News Scan for Aug 19, 2015

News brief

CDC: US Cyclospora outbreak grows to 476 cases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday reported 19 new cyclosporiasis cases in the past week, bringing the 2015 outbreak total to 476 infections in 29 states.

About 59% of the patients (282) became sick May 1 or later and did not have a history of international travel in the 2 weeks before illness onset. Sixteen patients have required hospitalization, but none have died from infection with the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis.

The CDC has identified illness clusters in Texas, Wisconsin, and Georgia and has preliminarily identified cilantro as a suspected source in Texas and Wisconsin. At the end of July the Food and Drug Administration announced an import ban on cilantro from Mexico's Puebla region after it turned up multiple problems, including human feces in growing fields.

The CDC is also investigating potential food sources in cases not part of the identified clusters.

The CDC update includes 162 Cyclospora cases in Texas, but yesterday the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) listed 243 cases so far this year, 6 more than it reported a week ago. That would bring the US total to 557 illnesses.

As of 2 days ago, a cyclosporiasis outbreak in Canada that began May 3 involves 87 cases in four provinces, according to a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) update.
Aug 18 CDC update
Aug 1
8 TDSHS update
Aug 17 PHAC


California officials announce 2nd Yosemite plague case

A tourist from Georgia who visited Yosemite National Park this month represents the park's second presumed case of plague, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said yesterday in a news release.

The patient vacationed in Yosemite, the Sierra National Forest ,and surrounding areas in California in early August before falling ill. Warnings issued by the CDPH about plague awareness helped healthcare providers in Georgia make the diagnosis, the agency said. Confirmatory tests by the CDC are awaited.

The first plague case, announced by the CDPH on Aug 6, involved a child from Los Angeles County. She had been camping at Crane Flat Campground in Yosemite before contracting the disease, one of two campgrounds in the park that were closed for spraying to control fleas, which carry the Yersinia pestis bacterium that causes plague.

In the summer of 2012, 10 people contracted hantavirus after visiting Yosemite, 3 of whom died. That outbreak was traced to tent cabins infested with rodents.

Earlier this summer two people in Colorado died after contracting plague. Two other Coloradans this year survived their infections.
Aug 18 CDPH news release


NIAID awards $2.7 million in additional funds for ricin vaccine

Soligenix, Inc., of Princeton, N.J., was awarded $2.7 million in additional funding by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to advance the development of its heat-stable ricin vaccine, RiVax, the company said in a press release today.

The contract involves advancing Soligenix's thermostabilization technology—called ThermoVax—to be used with RiVax as an effective countermeasure against the effects of ricin exposure that could one day be added to the country's Strategic National Stockpile. The award is in addition to existing NIAID funding that could total $24.7 million if all contract options are exercised.

"The execution of the first option reflects NIAID's ongoing commitment to develop viable thermostabilization technologies that can be applied to vaccines that provide for enhanced stability and the ability to avoid the burdensome logistics of cold chain distribution," said Soligenix President and CEO Christopher J. Schaber, PhD.
Aug 19 Soligenix press release

Flu Scan for Aug 19, 2015

News brief

APHIS calls for avian flu vaccines, says it will publish assessment

The US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) yesterday announced two actions to help prepare for a potential return of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to US flocks: a request for proposals for vaccines to equip the National Veterinary Stockpile and a notification that it will publish an environment assessment on vaccinating poultry.

"While APHIS has not approved the use of vaccine to respond to HPAI to date, the Agency is preparing to ensure that vaccine is available should the decision be made to use it," APHIS said in a statement.

The agency is planning to stockpile vaccines against the Eurasian H5 strains that circulated in US poultry earlier this year, affecting about 50 million birds. It will evaluate all proposed avian flu vaccines based on several criteria.

In addition, according to the statement, "In the coming weeks, APHIS will also publish an environmental assessment that examines the impacts of using HPAI vaccine in the field during an outbreak response." After the assessment is published, the public will have 30 days to comment on it. Experts worry that vaccinating poultry can mask avian flu outbreaks and disqualify poultry for export to some countries.
Aug 18 APHIS statement


Vietnam reports small H5N1 outbreak

Vietnam reported an outbreak of HPAI H5N1 in a backyard flock of more than 100 birds in Soc Trang province in the south, according to a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) report posted today.

The outbreak happened about a month ago in a flock of 114 birds. The disease killed 102 poultry, and the surviving 12 were euthanized to contain the outbreak. The area has been disinfected and other control measures taken, the report said.

Since Jul 24 Vietnam has reported three H5N1 outbreaks, all in backyard poultry but in three separate provinces, all in the southern part of the country.
Aug 19 OIE report


Study shows flu vaccination associated with lower stroke rate

Flu vaccination is associated with a lower incidence of stroke, according to a study yesterday in Vaccine.

UK researchers used a self-controlled case-series design to analyze the data on 17,853 adults who received at least one flu vaccination and had a stroke from September 2001 to May 2009. They used Poisson regression to compute incidence rate ratios (IRRs).

They found reductions of stroke incidence of 55% (IRR 0.45) in the first 1 to 3 days after vaccination, 36% at 4 to 7 days, 30% at 8 to 14 days, 24% at 15 to 38 days, and 17% at 29 to 59 days after vaccination. They also found that vaccination from Sep 1 to Nov 15 showed a greater reduction in IRR compared with vaccination later in the flu season.

The authors conclude, "This study supports previous studies which have shown a beneficial association of influenza vaccination for stroke prevention."
Aug 18 Vaccine study

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