New MERS case recorded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a new MERS-CoV case today in the city of Jeddah. The notice came in an epidemiologic week 20 notification.

The patient is a 73-year-old man. The source of his MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection is listed as "primary," meaning it is unlikely he contracted the virus from another person. He did, however, have recent contact with camels.

Saudi Arabia has confirmed 139 MERS cases so far this year.
May 14 MOH report


CDC tracks 19 more E coli cases linked to ground beef, 196 total

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday recorded 19 more cases in an Escherichia coli O103 outbreak linked to tainted ground beef, bringing the outbreak total to 196 cases in 10 states.

Seven of the newly confirmed cases involved a hospital stay, raising the hospitalization total to 28 case-patients. So far, no deaths have been recorded in this outbreak, but two case-patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

Kentucky has the most cases, with 69, followed by Tennessee (55), and Georgia (49). Ohio has 12 cases, Florida has recorded 5, Virginia has had 2 cases, and Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Mississippi have each confirmed 1 case.

On Apr 24, Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, Illinois, recalled approximately 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef products. The beef was distributed to restaurants. The day before, K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods in Carrolton, Georgia, recalled 113,424 pounds of ground beef.

Symptom onset in patients began from Mar 1 to Apr 19, the CDC said. Any cases that occurred after Mar 21 may not yet be reported.
May 13 CDC


CARB-X to fund development of new antibiotic for MDR Acinetobacter

CARB-X announced today that it will award Swiss biopharmaceutical company Debiopharm International up to $2.1 million in funding for the development of a new class of antibiotics to treat hospital-acquired pneumonia caused by multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.

The money will support work on Debio1454, an antibiotic that inhibits bacterial fatty acid biosynthesis in A baumannii, which has been designated as a priority pathogen by the World Health Organization. Disrupting this mechanism can weaken bacterial cell membranes and the cell wall and ultimately lead to cell death.

"Debiopharm's Debio 1454 project represents an exciting new class of antibiotics, that if successful and approved for use in patients, could save lives and be a huge step forward in the global fight against drug resistance," CARB-X executive director Kevin Outterson, JD, said in a press release.

Debiopharm, of Lausanne, Switzerland, could receive an additional $1.6 million if additional project milestones are met. It's the second grant the company has received from CARB-X (the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator).
May 14 CARB-X press release


Flu starting early in some Southern Hemisphere countries

With flu activity tapering off in most of the Northern Hemisphere, illness levels are already rising in some part of the Southern Hemisphere—especially southern Australia and South Africa—marking an early start to the season, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its latest global flu update.

In Australia, H3N2 is the dominant strain. According to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report, South Australia state has reported 17 flu deaths this season, 13 of them in nursing home residents.

According to the WHO report, Saudi Arabia is the only western Asia/Mideast country in which flu levels are still elevated. In eastern Asia, flu activity is still high in northern China and retreating from a second peak in South Korea, mainly led by influenza B. Most southern Asia countries reported low overall levels, except for Bangladesh, which is seeing cocirculation of 2009 H1N1 and influenza B viruses.

Globally, for the last half of April, 60.2% of viruses tested were influenza A and 39.8% were influenza B. Of the subtyped influenza A viruses, 67.7% were H3N2 and 32.3% were 2009 H1N1.
May 13 WHO global flu update
May 12 ABC News report


Study: Lab accidents are potential polio threat

As the global eradication of poliovirus draws nearer, accidental exposure from laboratory accidents pose a small but significant threat to eradication goals, according to a study yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Researchers, prompted by a 2017 lab accident in the Netherlands, conducted a literature review to see how often poliovirus specimens had been accidentally mishandled or released into the community. The authors cite several poliovirus lab incidents in the 1940s and 1950s but focus on the three decades since the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate polio.

Since 1988, seven incidents were recorded, including accidental exposures among lab workers and the release of infectious particles into the Belgian sewer system. Almost all incidents took place at vaccine manufacturing sites.

Though infrequent, the incidents serve as "a stark reminder" that achievements toward polio eradication are fragile, the authors said.

"With the global discontinuation of type 2 OPV [oral polio vaccine] for routine and supplemental immunization in April 2016 and the planned cessation of all OPV use in the next 4–5 years," the authors conclude, "such release of polioviruses from facilities into the community will become a greater public health concern because population immunity wanes in settings of high population density, poor hygiene, and suboptimal immunity (e.g., tropical developing countries) after OPV withdrawal, increasing the potential for transmission."
May 13 Emerg Infect Dis study

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