News Scan for Oct 18, 2017

No Seychelles plague cases
;
Influenza B antibody
;
HPV vaccine safety

Tests rule out imported plague cases in Seychelles

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that tests have ruled out plague in several patients in Seychelles under monitoring and treatment for probable or suspected pneumonic infections. The set of samples included one from a 34-year-old man who had returned from Madagascar and who was previously identified by the Seychelles health ministry as a probable imported case, based on a weakly positive result on a rapid test.

Christian Lindmeier, a WHO spokeperson, told CIDRAP News that the latest findings mean Seychelles has no imported plague cases.

The WHO said it and the Seychelles Ministry of Health had shipped 10 samples to the Yersinia collaborating center at the Pasteur Institute to confirm the status of the several suspected cases and one probable infection (plague is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium).

Given the unprecedented outbreak in neighboring Madagascar, where plague has killed 70 people since August, the WHO is working with Seychelles health officials to reduce the risk of spread. It has also deployed experts and medical supplies and provided guidance for contact tracing and treatment.

Also, the WHO said it is advising the Seychelles government on implementation of public health measures that are consistent with International Health Regulations. For now, the WHO has assessed the risk of plague spread to Seychelles as low.
Oct 18 WHO statement

 

Researchers create antibody that protects mice, ferrets from influenza B

Scientists have developed an antibody that inhibits diverse strains of influenza B and protected mice and ferrets in the lab, according to a study today in Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers from China and drug maker Sanofi Pasteur conducted a series of immunization and screening tests in mice. After winnowing down 318 influenza B–specific antibodies, they purified and modified their top candidate for use as a therapeutic.

In mice, the experimental antibody protected them from dying after injection with lethal doses of varied influenza B strains (those belonging to both the Victoria and Yamagata lineages, as well as an older isolate from the 1940s). In ferrets, which have receptor cells similar to those found in humans, the antibody reduced fevers and accelerated viral clearance after influenza B challenge.

The authors write, "The antibody recognizes the receptor binding site in hemagglutinin, a region critical to viral entry. . . . This antibody could be widely deployed to treat or prevent influenza B infection around the world."
Oct 18 Sci Transl Med study

 

No link found between HPV vaccine and chronic diseases

A study today in the Journal of Internal Medicine tracked 3 million Swedish and Danish women and found no link between human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and 44 serious chronic diseases.

This is one of the largest studies to assess the safety of inoculating adults with the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is routinely given to children and young adults ages 9 to 22. "This is the most comprehensive study of HPV vaccination safety in adult women to date. It is not unreasonable to expect different safety concerns in adult women compared with young girls, and our study is an important supplement to the safety studies in young girls," said lead author Anders Hviid, MD, of the Statens Serum Institut, in Denmark, in a news release from Wiley, the journal's publisher.

The 3 million women were aged 18 to 44. HPV vaccination was followed by an increased risk of developing celiac disease, an intolerance of gluten. But the researchers said this finding was only seen in Denmark, and suggested it could be underdiagnosed in adult patients. The vaccine was not associated with the development of any other diseases.
Oct 18 J Intern Med study
Oct 17 Wiley press release

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