News Scan for Dec 14, 2017

Long-lasting Ebola antibodies
Meningitis C in Nigeria
Bangladesh diphtheria outbreak
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Ebola survivors have antibodies—even neutralizing ones—40 years on

Survivors of the first reported outbreak of Ebola still harbor detectable antibodies to the virus 40 years later, and some of those antibodies can still neutralize live virus, researchers reported today in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The international team of researchers—led by University of California scientists—analyzed blood from 14 survivors of a 1976 outbreak of Ebola in what was then known as Zaire and is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least 318 patients fell ill in the outbreak, and 280 died (88%). The patients' ages at the time of infection ranged from 15 to 46 years, and 6 had confirmed infections and 8 had suspected infections.

All 14 survivors showed immune response to Ebola virus glycoprotein, nucleoprotein, and viral matrix protein 40, indicating they all had antibodies to the virus. In addition, antibodies from 4 of the survivors were able to neutralize live Ebola viruses.

The authors conclude, "These data provide the longest documentation of both anti-Ebola serological response and neutralization capacity within any survivor cohort, extending the known duration of response from 11 years postinfection to at least 40 years after symptomatic infection."
Dec 14 J Infect Dis study


Report notes lessons learned from Nigeria’s meningitis C outbreak

During the first half of 2017, Nigeria was hit with the world's largest meningitis C outbreak, which sickened 14,518 and killed 1,166. In today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers from Nigeria and other nations explained the lessons learned from the outbreak.

After the 2013 introduction of the meningococcal serogroup A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac), Nigeria, which lies in the middle of Africa's "meningitis belt," saw outbreaks greatly reduced. But the Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC), most likely imported from neighboring Niger, was behind the outbreak that began in December of 2016 and lasted until June of 2017. MenAfriVac doesn't provide protection against NmC.

In April, Nigeria received shipments of meningococcal C–containing vaccines. Because of limited supplies, only 2.1 million (84.4%) of an estimated 2.5 million persons at risk (based on World Health Organization [WHO] guidelines) aged 2 to 29 years were vaccinated in the most affected areas of the country.

Though the vaccination campaign ultimately helped end the outbreak, the researchers say the size of the outbreak demands that more multivalent meningitis vaccines be widely used in Nigeria.

"Laboratory data from this and other recent outbreaks point to the evolving regional meningitis epidemiology with increasing proportions of epidemics attributable to bacterial meningitis pathogens other than NmA, for which meningococcal A conjugate vaccine provides no protection," the authors write. "These findings suggest an urgent need to expand availability of multivalent vaccines that are effective against non-A serogroups."
Dec 14 MMWR report


Vaccination campaign launched to combat diphtheria in Bangladesh

The WHO has launched a vaccination campaign against diphtheria for all Rohingya children aged 6 weeks to 6 years living in 12 camps and temporary settlements near the Myanmar border in Bangladesh, the agency said in a press release.

The Rohingya are a stateless people, mostly Muslim, who live in Southeast Asia. In recent weeks, the Rohingya have battled a diphtheria outbreak involving 722 probable cases, including 9 deaths.

"Diphtheria usually appears among vulnerable populations that have not received routine vaccinations, such as the Rohingyas. The outbreak shows a steep rise in cases, an indicator of the extreme vulnerability of children in the Rohingya camps and settlements. This calls for immediate action to protect them from this killer disease. Vaccination provides effective prevention," said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.

About 255,000 children will be targeted in the vaccination campaign, which will inoculate against diphtheria, as well as polio, tetanus, and pertussis. Diphtheria, spread through airborne droplets, is a serious respiratory infection.
Dec 12 WHO news release

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