Vaccine cuts worldwide measles deaths by 60%
Child deaths from measles have fallen by 60% following a massive global vaccination campaign.
The international Measles Initiative launched in 2000 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF aimed for a 50% reduction in 45 target countries. Deaths fell from 873,000 in 1999 to 345,000 by the end of 2005, a 60% reduction. Deaths in Africa by 75%. Measles deaths in children under five fell from 791,000 to 311,000 over the same period. The new figures estimate that measles vaccinations have prevented 7.5 million deaths between 1999 and 2005, and 2.3 million of these are attributable to the intensified programme.
Has the 2005 measles mortality reduction goal been achieved? A natural history modelling study. The Lancet 2007 369: 191-200.
4th case of vCJD infection associated with blood transfusion
A new case of variant-Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) associated with a blood transfusion has recently been diagnosed.
This latest patient has been diagnosed with vCJD about nine years after receiving a blood transfusion from a donor who later went on to develop vCJD. A transfusion from the same blood donor was also associated with one of the previously identified cases. The patient is still alive and is under specialist care. This fourth case of vCJD infection associated with blood transfusion increases the concern about the risk of vCJD transmission between humans via blood transfusion. All four cases relate to the transfusion of blood components: no cases have been reported relating to treatment with plasma products.
1918 flu virus kills
The 1918 influenza virus, which killed some 50 million people worldwide, has proved fatal to macaques infected in a laboratory. Some scientists question the wisdom of reconstructing such a deadly virus. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Discuss.
Nature 445, 237 (18 January 2007) (subscription)
Aberrant innate immune response in lethal infection of macaques with the 1918 influenza virus:
The 1918 influenza pandemic was unusually severe, resulting in about 50 million deaths worldwide. The 1918 virus is also highly pathogenic in mice, and studies have identified a multigenic origin of this virulent phenotype in mice. However, these initial characterizations of the 1918 virus did not address the question of its pathogenic potential in primates. Here we demonstrate that the 1918 virus caused a highly pathogenic respiratory infection in a cynomolgus macaque model that culminated in acute respiratory distress and a fatal outcome. Furthermore, infected animals mounted an immune response, characterized by dysregulation of the antiviral response, that was insufficient for protection, indicating that atypical host innate immune responses may contribute to lethality. The ability of influenza viruses to modulate host immune responses, such as that demonstrated for the avian H5N1 influenza viruses, may be a feature shared by the virulent influenza viruses.
Nature 445, 319-323 (18 January 2007)
HIV: State of the Art
The latest issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology has some great articles on HIV that are well worth spending a bit of time on to bring yourself up to date with the state of the art in this rapidly moving field:
Experimental approaches to the study of HIV-1 latency
RNA viruses: hijacking the dynamic nucleolus
Translational control of retroviruses
Is HIV-1 evolving to a less virulent form in humans?
HIV: Bigger T-cell response not necessarily better (subscription)