News Scan for Jan 12, 2018

H7N9 death in China
Fluarix Quad for babies
Avian flu outbreaks
Vaccine-linked polio in DRC

H7N9 death reported in northwestern China

China has reported its second human H7N9 avian influenza infection of the season, in a 72-year-old man from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region who died from his illness, Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) said in a statement today, based on information from the mainland.

The man from Korla City died on Jan 10, and the investigation into the source of his illness found that he had contact with live poultry before he got sick. Xinjiang is in far northwestern China, and Korla City s in the central part of the region.

So far only one other case has been reported in China's sixth wave of H7N9 activity, that of a 64-year-old man from Yunnan province who had contact with dead poultry. His case was reported in early December.

The pace of H7N9 illnesses is down steeply from this time last year, when more than 120 cases had already been reported. The fifth wave was marked by an unusual early surge of infections and brought the largest number of cases, compared with previous seasons.
Jan 12 CHP statement


FDA approval for GSK's 4-strain flu vaccine expanded to 6-month-olds

Drug maker GSK announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved expanding the indication for its Fluarix Quadrivalent four-strain flu vaccine to children as young as 6 months old.

Before this approval, the vaccine was approved only for people 3 years old and older. The vaccine is given to all recipients at the same dose—15 micrograms of antigen per virus strain in 0.5 milliliters of solution.

The expanded FDA approval was based on a phase 3 study in children 6 to 35 months old and on two supportive studies, GSK said in a news release.
Jan 12 GSK news release


Japan, South Korea, and UK detail H5N6 detections

Japan today reported a new highly pathogenic H5N6 avian flu outbreak in poultry, a day after South Korea reported another outbreak involving the strain. Also, the United Kingdom's DEFRA weighed in on a recent H5N6 outbreak in wild birds in Dorset, suggesting the virus is the reassortant detected in other countries.

Japan's H5N6 outbreak began on Jan 10 at a broiler farm in Kagawa prefecture, killing 55 of 51,000 birds, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Culling is slated for the farm's surviving birds as well as 40,000 poultry from an epidemiologically linked farm.

It's not yet clear if the H5N6 strain found on the farm is the same reassortant detected recently in South Korea and a handful of other countries, including Japan, which detected the virus in wild birds from Shimane prefecture in November. Today's OIE report said full genome sequencing of the virus from the poultry outbreak is under way.

Yesterday, South Korea reported two more H5N6 outbreaks, both involving commercial duck farms in hard-hit South Jeolla province, according to a separate OIE report. The events began on Jan 10, and all 20,397 birds on the two farms were destroyed as part of the response.

Elsewhere, DEFRA (the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) today said H5N6 has been detected in 17 wild birds in Dorset, with more expected over the coming days. The update follows the agency's Jan 10 report to the OIE regarding H5N6 found in a dead mute swan in Dorset.

"This is the first confirmed finding of the virus in the UK this winter and tests have shown it is closely related to the H5N6 strain that has been circulating in wild birds across Europe in recent months," it said, adding that the virus is different from the H5N6 strain that has infected people in China.

DEFRA said the virus does not appear to pose a threat to the public, but is highly infectious and deadly in birds, and it urged poultry keepers to be vigilant and maintain good biosecurity. The Netherlands and Germany have recently reported H5N6 in wild birds, and the virus in the Netherlands is related to the reassortant found in South Korea and a handful of other countries.
Jan 12 OIE report on H5N6 in Japan
Jan 11 OIE report on H5N6 in South Korea
Jan 12 DEFRA report

In highly pathogenic H5N8 developments, Saudi Arabia reported three more detections, all in backyard flocks, according to an agriculture ministry statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. One occurred in Riyadh province, and the other two were in Eastern province.
Jan 12 AFD post


Five cases of vaccine-derived polio detected in DRC

In an advance notification, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said there are five new cases of vaccine-derived polio from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The cases were announced in the GPEI's weekly report and will be further described next week.

These are the first cases reported from the DRC in 2018, but illness onset dates haven't yet been recorded. For 2017 there were 12 cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in the DRC, and 74 reported in Syria. The last patient from the DRC with vaccine-derived polio had symptom onset in November.

All five cases were detected in Tanganika province, the GPEI said. Monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 (mOPV2) is being used in the area.

In other polio news, Science published an article today describing the increasing number of polio environmental samples found in Pakistan, despite the dwindling number of human cases. The authors said the increasing samples could be sign that polio is on its last legs in that country before eradication.
Jan 12 GPEI update
Jan 12 Science article

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