NEWS SCAN: NCoV animal model, food outbreak response, more Nipah virus cases, 2018 goal for polio

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Apr 3, 2013

Study finds macaques good model for testing novel coronavirus treatments
Macaques experimentally infected with novel coronavirus (NCoV) experience lower airway pathology that resembles the disease in humans, suggesting that the animal model might be useful for evaluating possible medical treatments, researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine. They infected six rhesus macaques with NCoV provided by Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands. All monkeys showed clinical signs of disease within 24 hours, including reduced appetite, elevated temperature, increased respiration, and coughing. Clinical signs were transient, lasting for a few days, and radiographs showed varying local infiltration and interstitial infiltrates, consistent with viral pneumonia. When the researchers euthanized the animals and examined their lungs, they found multifocal and coalescent bright red lesions in the lower airways that progressed into dark reddish purple areas of pulmonary inflammation. They didn't find any extrapulmonary lesions. Blood tests showed only a transient, early rise in white blood cells, which points to an organ-specific rather than systemic infection, the authors wrote.  Tests on lung tissue found widespread NCoV in the lower respiratory tract, with viral loads that decreased over time. The team was able to isolate the virus from lung tissue 3 and 6 days after infection. Overall, the virus caused acute local-to-widespread infection in the monkeys, with mild-to-moderate clinical disease.
Apr 3 N Engl J Med letter

Report: Slow government response played role in '11 Salmonella outbreak
Slow government response likely exacerbated a 31-state Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak in 2011 linked to ground turkey, according to a report released yesterday by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It took federal and state health officials 22 weeks after the first reported illness on Feb 27 and 10 weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the outbreak to pinpoint the food source. Cargill began a recall of approximately 36 million pounds of ground turkey products on Aug 3—one of the biggest US poultry recalls ever. The outbreak involved 136 illnesses, 37 hospitalizations, and 1 death, according to a Pew press release. The report highlighted three weaknesses in outbreak response: (1) Salmonella is not placed high on the priority list; (2) when DNA fingerprints of bacterial isolates are loaded to the national PulseNet database, they lack important identifiers like brand name or production facility; and (3) officials often wait until they are nearly certain of the outbreak food source before contacting the company that produced it. The report recommends that each deficiency be addressed.
Apr 2 Pew report
Apr 2 Pew press release

Bangladesh reports 5 more Nipah virus cases, 4 fatal
Bangladesh has had 24 Nipah virus infections with 21 deaths so far this year, an increase of 5 cases and 4 deaths since the previous update on Mar 12, the country's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) reported yesterday. The cases have occurred in 14 districts, with patients ranging from 8 months to 60 years old. The virus spreads through drinking raw date palm sap and close contact with an infected person. Previous reports said Bangladesh had an average of 18 Nipah virus cases per year from 2001 through 2011.
Apr 2 IEDCR update

New global polio plan aims for eradication by 2018, needs $5.5 billion
The latest plan for global polio eradication envisions stamping out the disease by 2018, if an estimated $5.5 billion can be raised to finance the effort, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday. The new plan calls for increasing security for vaccination workers, who have recently been attacked in polio-endemic countries. In addition, it calls for replacing the long-used oral vaccine with a safer but more expensive injected formulation. The revised strategy will be finalized later this month, the story said. The global campaign to eradicate polio began in 1988, and though the target date for eradication has been postponed several times, cases dropped to just 223 in 2012. Hamid Jafari, MD, the World Health Organization's polio director, said recent killings of vaccinators in Pakistan and Afghanistan have made the campaign harder, but he vowed they won't stop it. So far this year the world has had 16 confirmed polio cases, with 10 in Nigeria, 5 in Pakistan, and 1 in Afghanistan, according to a Mar 27 report from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
Mar 27 GPEI report

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