Flu Scan for Mar 12, 2014

H5N1 outbreak in Libya
;
H7N9 case in China
;
Spray-dried H1N1 vaccine
;
Failure to re-create 2009 H1N1

Libya reports first H5N1 outbreak

Libya's agriculture ministry today reported the country's first highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The virus struck backyard chickens and ducks near the port city of Tubruq, located on the country's eastern Mediterranean coast near the border with Egypt. The virus sickened 19 of 50 susceptible birds, killing 15 of them. The remaining 35 were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus. So far the source of the virus is unknown.

The event marks the first H5N1 detection in Africa—other than Egypt—since 2009, when the virus infected poultry at a farm in Nigeria's Katsina state, according to OIE archives. Egypt, which is at Libya's eastern border, is one of five countries in which H5N1 is considered endemic in poultry.
Mar 12 OIE report

 

H7N9 hospitalizes Anhui province man

One of China's provinces today reported a new H7N9 infection, the country's first since Mar 7. The patient is an 86-year-old man from Anhui province who is hospitalized in critical condition, according to a provincial health ministry report translated and posted by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.

Though the number of cases in China's second wave of infections has tailed off, the country continues to report sporadic infections. The second wave started in October, and with 252 illnesses has well eclipsed the 136 cases detected during the first wave last spring.

The new case edges the outbreak total to 390, according to a human case list maintained by FluTrackers. The unofficial death total remains at 120.
Mar 12 FluTrackers thread
FluTrackers human H7N9 case list

 

Study: Reassortment that produced 2009 H1N1 hard to replicate

US and Spanish researchers could not reproduce a 2009 H1N1 (pH1N1)–like virus in cell cultures or in pigs co-infected with North American triple reassortant H1N1 and Eurasian H1N1 swine influenza viruses, suggesting that the reassortment that created the 2009-10 pandemic virus was a rare event, the investigators reported yesterday in mBio.

The team combined the two viruses in MDCK and PK15 cell lines, which produced more than 20 different reassortant flu viruses. In co-infected pigs, the researchers identified six or seven reassortant viruses from fluid samples from the lungs. Of those, only one or two viruses were detected in contact animals, indicating virus transmission.

The authors conclude, "No reassortant containing a gene constellation similar to that of pH1N1 virus was found in either coinfected cells or pigs, indicating that the reassortment event that resulted in the generation of this virus is a rare event that likely involved specific viral strains and/or a favorable, not-yet-understood environment."
Mar 11 mBio study

 

Macaque study shows promise for heat-stable flu vaccines

A spray-dried and irradiated version of pH1N1 vaccine that would not require cold storage proved immunogenic in monkeys, according to a study yesterday in Vaccine.

Spray-drying involves atomizing a liquid into microscopic droplets, flash-drying the droplets, and collecting the resultant powder.

German and UK scientists took two formulations of GlaxoSmithKline's Pandemrix vaccine and spray-dried them, then sterilized them by electron-beam irradiation. They used original Pandemrix and a version stabilized using novel antigen stabilizing and protecting solutions (SPS).

They found that macaques vaccinated with the spray-dried SPS vaccine had a similar immune response to those vaccinated with original Pandemrix that hadn't been spray-dried. Those vaccinated with the spray-dried non-SPS vaccine, however, did not exhibit seroconversion after 21 days.

The researchers also found that the spray-dried and sterilized vaccine maintained the integrity of the antigen, or active ingredient. They write that the approach opens the possibility of needle-free vaccines in countries in which cold storage is difficult.
Mar 11 Vaccine abstract

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