News Scan for Dec 20, 2019

More romaine E coli
Polio in 6 countries
MERS vaccine trial

Multistate E coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce grows to 138 cases

The multistate outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections tied to contaminated romaine lettuce has grown by 36 illnesses, for a total of 138 cases in 25 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an update yesterday.

Seventy-two of the patients (52%) were sick enough to need hospitalization, the CDC said, and 13 have hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. None of the infected people have died. South Carolina and Tennessee reported their first outbreak cases.

"CDC continues to advise that consumers not eat and retailers not sell any romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, California, growing region," the agency said. "This includes all use-by dates and brands of romaine lettuce from this region."

Illness-onset dates range from Sep 20 to Dec 1, but some people who got sick after that might not yet be reported. The patients vary in age from less than 1 to 89 years, with a median age of 26; 62% are female.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently identified the outbreak strain of E coli in an unopened bag of Fresh Express Leafy Green Romaine containing romaine from the Salinas region that officials had collected from a case-patient's home.

Wisconsin is the hardest-hit state, with 33 cases, followed by Pennsylvania (17), Ohio (12), and Illinois (10).
Dec 19 CDC update


Six countries report more wild and vaccine-linked polio cases

Six countries have reported 33 new polio cases combined, according to the latest weekly update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Two of the countries reported new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases—2 in Afghanistan and 7 in Pakistan, where gunmen in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Dec 18 killed two police officers who were guarding polio vaccinators.

Afghanistan's cases are from Uruzgan and Baghlan provinces, lifting the country's total for the year to 24. Pakistan's cases are in Sindh and Khyber Kakhtunkhwa provinces, bringing its number for the year to 101.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and four African countries reported more circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases. Pakistan reported 1 new case, pushing its number of vaccine-linked cases to 12. In Africa, countries reporting more cVDPV2 cases are Angola (11), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (8), Ghana (3), and Chad (1).
Dec 20 GPEI update
Dec 18 Voice of America story on Pakistan attack


MERS vaccine trial launches in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute yesterday announced the launch of a phase 1 clinical trial of a MERS-CoV vaccine, the first of its kind to be conducted in Saudi Arabia.

The study involves ChAdOx1 MERS, a replication-deficient simian adenoviral-vectored vaccine, which is being developed by Oxford University and Janssen Vaccines. An initial phase 1 trial has been under way in the United Kingdom, and the vaccine has received support from the UK government and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

In Saudi Arabia, the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) vaccine trial will replicate the design of the one in the UK, testing the vaccine in 24 healthy  volunteers ages 18 to 50 years old.

In a news release, Oxford said the trial at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah International Medical Research Center and King Abdulaziz Medical Center in Riyadh will provide additional data to support phase 1 findings. The university added that conducting a clinical trial in an endemic region is an important step in vaccine development.
Dec 19 University of Oxford press release

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