NEWS SCAN: Salmonella in chicks, ducklings; rodeo E coli ; malaria vaccine progress; adjuvanted anthrax vaccine

Jun 10, 2011

More cases and states linked to chick and duckling Salmonella outbreak
The number of patients sickened in a Salmonella Altona outbreak linked to contact with chicks and ducklings has grown to 39 people from 15 states, representing an increase of 14 cases and 4 states since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first announced the outbreak May 27. The CDC is investigating the outbreak with the US Department of Agriculture's National Poultry Improvement Plan. Trace-back investigations had found that a single mail-order hatchery is the source of the chicks and ducks linked to the outbreak. The Ohio Department of Health said yesterday that the supplier is Mt Healthy Hatchery, which is located in Cincinnati. The CDC reported that all 19 patients who supplied vendor information reported buying chicks or ducklings from multiple locations of a nationwide agriculture feed store. Sources with the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed with CIDRAP News today that the chain is Tractor Supply Company, headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn. Though patient ages range from younger than 1 year to 86, 44% of the people sickened in the outbreak are age 5 or younger. Of the 32 patients with available information, 9 (28%) were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. Environmental samples from an Ohio patient's home and poultry displays at two of the chain's North Carolina stores were positive for the outbreak strain.
Jun 9 CDC Salmonella outbreak update
Jun 9 Ohio Department of Health statement

Rodeo attendance kicks up E coli risk
A puzzling Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened 14 Utah patients during the summer of 2009 led investigators to determine that the culprit wasn't ground beef, but rather rodeo attendance. The authors, from the Utah Department of Health and the CDC, reported their findings yesterday in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Though E coli infections have been linked to rodeo attendance before, the group's report is the first to link an outbreak to having attended one of multiple rodeos. After they hit a dead end with ground beef, the researchers went back and explored patients' rodeo attendance. Of 12 patients they were able to contact, all reported attending one of four rodeos the week before they got sick. Investigators found no common food or activity link among the patients; however, five had contact with manure. In addition, an environmental sample from a bull pen at one of the rodeo locations yielded the outbreak strain. The bulls for all four of the rodeos came from the same supplier, but the animals weren't available for testing. The authors wrote that contact with cattle manure was the likely transmission route, and they suggested that rodeo managers take extra precautions to lower risk, such as separating animals and manure from people and food.
Jun 9 Foodborne Pathog Dis abstract

Malaria vaccine may roll out in 2015
The first malaria vaccine, currently in phase 3 trials, may be on the global market in 2015, according to a review article that discusses hurdles and innovations in the fight against malaria and appeared in a special vaccine issue of Health Affairs published yesterday. Scientists from PATH, a global health nonprofit based in Seattle, describe how GlaxoSmithKline's RTS,S candidate malaria vaccine, which first entered clinical trials in 1992, was shown in 2008 to cut the risk of malaria in half for children 5 to 17 months old and to be efficacious in infants 8 to 16 weeks old in phase 2 trials. Phase 3 trials are now being conducted at 11 sites in sub-Saharan Africa and finished enrolling 15,000 infants and young children in January. The results will be reported in three stages, with initial findings for children ages 5 to 17 months expected in late 2011. If phase 3 results confirm safety and efficacy, the World Health Organization has indicated that it may recommend RTS,S as early as 2015. Hurdles discussed include the challenge of creating a vaccine for a parasite that changes form during its life cycle, as well low market appeal for a product that will mainly benefit developing nations. The review also highlights the importance of collaborations among nonprofit organizations, pharmaceutical companies, private and public donors, and malaria-endemic countries.
Jun 9 Health Aff abstract
The article is one of more than 20 in the special issue devoted to what the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dubbed the "Decade of Vaccines." Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer, in an introduction to the issue, writes, "Articles in this issue, published under our generous grant from the foundation, now set forth specific proposals for strengthening the entire vaccine pipeline—from the most sophisticated basic science to the rural clinics in the poorest nations."
Jun 9 Health Aff introduction
Jun Health Aff special issue contents

FDA puts review of adjuvanted anthrax vaccine on fast track
Emergent BioSolutions Inc., of Rockville, Md., announced yesterday that its investigational anthrax vaccine, NuThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed with CPG 7909 Adjuvant), has been granted fast-track status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccine candidate, also known as AV7909, consists of BioThrax, the only US-approved anthrax vaccine, with the adjuvant CPG 7909. It is currently in a phase 1b clinical trial to gauge safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity, according to a company press release. Fast-track status provides for expedited regulatory review of drugs that treat serious or life-threatening diseases and demonstrate a potential to address unmet medical needs. Emergent President and CEO Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi said in the release that the designation could mean more frequent communications with the FDA, priority review, and other expedited steps.
Jun 9 Emergent press release

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