NEWS SCAN: Salmonella update, BARDA contracts, H5N1 in Indonesia, colleges' H1N1 lessons

Aug 3, 2010

CDC reports 34 cases and lists strain in Salmonella outbreak
The Salmonella outbreak linked to handling of frozen mice used as reptile food so far includes 34 reported cases in 17 states over a 6-month period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday. The agency identified the Salmonella serotype making people ill as I 4,[5],12:i:-. Patients had illness onset dates ranging from Dec 4, 2009, to Jun 4, 2010, and they varied in age from less than 1 year to 57 years. One patient was hospitalized, but there have been no deaths. Reptile food from the same company, Georgia-based Mice Direct, has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak in the United Kingdom involving more than 400 cases since 2008. The CDC said the strains identified in the US and British outbreaks are indistinguishable, though they go by different names. Mice Direct recently recalled three varieties of its reptile food. Of the US states reporting cases in the outbreak, Georgia has had the most, with seven, the CDC said.
Aug 2 CDC statement

BARDA awards contracts for pandemic flu, anthrax countermeasures
The US government recently awarded four contracts worth up to $53 million for advanced research and development of new technologies for medical countermeasures against pandemic influenza and anthrax. The awards were announced by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at the Department of Health and Human Services. One contract went to VaxDesign Corp., Orlanda, Fla., for further development of its MIMIC platform, described as an in vitro human immune system mimetic that will speed evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Another contract was awarded to Seattle-based PATH for work on formulation chemistries and strategies to increase the shelf life of flu vaccines that are stockpiled or are shipped cross-country or internationally during a pandemic, BARDA said. A third contract went to the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), also in Seattle, for research on adjuvants to enhance flu vaccine immunogenicity and the ability to provide cross-protection against different flu strains. The other award went to Pfenex Inc., San Diego, which will use its Pfenex Expression Technology Platform to develop "optimized bioproduction processes" for a candidate anthrax vaccine, BARDA reported. The agency said the contracts are worth $24.6 million for the initial phase and up to $53.6 million over 3 years.
Jul 30 BARDA news release

WHO reports another H5N1 case in Indonesia
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported today that H5N1 avian influenza has claimed another human victim in Indonesia. The country's health ministry said a 34-year-old woman from Tangerang in Banten province got sick on Jul 2, was hospitalized 2 days later, and died Jul 7, according to the WHO. The source of her infection is under investigation, the agency said. Her illness brings the H5N1 tally in Indonesia to 168 cases with 139 deaths, including 6 cases and 4 deaths so far this year. The global H5N1 tally is 503 cases and 299 deaths.
Aug 3 WHO statement

H1N1 lessons learned at colleges join Promising Practices
CIDRAP's Promising Practices: Pandemic Influenza Tools, which houses more than 330 resources on preparedness and response, has expanded to include H1N1 pandemic response activities from institutions of higher learning, according to a press release today. Included are new practices ranging from innovative solutions to housing for ill students to high-tech options for scheduling mass vaccination clinics. "Colleges and universities were very important, but largely unsung partners in responding to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic," said Jill DeBoer, MPH, associate director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, publisher of CIDRAP News. "What we have learned from them can strengthen public health and university response for many public health emergencies."
Promising Practices home page

This week's top reads