Archive for January, 2010

Measles in Zimbabwe

22 January, 2010

As if they didn’t have enough to deal with, what with the after-effects of economic collapse and hyperinflation – oh, and there was that cholera epidemic – Zimbabwe is facing an outbreak of measles that has already killed at least 10 people.  ProMED reports that members of an “Apostolic sect” – one of many fundamentalist evangelical movements in this part of Africa – had a meeting, at which the disease was probably spread to the children. 

Paramyxovirus virion, showing envelope and helical nucleocapsid. Linda Stannard, UCT

The sect apparently does not believe in vaccination.  In the words of a prior ProMED report,

“Most of the cases were among members of religious groups that shun conventional medical treatment as a matter of adherence to their faiths.  Health officials in some of the measles-affected areas have been forced to enlist the assistance of the police to force members of an apostolic sect to immunise their children.”

The outbreak is part of a bigger, countrywide epidemic, which has apaprently killed more than 40 people since December 2009, with

“…fatalities …almost doubled from 22 on 29 Dec 2009 to at least 41 currently, and the number of suspected cases countrywide has increased from 340 to 1052 during the same period…”

Truly unbelievable to me how people continue to allow children to die because of religious or other unfounded beliefs – but this is nothing new.  Witness the polio vaccination fiasco in Nigeria in recent years, which seriously dented the WHO’s campaign to eradicate the wild-type virus; in fact, witness the utterly witless campaign in the UK and other supposedly developed countries to “naturally vaccinate” children by exposure to wild-type viruses.  However, love them or hate them, the US seems to have it right: in many states, children may not attend school if unvaccinated – and their parents may be fined or even jailed.

In South Africa, parents of children starting school have to show a vaccination certificate – which is as it should be.

So it wasn’t so bad…THIS time.

13 January, 2010

Influenza A viruses mixing in susceptible hosts


I have been waiting with great interest to see what would happen in the wrong northern hemisphere 2009-2010 winter season with the Mexican – sorry; politically incorrect, aka pandemic H1N1 – flu – and it has pretty much happened, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

From ProMED:




A ProMED-mail post
Date: Mon 11 Jan 2010
Source: Reuters News [edited]

Countries re-think swine flu vaccine orders

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The United States said on Monday [11 Jan 2010] it had cut in half its order for influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus vaccine from Australia’s CSL Ltd, but said it is not certain how far orders from other suppliers will be trimmed. While U.S. officials are still calculating how much swine flu vaccine they will need, it is becoming increasingly clear that the United States will not need all 251 million doses it ordered from 5 companies. …

Several other governments have started to cut orders for [pandemic] H1N1 vaccines because the pandemic has not turned out to be as deadly as originally feared and most people need only one dose, not 2, to be fully protected.

…Germany’s Bild newspaper reported that the German government had agreed to cut its vaccine order with GlaxoSmithKline Plc by one-3rd. The newspaper said the agreement would save states about 133 million euros (USD 193 million). On Friday [8 Jan 2010], Britain said it was in talks with Glaxo about reducing supplies. ….

…While the pandemic is slowing down in North America, the World Health Organization said on Monday [11 Jan 2010] the virus was still active in parts of central, eastern and southeastern Europe, North Africa and South Asia. Governments are torn between trying to encourage companies to make influenza vaccine and wasting money on doses that are never given. But bulk antigen — the vaccine before it is put into a syringe – — can be stored and might be used in next year’s seasonal vaccine.

The U.S. government was still promoting vaccination, reminding people that influenza is unpredictable and that [pandemic] H1N1 could come back in a 3rd wave. One potentially large market for the vaccine is children. Children under 10 need 2 doses of vaccine to be fully protected and some U.S. school districts were planning more vaccination clinics this week to get children a 2nd dose. …
[Byline: Maggie Fox]

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Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

Communicated by: