News Scan for Apr 10, 2019

News brief

More sickened in multistate E coli O103 outbreak; source still unknown

A multistate Escherichia coli O103 outbreak from a still-unidentified source has sickened 24 more people, with 96 cases reported so far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday. The number of affected states remained at five: Kentucky (46 cases), Tennessee (26), Georgia (17), Ohio (5), and Virginia (2).

The latest illness onset is Mar 26, and the CDC said states are investigating more illnesses that may be part of the outbreak. Of 67 patients with available information, 11 (16%) were hospitalized. No cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome—a potentially fatal kidney complication—have been reported. None of the illnesses have been fatal.

No specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has been identified, and state and federal health officials are interviewing sick people to determine what they ate or were exposed to in the week before their symptoms began. So far, the CDC isn't recommending that consumers avoid any particular food or that restaurants and retailers avoid serving or selling any particular food.

Earlier reports from Kentucky, the hardest-hit state, said possible sources might include beef, chicken, or sliced American cheese and that fast food is a source of concern.
Apr 9 CDC outbreak update
Apr 5 CIDRAP News story "
Source still known in 72-case, 5-state E coli outbreak"


BARDA part of new biotech incubator collaboration in Washington, DC

Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Children's National Health System yesterday announced a plan to build a biotech incubator called "JLABS @ Washington, DC" that will be part of the Children's National campus in Washington, DC.

The new center will focus on pediatric medicine, but will also have a specialized zone to collaborate with the US Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on the development of medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, including pandemic flu and other emerging diseases.

The incubator will provide access to scientific, industry, and capital funding experts from across the industry, similar to nine other JLABS sites, plus one set to open in Shanghai in June. In Washington, the site will be housed in a 32,000-square-foot facility on a 12-acre portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus.

BARDA Director Rick Bright, PhD, said in a Johnson & Johnson press release that mounting a rapid response against evolving health threats requires innovative, end-to-end solutions. "We are thrilled to continue our strategic partnership with JLABS, foster the culture of innovation within the nation's capital and expand our pipeline of new solutions to help save lives in public health emergencies."
Apr 9 Johnson & Johnson press release


Mozambique wraps up big cholera vaccine campaign as cases top 3,500

A cholera vaccine campaign launched in Mozambique last week to curb an outbreak in the wake of flooding from Cyclone Idai has wrapped up after reaching 800,000 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

The cyclone struck Mozambique on Mar 14, displacing thousands of people to settlements that don't have access to safe water and sanitation. The country's health ministry declared an outbreak on Mar 27, and, as of Apr 8, more than 3,577 cases and 6 deaths have been reported. The total represents an increase of 2,077 cases and 5 deaths since the WHO's last update on Apr 3.

The quick roll-out of the campaign was supported by about 1,200 community volunteers and international health partners including the WHO, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Save the Children. The vaccines from the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, stockpile arrived and Beira on Apr 2, and immunization activities began within 24 hours.

Dr Djamila Cabral, head of the WHO's Mozambique office, said, "From start to finish, this campaign was one of the fastest ever, thanks to experienced people at the Ministry of Health, who knew there was a high risk of a cholera outbreak and made a rapid request for the vaccines as soon as the cyclone hit."

The WHO said the vaccines targeted four districts at highest risk and that uptake was high, with the campaign well received by affected communities.
Apr 10 WHO statement
Apr 4 CIDRAP News scan "
Cholera vaccine campaign states in wake of Mozambique cyclone flooding"

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