News Scan for Oct 28, 2016

Deadly measles complication
Meningitis B vaccine impact
NIH Ebola funds
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Deadly measles complication more common than previously thought

New research presented at IDWeek today shows that a deadly neurologic complication from childhood measles is much more common than previously thought. The study, presented by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), describes the frequency of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), which is 100% fatal.

Infants under the age of 12 months are too young to get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and rely on herd immunity to offer passive protection. If a baby contracts measles in his or her first year of life, it was previously assumed that the child had a 1 in 100,000 chance of suffering from SSPE. Now, new data from California health records suggests SSPE occurs in 1 of every 609 cases. Seventeen patients with SSPE were identified between 1998 and 2015, all of whom contracted measles before being vaccinated, according to an IDWeek news release.

"This is really alarming and shows that vaccination truly is life saving," said James D. Cherry, MD, an author of the study and a distinguished research professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles.

The only way to prevent the complication is encourage that everyone get vaccinated against measles, which is usually a two-dose vaccine given between 12 and 15 months of age, with a follow-up at age 5, the researchers say. The study authors suggest limiting travel outside of the United States, including to Europe, before a child has received both doses.
Oct 28 IDWeek press release


Early promising findings for meningitis B immunization in UK infants

In September 2015 the United Kingdom became the first country to introduce a vaccine against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B strains (Bexsero, made by GlaxoSmithKline) into the routine vaccination schedule for infants, and researchers yesterday reported the first evidence of its effectiveness and impact against the disease.

The vaccine was highly effective and cut meningococcal B illnesses incidence babies by 50%, a team from Public Health England reported in The Lancet.

UK health officials recommend two-dose priming at ages 2 and 4 months and a booster dose at 12 months for all infants born since July 2015, plus a catch-up program for babies born in May or June of 2015.

Using surveillance data the researchers identified cases diagnosed from Sep 1, 2015, to Jun 30, 2016, and compared meningococcal B illnesses in vaccine-eligible kids with cohorts in the previous 4 years and among vaccine-ineligible children.

At 95.5% for one dose and 88.6% for two doses, coverage was high for the new vaccine in its first 10 months. Two-dose effectiveness was 82.9% (95% confidence interval, 24.1% to 95.2%) against all meningitis B cases, and the team found a 50% lower incidence of disease in the vaccinated group compared with vaccine-eligible kids in the previous 4 years.

In a commentary in the same Lancet issue, two experts wrote that the findings shed new light on the breadth of immune response, especially since 2013 findings from the first use of the vaccine in young adults in an outbreak setting showed that a third weren't protected against the circulating strain. The authors are Nicole Basta, PhD, MPhil, from the University of Minnesota, and Hannah Christensen, PhD, with the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The new findings highlight the key role of population-based studies for gauging the impact of new vaccines and are encouraging for preventing disease in infants, the two wrote. Longer-term follow-up is needed to gauge how long protection lasts, but they noted that the findings are reassuring for other countries considering adding the meningitis B vaccine to their routine immunization schedules.
Oct 27 Lancet abstract
Oct 27 Lancet


NIH grants help US universities boost West Africa research capacity

That Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded four US universities a total of $200,000 in an outreach program to strengthen research capacity to study Ebola and other emerging viral diseases in Ebola-hit countries in West Africa, the NIH announced this week in a news release.

The collaborations aim to develop research training proposals that would strengthen the skills required to evaluate vaccines, develop new diagnostic tests and treatments, and identify the most effective intervention strategies for disease outbreaks. The planning grants, at about $50,000 each, are also designed to help the universities prepare to compete for larger, longer-term FIC grants to implement research training programs.

The awards went to Duke, Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Yale universities. The first three are collaborating with institutions in Sierra Leone, while Yale's project involves work with researchers in Liberia.

FIC Director Roger I. Glass, MD, PhD, said, "By training local researchers in epidemiology and lab skills, and helping them form networks with U.S. scientists, we believe future disease outbreaks can be better contained."
Oct 26 NIH news release

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