News Scan for Dec 26, 2013

Hospital TB outbreak in Vegas
Malaria drug fast-track status

61 TB infections found in probe of Las Vegas hospital cases

The investigation of tuberculosis (TB) cases in a Las Vegas, Nev., hospital has revealed two active TB cases and 59 latent infections, including 22 infections in healthcare workers, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) reported this week.

The investigation was prompted by the TB-linked deaths of a woman and her twin infants this past summer. TB was diagnosed in the woman after her death in July. Her twins were born prematurely in May, and they died in June and August, according to the SNHD statement.

The outbreak occurred at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, according to a Dec 23 CBS News story. It said a state report released in November found that the hospital failed to recognize the mother's disease and to take precautions when she gave birth to the twin girls.

Health officials identified 977 non-infant contacts of the three patients, the SNHD said. Of those, 2 were found to have active TB and 59 had signs of latent TB. One of the active cases and 21 latent infections were in hospital staff members, 10 of whom worked mainly in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where the infants were treated.

Health officials originally decided not to test infants who were in the NICU, because their risk was believed to be very low. But after infections were found in NICU workers, officials recommended testing for 136 infants. Most of them have been tested, with no positive results so far, but repeat chest x-rays are needed for several babies, the SNHD said.

The statement said the two people with active TB and 39 of the 59 with latent infections are being treated, while seven infants are getting preventive treatment.

An SNHD told CBS News that it's uncertain whether all 59 latent TB infections are linked to the hospital, since some of the people are immigrants from countries where TB is more prevalent.
Dec 23 SNHD report
Dec 23 CBS News story


FDA grants fast-track status to malaria drug

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted fast-track status to tafenoquine, a malaria drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Medicines for Malaria Venture, GSK said in a Dec 20 statement.

The investigational medication is an 8-aminoquinoline derivative that is active against the Plasmodium vivax life cycle, including the dormant liver form that can cause infection relapse.

The drug, administered as a single dose, has yielded promising findings in a phase 2 clinical trial that recently appeared in The Lancet; the findings were presented in November at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. GSK said a phase 3 study is set to launch in 2014.

The company said the FDA granted the drug its "breakthrough therapy" designation, which was enacted as part of the 2012 FDA Safety and Innovation Act. The new designation includes all of the features of fast-track status but with more intensive guidance from the FDA on the drug's clinical development program.
Dec 20 Glaxo press release


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