News Scan for Feb 06, 2014

Non-flu vaccine coverage in adults
;
FSMA resource shortage
;
H6 avian flu properties
;
Drop in measles deaths, cases
;
Polio effort in Syria

CDC: Non-flu vaccine coverage in US adults changed little in 2012

Immunization coverage in US adults for diseases other than influenza improved modestly in a few categories in 2012, but coverage in most target groups did not improve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today.

The CDC reported its 2012 adult coverage estimates for recommended adult vaccines in the Feb 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The estimates are based on the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.

One category that improved was tetanus and diphtheria with acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine coverage in working-age adults (19 to 64 years), which was 15.6%, a significant increase of 3.2 percentage points from the year before. The coverage level for adults of all ages was 14.2%.

A second area of improvement was herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine uptake in adults 60 and older, which reached 20.1%, up 4.4 points from 2011. In addition, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine coverage in women 19 to 26 years old was 34.5% in 2012, a 5-point increase.

The CDC found no significant changes in other categories, such as pneumococcal, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. Also, racial and ethnic gaps in coverage persisted for all six vaccines and widened for Tdap, herpes zoster, and HPV. The agency said coverage for all the recommended adult vaccines remained low.

The report calls for wider use of practices known to improve adult vaccination rates, such as assessment of patients' vaccination needs by healthcare providers and routine recommendation and offering of vaccines to adults.

The nonprofit advocacy group Trust for America's Health (TFAH) termed the reported immunization rates "abysmal" in a statement today. The group called for a number of steps to improve coverage, including ensuring that adults receive expanded preventive services covered under the Affordable Care Act and increasing the use of electronic health records to track when adults are due for recommended shots.
Feb 7 MMWR article
Feb 6 TFAH statement

 

FDA expert: FSMA implementation will require more resources

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the resources to issue final rules on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), all of which are due by June 2015, but not to implement them, claimed an FDA official during testimony yesterday before a House committee, according to Food Safety News.

Food safety expert Michael Taylor, who is the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in speaking before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, "We will continue efforts to make the best use of the resources we have, but simply put, we cannot achieve FDA's vision of a modern food safety system and a safer food supply without a significant increase in resources."

Taylor said that areas in need of further resources include oversight of importers, development of partnerships with state and local agencies, retraining for inspectors, and provision of technical assistance to small growers and processors. A topic that received much attention was the produce safety rule; at issue is whether there will be assurances that foreign producers are held to the same standards as domestic producers, says the story.

The FSMA was passed in 2010, and implementation will begin after all final rules are published. The Congressional Budget Office at the time of the act's approval estimated that FDA would need $580 million to implement the new plan.
Feb 6 Food Safety News story
Most recent (Dec 20, 2013) CIDRAP News story on FSMA

 

Study shows H6 avian flu may bind well to human cells

About a third of H6 avian flu strains tested were able to recognize human-type receptors, a sign that they may pose a threat to human health, according to a study yesterday in the Journal of Virology. The study also found that the strain replicated well in mouse lungs and transmitted fairly well among guinea pigs.

Chinese, Thai, and Japanese researchers, including Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, who also has a lab at the University of Wisconsin, tested H6 viruses isolated from live-poultry markets in southern China from 2008 through 2011.

They found that, of 257 H6 strains tested, 87 (34%) recognized human-type receptors. Sequencing of 38 representative viruses revealed 30 different genotypes, "indicating that these viruses are actively circulating and reassorting in nature," the researchers wrote.

The team also found that 37 of 38 viruses tested in mice replicated well in the lungs and some caused mild disease. None of the viruses tested, though, were lethal to mice.

The investigators also found that, among 10 H6 viruses tested in guinea pigs, 5 did not transmit to contact animals, 3 transmitted to 1 of 3 contact animals, and 2 transmitted to all 3 contact animals.

The authors concluded, "Our study demonstrates that the H6 avian influenza viruses pose a clear threat to human health and emphasizes the need for the continued surveillance and evaluation of the H6 influenza viruses circulating in nature."

Last June Taiwan reported the first known human case of H6N1, in a 20-year-old woman.
Feb 5 J Virol abstract
Jun 21, 2013, CIDRAP News scan on H6N1 case

 

Estimate: Global measles deaths drop 78%

Global measles deaths have reached historic lows, dropping an estimated 78%, from 562,400 in 2000 to 122,000 in 2012, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data published today.

In those 13 years, an estimated 13.8 million deaths have been prevented by measles vaccination, scientists from the WHO and the CDC said in a report published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). They also noted that measles cases fell 77%, from 853,480 to 226,722.

The gains are a result of global routine measles immunization coverage remaining at the 2011 level of 84% and the number of countries providing a second dose of measles vaccine increasing from 96 (50%) in 2000 to 145 (75%) in 2012, the authors said in the report.

"In addition to routine immunization, countries vaccinated 145 million children during mass campaigns against measles in 2012 and reached more than 1 billion since 2000, with the support of the Measles & Rubella Initiative," the WHO said in a news release today.

The agency adds in the release, "Despite the impressive gains made, progress towards measles elimination remains uneven with some populations still unprotected. Measles continues to be a global threat, with five of six WHO regions still experiencing large outbreaks and with the Region of the Americas responding to many importations of measles cases."
Feb 7 MMWR report
Feb 6 WHO news release

 

UN: Thousands of refugees in Syria to get polio vaccine

The United Nations (UN) agency that is aiding Palestinian refugees said yesterday it has begun a large-scale polio immunization campaign targeting thousands of children in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, the UN News Service reported.

Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said, "We are pleased to announce that UNRWA has secured the formal authorization for the transfer of 10,000 polio vaccines to Yarmouk camp in Damascus."

UNRWA and its partners have been trying for months to supply Yarmouk with much-needed aid, especially food and medicine, the story said. The camp's 18,000 residents have been trapped for months amid ongoing Syrian violence.

"The vaccination of thousands of children in the camp is now underway," Gunness said.
Feb 3 UN News Service article

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