News Scan for May 23, 2019

Tuna Salmonella probe ends
Lassa vaccine clinical trial
MERS in Saudi Arabia

CDC ends Salmonella investigation into tainted tuna after 15 cases noted

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday closed its investigation into a multistate Salmonella outbreak tied to frozen tuna after confirming two new cases.

A total of 15 people in eight states were sickened in an outbreak tied to Jensen Tuna products. There were two hospitalizations in the outbreak, and no deaths. North Dakota and Washington state each reported 4 cases, New York had 2 cases, and Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota each had 1.

Illnesses in this outbreak began from Jan 8 through Mar 31, with case-patients ranging in age from 24 to 85 years, with a median age of 40. Nine of 12 people interviewed said they ate sushi from a restaurant or grocery store in the week before they came ill.

"Of the nine people with information about their sushi exposure, all nine (100%) reported eating a sushi item containing raw tuna or raw 'spicy tuna,'" the CDC said. The CDC recommends people ordering spicy tuna or raw tuna sushi ask restaurants if they are using Jensen Tuna.

Jensen Tuna, of Houma, Louisiana, voluntarily recalled frozen ground tuna products imported from Vietnam that may have been contaminated with Salmonella Newport on Apr 15.
May 22 CDC


Inovio launches first clinical trial of Lassa fever vaccine

Inovio this week announced the launch of the first clinical trial of a DNA vaccine against Lassa virus that it is developing with support from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

In a news release, the company said it has dosed the first participants in the phase 1 trial of INO-4500, which will enroll about 60 volunteers.

Preclinical studies funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) showed the vaccine provided 100% protection in nonhuman primates challenged with Lassa virus. In 2018, Inovio received a $56 million grant from CEPI to advance vaccine candidates against Lassa and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) through phase 2 trials. The goal for the Lassa vaccine following the phase 2 trial is to stockpile supplies as soon as possible for emergency use. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine or treatment for Lassa fever.

Melanie Saville, MBBS, CEPI's director of vaccine development, said, "With marked increases in the number of cases documented in Nigeria over the last two years and outbreaks occurring annually, Lassa fever remains a serious public health threat across West Africa. We welcome Inovio's work and progress which could pave the way to reducing the great suffering caused by this disease."

Following the phase 1 trial, Inovio expects to advance INO-4500 to a phase 2 field trial in endemic countries in West Africa later in 2019 and 2020.
May 12 Inovio press release


MERS infects man from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health today reported another MERS-CoV infection, this time involving a 69-year-old man from Riyadh, the country's capital.

In an update to its epidemiologic week 21 report, officials said an investigation revealed the man had contact with camels, a known risk factor for contracting MERS-CoV.

Saudi Arabia has confirmed 141 MERS cases this year. The World Health Organization said in its most recent update that globally through Apr 30 it has received reports of 2,428 cases, at least 839 of them fatal. The vast majority of the illnesses have been in Saudi Arabia.
May 23 Saudi MOH update

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