Study: IV zanamivir in kids is safe, yields clinical benefits
A phase 2 study of intravenous (IV) zanamivir in children hospitalized with severe influenza found that treatment was safe, reduced viral load, and was associated with clinical improvement, researchers reported yesterday in an early online edition of Pediatrics.
The drug, a neuraminidase inhibitor, is already approved for flu treatment in its inhaled form (Relenza), but in some instances, antiviral administration by inhaler or pill isn't possible. Researchers have been eyeing zanamivir as an IV drug, especially since it is effective against viruses with some of the most common resistance mutations.
The study took place at 25 hospitals in 5 countries between September 2010 and February 2015, enrolling 73 hospitalized children, of whom 71 were included in the study. Children received a twice-daily age- and weight-adjusted dose comparable to a daily dose given to adults. Kids were treated for 5 days, and as long as 10 days if viral shedding or clinical symptoms persisted.
Safety and efficacy were similar to what studies have found for adults, but in children, fewer serious adverse events were seen, and mortality incidence was lower.
Most children showed clinical improvement over the treatment course, lending support for a dosing schedule adjusted for weight, age, and creatinine clearance.
Oct 19 Pediatrics abstract
H5N8 strikes more poultry and wild birds in Italy
Italy today reported several more highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu outbreaks in poultry and wild birds, according to two notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Officials reported eight more outbreaks in poultry, four on commercial farms raising fattening turkeys and four in backyard holdings. Six occurred in Lombardy region, with the virus also hitting two locations in neighboring Veneto region. Both regions are in north-central Italy.
The outbreaks began between Oct 12 and Oct 18, killing 502 of 61,700 susceptible birds. The surviving ones were culled to curb the spread of the virus.
Also, animal health authorities reported two more H5N8 detections in wild birds, both involving a single mute swan found dead on Oct 10 at separate sites in Piemonte region in northwestern Italy.
Oct 20 OIE report on H5N8 in Italian poultry
Oct 20 OIE report on H5N8 in Italian wild birds