28 January 2013
New Norovirus Strain and other Clinical Notes
Story first appeared on MedPage Today -
Most norovirus outbreaks seen recently in the U.S. were caused by a novel strain known as GII.4 Sydney, the CDC reported. Also this week: a name change is urged for polycystic ovary syndrome.
New Norovirus Strain Causing Most Outbreaks -
Most norovirus outbreaks seen late last year in the U.S. were caused by a novel strain known as GII.4 Sydney that appears to have largely replaced the previous dominant strain, the CDC reported.
The clinical importance remains uncertain, however, as there is no vaccine to prevent infections nor any ways to treat them other than supportive care.
According to a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 141 of 266 norovirus outbreaks tracked from September to December 2012 were caused by the novel strain.
"Right now, it's too soon to tell whether the new strain of norovirus will lead to more outbreaks than in previous years. However, CDC continues to work with state partners to watch this closely and see if the strain is associated with more severe illness," said CDC epidemiologist Aron Hall, DVM, MSPH, in an agency press release.
Name Change Urged for PCOS -
"Polycystic ovary syndrome" (PCOS) needs a new name, a panel assembled by the National Institutes of Health has recommended.
The four-member committee found that "the name 'PCOS' is a distraction and impediment to progress" because the presence of ovarian cysts "is neither necessary nor sufficient to diagnose the syndrome."
"It is time to expeditiously assign a name that reflects the complex metabolic, hypothalamic, pituitary, ovarian,
and adrenal interactions that characterize the syndrome -- and their reproductive implications," they added. "The right name will enhance recognition of this major public health issue for women, educational outreach, 'branding,' and public relations and will assist in expanding research support."
But their report, stemming from a 2-day workshop held in December 2012 in which panel members heard from more than two dozen speakers, was missing one thing -- a suggested new name for the condition.
It did, however, recommend keeping the Rotterdam criteria for diagnosing the condition as well as more research on the condition's etiology, diagnosis, and management.
Bird Flu Experts End Research Moratorium -
Prominent virologists who agreed last January to a voluntary moratorium on research involving virulence factors in the H5N1 avian influenza virus have now ended it.
In a letter published online in Science and Nature, Ron Fouchier and 39 colleagues around the world indicated that "the aims of this voluntary moratorium have been met in some countries and are close to being met in others."
The concern had been that the work could lead to development in the laboratory of new H5N1 variants that would make it highly infectious in humans (wild-type strains are not) and highly lethal. Such a supervirus might emerge by accident or, in the hands of terrorists, on purpose.
Fouchier and colleagues indicated that during the past year, the World Health Organization and national regulators have set safety standards for such research. The issues are now well understood by governments and the research community.
As a result, "we declare an end to the voluntary moratorium on avian flu transmission studies," they wrote.
Eye Surgery Devices Recalled -
More than 100 lots of Bausch and Lomb's 27G sterile disposable cannulas packed with the company's Amvisc 1.2% and Amvisc Plus 1.6% sodium hyaluronate ophthalmic surgical device kits have been recalled, the FDA said.
The cannulas are prone to leakage or detachment from the syringe to which they are supposed to be attached. They are used in delivery of the gel-like material in front of, or behind the iris, during cataract surgery and other ocular procedures.
"In rare [instances], detachment has resulted in serious patient injury," the FDA said.
Lot numbers covered by the recall were included in the FDA's announcement posted on its website.
Dengue Vaccine Passes Early Test -
A vaccine against the four major strains of dengue virus induced strong antibody responses and appeared to be well tolerated in a phase I clinical trial, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which had developed the vaccine.
Several versions of the tetravalent vaccine were tested in the trial. All were found to be safe, but only one was strongly immunogenic after a single dose.
NIAID said that formulation produced antibody responses to all four virus strains in 45% of participants, with another 45% showing responses to three strains.
The agency added that the vaccine would be relatively cheap to produce, at less than $1 per dose, making it
potentially affordable in less developed tropical nations where the disease is most rampant.
Dengue fever also appears to have gained a foothold in the Florida Keys and there are concerns that, with climate change, its range may extend further into the U.S.