Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—April 8, 2018

Stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease news by checking out our top 5 articles of the week.

#5: Rare Cholera Outbreak Hits Vancouver Island, Canada

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Island Health are currently investigating a rare cholera outbreak on Vancouver Island, Canada, which has been linked with the consumption of herring eggs.

In a warning to the public on March 22, 2018, officials stated that 3 individuals were confirmed to have cholera, a water-borne disease that is usually acquired via the consumption of food or water contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio cholerae.

Although rare in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cholera cases have been on a steady climb globally since 2005. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 1.3 million to 4 million individuals fall ill with the disease each year, and about 21,000 to 143,000 die. In the last 5 years, WHO has reported only 7 cases in Canada.

Read more about the cholera outbreak on Vancouver Island.

#4: Microbiota-Based Therapy Shows Promise for C. difficile Sufferers

Despite all the good that they do, antibiotics can have some nasty side effects—namely, wiping out an individual’s beneficial gut bacteria along with the bad bugs. When this happens, a vulnerable person can contract Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. This infection, common among hospital patients—particularly elderly ones—causes profuse diarrhea and general gastrointestinal distress. The standard treatment is another antibiotic, usually vancomycin, fidaxomicin, or metronidazole.

However, roughly 1 in 5 patients see a return of their C. diff after taking antibiotics for it. The incidence of this recurrent infection is outpacing the number of primary C. diff infections. Because C. diff results in thousands of deaths per year and significant comorbidities such as bowel perforation and kidney failure, it’s imperative that the health care community come up with better, safer therapies for individuals with recurrent C. diff.

Read more about how a group of scientists further explored the potential of a microbiota-based drug for C. difficile.

#3: New Jersey DOH Launches Investigation Into Several E. coli Infections Reported In 4 Counties

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJ DOH) is currently investigating several cases of Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection in 4 counties—Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Warren—that may potentially be linked with local Panera Bread locations.

Of the 8 individuals who have fallen ill with E. coli—bacteria that are normally found in the intestines of humans and animals alike and are usually harmless but are sometimes known to cause illness—all of them have required hospitalization for their infections. However, the majority of the individuals (5) have been discharged.

“The Department is in the process of gathering food history data from those who became ill,” according to an official statement from NJ DOH. “[We are] still awaiting lab tests to determine if the strain(s) of E. coli bacteria match [—there are many strains].”

Read more about the E. coli infections in New Jersey.

#2: Novavax Presents Data on Trials for Improved Flu Vaccine and Candidate for First RSV Vaccine

At the recent World Vaccine Congress in Washington, DC, biotechnology company Novavax, Inc. held 2 presentations on trials for new vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza virus.

Most children have had an RSV infection by their second birthday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus is common and causes symptoms including a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, wheezing, and a decrease in appetite. While symptoms are usually mild and pass within a week or two, more severe cases of RSV can lead to bronchiolitis or pneumonia and can be serious in young infants or older adults. More than 57,000 children under the age of 5 and 177,000 older adults in the United States are hospitalized for RSV each year. There is currently no vaccine available for the virus, and in most cases, symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers.

Read more about Novavax’s flu and RSV vaccine data.

#1: What You Should Know About the Shingrix Vaccine for Shingles Prevention

The adjuvanted zoster vaccine recombinant, Shingrix, was approved for adults 50 years and older for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in October 2017.1Shingles, which develops after the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), is a painful rash that generally occurs on 1 side of the body, usually the face or torso. Complications may include postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), ophthalmic involvement, and bacterial infection. These complications can lead to hospitalization or even death. The risk of shingles and PHN increases with age and about 1 of every 3 individuals in the United States will develop shingles, leading to about 1 million cases each year.

DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

Shingrix is administered through intramuscular (IM) injection as a 2-dose (0.5 mL each) vaccine series.2 The second dose should be administered anytime between 2 and 6 months after the first dose. The vaccine series does not need to be restarted if more than 6 months have passed since the first dose.3

PHARMACOLOGY

Shingrix has been shown to boost VZV-specific immune response with the adjuvant known as ASO1B, which is thought to protect against shingles.2Additionally, VZV glycoprotein E is essential for viral replication and cell-to-cell spread and is the primary target of VZV-specific immune responses. Shingrix does not contain preservatives.

METHOD OF SUPPLY

Shingrix is supplied as 2 components, including the adjuvant and antigen (See Table 1).2

Read more about Shingrix.