News Scan for May 02, 2018

Hypervirulent, drug-resistant Klebsiella
;
Smallpox antiviral treatment
;
Nigerian Lassa fever
;
Dengue in Reunion

Strain of hypervirulent, carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella found in China

Scientists in China are reporting the emergence of a new strain of hypervirulent, carbapenem-resistant of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

In a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, researchers from Sichuan University report that the strain, WCHKP13F2, was isolated in 2015 from a patient who had severe burns and a healthcare-associate bloodstream infection. The K pneumoniae isolate was resistant to several antibiotics, including imipenem and meropenem. The patient discharged himself in spite of unsolved critical illness.

Whole-genome sequencing revealed that the isolate belonged to sequence type 36, a known hypervirulent K pneumoniae (hvKP) strain with a worldwide distribution, and testing confirmed hypervirulence. Further analysis identified several plasmid-mediated hypervirulence genes and antibiotic resistance genes, including the carbapenemase gene blaKPC-2.

"The combination of carbapenem resistance and hypervirulence significantly compromises options of antimicrobial agents for treating the life-threatening infections caused by carbapenem-resistant hvKP and therefore represents a major urgent challenge for clinical treatment, infection control, and public health," the authors write. "Surveillance of carbapenem-resistant hvKP is urgently required to generate essential information for preventing their spread."
Apr 30 Antimicrob Agents Chemother abstract


Antiviral treatment for smallpox gets green light from FDA panel

SIGA Technologies, the maker of TPOXX, a small-molecule antiviral treatment for smallpox, announced today that an advisory panel for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously concluded that the drug's benefits outweigh its risks.

The FDA's Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee voted 17-0 in favor of oral TPOXX. The vote precedes a probable favorable review for TPOXX's pending New Drug Application (NDA).

"We believe that safety and efficacy data contained in the NDA support TPOXX's future use as a medical countermeasure in response to a smallpox outbreak," said SIGA CEO Phil Gomez, PhD.

The FDA has previously announced that its target final action date for oral TPOXX is Aug 8. SIGA developed the treatment with funding from the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). According to SIGA, BARDA has acquired 2 million courses of oral TPOXX, which have been delivered to the Strategic National Stockpile.
May 1 SIGA press release

 

Four more Lassa fever cases confirmed in Nigerian outbreak

In a weekly Lassa fever outbreak update, Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported four new confirmed cases and one death. The Lassa fever outbreak, Nigeria's largest recorded, has been ongoing since January, but case counts have slowed in recent weeks.

From Jan 1 to Apr 29, the NCDC has confirmed 420 Lassa fever cases, along with 106 deaths. The case-fatality rate is holding at 25.2 %. None of the new cases involved health workers. So far, 37 healthcare workers from eight states have been sickened in the outbreak.

Four people are still hospitalized for treatment, the NCDC said. Officials reported new cases in Edo, Ondo, and Taraba states. In this outbreak, 42% of cases are from Edo and 23% are from Ondo.

Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria, and though it is mainly transmitted by rats, human spread can occur from contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.
Apr 29 NCDC report

 

WHO confirms large dengue outbreak in Reunion, France

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed yesterday a spike of dengue cases in Reunion, France, a territory in the Indian Ocean.

Since January, Reunion has recorded 1,816 cases of the flavivirus disease, with 428 probable and confirmed cases reported from Apr 16 to Apr 23. Reunion recorded only 100 cases of the virus in 2017.

The WHO said the huge uptick in cases could be explained be several factors, including asymptomatic spread in 2017 that carried into this year, and a lack of herd immunity in the local population.

"Reunion is a popular tourist destination, and the likelihood of dengue virus introduction to other countries is heightened by the current outbreak," the WHO said.
May 1 WHO
statement

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