NEWS SCAN: Vaccine corruption charges; H1N1 in India, Thailand; H1N1 seroprevalence; more dengue in France

Sep 20, 2010

US lawsuit alleges Ukrainian pandemic vaccine corruptions
A law firm working on behalf of the Ukrainian government has filed a lawsuit in Oregon charging that American managers of a Belize-based company skimmed money from international donors for the past 2 years that was earmarked to buy medical supplies and 2009 H1N1 vaccine for the Ukraine, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reported today. According to the report, Olden Group LLC bought pandemic vaccine on the world market and resold it to the Ukrainian health ministry at an inflated price, splitting the profit with Ukrainian officials. The suit is part of the government's anticorruption campaign. If the lawsuit's claims are proven, the company could be punished under US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. The kickbacks, if they occurred, would have taken place under the country's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is alleging that the government is conducting a witch hunt against her and other opposition members.
Sep 20 DPA story

India, Thailand report H1N1 cases and deaths
India's health ministry said today that it received 1,038 new 2009 H1N1 case reports last week, including as many as 111 deaths, NetIndian News Network reported. States reporting the highest number of illnesses include Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnatka, and Rajasthan. States with the highest number of deaths were Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. Meanwhile, Thailand's health ministry warned about an increase in 2001 H1N1 flu activity and said it confirmed 338 cases and 3 deaths from the virus last week, DPA reported today. In its latest post-pandemic flu update on Sep 10 the World Health Organization said the most active areas of flu transmission are temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere and southern Asia.
Sep 20 NetIndian News Network story
Sep 20 DPA story

Study shows third of elderly had pre-pandemic antibodies
A seroprevalence study of Hong Kong residents during the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak shows that 37% of people aged 65 and over had antibodies before the outbreak, suggesting that they had earlier exposure to a similar strain, researchers reported in a Sep 17 early online edition of the Journal of Medical Virology. The researchers determined immunity levels before the pandemic by looking at 234 serum samples from various age-groups that were collected in 2008. To assess post-outbreak immunity, they used 178 serum samples that were collected between Nov and Dec 2009 for routine hepatitis B testing. The group also gauged serologic response to the 2009 H1N1 virus by examining serum samples from both confirmed cases and controls during acute and convalescent stages. When they looked at the 2008 samples they found high levels of seasonal H1N1 exposure in many age-groups, but only some in the two oldest age groups had any immunity to the 2009 H1N1 strain. Samples collected after the outbreak began showed seroprevalence patterns consistent with high attack rates in the school-age population. When they looked at post-outbreak immunity, they found that antibodies rose quickly and reached higher titers in people who had severe disease. The group also reported that antibody titers in people older than age 24 fell quickly, which they said could explain 2009 H1N1 re-infection cases reported in the medical literature.
Sep 17 J Med Virol abstract

France finds second case of locally transmitted dengue
French officials have identified a second case of dengue fever transmitted locally, after the first case was reported last week, which marked the first locally transmitted incidence of the disease in Europe in more than 80 years. Bloomberg News reported today that the new case was in a resident of Nice, as was the first case, according to the local health department. The Bloomberg report said the patient, who has recovered, received the disease through the bite of Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said in an update that locally transmitted dengue is "not unexpected" in southern France, where A albopictus is established. It said A albopictus is not as efficient at spreading the disease as is the main dengue vector, A aegypti, or yellow fever mosquito. Symptoms of dengue include fever, headache, and joint pain, and there is no specific treatment. In a small number of cases it can develop into a hemorrhagic form, which is sometimes fatal.
Sep 20 Bloomberg News story
Sep 16 ECDC update

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