News Scan for Feb 01, 2019

Measles rise in Washington
Universal flu vaccine deal
Pasteurized milk listeriosis

More suspected measles cases in Washington’s Clark County

Washington's Clark County officials have confirmed 7 more measles cases, bringing the outbreak total to 41, plus 15 suspected infections, according to the latest update from the county's public health department.

Thirty-seven of the confirmed cases were in unvaccinated patients. Clark County authorities said 30 cases were in children 10 years old or younger, 10 cases were in those ages 11 to 18, and only 1 case was in an adult 19 to 29 years old.

The outbreak began on Jan 1. On Jan 18, Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak.

A week ago, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency, and today the North Dakota Department of Health said it was sending a five-member team to Washington to help fight the outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Washington has confirmed 43 measles cases, mostly clustered in the southwest corner of the state, the story said.

"Washington submitted a request for the specialized team through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact," the AP reported. "The mutual aid agency enables a disaster-impacted state to request and receive aid from other member states swiftly and efficiently."

Officials have not reported new measles cases in Oregon or in Washington's Seattle-King County this week.
Jan 31 Clark County
Jan 31 AP story


Oxford, US company sign deal to develop universal flu vaccine

Oxford University announced today that its innovation arm has entered into an agreement with US-based Blue Water Vaccines, which is raising $15 million to support the development of a universal flu vaccine.

The vaccine, developed at Oxford's Department of Zoology, protects against all influenza strains by targeting conserved parts of the virus that trigger a protective immune response. According to an Oxford press release, the vaccine is nearing the clinical trial stage, with a possible phase 1 launch by the end of the year.

Agreement terms give Blue Water Vaccines, a startup company based in New York City, the option of exclusively licensing the vaccine if it reaches its funding milestone.

Christine Whyte, senior licensing and ventures manager at Oxford University Innovation (OUI), said in the statement, "This is an exciting opportunity for OUI to commercialise a new vaccine approach to preventing influenza arising from ground breaking work that has changed our understanding of the how the virus evolves."
Feb 1 Oxford University press release


Ontario officials detail unusual Listeria outbreak tied to pasteurized milk

Pasteurized—not raw—chocolate milk was behind a listeriosis outbreak in Ontario in 2015 and 2016, according to a study yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Ontario sees about 50 cases of listeriosis each year, with most outbreaks connected to the consumption of raw milk, soft cheeses, or other unpasteurized dairy products. In 2015 and 2016, officials confirmed 34 cases that involved hospitalization for 32 patients (94%) and 4 deaths (12%), all connected to bagged, pasteurized chocolate milk. Samples of the milk collected from distributors tested positive for the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes.

"Discovering the cause of this listeriosis outbreak was challenging because pasteurized chocolate milk is a commonly consumed product," the study authors said. "This outbreak highlights that even pasteurized products can be contaminated by and support the proliferation of L. monocytogenes when contamination is introduced postpasteurization."
Jan 31 Emerg Infect Dis

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