NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Egypt, H7N3 in Mexico, research funding, experts call for shift in TB battle

Mar 25, 2013

H5N1 sickens Egyptian woman
A 40-year-old Egyptian woman from Menofia governorate who became ill after contact with sick poultry tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza, according to a Mar 21 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She got sick on Mar 3 a few days after close contact with sick and dead backyard ducks and chickens. If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the case, the woman's illness will be counted as Egypt's 171st case, of which 61 have been fatal. The tests were conducted at Egypt's Central Public Health Laboratories. News of her illness appeared in the FAO's monthly Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) highly pathogenic avian flu situation update. Egypt has had only one other H5N1 case this year, a fatal one.
Mar 21 FAO ECTAD report
WHO global H5N1 case count

Mexico reports 13 new H7N3 outbreaks
Highly pathogenic H7N3 avian flu has killed more than 400,000 poultry on nine farms and in four village flocks in Jalisco and Guanajuato states in Mexico, according to a Mar 23 report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Among almost 2.5 million susceptible birds, officials have confirmed 473,306 cases and 406,509 poultry deaths in the 13 outbreaks combined. On the farms, outbreaks have ranged from 100 to 396,200 cases and from 100 to 388,499 bird deaths. Five of the nine affected farms are in Guanajuato, but the farm that houses almost 400,000 of the infected birds is in Jalisco. The village outbreaks have affected just a handful of birds at each of four locations, two in each state. All of the outbreaks began last month. The two states have been at the center of H7N3 outbreaks this year and last that have killed millions of birds.
Mar 23 OIE report

NIH, DHS research programs fare differently in budget bill
Sequester cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will remain mostly intact, but funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was largely restored to 2011 levels in a funding bill passed by Congress last week to guarantee government operations through Sep 30, ScienceInsider reported. The "continuing resolution" bill contains a $67 million increase for the NIH, which leaves almost all of the agency's $1.6 billion sequester cut unchanged. As a result, the NIH is funding fewer grants and has decreased approved budgets of ongoing, multiyear grants by 10%, the story said. The DHS's research, development, and innovation program, however, which took a 42% cut in 2012, will see a funding increase. Last year the program was slashed from $459.6 million to $265.8 million, but last week's bill increased funding for that program to $450.6 million. President Obama had requested $473 million for the program in his 2013 budget.
Mar 21 ScienceInsider story

TB experts call for radical shift in policy, science
Radical policy and scientific shifts are needed to prevent the spread of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extremely drug–resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB), according to an international group of disease experts. Their report appeared yesterday as part of a Lancet Infectious Diseases series marking World TB Day. The response by governments in wealthy and TB-endemic countries has been "complacent and politically neglectful," they wrote, emphasizing that more prosperous countries can't ignore a worrisome rise in MDR and XDR TB. Plans to battle the disease should focus on speeding up the development of diagnostic tests that can quickly identify the disease and ensuring the supply of quality second-line drugs. Strategies should also address transmission risks such as hospital settings and include tailored solutions to meet unique challenges in different countries, the group wrote. Other key steps should include quality surveillance and investment in evidence-based approaches to tackle the problem. Other articles in the Lancet TB series address advances in diagnostics and biomarkers, comorbidity challenges, drug regimens, and research. Commentaries discuss mortality trends and TB in children.
Mar 24 Lancet Infect Dis series report
Mar 24 Lancet Infect Dis 2013 tuberculosis series

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