News Scan for Sep 20, 2017

Global flu hot spots
Flu vaccine trial launch
Nigerian yellow fever
Yemen cholera

WHO: high flu activity continues in Australia, parts of Asia

High flu activity continues in several parts of the world, especially in Australia, as well as some countries in southern Asia and southeast Asia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest global flu update.

In Australia, the national flu levels seem to have plateaued but intensity varies by region, with H3N2 as the predominant strain, followed by influenza B. Overall, this season's activity has been similar to or slightly greater than past seasons. New Zealand's flu markers continued to decline, with the country reporting a low intensity season compared to past years. In South Africa, which is having a moderate flu season, the disease has likely plateaued, with influenza B predominating over H3N2 in recent weeks.

Elsewhere, southern Asia continues to report high flulike illness activity, led by the 2009 H1N1 virus strain. Levels are increasing in Bhutan and starting to decline in Nepal. Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos are reporting high levels of flu activity from all of the seasonal flu strains. Southern China's flu activity remained high, with H3N2 as the dominant strain.

In temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, flu activity stayed at low levels, the WHO said.

At the global level, influenza A made up 87.5% of the specimens that tested positive for flu, and of the subtyped influenza A viruses, 84.3% were H3N2.

In temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, flu activity stayed at low levels, the WHO said.
Sep 18 WHO global flu update


Novavax launches clinical trial of adjuvanted nanoparticle flu vaccine in seniors

Novavax, Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, Md., yesterday announced the launch of a phase 1/2 clinical trial of its nanoparticle influenza vaccine containing its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant in older adults.

In a press release, the company said the randomized, blinded controlled trial will enroll 330 heathy older adults and will assess the safety and immunogenicity of two concentrations (15 or 60 micrograms) of the vaccine—called NanoFlu—compared to  the licensed flu vaccine Fluzone High-Dose.

Gregory Glenn, MD, Novavax's president of research and development, said the trial is designed to identify immune response markers that are similar to or better than Fluzone High Dose. "Data from this trial may provide the basis to request accelerated approval for initial licensure of our NanoFlu vaccine." He added that preclinical studies suggest NanoFlu may be more protective against drifted flu strains, which could differentiate it from other vaccines.
Sep 19 Novavax press release


Two cases of yellow fever confirmed in Nigeria

The Kwara state government in Nigeria confirmed today that two girls, ages 10 and 12, have been diagnosed as having yellow fever, according to Nigerian newspaper This Day.

Officials said the cases were confirmed by laboratory analysis in Lagos, and local health officials have already collected samples from 38 close contacts of the patients.

According to local news reports, Kwara state is susceptible to yellow fever outbreaks.

Nigeria is also experiencing an ongoing cholera outbreak in Borno state, the northern region of the country controlled by terrorist organization Boko Haram.
Sep 20 This Day story


Yemen's cholera outbreak totals almost 700,000 cases

Yemen's ongoing cholera crisis is approaching 700,000 cases, but the country is resisting the World Health Organization's (WHO's) efforts to vaccinate more children in that country, Reuters reported yesterday.

Since April, when the outbreak began, officials have reported 686,783 suspected cases and 2,090 deaths, from the disease that causes watery, severe diarrhea. After slowing for part of the summer, the outbreak has picked up in recent weeks with 40,000 suspected cases reported last week. 

In June, the WHO sent 1 million doses of cholera vaccine to Yemen, but government officials refused the vaccine, leading the United Nations to reassign the shipments to Somalia and Sudan, according to Reuters. Now the WHO is once again urging Yemen to consider launching a wide vaccination campaign before the year's end.
Sep 19 Reuters

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