News Scan for Sep 03, 2014

Fatal H7N9 case
Possible MERS in Philippines
HPV vaccine in women over 25
Dengue vaccine

China confirms H7N9 death in far northwest region

China has confirmed a fatal H7N9 avian flu case in a 66-year-old woman, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today.

The woman is from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the country's far northwest. The only other reported H7N9 case in the region, in a 53-year-old man, was confirmed last week. All other mainland H7N9 cases have been in eastern provinces, hundreds of miles away.

The two cases are not epidemiologically linked, the CHP said.

The CHP, which reported both cases today, said the woman died last month but gave no other details about her case. A case list compiled by the infectious disease message board FluTrackers, however, says she became ill Jul 14, was hospitalized Jul 17, and died on Aug 3.

The country has now confirmed 454 H7N9 cases, according to the FluTrackers list.
Sep 3 CHP statement
Aug 29 CIDRAP News scan "H7N9 case reported in China"
FluTrackers H7N9 case list


Officials report MERS case in Philippines

A Filipino nurse who worked with MERS patients in Saudi Arabia and then returned home appears to have the first confirmed case of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) in her country, according to an Associated Press (AP) story today.

A test conducted at the nurse's healthcare center in Dammam city in eastern Saudi Arabia came back positive after she arrived home, Philippine Health Secretary Enrique Ona said today. The 37-year-old nurse has not shown symptoms, but all passengers who were on the same flight are being contacted, although the chance of their being infected is slim, the AP reported.

The woman and her family are in quarantine in Davao City, Philippines, waiting for more test results. She traveled home with another Filipino nurse who had worked in the same Saudi area, but that nurse's test results were negative.

In April health officials initially reported MERS-CoV in a male Filipino nurse who worked in the United Arab Emirates. Later tests, however, showed him to not have the virus, according to previous media reports.

Saudi Arabia has seen well over 700 cases of MERS, with more than 300 fatalities. World Health Organization totals for the disease in the Middle East as of Jul 23 stood at 837 cases with at least 291 deaths, the story says.
Sep 3 AP story

Study shows HPV vaccine effective in women over 25

An international study of more than 5,000 women over the age of 25 showed that the human papillomavirus (HPV) 16/18 vaccine is effective against infections and cervical abnormalities associated with the two HPV strains targeted by the vaccine, as well as certain non-vaccine strains, according to a study today in The Lancet.

The double-blind, randomized phase 3 trial involved 5,752 women age 26 and older from 12 countries, 2,881 of whom received the vaccine and 2,871 a placebo.

Efficacy against 6-month persistent infection or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia of grade 1 or higher associated with HPV 16 or 18 was 81.1% in all age-groups, 83.5% in those 26 to 35, and 77.2% in women 36 to 45. No infections or cervical abnormalities were identified in women age 46 or older.

Serious adverse events were similar in both vaccine and placebo groups, and the vaccine was shown to be safe in the 357 pregnant women in the vaccine group.

A related Lancet commentary said the study shows the vaccine "is safe and prevents the acquisition of target HPV genotypes at any age, and that any woman could benefit from HPV vaccination. However, cost-effectiveness and available resources need to be taken into account in the decision to extend HPV vaccination to any subgroups other than young women."

The study was funded by GSK, which makes the HPV 16/18 vaccine under the brand name Cervarix.
Sep 2 Lancet abstract
Sep 2 Lancet commentary on the study


Phase 3 dengue vaccine trial in Caribbean shows positive results

Sanofi's experimental vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease dengue was shown to reduce the risk of infection from all four dengue strains (DENV 1, 2, 3, and 4) by more than 60% and the risk of hospitalization by more than 80%, according to a company news release today.

The phase 3 trial, results of which are yet to be published, involved nearly 21,000 children in Latin America and the Caribbean. The risk of infection fell 60.8% with vaccination, while the risk of hospitalization fell 80.3%, according to the company.

In a separate, smaller trial in Southeast Asian children, reported in July, the risks of infection dropped by 56.6%, says the release. Both trials are part of the third, final phase of clinical trials necessary for approval of the vaccine.

No treatment for dengue has been approved at present. Vaccines for the flu-like disease, which can go on to have potentially fatal complications, are in development by several others, including Takeda, Merck, and the National Institutes of Health, Bloomberg News reported today.

Said Olivier Charmeil, president of Sanofi's vaccine unit, "For the first time ever, after 20 years of research and industrial commitment, dengue is set to become a vaccine-preventable disease."
Sep 3 Sanofi news release
Sep 3 Bloomberg News story
Jul 11 CIDRAP News scan regarding the earlier trial

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