NEWS SCAN: Seizures and H1N1 vaccine, prepandemic vaccine, chikungunya in France, anthrax heroin probe

first_imgSep 27, 2010Australia finds slightly higher kids’ seizure rates for pandemic H1N1 vaccineIn its review of suspected side effects from the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, Australia’s drug regulatory authority recently reported an increased rate of febrile seizures in children, though the rate was lower than that seen with one of the seasonal flu vaccines, according to a Sep 22 report from country’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Both of the vaccines are made by the same company, CSL Ltd., based in Australia. Increased reports of febrile convulsions in children that surfaced in late April led to the suspension of seasonal flu vaccination in Australian children age 5 and younger. Officials have not determined a cause for the increased reports of the seizures, but the company withdrew the product from the market, pending an investigation into the reports. In the TGA’s report, regulators said from Sep 30, 2009, through Sep 17, 2010, the agency had received 48 reports of febrile convulsions in children after receiving CSL’s Panavax vaccine. In nine instances children had received other immunizations at the same time. It said a working group that explored the reports of febrile seizures in kids who received Panavax estimated that the rate was between 0.8/1,000 to .18/1,000 doses administered, which is less than the .7/1,000 estimated rate for CSL’s seasonal flu vaccine. The TGA also said the rate of febrile seizures in children who received the pandemic vaccine is within predicted rates for influenza vaccines in general. Dr Jim Bishop, Australia’s chief medical officer, downplayed concerns, noting that the final number of verified reports will likely be lower and that the seizure rate for Panavax was a fraction of what was reported for this year’s seasonal vaccine, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today. He said the rate of seizures with the pandemic vaccine was four times higher than usual, much lower than the 50-times-higher rate seen for CSL’s seasonal flu vaccine.Sep 28 Sydney Morning Herald storyEuropean panel endorses prepandemic H5N1 vaccine from NovartisA committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last week endorsed a prepandemic H5N1 influenza vaccine made by Novartis, signaling its likely approval by the EMA for marketing in the European Union later this year. The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended approval of the vaccine, called Aflunov, for use in adults, according to statements from Novartis and the EMA. In a Sep 24 statement, Novartis said a marketing authorization for the vaccine is expected by the end of this year. In clinical trials, two doses of Aflunov generated antibody titers considered protective against the vaccine strain of H5N1 in more than 85% of volunteers, and it also triggered cross-reactive antibodies against other H5N1 strains that have caused human disease, the company said. The vaccine contains Novartis’s MF59 adjuvant. The company said the vaccine may offer a way to provide healthcare and emergency workers with some advance protection against the threat of an H5N1 pandemic. The CHMP said it began reviewing Novartis’s Aflunov application in December 2009.Sep 24 Novartis news releaseCHMP meeting highlights with information on AflunovFrance confirms two cases of indigenous chikungunyaOn the heels of reports of the first cases of locally transmitted dengue fever in the French Riviera region, French health officials have released an alert after detecting two cases of indigenous chikungunya infection in the same region. In an Agence France-Presse (AFP) story yesterday, authorities said two 12-year-old girls in the town of Frejus have contracted the virus, which, like dengue, is carried by mosquitoes. The girls had not traveled to countries in which the disease is endemic. A ProMed-mail commentary on the cases said they were “not surprising” and said the risk of chikungunya was highlighted in a Jul 27 French government warning. The commentary from ProMed-mail, the Internet reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, said, “This risk is due to the presence of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), mosquito populations in southern France, and frequent imported cases of chikungunya virus-infected travelers.” In 2007, an outbreak of chikungunya fever in Italy affected more than 200 people.Sep 26 AFP articleSep 26 ProMed-mail reportJul 27 French government warning2007 Italy outbreak summary reportHeroin anthrax investigation raises new questionsAnthrax infections in UK heroin users may become endemic, and the rising number of cases has led to a fourth form of the disease, injectional anthrax, public health officials said earlier this month at a Health Protection Agency (HPA) conference, according to a Sep 24 report on the Emerging Health Threats Forum Web site. The forum is supported by the HPA. Investigations still haven’t determined how or when the drug became contaminated, though authorities have found that older drug users are more commonly affected and that initial tests on the anthrax strain suggests that it belongs to the “trans-Eurasian” strain that closely resembles those found in the Near- and Middle East. Cases have been reported since December 2009, with the latest case in a 29-year-old English man who died from the disease in late August. Some suspected that the heroin could have been smuggled in an anthrax-contaminated goat skin, though others have not ruled out intentional contamination or a tainted ingredient used to cut the pure heroin. According to a Sep 25 ProMed-mail post, the anthrax-laced heroin has killed 16 people so far, 13 in Scotland and 3 in England.Sep 25 ProMed-mail postlast_img read more


