News Scan for Nov 29, 2017

Saudi MERS case
Yellow fever, monkeypox in Nigeria
Japan finds H5N6 reassortant
Pneumonia vaccine price rise

Another case of MERS reported in Bisha

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported a new case of MERS-CoV in Bisha, the third within the last week.

A 67-year-old Saudi woman is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection. Her source of infection is listed as "primary," meaning it's unlikely she contracted the virus from another person.

Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV case count since 2012 has now reached 1,751, including 708 deaths. Six patients are still being treated, according to the MOH.
Nov 29 MOH report


Nigeria reports more suspected, confirmed yellow fever cases

The number of yellow fever cases in an outbreak in Nigeria has risen to 276 suspected or confirmed infections, according to the latest update from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC). The number of confirmed cases has doubled, from 15 to 30, with a fourth state—Kano—reporting a new case. The other states with confirmed cases are Kwara, Kogi, and Zamfara, though a total of 14 states have reported suspected infections.

So far, 45 deaths have been reported, including 7 among the confirmed cases.

The outbreak began in September with the confirmation of a yellow fever infection in a girl from Kwara state. An earlier report from the World Health Organization said an investigation found suboptimal vaccine coverage in a number of states. In October, Nigeria launched a yellow fever vaccination campaign that targeted 840,000 people in Kwara and Kogi states.
Nov 21 NCDC yellow fever update
Nov 13 CIDRAP News scan "Nigeria's number of confirmed yellow fever cases climbs to 15"


Nigeria confirms 14 new monkeypox cases

In a separate update, the NCDC confirmed 14 new monkeypox cases in the past week, bringing the outbreak to 56 confirmed cases, making it Africa's largest.

So far there have been no deaths recorded during the outbreak, and the NCDC said the number of suspected cases has declined over the last month.

Three new states, Imo, Katsina and Nasarawa, reported cases of the smallpox-like virus. A total of 155 suspected cases have been reported across much of Nigeria.

Monkeypox is spread through contact with an infected animal, and can be caused by consuming undercooked bush meat. Nigerians are advised to stay away from sick animals and practice good hygiene.
Nov 23 NCDC situation report


New H5N6 reassortant found in Japanese avian flu outbreak

One day after South Korea announced the detection of a new highly pathogenic H5N6 reassortant in a recent influenza outbreak, scientists at Japan's Tottori University announced a similar findings in isolates recently collected from the country's Shimane prefecture, suggesting that the spread of the new virus might be wider than previously thought.

In a university press release, translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog, researchers said the reassortant H5N6 virus they found was collected from a dead wild swan. Full-length genetic analysis found that it is different from the H5N6 virus that sparked outbreaks last winter in Japan and is a reassortant of an N6 avian influenza strain widely distributed in Eurasian waterfowl and other H5N8 viruses that struck many countries last season.

The analysis also found no genetic evidence to suggest the virus is able to spread directly to humans. Also, tests confirmed that the reassortant is highly pathogenic in birds. The report said more work will be done to compare the virus with earlier H5N6 strains, to compare the Japanese virus with South Korean isolates, and to analyze the reassortant virus in greater detail.

During last winter's outbreaks, animal health officials in Greece found a different H5N6 strain that on early analysis appeared to be a reassortant of highly pathogenic H5N8 and endemic Eurasian viruses.
Nov 29 AFD post
Nov 27 CIDRAP News story "H5N6 avian flu reassortant found in recent Korean outbreak"


Pneumococcal vaccine costs keep rising

The cost of the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13 is rising steadily, Kaiser Health News (KHN) reported today.

Pfizer Inc., the only pharmaceutical company that produces a pneumonia vaccine, has raised the price of Prevnar 13 steadily since 2010, when the vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine is administered four times before a child is 2 years old. The vaccine is also recommended for adults age 65 and older. In the last 8 years, the price has gone up by 50%.

In 2010, a single shot cost $109; by next year Pfizer said the cost will be $180.

Because the vaccine is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), most insurers cover the costs without the patient knowing.  But providers say the rising costs make keeping enough vaccine in stock difficult. Providers have to buy Prevnar 13 upfront, then wait for insurance reimbursements.

Pfizer countered that its product is valuable, ACIP-recommended, and is shelf-stable for 3 years.
Nov 29 KHN report 

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