In an analysis (.pdf) published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science, a team led by virologist Peter Palese of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York raises questions about the WHO’s estimated fatality rate from H5N1 bird flu, saying the rate of 59 percent is based on “an estimate of human bird flu cases that is simply too low,” Reuters reports. The WHO has recorded 586 cases of people infected by bird flu, and of those, 346 have died, the news agency notes (Begley, 2/23). Palese and colleagues say “it is not possible to determine an accurate fatality rate for H5N1 infections based on” available data, but “if one assumes a one to two percent infection rate in exposed populations, this would likely translate into millions of people who have been infected, worldwide” (Wang et al., 2/24). And in a paper published Friday in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota and a member of the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and a colleague conclude that “[t]he available seroepidemiologic data for human H5N1 infection support the current WHO-reported case-fatality rates of 30% to 80%” (Osterholm/Kelley, 2/24).
Pneumonia & Flu
NPR’s health blog “Shots” previews an upcoming WHO-convened meeting to discuss the recent news that two research teams have created H5N1 bird flu strains that are easily transmissible among ferrets, which are used as lab models for humans. Fears that terrorists possibly could use the information prompted the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity in December to request the scientists redact some information prior to publishing their study results and investigators in January to institute a 60-day moratorium on bird flu research, the blog notes.
HIV-Negative Babies Born To HIV-Positive Mothers Have Lower Antibody Levels For Some Infections, Study Finds
“Babies who are exposed to HIV at birth but don’t become infected with the virus have lower levels of antibodies to diseases such as whooping cough, tetanus and pneumococcus,” according to a study published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), HealthDay News/U.S. News & World Report (2/8). The findings “might explain in part why uninfected babies born to women with HIV have a higher risk of illness and death early in life,” according to a press release by the Imperial College of London, whose researchers helped lead the study.
Also In Global Health News: Zimbabwe’s HIV Prevalence Declines; Sri Lanka Flooding; Online Tool To Track Outbreaks; U.S. Recognition Of S. Sudan; TB In Swaziland
Study Examines Reasons For Zimbabwe’s HIV Prevalence Decline Reuters reports that an article published in PLoS Medicine “said Zimbabwe’s [HIV] epidemic was one of the biggest in the world until theÂ [prevalence of people]Â infected with HIV almost halved, from 29 percent of the population in 1997 to 16 percent in 2007.”…
Rising Number Of Livestock Diseases Threatens Public Health, Food Security In Developing Countries, Report Says
“A growing number of livestock, such as cows and pigs, are fuelling new animal epidemics worldwide and posing more severe problems in developing countries as it threatens their food security, according to a report [.pdf] released on Friday” during an international conference in New Delhi, India, on Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition & Health, Reuters reports (Lyn, 2/11).
Also In Global Health News: Faster Technology For Creating Flu Vaccines; Ukraine’s ARV Shortages; Testing University Students For HIV In SA; Polio Eradication; Haiti Housing Plan; Women’s Shelters In Afghanistan
Researchers FindÂ Flu Vaccine Created Using Faster Technique As Effective As Traditional Vaccine A seasonal flu vaccine “made using quicker cell-based manufacturing methods was at least as effective at preventing flu as conventional vaccines grown in chicken eggs,” researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Lancet, Reuters reports. The clinical trial, conducted…
“Kenya on Monday became the first African country to introduce a routine vaccine against pneumococcal disease, which claims the lives of more than half a million children under five each year,” Deutsche Presse Agentur/The Hindu reports. The GAVI Alliance, which is supporting the vaccine’s roll out, “is aiming to introduce the vaccine to 19 developing countries – including Nicaragua, Guyana, Yemen and Sierra Leone – within a year and hopes to reach more than 40 nations by 2015, depending on funding.”
Also In Global Health News: Global Alcohol-Related Deaths; Pentavalent Vaccine Plant To Resume Operations; Harm-Reduction In Russia; IDUs In Tanzania; MDG Tracking Program In Kenya
Alcohol Kills 2.5M Annually, WHO Report Says “Alcohol abuse is killing 2.5 million people each year,” according to a report from the WHO, which said that about “4 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports.Â “The main causes of alcohol-related deaths are injuries incurred…
On Monday, the same day the GAVI Alliance helped oversee the roll out of a routine pneumococcal vaccine in Kenya, GAVI chairman Dagfinn Hoybraten highlighted the need for greater reductions in vaccine prices in developing countries during an interview with Reuters, the news service reports. The piece examines the funding mechanism in place to finance the pneumococcal vaccines, known as Advance Market Commitment (AMC), as well as the budget shortfall facing the group (Kelland, 2/14).
Lancet Infectious Diseases Examines How Resource Gaps Are Creating Barriers To Reduce Child Mortality
The Lancet Infectious Diseases’ Newsdesk examines how resource gaps in immunizations, health workers and financing are creating barriers to efforts to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, as highlighted in a recent Save the Children report. The article describes the role GAVI Alliance has played in increasing the number of children receiving vaccines worldwide and notes the $3.7 billion gap the group hopes to fill to expand its immunization campaign over the next four years.