News Scan for Mar 08, 2016

Two Saudi MERS cases
New FDA food safety head
Latent TB treatment compliance

Saudi Arabia's Buraydah cluster grows with 2 new MERS cases

A MERS-CoV cluster in Buraydah in north-central Saudi Arabia has grown to 13 cases in recent days as the country's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 2 new infections today, 1 of which was fatal.

The new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases involve foreign men, ages 24 and 56. The older man died. He contracted the disease from another MERS patient, the MOH said.

The younger man is hospitalized in stable condition after he, too, became infected after contact with a MERS patient. Neither man is a healthcare worker. Of the 13 cases in Buraydah, 11 have been confirmed in the past 4 days.

The country has now had 1,328 MERS-CoV cases since the outbreak began in 2012, including 560 deaths, the MOH said. Twenty-one patients are still undergoing treatment.
Mar 8 MOH update


Taylor steps down as FDA food safety/veterinary med director

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor, JD, who has served in this position since 2010, will leave the agency on Jun 1, the FDA said today in a statement.

Stephen Ostroff, MD, will replace Taylor as deputy commissioner. Ostroff led the FDA as acting commissioner until the recent confirmation of Robert Califf, MD, to the agency's top spot.

Taylor was the first Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine after the post was created in 2009. Taylor led the implementation of the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. He has also spearheaded nutrition initiatives aimed at reducing chronic disease and efforts to eliminate certain antibiotics that can contribute to the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

Before joining the FDA in 2009, Taylor was the administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service and acting under secretary for food safety at the US Department of Agriculture. He plans to continue working on food safety issues, concentrating on addressing insufficient access to healthy foods, the FDA said.

Prior to serving as acting FDA commissioner, Ostroff was named the agency's chief scientist in 2014. He joined the FDA in 2013 as chief medical officer in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and senior public health advisor to Taylor. Before that, he served as deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Dr. Ostroff's expertise in public health and knowledge of food safety, nutrition, and veterinary medicine programs will ensure a smooth and seamless transition," the FDA said. "Between now and June 1, Mr. Taylor and Dr. Ostroff will work closely together."
Mar 8 FDA constituent update


Study IDs predictors of noncompliance with treatment for latent TB

Among patients receiving treatment for latent tuberculosis (TB), noncompliance remains common, interfering with treatment efficacy and elimination of the disease. Research published Mar 6 in Clinical Infectious Diseases identified several predictors of noncompliance that may allow clinicians to tailor treatment and maximize the likelihood that patients will stick with a full treatment course.

The authors analyzed post-hoc the cases of 6,232 US and Canadian participants in the PREVENT TB trial, a phase 3 open-label, randomized trial of treatment for latent TB carried out from 2001 to 2008. While 4,826 individuals completed their treatment, 1,406 (22.6%) did not.

Adverse treatment effects accounted for the noncompliance in 317 (22.5%) of the 1,406, but other factors—social, behavioral, and demographic—were responsible in 1,089 (77.5%).

One factor that stood out in the latter group was missing an early clinical visit, which the authors called a "sentinel event" in terms of high risk of nonadherence to treatment. They suggested such actions as contacting these patients shortly before and after each appointment and identifying and perhaps assisting in overcoming individual barriers to adherence (eg, helping with transportation) as strategies that might raise compliance.

Other factors associated with noncompliance included longer treatment regimens, male sex and a history of incarceration, and Hispanic ethnicity.
Mar 6 Clin Infect Dis study abstract

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