News Scan for May 24, 2016

Yellow fever immunization
Chikungunya cases top 100,000
4-strain cell-based flu vaccine

Mass yellow fever vaccination campaign launches in Uganda

Authorities in Uganda launched a large yellow fever vaccination campaign in several districts last weekend, the World Health Organization's (WHO's) African region said yesterday.

Immunization teams targeted almost 700,000 people in Masaka, Rukungiri, and Kalangala districts, with efforts in the first two beginning May 21 and those in Kalangala ramping up now, according to a news release. All people aged 6 months and older were targeted to prevent spread of the mosquito-borne disease in the country, with a goal of reaching 90% of the population in the three districts.

The first case of yellow fever was reported Apr 8 in Masaka. Since then the district has recorded 39 suspected and 1 confirmed case, with 7 suspected and 1 confirmed case in both Rukungiri and Kalangala, the country's director-general of health services, Jane Ruth Aceng, MBChB, MPH, said. The WHO said last week that Uganda's cases are not tied to a large yellow fever outbreak in Angola.

The vaccine affords lifelong immunity to the disease.
May 23 WHO Africa news release
May 20 CIDRAP News scan on yellow fever in Africa


Chikungunya spike of 27,500 cases brings 2016 total well over 100,000

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 27,505 new suspected and confirmed chikungunya cases—almost all in Brazil—bringing the 2016 total to 114,199 cases.

Brazil reported 25,332 new cases of the mosquito-borne disease, raising its total for the year to 64,349, by far the most of any country this year. The country, known for being hard-hit by Zika virus, which is spread by the same Aedes mosquitoes, was reporting 3 weeks' worth of data in the May 20 PAHO update.

Colombia reported the next-highest increase: 810 new cases and 14,320 total. Paraguay had 644 new cases to bring its 2016 total to 894 infections. Many countries, though, have not reported new cases for many weeks.

In the previous 2 weeks, PAHO reported 996 and 3,095 new cases, respectively, but in the week before that the agency reported 28,317 new cases. Three new deaths were reported last week from Brazil, raising that number to 15 for the year, all in Brazil.

The outbreak was first reported in December 2013 on St. Martin in the Caribbean with the first recorded cases of the disease in the Americas. Since then PAHO has reported 1,994,166 suspected or confirmed cases, including 283 fatalities.
May 20 PAHO update


FDA approves first cell-based 4-strain flu vaccine

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first quadrivalent (four-strain) flu vaccine produced using cell culture rather than chicken eggs, according to a company press release yesterday.

The FDA approved Flucelvax Quadrivalent to protect against influenza in people 4 years old and older. The vaccine is manufactured by Seqirus, of Cambridge, Mass., and will be available for the upcoming 2016-17 flu season. Like other quadrivalent vaccines, Flucelvax Quadrivalent targets two influenza A strains—H1N1 and H3N2—as well as both influenza B strains that commonly circulate.

The vaccine is produced at the only US plant designed for cell-culture flu vaccine manufacturing, built in Holly Springs, N.C., in 2009 in part to boost the country's pandemic preparedness. Seqirus, part of Australia-based CSL, directs the influenza vaccines business formerly owned by Novartis.
May 23 Seqirus press release

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