NEWS SCAN: Biodefense adjuvant contract, raw milk cheese recall, drug-resistant E coli , eastern equine encephalitis

Jan 16, 2013

UK company gets defense contract to develop vaccine adjuvant
PsiOxus Therapeutics, Ltd., a biotechnology company based in Oxford, England, announced today that it has received a $3.3 million contract from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop its proprietary adjuvant technology to boost the safety and efficacy of two vaccine candidates, a recombinant protective antigen (rPA) one for anthrax and a vaccine against the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEE). The company said in a press release today that its PolyMAP platform combines polymers with synthetic adjuvants to enhance the effectiveness of vaccines. The contract will cover work over a 3-year period in the United States and will support PsiOxus' new biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) lab in Oxford.
Jan 16 PsiOxus press release

E coli concerns prompt raw milk cheese recall
A Missouri dairy has recalled 250 pounds of cheese made with its raw milk after preliminary tests by the Missouri State Health Laboratory showed that it may be contaminated with Shiga-toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC), according to a Jan 14 press release from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA). Confirmatory tests are under way. The product, made by Homestead Creamery in Jamesport, Mo., is Flory's Favorite, a 60-day aged cheese made with raw milk. It was sold at the creamery and may have been sold at three retail outlets in Missouri and one in Milton, Ia. It's unclear if the recall is related to a Jan 11 health alert from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services about diarrheal illnesses possibly caused by STEC, including one confirmed as E coli O103, in those possibly exposed to locally produced raw dairy products.
Jan 14 MDA news release
Jan 14 CIDRAP News scan "Missouri issues alert for raw milk E coli cases"

Study: E coli antibiotic resistance in chickens depends on dosage
Administering antibiotics to chickens not only raises the level of antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli in the birds' gastrointestinal tract, but a higher dosage produces a higher prevalence of resistant strains, Dutch researchers report in a Foodborne Pathogens and Disease study yesterday. The team administered a 2-day course of amoxicillin, oxytetracycline, or enrofloxacin added to the chickens' drinking water at either the full therapeutic dose, at 75% of that, or at the "carry-over" level of 2.5% (three groups of 15 chickens at each dose, plus a control group). The investigators then measured the minimal inhibitory concentration for the antibiotics in E coli strains isolated from cloacal swabs taken from the poultry during treatment and for 12 days afterward. The full dose yielded the highest percentage of resistant strains during and immediately after treatment.. After 12 days without antibiotics, only strains from chickens receiving amoxicillin were significantly more often resistant compared with controls. Also, strains isolated from chickens exposed to carry-over drug concentrations showed increased resistance for a few days. The authors conclude that if chickens must be treated with antibiotics, "short intensive therapy is preferable," adding, "Even short-term exposure to carry-over levels of antibiotics can be a risk for public health, as also under those circumstances some selection for resistance takes place."
Jan 15 Foodborne Pathog Dis abstract

Eastern equine encephalitis series highlights long-term damage
Of 15 cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) recorded at Children's Hospital Boston in the past 41 years, only 4 patients recovered fully, and there may be an association between a short prodrome and an increased risk of death or severe disease, Massachusetts researchers reported today in Emerging Infectious Diseases. They detail 15 patients from 1970 through 2010 who had clinical, laboratory, and radiographic characteristics of EEE, a mosquito-borne disease. The most common features were fever, headache, seizures, peripheral leukocytosis, and cerebrospinal fluid neutrophilic pleocytosis, as well as lesions on x-ray. Of the 15 patients, 4 died, 5 had severe neurologic deficits, 2 had mild neurologic deficits, and only 4 recovered fully. They also said that a prodrome of 3 days or less was associated with more severe disease and death, but that factor might have been influenced by recall bias. EEE cases have surged in the northeastern United States in the past decade, the authors wrote.
Jan 16 Emerg Infect Dis report

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