News Scan for Jul 09, 2013

Listeria in cheese samples
H7N9 candidate vaccines
Funds for measles fight
Risk of new cyclovirus

Tests confirm Listeria outbreak strain in cheese samples

In the latest investigation development in the multistate Listeria outbreak, Minnesota officials have detected the outbreak strain in two Crave Brothers cheeses.

Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), told CIDRAP News that the cheese products that yielded the Listeria were from two different retail locations. The testing was done by the MDH and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which are assisting in the national investigation.

Initial tests by Minnesota officials on cheese samples had shown evidence of Listeria contamination, but confirmation tests were pending. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently included the Minnesota test results in its outbreak update information.

Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company, based in Waterloo, Wisc., had recalled three brands of cheese due to the outbreak: Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles.

So far five people from four states, including two from Minnesota, have been sickened in the outbreak. The total includes one death as well as a miscarriage in a pregnant woman.
Jul 5 CDC outbreak announcement


Companies report progress on H7N9 vaccines

Two pharmaceutical companies that are developing candidate vaccines against the new H7N9 influenza virus reported progress yesterday, Inovio on preclinical results for its DNA vaccine and Novavax on the launch of a study for its virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Blue Bell, Pa., said in a press release that a lethal-challenge study showed 100% protection in vaccinated mice against sickness and death.

The company said the vaccine generated both hemagglutinin inhibition (HAI)-based protection and a strong T-cell responses against the virus. It noted that it would present more detailed results at an influenza meeting in Seoul on Jul 12.

Meanwhile, Novavax Inc., based in Rockville, Md., said in media release that it started enrolling study participants in a phase 1 trial of its candidate H7N9 vaccine.

The randomized, blinded placebo-controlled trial will enroll 280 eligible adults. Each will be randomized to one of seven treatment groups, including placebo and different doses of the VLP vaccine, with and without adjuvant.

Subjects will receive intramuscular doses 21 days apart and will be followed for a year after receiving the second dose. The study is designed to gauge safety and immunogenicity.
Jul 8 Inovio press release
Jul 8 Novavax press release


GAVI Alliance and Lions Clubs team up to fight measles

The GAVI Alliance and Lions Clubs International yesterday announced a partnership whereby Lions Clubs aims to raise $30 million for measles and rubella immunization over the next 4 years, with other donors matching that amount.

Lions Clubs will use its global network of 1.35 million volunteers to raise the funds and improve access to vaccines, the two groups said in a GAVI press release. The money will be matched by gifts from the UK Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The plan was announced at the Lions' 96th annual convention in Hamburg, Germany.

The partnership makes Lions Clubs the largest member of the GAVI Matching Fund, under which the UK and Gates Foundation match gifts from corporations, foundations, and others. The fund has a goal of raising $260 million for immunization by 2015.

Measles deaths have been reduced by 71% since 2001, with GAVI and Lions Clubs contributing to this reduction through the Measles and Rubella Initiative, according to the release.

"These additional resources will help countries reach the 20 million children who have yet to receive measles vaccine, and will provide further momentum to bring us closer to eliminating measles," said Stephen Cochi, MD, MPH, a senior advisor on immunization at the CDC, in the release. He spoke on behalf of the Measles & Rubella Initiative.
Jul 8 GAVI press release


ECDC: Not enough known about new cyclovirus to assess risk

Not enough is known about a new cyclovirus isolated from patients in Vietnam and Malawi this year to quantify disease risk, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an assessment released yesterday.

The cyclovirus, which has not been detected in Europe, might be associated with central nervous system infections, the agency said in a news release yesterday.

The pathogenicity and routes of transmission of the virus—called cyclovirus-Vietnam, or CyCV-VN—are uncertain, according to the risk assessment, which is dated Jul 5. The detection of CyCV-VN in animal samples, though, points to an animal reservoir and zoonotic infection, the ECDC said.

"At this point, epidemiological data on cyclovirus infections in humans are very limited," the agency concluded. "There are insufficient data to assess the risk for disease occurrence in humans or potential of human-to-human transmission."

The ECDC called for more studies in Europe and elsewhere to investigate the pathogenicity, epidemiology, and transmission patterns of cycloviruses.
Jul 8 ECDC press release
Jul 5 ECDC risk assessment
Jun 19 CIDRAP News scan on CyCV-VN in Vietnam

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