NEWS SCAN: Oseltamivir dosing for flu, suspected fungal infections, yellow fever in Ethiopia, polio in Kenya

May 31, 2013

Study shows no benefit from double oseltamivir dose for severe flu
Patients hospitalized with severe influenza appear to not benefit from a double dose of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), according to a study yesterday in BMJ. The study, by researchers from the South East Asia Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Network, involved 326 patients at 13 hospitals in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Patients were children and adults, but 76% were under 15 years. About half received a normal 75-milligram dose of the drug twice a day or the pediatric equivalent, while the rest received twice that dose. The groups did not differ statistically in lab-confirmed flu on treatment day 5, viral clearance, mortality, or measures of severe disease such as mechanical ventilation. "Our findings do not support routine use of double doses to treat severe flu infections, which could help to conserve drug stocks in the event of a pandemic," said lead author Jeremy Farrar, MD, PhD, in a news release from Wellcome Trust, the study's funder.
May 30 BMJ study
May 30 Wellcome Trust news release

Twenty suspected fungal infections linked to Tennessee compounding pharmacy
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating reports of 20 suspected fungal infections in Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida among people who received preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate produced by the Main Street Family Pharmacy in Newbern, Tenn., the agency reported yesterday. Most patients developed skin and soft-tissue infections following intramuscular injection of the steroid. None of the cases involve meningitis or other life-threatening infections. Main Street, a compounding pharmacy, recalled all of its sterile products already. "State and local health departments are working with CDC and [the Food and Drug Administration] to evaluate this situation," the CDC said. Starting last year, a 20-state outbreak of fungal infections traced to New England Compounding Center sickened 741 people and killed 55.
May 30 CDC notice

Ethiopia to launch vaccination campaign after 6 yellow fever cases
Ethiopia's health ministry plans to launch an emergency mass yellow fever vaccination campaign starting Jun 10 after six cases were confirmed in the country earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The campaign aims to reach more than 527, 000 people in affected districts. The six lab-confirmed cases are from South Omo, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' region and were identified through a national surveillance program.
May 31 WHO alert

Kenya begins vaccination after polio detected in world's largest refugee camp
Mass vaccination efforts have begun in Kenya after five polio cases were detected there recently in the world's largest refugee camp, Reuters reported today. Workers will aim to vaccinate Dadaab refugee camp's 424,000 occupants. In the next 3 months efforts will expand to reach 1.25 million people total, including those in surrounding areas as well as in Nairobi, where refugees sometimes travel. A four-year-old girl tested positive for polio in the camp, which is near the Somali border, on May 17, and four other cases have been confirmed since, Reuters reported. The Kenya outbreak follows a polio case in a 2-year-old girl in Mogadishu, Somalia, in April, which was Somalia's first polio case since 2007.
May 31 Reuters story

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