Vol. II, No. 04 ~ EINet News Briefs ~ February 23,
****A free service of the APEC Emerging
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In this edition:
- Overview of infectiousdisease
information from PROMED and other sources
- Updates from previous bulletins
- How to add colleagues to the EINet
This week's bulletin features several news briefs on vaccines, emphasizing
the important role that vaccines play in infectious diseases. The absence
or reduced prevalence of certain infectious diseases in this century are
largely attributed to the development of vaccines. While vaccines may
not have the instant and dramatic effect of curative medicine, they continue
to remain a hope for the future in emerging infections.
1. OVERVIEW OF INFECTIOUSDISEASE
INFORMATION FROM PROMED Here is our regular summary
of relevant AsiaPacific EID issues based on postings to the ProMED Electronic
Network, which is a prototype for a communications system to monitor emerging
infectious diseases globally as an initiative of the Federation of American
Scientists (FAS), cosponsored by WHO.
THAILAND AIDS VACCINE TRIAL IN PROGRESS
2,500 people have volunteered to participate in a phase III trial of the
AIDS vaccine in Thailand. Most of the volunteers are young male intravenous
drugusers who are at high risk of HIV infection. Trials in Africa and
the U.S. are already in progress. The vaccine that is to be tested in
Thailand is different from the product used in the U.S. in order to match
the various prevailing strains of HIV in that country. The Thai trials
are being conducted by the Californiabased firm VaxGen, and is estimated
to cost $6ץ million. Preliminary results on the effectiveness of the
vaccine will be available in 30 months.
[BBC World Service, Feb. 09, 1999]
VIET NAM (KIEN GIANG) JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS
Eight children between the ages of one to four years have died from suspected
Japanese Encephalitis in the southern province of Kien Giang. The diagnosis
has been confirmed in at least one child, while blood results for the
other children are pending. Four other children have been admitted to
the Kien Giang provincial hospital with the illness.
[Agence France Presse, Feb. 11, 1999]
PAPUA NEW GUINEA ELEPHANTIASIS
20 to 25 percent of the four million people in Papua New Guinea are affected
by the mosquito borne disease, elephantiasis or lymphatic filariasis.
The disease causes lymphatic blockage resulting in swelling of the legs
and scrotum, and is more prevalent in the coastal regions. An infected
person manifests the symptoms only after 10㪬 years. The disease is preventable,
but to eradicate it, the whole population has to take the required drug.
The Medical Research Institute is staging an eradication program at Bagabag
Island in Madang Province where almost 3,000 people are suspected of being
[The National, Feb. 1999]
PAPUA NEW GUINEA NEW HIV CASES DOUBLE IN 1998
The number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country almost doubled last year,
more than 70% of cases being reported in the National Capital District.
A total of 642 new cases of HIV infection, and 185 cases of AIDS were
recorded. According to the health department, for every one case that
is reported, 10 cases are not reported. The provinces of Enga and Chimbu
were included in the Sexual Health Project in 1997, and the rise in the
number of new cases in these provinces most likely reflect increased awareness
among provincial workers. Facilities for testing for AIDS is limited and
very little information is available from provinces like Gulf, Bougainville
and West Sepik where there is an apparent lack of awareness of the disease
among health staff.
[The National, Feb. 23, 1999]
DIPHTHERIA VACCINE RECALL
Following the detection of a problem with a specific lot (Connaught Lot
No. 1694732) of Tripedia Dtap (Diphtheria vaccine), the CDC has asked
GeoSentinel to issue an advisory of importance to international travelers
in the pediatric age group. The vaccine was distributed only in the U.S.,
but may have been sent by various multinational entities to sites overseas.
