News Scan for Aug 22, 2014

Local chikungunya in Florida
H5N6 in Vietnam
Anthrax grant

Florida confirms 2 more locally acquired chikungunya cases

Two Palm Beach County, Fla., residents have acquired chikungunya locally, bringing the nation's total number of locally acquired cases to six, the Palm Beach Post reported yesterday.

State and county health officials said that a 43-year-old man and 35-year-old woman contracted the painful mosquito-borne disease without traveling to outbreak areas.

Their cases bring the county's total of locally acquired chikungunya cases to four and the US total to six. The other two cases were also in Florida: one each in St. Lucie and Miami-Dade counties.

So far this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 640 US chikungunya cases, of which 636 have been travel-related. A chikungunya outbreak in the Caribbean and surrounding areas has reached almost 600,000 cases.
Aug 21 Palm Beach Post story
Aug 20 CIDRAP News item "US tally of travel-related chikungunya cases reaches 636"

Vietnam reports third H5N6 outbreak in birds

Vietnamese officials have confirmed a third outbreak of H5N6 avian flu in poultry this year. The strain killed 498 pheasants in village flocks, and the remaining 60 were culled to prevent disease spread, according to a report filed today with the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE).

The village is located in Lao Cai province in northern Vietnam. The previous outbreaks, affecting flocks of 80 and 1,900 poultry, as reported to the OIE last week, occurred in separate provinces in northern and central parts of the country. Those outbreaks happened in April and June; the report called the virus a new strain.

The current outbreak began on Aug 11. Samples from the affected birds were confirmed as highly pathogenic H5N6 by an advanced clinical laboratory, the report said.

Samples taken from nearby flocks tested negative.
Aug 22 OIE report
Aug 13
CIDRAP News scan on previous outbreaks


NIH awards $14.5 million for anthrax research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) a 5-year, $14.5 million grant to continue its research on the effect on humans of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, the OMRF said in a news release.

The grant comes from the NIH's Cooperative Centers for Human Immunology program, which aims to identify new vaccines and drug targets.

The grant covers projects that will study the regions of B anthracis that cause inflammation, human pathology of the disease, administration of the anthrax vaccine in US military personnel, infection-related inflammation, movement of anthrax spores from the lungs to the rest of the body, and peptides made by human immune cells that neutralize B anthracis.

"Historically, researchers have focused on the anthrax bacteria themselves," said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, MD. "OMRF scientists decided, instead, to study how the human immune system forms—or fails to form—immune responses to those bacteria.
Aug 20 OMRF news release

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