News Scan for Aug 03, 2018

More McDonald's Cyclospora cases
Lassa vaccine licensing deal
BU lab begins Ebola work
Recurrent vulvovaginal Candida

Multistate Cyclospora outbreak tied to McDonald's salads nears 400 cases

In an update yesterday on a Cyclospora outbreak linked to McDonald's salads, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 109 more cases, raising the total to 395.

The number of affected states remained at 15, and the latest illness onset was Jul 20. So far 16 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

Earlier this week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said a newly validated testing method to detect Cyclospora in fresh produce found evidence of contamination in an unused package of expired salad mix processed by a Fresh Express facility in Streamwood, Ill., that had been distributed to McDonald's. The investigation found that the salad mix contained chopped romaine and carrots and that the carrots in the sampled salad mix were packaged only for McDonald's, but the romaine from the same lot had been recalled by Fresh Express.

The romaine recall triggered a public health warning earlier this week from the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) about possible contamination in beef, pork, and poultry salads and wraps distributed by Caito Foods.
Aug 2 CDC outbreak update
Aug 1 CIDRAP News scan on FDA testing
Jul 31 CIDRAP News scan on FSIS warning


IAVI, PHAC ink deal to develop Lassa vaccine using VSV-EBOV platform

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) announced yesterday that it has signed a licensing agreement with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to develop a Lassa fever vaccine using the same platform the PHAC used to produce the successful VSV-EBOV that has been used to limit the spread of disease in recent African Ebola outbreaks.

In a press release, the IAVI said the candidate vaccine has shown high-level protection in animal studies against Lassa fever.

The IAVI's Lassa vaccine development program has received support from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI). In May, CEPI announced a partnership with IAVI worth $10.4 million to support the first phase of Lassa vaccine development, with an option to invest up to $54.9 million over 5 years. The IAVI plans to further develop the vaccine candidate and create a stockpile to address future outbreaks. It estimates that 100,000 to 300,000 cases of Lassa fever are diagnosed each year, 5,000 of them fatal.

Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of IAVI, said the group is also using the VSV vaccine platform for HIV vaccine development. "IAVI looks forward to continuing the innovative vaccine science pioneered by PHAC scientists," he said. "We are excited to apply more than a decade of our experience in viral vector vaccines to advance the development of this Lassa fever vaccine candidate."

CEPI, which launched in 2017, was founded to streamline and fund new vaccine candidates, and Lassa fever is one of its three targets, along with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Nipah virus.
Aug 2 IAVI press release
May 23 CIDRAP News scan "CEPI, IAVI announce partnership to develop Lassa virus vaccine"


Boston U's NEIDL lab begins first work on Ebola viruses

The first work on Ebola recently began at Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL), 8 months after it received approval from the Boston Public Health Commission to start work on the most dangerous pathogens in the new biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) lab.

According to a report in BU Today, the campus newspaper, the lab's first Ebola projects will explore how Ebola virus damages liver cells and why it triggers such a powerful inflammatory response. Elke Muhlberger, PhD, a microbiologist at NEIDL, said researchers will be working on three projects involving Ebola and Marburg viruses funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The lab was completed in 2008 but had been barred from doing BSL-4 work during litigation from neighborhood and other groups who had safety concerns about pathogen work at the lab in the urban area where NEIDL is located.
Aug 2 BU Today story
Dec 6, 2017, CIDRAP News scan "Boston University lab receives final clearance to begin BSL-4 work"


An estimated 372 million women globally experience recurrent candidiasis

A meta-analysis of studies examining the global burden of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis published yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases estimates that 372 million women are affected over the course of their lifetime, with a projected economic burden of $14 billion in high-income countries alone by 2030.

UK and US experts identified 489 unique articles on the disease and included 8 in their systematic review. The studies involved 17,365 women from 11 countries who had recurrent vulvovaginal Candida infections, defined as four or more episodes every year.

The researchers estimated that, worldwide, recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis affects about 138 million women a year (range, 103 million to 172 million), with a global annual prevalence of 3,871 per 100,000 women. In addition, 372 million women are affected by the condition over their lifetime, and the 25- to 34-year-old age-group has the highest prevalence (9% of cases).

The team also estimates that, by 2030, 158 million women will be affected each year, resulting in 20 million extra cases. In high-income countries, the economic burden from lost productivity could be up to US$14.4 billion annually, they add.

The authors conclude, "The high prevalence, substantial morbidity, and economic losses of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis require better solutions and improved quality of care for affected women."
Aug 2 Lancet Infect Dis abstract

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