More Nipah cases reported in India, death toll reaches 10

The death toll for a Nipah virus outbreak in India's Kerala state now stands at 10, after at least 12 more people have been diagnosed as having the deadly virus, according to a Reuters report today.

Reuters said an additional nine people are being treated for infections with supportive care. Nipah virus is most commonly spread by fruit bats, and presents with severe, flu-like symptoms.

Kerala's health minister, K. K. Shailaja, said in a news conference that 12 of 18 people screened for the virus tested positive for the disease. Officials from India's National Centre for Disease Control are investigating the outbreak.

Nipah virus was first discovered in Malaysia in 1998, and India has seen two previous outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In past outbreaks, infections occurred after close contact with infected bats, pigs, and people.

Yesterday, Indian health officials confirmed that the initial three fatalities were in two siblings who spent time on a bat-infested property, as well as in a nurse who took care of them.
May 22 Reuters story


UK government, Gates Foundation join CARB-X's drug resistance efforts

The UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have joined the CARB-X partnership to support scientific research to develop new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics, and other measures against drug-resistant bacterial infections, CARB-X said in a news release today.

The UK's Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund is committing up to £20 million ($26.9 million), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to $25 million to CARB-X over the next 3 years. CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) is the world's largest public-private partnership promoting research and development to combat the antimicrobial resistance crisis.

Combined with existing funding commitments from Wellcome Trust and the US government, CARB-X now has more than $500 million to invest in antibacterial development. CARB-X has so far invested in 33 projects from seven countries.

Dame Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer said, "We must work together to tackle this problem, and that is why I’m delighted the UK Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are joining the CARB-X partnership. Through CARB-X, the UK Government’s Global AMR Innovation Fund will be supporting research into the development of new vaccines and other life-saving products to tackle drug-resistant infections in developing countries where the burden is greatest."

The expanded CARB-X partnership was announced at the launch of the Global Antimicrobial Resistance R&D Hub during the 71st World Health Assembly meeting this week in Geneva.
May 22 CARB-X news release


Cameroon reports first monkeypox outbreak in 3 decades

Cameroon's health ministry recently notified the WHO about a monkeypox outbreak involving seven suspected cases, one of them confirmed, marking the country's first known appearance of the disease in three decades.

So far two districts in northwestern Cameroon are affected, with the first two cases reported in Njikwa district, according to a weekly health emergencies report from the WHO's African regional office. Samples were sent to the Pasteur Institute lab in Cameroon, where one of the specimens tested positive on May 14 for othropoxvirus, prompting a formal outbreak declaration from the health ministry the following day.

Active case finding turned up five more suspected cases, including two in Akwaya district in Cameroon's southeast region. A preliminary investigation suggests that the index case involves a guard at a game park who handled a gorilla 3 weeks before he got sick.

The WHO said since 2016 there appears to be an increase in human monkeypox cases across Africa, where outbreaks have occurred in the Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Most of the patients are from rural areas and are involved in activities such as farming and hunting that increase the risk of animal-to-human transmission.
May 18 WHO African regional office weekly report


AAP says FluMist can be used as a 'last resort' in kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said yesterday that this fall, it will recommend that families choose the inactivated influenza vaccine (flu shot) for their children, but the live attenuated influenza vaccine spray (FluMist) may be used as a last resort in kids who wouldn't otherwise get vaccinated.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not recommend FluMist in the last two flu seasons after data showed it was not effective against the H1N1 strain and less effective than the injected vaccine against H3N2. But in February, ACIP said FluMist will be made available for the 2018-19 flu season after the manufacturer's data showed improved efficacy.

"We really want to immunize as many children as we can against the flu with what we think will be the most effective vaccine. That's why we're recommending the flu shot," said Henry H. Bernstein, DO, MHCM, FAAP, associate editor of the AAP Red Book Online. "Recent history has shown the injected form of the vaccine to be more consistent in protecting against most strains of flu virus."

The AAP board of directors will make an official statement on influenza vaccinations in September, but issued this advice as clinics begin placing orders for vaccines.
May 21 AAP


Study finds pneumococcal vaccine 73% effective in older adults

In the first study to test real-world effectiveness of the 13-valent (13-strain) pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) in US seniors, researchers with the vaccine's maker found an unadjusted vaccine effectiveness (VE) of 72.8% against hospitalized cases of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), according to a study yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Scientists from Pfizer Vaccines of Collegeville, Pa., and the University of Louisville in Kentucky employed a test-negative design to test VE in 2,034 patients 65 and older in Louisville who were hospitalized for CAP. Sixty-eight of them (3.3%) had PCV13 serotypes. Of the 68 cases, 3 (4.4%) had received PCV13, while 285 of 1,966 controls (14.5%) had not.

The vaccine was added to universal recommendations for this age-group in September 2014, and the study was conducted throughout April 2015.

The researchers determined an unadjusted VE of 72.8% and an adjusted VE of 71.1% to 73.3%.
May 21 Clin Infect Dis study

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