10 fresh, delicious ways to dress up your spring asparagus

first_img This March 7, 2016 photo shows asparagus bruschetta served on sliced baguette in Concord, N.H. The bruschetta combines thinly sliced raw asparagus with chopped roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and torn basil. (AP Photo/J.M. Hirsch) This March 7, 2016 photo shows asparagus and Parmesan fettuccine in Concord, N.H. Using a vegetable peeler to shave asparagus into thin strips makes it fast and easy to cook in the pan during the final minute of boiling the pasta. (AP Photo/J.M. Hirsch) The fact that decent asparagus is now available all year doesn’t really matter. We’ve been programed to think of it as something we must eat in spring. And so we shall.The good news is that asparagus is wildly versatile. It’s delicious raw (and, so long as you don’t mind the cliche, wrapped in prosciutto), roasted, shaved, sliced, chopped, even pureed (think creamy soup). Its assertive flavor means it pairs well with robust meats (everything from the roasts of early spring to the barbecue of early summer), but it still is light and fresh enough to work in a salad (farro and feta would be nice).So to help you get spring off to a great start, here are 10 fresh, easy ideas for eating more asparagus.center_img 10 FRESH IDEA FOR ASPARAGUS— SOUP: Cut 1 bunch of asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. Steam until just tender and still bright green. Reserve 1/2 cup of pieces, then blend the remaining asparagus with 1 cup warmed half-and-half and 1 cup warmed low-sodium chicken broth or stock. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Spoon into bowls and top with the reserved pieces of asparagus and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese.— PIZZA: Arrange thin asparagus spears over a prepared pizza crust. Top with slices of brie and pieces of torn prosciutto. Bake at 400 F until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.— PANINI: Assemble a sandwich of sundried tomato pesto, cooked bacon, asparagus spears and fontina cheese. Butter the outsides of the bread and pan fry, pressing with a spatula until the cheese is melted and the sandwich is heated through.—ROASTED: Toss asparagus lightly with oil, then season with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400 F until browned and tender. Bigger stalks are best for this. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts.— PILAF: In a skillet, cook 2 chopped shallots in 3 tablespoons butter. Add 1 bunch asparagus (chopped small) and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Cook until tender and lightly browned. Add 2 cups cooked rice and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme. Season with salt and black pepper.— GLAZED: In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add a bunch of asparagus and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Cook until the asparagus is tender and the sauce is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the zest of 1/2 lemon.— NOODLES: Using a paring knife or peeler, cut a bunch of asparagus lengthwise into thin strips. Boil 8 ounces of fettuccini pasta, adding the asparagus during the last minute of cooking. Drain and toss with butter, 1 minced clove garlic and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.— IN A JACKET: Microwave a baking potato until tender. Cut in half and scoop out the middle, leaving enough potato flesh to keep the shape. Mash the scooped out middle and stir in a handful of shredded cheddar cheese, chopped fresh chives and chopped lightly steamed asparagus. Spoon back into the potato skins and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.— BRUSCHETTA: Thinly slice a bunch of asparagus diagonally. Combine with 1 cup chopped roasted red peppers, 1 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup torn basil leaves, 1 minced clove garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve over slices of rustic bread.— SALAD: Boil 1 pound fingerling potatoes in salted water, then drain and cool. Slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Combine with 1 bunch asparagus, lightly steamed and cut into 2-inch pieces. Dress with 1/2 cup creme fraiche, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped chives, 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary, salt and pepper.last_img read more


Former contestant on ‘The Bachelorette’ dead at 31

first_imgAUSTIN, Texas | A former contestant on “The Bachelorette” has died after police found him unresponsive at a South Austin residence.An Austin Police Department spokeswoman says officers were sent to the residence at 2:10 a.m. Monday in reference to a reported unresponsive man and found 31-year-old Michael Nance unconscious. He was pronounced dead shortly before 3 a.m.Spokeswoman Anna Sabana says the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office will have to determine what caused Nance’s death, but investigators do not consider the death suspicious.Nance was a contestant in the eighth season of “The Bachelorette” in 2012 but was eliminated in the fourth of the season’s 10 weeks.last_img read more