News Scan for Jan 29, 2019

MERS in Oman, Saudi Arabia
Rapid flu test accuracy
Avian flu in 3 countries
Listeria tied to pork rolls
Takeda dengue vaccine trial

Oman and Saudi Arabia report new MERS cases

Two Middle East countries reported new MERS-CoV cases today, including four in Oman and one in Saudi Arabia, according to separate health ministry announcements.

Oman's health ministry didn't have many details about the cases, but said the they are receiving care at a reference hospital, according to a statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. The ministry said the new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases raise Oman's total since 2013 to 18. The country reported its last case in March of 2018.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's health ministr,y in its epidemiological week 5 report, noted one more case, which involves a 38-year-old man from the city of Wadi Aldwasir in the south-central part of the country. The man is hospitalized, and an investigation found that he had contact with camels before he got sick.
Jan 29 AFD post
Jan 29 Saudi MOH report


Meta-analysis finds good accuracy for rapid tests for flu, other viruses

A meta-analysis of studies on rapid molecular tests for flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory viruses found that they provide accurate results, but results on their clinical impact are conflicting, researchers from the Netherlands reported yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

They reviewed 63 separate reports from 56 studies that evaluated, as compared to conventional molecular tests, 13 commercial molecular rapid test products. Pooled sensitivity was 90.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 88.7%-93.1%) and pooled specificity was 96.1% (95% CI, 94.2%-97.9%) for detecting either flu (29), RSV (1), flu virus and RSV (19), and a viral panel that included flu and RSV (14).

The 15 clinical impact studies varied widely by size and quality, leading to results that were inconclusive. However, the team found high-quality evidence that rapid testing might decrease the length of hospital stay and may increase the use of oseltamivir in patients who test positive for flu.

The group didn't observe any effect on antibiotic prescriptions, duration of antibiotic therapy, use of in-hospital isolation measurements, or the number of hospital admissions.

"We therefore suggest to consider implementation of rapid molecular tests within hospital settings and recommend performance of high-quality randomized studies," researchers concluded.
Jan 28 Clin Infect Dis abstract


Avian flu outbreaks strike birds in Nigeria, South Africa, Russia

In the latest highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak developments, Nigeria and South Africa reported more H5N8 outbreaks on farms and Russia reported another H5 outbreak, this time involving a turkey farm, according to separate notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Nigeria's outbreak, its second of the year involving H5N8, began on Jan 10 and affected a farm housing 13-week-old pullet in Bauchi state, located in the central part of the country. The virus killed 8 of 2,000 birds, and the surviving ones were culled as part of the outbreak response.

Meanwhile, South Africa reported five H5N8 outbreaks at ostrich farms in Western Cape Province that began between August and November of 2018. Taken together, the virus killed 133 of 6,533 susceptible birds at different locations, one of which was the city of Cape Town. The surviving birds were slated for stamping out.

Elsewhere, Russia's agriculture ministry reported another in a small but steady stream of H5 outbreaks affecting poultry in the west of the country. The latest event started on Jan 21 at a turkey farm in Rostov province, killing 51 of 16,177 birds. The rest were culled to curb the spread of the virus.
Jan 28 OIE report on H5N8 in Nigeria
Jan 28 OIE report on H5N8 in South Africa
Jan 28 OIE report on H5 in Russia


CDC calls Listeria outbreak tied to pork rolls over

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today called an end to its investigation of a Listeria outbreak tied to Vietnamese pork patty rolls that hospitalized four people in as many states. The agency did not add any cases to the outbreak total since federal officials first announced it on Nov 21, 2018.

Officials in Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas reported cases. The date of first symptoms ranged from Jul 1, 2017, to Oct 24, 2018. Patients were women from 35 to 84 years old.

"As of January 29, 2019, this outbreak appears to be over," the CDC said. On Nov 20, the 165368 C. Corporation of Houston, doing business as Long Phung Food Products, recalled ready-to-eat pork products after the Listeria cases were announced. The bacterium is one of the more lethal to cause foodborne disease.
Jan 29 CDC update


Takeda's new dengue vaccine shows promise in late-stage trial

Today Japanese drug maker Takeda announced promising results of late-stage clinical trials of TAK-003, the company's new dengue vaccine.

According to Reuters, the vaccine performed well in the phase 3 TIDES trial, which assessed the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in 20,000 children in Asia and Latin America.

Takeda officials said blood samples taken before the trial began established whether children had been previously exposed to dengue, a step missed by Sanofi Pasteur when they were testing Dengvaxia, their dengue vaccine. Only after it had been approved for use, Dengvaxia was found to enhance dengue infections in children who were dengue-naive at the time of vaccination.

Takeda has not released details on how the vaccine performed, but told Reuters there were no significant safety concerns, and they would follow up with trial participants for 3 years. The company said it will be publishing full results from the trial in peer-reviewed journals.

TAK-003 is administered in two doses, given 3 months apart. The vaccine is based on a weakened dengue 2 virus, with genes from dengue 1, 3, and 4.
Jan 29 Reuters story
Jan 29 Takeda press release

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