News Scan for Oct 05, 2018

Yemen cholera vaccination
;
New polio cases
;
WHO on monkeypox in Nigeria
;
Universal flu vaccine contract

Health workers reach 306,000 people in Yemen with cholera vaccine

During a 4-day pause of fighting in an ongoing conflict, 306,000 Yemenis, including 164,000 children under the age of 15, were vaccinated with the cholera vaccine, according to an update today from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The effort, carried out by 3,000 health workers in three districts in Hudaydah and Ibb, was made to staunch the steady number of cholera cases that have plagued the country since last year. Since April of 2017, there have been over 1.2 million suspected cholera cases and 2,515 associated deaths in the country, which has seen most of its public health infrastructure destroyed during the civil war.

"It is unacceptable for people to die from preventable diseases," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD. "We are grateful for the pause in fighting which enabled us to complete the cholera vaccination campaign. Vaccination is one of many health services people need. Ultimately, peace is the only road to health."
Oct 5 WHO update

 

New polio cases in Afghanistan, Nigeria

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), in its weekly report, said Afghanistan and Nigeria both recorded new cases of polio.

In Afghanistan, a wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was identified in Kandahar. The patient reported onset of paralysis on Aug 27. Afghanistan has had 15 cases of wild poliovirus this year.

Nigeria recorded three more cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), bringing the 2018 total to 14. The latest cases reported paralysis onset in early September and are connected to the ongoing outbreak in Jigawa.

"In response to cVDPV2 detection, the country continues to conduct acute flaccid paralysis surveillance strengthening activities including enhanced active surveillance visits and community sampling. The programme has also carried out an extensive search for type 2 containing vaccines (tOPV/mOPV2) in the areas surrounding where the virus is detected," GPEI said.
Oct 5 GPEI report

 

WHO details monkeypox threat in Nigeria

The World Health Organization (WHO) today weighed in on a monkeypox outbreak under way in Nigeria since September 2017 that has so far sickened 269 people, 115 of them with lab-confirmed infections, and led to a pair of exported cases detected in the United Kingdom.

In 2018, 76 cases have been reported, 37 of them confirmed, from 14 states and 1 territory. Overall, 7 deaths have been reported, and 2 healthcare workers have been infected.

Genetic sequencing suggests multiple introductions of the virus into Nigeria, along with human-to-human transmission. The WHO said the isolates are closely related to the 1971 Nigerian strain.

Since 2016, several other African countries have reported sporadic cases: the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone.

In Nigeria, national guidelines are being reviewed, and regional training and animal surveillance are set to begin this month.

The WHO urges residents and travelers to avoid contact with sick, dead, or live animals that could harbor the virus, such as rodents, marsupials, and primates, and to avoid eating and handling bushmeat. Also, it advised health workers caring for suspected or confirmed patients to observe standard, contact, and droplet precautions. No travel or trade restrictions regarding Nigeria are recommended, the agency added.
Oct 5 WHO statement

 

NIH awards universal flu vaccine contract to University of Montana

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $10 million 5-year contract to a research team based at the University of Montana to develop a new universal flu vaccine.

According to a press release from the University of Montana, the contract involves a promising synthetic dual-TLR adjuvant combination system called TRAC-478. The adjuvant is designed to improve seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines and perhaps other types of vaccines. It was developed by the university's Center for Translational Medicine.

Jay Evans, PhD, the center's director and lead researcher for the project, said in the release that although vaccines are the best way to protect against seasonal flu, mismatch between the vaccine and circulating strains can lead to a drop in vaccine effectiveness. He also said the emergence of new pandemic flu strains poses very real global threats. "Thus, a critical unmet need is the next generation of vaccines capable of inducing broadly protective immune responses against the influenza virus."

The team also includes researchers from the University of California, San Diego; the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Inimmune Corp., a biotechnology company located in the University of Montana's business incubator.
Oct 4 University of Montana press release

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