News Scan for Jul 24, 2018

Dengue in pregnancy
Rift Valley fever in Uganda
FDA approves malaria drug

Dengue in pregnancy may increase risk of congenital brain malformations

Prenatal dengue infection may increase the risk of any neurologic congenital anomaly in an infant by roughly 50%, according to new research published yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The population-based study was conducted in Brazil from 2006 to 2012, involving more than 16 million live births. Dengue-infected pregnant women were matched with controls, and the study was conducted before Zika virus was introduced into the country. Half of the women with confirmed dengue reported symptoms in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Researchers found that confirmed dengue during pregnancy increased the odds of a neurologic congenital anomaly by 50%, but the results were not statistically significant (95% confidence interval, 0.97-2.27). Congenital malformation of the spinal cord, however, and some congenital brain malformations were more than four times more frequent in dengue-affected births.

"The pattern of anomalies we described has similarities with congenital Zika syndrome. Brain images and autopsies from infants with Zika and other infectious diseases have revealed abnormalities similar to those we described," the authors said.

The authors said the findings raise more questions about the congenital defects caused by flaviviruses, and recommend further study of the teratogenic effects of dengue.
Jul 23 Emerg Infect Dis study


More cases reported in Uganda's Rift Valley fever outbreak

Uganda has reported six more cases in its Rift Valley fever outbreak, raising the total to eight, according to the latest weekly health emergencies update from the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office for Africa.

Of the eight cases, six are confirmed and two are suspected. The lab-confirmed cases are from five different districts: Kasese, Isingiro, Ibanda, Mbarara, and Sembabule, an area described as the "cattle corridor" that stretches from the southwest to northeast regions of the country. One of the suspected case-patients ran away from an isolation ward at the regional hospital in Mbarara before further medical assessment was done, and the other patient is in isolation while awaiting test results. Three people have died from their illnesses.

In Kenya, where a Rift Valley fever outbreak has been unde rway since May, no new cases were reported in the past week, keeping its outbreak total at 94 cases, including 10 deaths.

Livestock contract the virus from mosquitoes, and most human illnesses occur from exposure to the blood or milk of infected animals.
Jul 23 WHO African regional office weekly report


FDA approves single-dose treatment for P vivax malaria

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week approved the first single-dose medication to prevent relapsing Plasmodium vivax malaria infection, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMW) announced on Jul 20.

The FDA cleared the drug called Krintafel (tafenoquine), under priority review with an indication for treating patients ages 16 years and older who are receiving appropriate antimalarial therapy for acute P vivax infection.

Hal Barron, MD, GSK's chief scientific officer and president of research, said in the statement that the approval marks the first new treatment for P vivax in more than 60 years, is an important milestone for people living with this type of relapsing malaria, and will contribute to global efforts to eradicate the disease.

David Reddy, PhD, chief executive officer of MMV, added that the single-dose indication will help improve patient compliance. "Our focus is now on working to ensure the medicine reaches the vulnerable patients that need it most," he said.

The FDA had also awarded GSK a tropical disease priority review voucher, which is designed to stimulate the development of new drugs and biological products to battle neglected tropical diseases. GSK has also submitted an application for approval to the Australian Therapeutics Good Administration and is awaiting its decision.
Jul 20 GSK press release

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