News Scan for Jul 25, 2016

first_imgWHO: Recent MERS cases linked to camels, healthcare settingsThe Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two deaths from MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) yesterday and today. The fatalities bring Saudi Arabia’s total number of deaths from MERS-CoV since 2012 to 608.Yesterday the MOH reported that a 27-year-old man from Buraydah had died, and today the MOH said a 44 year-old man from Najran died. Both men were expatriates and had primary exposure to the virus, meaning they did not contract MERS from another patient. Neither patient had any connection to the current outbreak at King Khalid University Hospital in Riyadh.In other MERS news, today the World Health Organization (WHO) described nine cases of Saudi MERS diagnosed between Jul 2 and 14, including two deaths. Four of the cases involved indirect or direct exposure to camels, including consuming raw camel milk. Three of the cases were from Najran, and two were from Riyadh. Eight of the nine patients described had comorbidities at the time of infection, including both patients who died.The organization said contact with camels, including drinking raw camel milk, remains a risk factor for contracting MERS. Camels can pass the virus to humans, but the exact route of transmission is still unknown.Jul 25 MOH report Jul 24 MOH report Jul 25 WHO report Merck’s Ebola vaccine advances; evidence on virus shedding notedMerck’s vaccine against Ebola Zaire, V920, received a green light from both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the company announced today.The FDA awarded the vaccine Breakthrough Therapy Designation, while the EMA labeled it a PRIME (PRIority MEdicines) medicine. Both awards are meant to speed the approval process for vaccines and medicines that target life-threatening diseases or unmet medical needs.”The granting of Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA and PRIME status by the EMA will enable us to continue to accelerate development of V920, and we greatly appreciate the collaboration of these agencies in moving this vaccine candidate forward in potentially meeting this public health need,” said Paula Annunziato, MD, Merck’s vice president for clinical research.Jul 25 Merck press releaseIn other Ebola news, a study published last week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases described viral shedding and transmission levels of the disease in the wake of the 2014 outbreak, noting that, despite viral RNA presence in nearly all bodily fluids, some routes of transmission are more likely than others.Swiss, US, and UK researchers conducted a comprehensive literature review and found that Ebola has been isolated and cultured from blood, saliva, urine, aqueous humor, semen, stool, and breast milk in infected patients. Viral RNA was found in breast milk 16 months after disease onset and in semen 18 months after initial diagnosis. Saliva and tears, however, contained Ebola RNA for only 22 and 28 days, respectively.The authors concluded that transmission via the respiratory tract was unlikely, while transmission through sex, caregiving, and handling of cadavers was more likely to be the cause of infection.Since late 2013, there have been more than 11,000 deaths and 28,500 cases of Ebola, almost all in West Africa.Jul 20 J Infect Dis study PAHO records 17,000 new chikungunya cases, mostly in BrazilThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 17,061 new suspected or confirmed chikungunya cases, bringing the total in the Americas this year to 212,839.The previous two weekly PAHO updates noted just 903 and 1,479 cases, respectively.The vast majority of new cases in the Jul 22 report were in Brazil, which reported 2 weeks’ worth of data. The country notched 15,046 new cases, bringing its 2016 total to 137,808, which is by far the most of any country. Bolivia, the second hardest-hit nation, logged the second most cases last week. It had 1,190 new cases and 19,588 for the year.PAHO reported 1 new chikungunya-related death last week, bringing the total for the year to 28, 17 of which have been in Brazil.The chikungunya outbreak began in December 2013 on St. Martin in the Caribbean with the first recorded cases of the disease in the Americas.Jul 22 PAHO updatelast_img