaccine supply won't be a problem. The CDC also urged clinicians to keep vaccinating patients throughout the flu season, as long as viruses are circulating. It warned that flu can hit communities in waves during fall and winter, with different strains causing additional peaks in activity. According to the latest CDC update on flu vaccine supply, as of Sep 21, 96.8 million of the expected 135 million doses expected for the US market this season had been distributed to providers.
Oct 1 CDC influenza vaccination summary for clinicians
Oct 1 CDC flu vaccine distribution total

US Navy will test GenVec malaria vaccine
GenVec Inc. announced today that it was awarded a $3.5 million contract by the US Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) to provide clinical supplies of its experimental malaria vaccine for safety and efficacy testing. The vaccine uses a novel adenovirus delivery system that can generate strong immune responses while avoiding the problem of vector-specific immunity, which has hampered other "vectored" vaccines, the company said in a press release. The vaccine will be tested by the NMRC and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research malaria vaccine programs, now unified as the US Military Malaria Vaccine Program, the statement said. In 2010 GenVec reported "encouraging" results from a phase 1 clinical trial of its adenovector technology coupled with DNA plasmid priming, according to the release. GenVec is based in Gaithersburg, Md.
Oct 2 GenVec press release

Study: New antibiotic fights Acinetobacter by blocking its toxin
A new class of antibiotic called LpxC inhibitors effectively treats an antibiotic-resistant infection in mice by blocking the release of a bacterial toxin, not by killing the bacteria, according to a report in mBio. The LpxC inhibitor was used to treat mice infected with Acinetobacter baumanii, an extensively drug-resistant bacterium that typically strikes hospital patients and immune-compromised persons, says the report and an accompanying press release from the American Society for Microbiology, publisher of mBio. The researchers found that the virulence of A baumanii was related to the shedding of an endotoxin called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), senior author Brad Spellberg, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, said in the press release. Blocking the synthesis of this toxin with an LpxC inhibitor enhanced clearance of the bacteria, reduced serum LPS concentrations and inflammation, and completely protected the mice from lethal infection, the report states. In the press release, Liise-anne Pirofski, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who reviewed the study for mBio, commented, "There's a growing movement in infectious disease therapy to control the host inflammation response in treatment rather than just 'murdering' the organism. This is a very elegant and important validation that this approach can work—at least in mice."
Oct 2 mBio abstract
Oct 2 ASM press release via EurekAlert

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