News Scan for Jan 19, 2016

More H5N6, H7N9 infections
New chikungunya cases
Ebola vaccine trial

China confirms H5N6, H7N9 avian flu cases

Guangdong province in China has confirmed its fifth H5N6 avian flu infection in 3 weeks, the world's ninth such case, and Fujian province reported its first H7N9 avian flu case of the winter, Xinhua reported today.

In related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided details on 10 recent H7N9 cases, a businessman from Taiwan who contracted H7N9 on the mainland has died from his infection, and scientists have detected H5N6 in farm birds in Hunan province.

The new H5N6 case involves a 31-year-old in Futian district in the city of Shenzhen, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said yesterday. She developed a fever and cough on Jan 8 and is hospitalized in critical condition. All nine H5N6 cases have been in China, starting in 2014.

The new H7N9 patient is from Zhangpu County in Fujian province and was confirmed to be infected the virus on Jan 16, Xinhua reported today. He or she is in stable condition, the story said but provided no further information. China has had at least 24 H7N9 cases this winter.

The 10 H7N9 cases detailed by the WHO today include 6 in Zhejiang province, 2 in Jiangsu, and 1 each in Guangdong and Jiangxi. National health officials reported the cases to the WHO on Jan 11. Three of the cases proved fatal.

Patients range in age from 29 to 77 years old, with a median age of 52.5. Half are women, and one is a healthcare worker. All reported exposure to live poultry.

The H7N9 patient from Taiwan was receiving treatment in Jiangsu province and was the third Taiwanese businessman based in China since 2013 to have become infected, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA), which cited health officials. The man had been exposed to poultry before he fell ill. His case was first reported last week.

The OIE report, meanwhile, noted that 165 black swans and peacocks on a farm in Hunan province became infected with H5N6, 91 of them fatally. The remaining 1,132 birds on the farm were culled to prevent disease spread. The event began Jan 9, according to agriculture officials.
Jan 18 CHP press release
Jan 19 Xinhua story
Jan 19 WHO statement
Jan 18 OIE report
Jan 19 CNA story


PAHO reports 7,500 new chikungunya cases in the Americas

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported 7,599 new chikungunya cases in the Americas and Caribbean on Jan 15, bringing the outbreak total to 1,840,095 cases.

The agency's previous update included 3 weeks' worth of data and included 41,815 new cases, or about 14,000 per week. The new illnesses bring the total for 2015 and 2016 to 693,326 suspected and confirmed cases.

Without explanation, PAHO adjusted the total number of 2015-16 deaths downward, from 82 the week before to 71 last week.

Honduras had the most new cases—3,366—bringing it to 85,374 for 2015-16. Brazil was second, with 2,593 new cases and 18,243 total. Colombia had the third highest increase, with 914 new cases and 359,281 total. Mexico reported 109 new cases, for a total of 11,597 in 2015 and 2016.

The vast majority of countries in the region have not provided updates to PAHO for many weeks. The epidemic began in December 2013 with the first locally acquired chikungunya case ever reported in the Americas, on St. Martin in the Caribbean.
Jan 15 PAHO update


Profectus VSV Ebola vaccine enters phase 1 trials

Profectus BioSciences, Inc., of Baltimore today announced the launch of a phase 1 trial of its VesiculoVax-vectored vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) Ebola vaccine after its success last year in macaques.

The dose-escalation study will include 39 volunteers divided into three groups who will receive the injected vaccine, the company said in a news release. Phase 1 studies are designed to evaluate safety and immune response.

Last April the VSV vaccine completely protected eight macaques from experimental infection with the Ebola virus that caused the current West Africa Ebola outbreak. The vaccine is supported by the US Department of Defense.

In July 2015, a Canadian-developed VSV Ebola vaccine was shown to be highly effective in a ring-vaccination strategy in Guinea. That vaccine was in the most advanced human studies and is now used in response to disease flare-ups, but several other candidates are also in development.
Jan 19 Profectus news release
Apr 8, 2015, CIDRAP News story on animal study
Jul 31, 2015 CIDRAP News story on Canadian-made vaccine

Newsletter Sign-up

Get CIDRAP news and other free newsletters.

Sign up now»


Unrestricted financial support provided by

Bentson Foundation Unorthodox Philanthropy logo and text 'Leading Underwriter'3M logoGilead 
Grant support for ASP provided by


  Become an underwriter»