News Scan for Mar 09, 2018

IV saline bag shortage
Veterinary training for pandemic threats
Avian flu in Italy, Japan
Polio case in DRC

FDA chief says situation involving IV saline bag shortage improving

In an update on an ongoing intravenous saline bag shortage, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said yesterday the situation is improving, and the agency expects that the problems will be resolved well before the next flu season begins.

In a series of Twitter posts, he said existing manufacturer Baxter, which has a facility in Puerto Rico, said manufacturing levels are now back to pre-hurricane levels.

Two new saline bag makers, Grifols and Fresenius Kabi, were licensed last year and are now producing saline bag products. Gottlieb said the FDA has permitted imports of saline from six facilities located outside of the United States, and officials are encouraging them to get approval to help address the long-term shortage issue.
Scott Gottlieb Twitter feed


FAO, USAID step up veterinary training for potential pandemic threats

In an effort to better prepare the world to identify the next pandemic threat, a project between the United States and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) over the past year has trained 4,700 veterinary health workers in 25 countries to manage disease outbreaks in farm animals, the FAO said today in a statement.

Country locations were in Asia, West Africa, and the Middle East, and the FAO said it provided the technical part of the training that covered disease surveillance and forecasting, lab operations, biosafety and biosecurity, prevention and control strategies, and outbreak response.

Dennis Carroll, director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) global health security and development unit, said in the statement that there are many mutually beneficial interests between the agricultural and human health communities. "A partnership with FAO not only enables us to protect human populations from future viral threats, but also to protect animal populations from viruses that could decimate food supplies," he said. "It's not just a global health, infectious disease issue, but also a food security, food safety, and economic growth issue."

Juan Lubroth, DVM, the FAO's chief veterinary officer, said about 75% of new infectious diseases that emerged in recent decades originated in animals before jumping to humans. "This is why improving, adequately discovering, and tackling animal disease threats at source represents a strategic high-ground in pre-empting future pandemics," he said.
Mar 9 FAO statement


H5N8 strikes Italian poultry farm; Japanese crow deaths linked to H5N6

In the latest avian flu developments, Italy reported a highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak at a commercial layer farm and Japan reported a H5N6 detection in a wild bird, according to notifications today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Italy's outbreak began on Mar 2 at a facility on Lombardy region in the country's northwest. The virus killed 1,362 of 96,007 susceptible birds, and the survivors were culled to curb the spread of the virus. So far the source of the virus hadn't been determined.

Italy reported several H5N8 outbreaks over the summer and fall of 2017. It reported its last outbreak in poultry in the middle of December.

Elsewhere, Japan said tests on large-billed crows found sick or dead in the city of Itami in Hyogo prefecture, located in the south, were positive for highly pathogenic H5N6. The virus was detected in 12 samples, and the crows were found in a designated wild bird priority monitoring area.
Mar 9 OIE report on H5N8 in Italy
Mar 9 OIE report on H5N6 in Japanese wild birds


DRC reports vaccine-derived polio case; Somalia finds positive samples     

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported one new case of vaccine-derived type 2 poliovirus (cVDPV2) in Tanganyika province, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's weekly summary of polio activity posted today.

In another polio development, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that cVDPV2 has been confirmed in three environmental samples from Somalia, though no associated cases of acute flaccid paralysis have been detected.

The patient in the DRC experienced symptom onset, including paralysis, on Dec 22, so this case is considered to be part of 2017 totals. DRC had 22 cases of cVDPV2 in 2017, and no cases reported thus far in 2018.

This is the latest case in a rash of cVDPV2 cases that led the DRC government to declare a public health emergency of national concern. DRC officials said monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 (mOPV2) will continue to be used in areas with recent cases to target children at risk for contracting the virus.

According to the GPEI, there have been two polio cases reported in 2018, both caused by wild-type viruses in Afghanistan.

In Somalia, three samples that tested positive for cVDPV2 were collected on Jan 4 and Jan 11 in Banadir province, an area that includes Mogadishu, the country's capital, the WHO said in its statement. It added that the strains show genetic links to cVDPV2 environmental samples collected from the same province in 2017 on Oct 22 and Nov 2, detections that triggered two large-scale immunization campaigns targeting Banadir and two other provinces.

Another campaign is planned for this month, and epidemiologic investigation, risk assessment, and enhanced surveillance are under way. The WHO said the detection in Somalia underscores the importance of maintaining high vaccine coverage and that insecure areas face tough challenges in maintaining high population immunity through vaccination.
Mar 9 GPEI report
Mar 9 WHO statement

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