Additional detailed information and a list of highrisk countries is available
on the National Immunization Program web page at: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/announce/default.htm
USA FDA WARNS OF TYPHOID RISK
Thirteen cases of typhoid fever reported in the U.S. between midDecember
and early February may be linked to consumption of frozen mamey, a tropical
fruit that was imported from Guatemala. Most of the illnesses occurred
in Hispanic communities in South Florida. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
has advised consumers against consuming drinks made from frozen mamey,
or eating the El Sembrador brand of mamey imported from Guatemala. This
particular brand of frozen mamey was found in the freezers of homes of
individuals who contracted typhoid fever and in restaurants where some
of the victims ate the product. Laboratory results are pending on the
samples that were collected in conjunction with the Florida Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Florida Department of Health.
[FDA, Feb. 22, 1999]
NEW VACCINE FOR MALARIA
A multipronged vaccine to fight malarial parasites at various stages of
invasion has been developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and Indian researchers. Animal experiments with the vaccine
have shown that it has been effective in preventing malarial parasites
from invading liver cells, and from replicating in the blood. The report
was published in the National Academy of Sciences. The vaccine will next
be tested in primates before human trials are commenced.
PHRI/SOROS RUSSIAN TB PROGRAM
Russian prisons are undergoing an alarming increase in numbers of TB cases,
and are expected to have an incidence rate of 4000/100,000 by next year.
The civilian population is expected to have an incidence rate of only
50/100,000 in comparison to the prison population. MDRTB is an increasing
concerning in Russia. To combat this problem, WHO has endorsed a DOTSPlus
strategy to treat and control the spread of MDRTB. This strategy can only
be developed on the foundation of a fully implemented DOTS program which
encompasses civilian and prison populations. The Public Health Research
Institute, operating under a $12 million grant from the Open Society Institute
(Soros Foundation), has developed a TB program that has five major elements:
1) training of personnel to develop sustainable local capacity to manage
TB control in Russia; 2) provision of equipment and supplies for diagnostics
and treatment; 3) setting up a network of bacteriological laboratories;
4) oversight and quality control of implementation by Russian collaborators;
and 5) public advocacy. A basic infrastructure for TB control systems
has thus been established with implementation of comprehensive DOTSbased
treatment schemes. The Russian federal and local governments, and other
Western NGOs are working in collaboration with the PHRI/Soros TB program.
Two of PHRI's project sites have been chosen for DOTSplus project sites.
While this TB program is the largest and most significant foreign public
health activity on Russian soil, it covers only 2% of the civilian population
and 6.5% of total prison population. Major Western funding commitments
are required to contain the TB problem in Russia, as the government does
not have the resources to address the problem on a national scale.
[tbnet INFO, Feb. 21, 1999]
2. UPDATES FROM PREVIOUS
MALAYSIA JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS
State health departments in Malaysia have been ordered to not make any
more statements regarding the Japanese Encephalitis outbreak that has
claimed 14 lives in 4 months. According to the Health Minister, centralized
dissemination of information would avoid confusion and adverse effects
on the economy. It has been recommended that an official web site for
the ministry would help to educate the public with frequent updates and
curb rumors. While Japanese Encephalitis is not unusual in Malaysia at
this time of the year, the epidemiology of the disease is unusual, as
serological confirmation of the JE virus is lacking, and cases have been
reported mainly in adults.
[ProMed, Fe. 14, 1999]
While the worst of the flu epidemic seems to be over in Japan, the Ministry
of Health continues to issue advisories to national hospitals, sanatoriums,
and residential facilities for the elderly. The outbreak has claimed 244
lives, 80% of deaths being among the elderly. This winter's flu epidemic
is expected to surpass last year's epidemic of 1.27 million reported flu
[CNN custom News, Feb. 16, 1999]
INFECTION CONTROL FOR VIRAL HAEMORRHAGIC FEVERS CDC/WHO MANUAL
The CDC, in collaboration with WHO has developed a web site for Infection
Control for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in the African Health Care Setting.
The site has a teaching manual for infection control for VHF, links to
several online resources pertaining to the topic. A virtual tour of the
Special Pathogens Branch is also construction. The site can be accessed
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