News Scan for Jun 03, 2016

Saudi MERS case
More CDC lab mishaps
Ebola test for emergency use
Meningitis B vaccination

Saudi Arabia reports first new MERS case since May 15

After 18 days with no new cases, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported a MERS infection in an elderly woman.

The MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves an 85-year-old Saudi woman from Riyadh who is in stable condition, the MOH said. She is not a healthcare worker, and the source of her infection is listed as "primary," meaning she did not contract the disease from another person. Her history of exposure to camels is unknown, the MOH said.

The woman's illness lifts Saudi Arabia's MERS total since 2012 to 1,384 cases, 592 of them fatal. Two people are still receiving treatment for their illnesses, the MOH said.
Jun 3 MOH update


Report notes more breaches at high-containment CDC labs

Failures of a chemical decontamination shower, exit door gasket seal, and a door into the high-containment lab to remain closed were the latest examples of mishaps at a biosafety-level 4 (BSL-4) lab at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA Today said yesterday in its latest in a series of exposes on US biolab safety.

The incident happened in 2009 but details were just released, more than 3 years after the newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The records also show that some within the agency at the time tried to avoid reporting the incident to lab regulators in another CDC division, though it was eventually reported.

"Overall, the incident shows that failures—even cascading, compounding, catastrophic failures of BSL-4 biocontainment labs—occur," said Richard Ebright, PhD, a Rutgers University biosafety expert who has testified before Congress about CDC lab safety issues. "And the attempted cover-up within the CDC makes it clear that the CDC cannot be relied upon to police its own, much less other institutions."

CDC officials countered that there was no risk posed by the equipment failures, which were traced to a software problem. Other issues noted in the story included a 2011 incident in which a worker in an enhanced BSL-3 lab was unable to shower before leaving the lab, and a 2008 instance in which an unvaccinated repair worker might have been exposed to an unidentified pathogen when an autoclave door malfunctioned.
Jun 2 USA Today story


FDA grants emergency use authorization for Ebola Zaire blood test

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a blood test designed for rapid preliminary detection of the Ebola Zaire virus, the strain that caused West Africa's epidemic, the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson announced this week.

The Idylla Ebola Virus Triage Test is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT–PCR) test intended to detect Ebola Zaire virus RNA in venous whole blood from individuals with signs and symptoms of Ebola disease in conjunction with epidemiologic risk factors, Johnson & Johnson said in a Jun 1 press release.

The company said the test yields results within 100 minutes. The blood sample is placed into a sealed cartridge and requires no further manipulation, and the test does not require cold chain reagent storage. "It is highly standardized, automated, and requires minimal training to interpret the results."

The test was jointly developed by Janssen Diagnostics, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, Biocartis NV (Biocartis), and the Belgium Institute of Tropical Medicine, the release said.

The company said the test is intended for the "presumptive identification of Ebola virus RNA. The definitive identification of Ebola virus RNA requires additional testing and confirmation procedures in consultation with public health or other authorities for whom reporting is required." It added that negative results do not preclude the virus's presence and should not be used as the sole basis for medical decisions.
Jun 1 Johnson & Johnson press release


Rutgers urges meningitis B vaccination for all students and high-risk staff

After two students on the Rutgers University–New Brunswick campus were infected with meningitis B this past spring, campus officials on Jun 1 recommended that all students and at-risk members of the university's community receive serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine before the start of the fall semester.

The two students who were hospitalized with meningitis B during the spring 2016 semester have since recovered. The infections were genetically similar, yet the students had no history of close or prolonged contact. "This suggests that the strain is present among the Rutgers University–New Brunswick student population," university health officials concluded.

All Rutgers–New Brunswick students are urged to get two doses of the MenB vaccine Trumenba before the start of the academic year, followed by a third dose 6 months later, health officials said. The meningitis vaccination currently required for all students living in on-campus housing does not protect against meningitis B.

Additionally, health officials recommended vaccination for members of the university community with conditions that increase their risk for meningitis B infection, including functional and anatomic asplenia and persistent complement component deficiencies. Vaccination is also urged for people receiving Soliris drug therapy for atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome or paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, along with university microbiologists who work with Neisseria meningitidis.

All undergraduate students will be required to submit proof or declination of MenB vaccination before the school year begins, officials said. Students and at-risk people affiliated with the New Brunswick campus should confirm availability of the vaccine through their healthcare provider or pharmacy.
Jun 1 Rutgers Health Services update

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