Updates-By Carol A. Kemper, MD, FACP

Children Mistakenly Receive Cattle Vaccine

Sources: The Irish Times, Ireland, July 1, 2001 & The New York Times, June 30, 2001.

Irish authorities are attempting to sort out how children participating in a clinical drug trial in 1973 received a vaccine intended for animals. Although it was not immediately clear whether vaccine was administered inadvertently or as part of the study, the children apparently received Tribovax T in lieu of the similar-sounding Trivax vaccine for children, which contains vaccine against diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Tribovax T (Schering Plough) is a "4-in-1" clostridial vaccine used in sheep and cattle to prevent Blacleg, Braxy, Black Disease, and tetanus.

Adding further confusion were reports suggesting that all reactions to vaccinations were reported to the manufacturer of Trivax, the Wellcome Foundation. If correct, it is possible that someone may have known about the mix-up. Thus far, no long-term effects have been reported, but health authorities promised to conduct a complete investigation.

Polio Revisits Eastern Europe

Source: Eurosurveillance Weekly, May 24, 2001.

Two cases of poliomyelitis have been reported in a 13-month-old child and a 2-year-old child in the Romany area of Bulgaria this spring—the first cases of poliovirus infection in Europe since 1998 when polio was reported in Turkey near the Iranian border. The first case occurred in Burgas on the Black Sea in March and, by April, authorities acted to step up vaccination of children in the area. Nevertheless, a second case occurred about 90 km west of Burgas in May, suggesting that polio had been circulating in the larger community. Because ~5% of Bulgarian children have never received poliovaccine, a national vaccination program had been planned for late May, but it was unfortunately postponed for lack of available vaccine.

Various laboratories have identified the causative strain as a wildtype poliovirus-1 and not a vaccine-derived strain, as recently occurred in the Dominican Republic and Haiti (Kemper CA. Infectious Disease Alert. 2001;20: 83-85). Most poliovirus-1 virus is presently believed to originate from the Indian subcontinent.

Couple Torches Home to Avoid Mildew

Source: Tresniowski A, et al. People Magazine, July 9, 2001:109-110; and http://www.latimes.com/features/health/news/, May 25, 2001.

As an id expert, have you ever been asked to provide advice on environmental mildew and fungus? A California couple is spending more than $3,000,000 to create a "germ-free" home in Ventura County, California. The 11,000 square-foot home will be built almost entirely from steel, and coated in a ceramic powder impregnated with silver ions, which suppresses the growth of mold, fungus, and bacteria—much the same as silver impregnated catheters and other medical devices. Even the fixtures, fabrics, and appliances will be coated with the antimicrobial powder. The substance will also be used on almost everything else in the home, from cookware, to the carpets and mattress pads, to the racks in the 6000-bottle wine cellar. The project is a collaboration between the attorney-owner, architect David Martin, Ohio-based AK Steel, and AgION Technologies, as well as about 60 other companies whose products were being modified for the project.

On a similar note, fearing that the mildew in their home was either too costly or impossible to eradicate, another couple took the extraordinary step of having their home in Foresthill, Calif. burnt to the ground. The couple believed that black mold due to Stachybotrys chartarum in their home was causing numerous health problems in family members, such as chronic respiratory ailments and developmental delays in their infant son. Rather than spend the purported $85,000 to get rid of the mold in their home, they hired 40 volunteer firefighters to set it ablaze and sold the property.

Interestingly, some architects believe that the more modern building codes that require buildings be extra-insulated and even wrapped in plastic, ostensibly to keep moisture out, do exactly the opposite by not letting wood structures breath.

Plague Fells Chipmunk at Lake Tahoe

Source: ProMED-mail post, July 20, 2001; www.promedmail.org.

In quick follow-up to the most recent Infectious Disease Alert (quiz: Which animal may be infected with Yersinia pestis in New Mexico and Nevada?), a dead chipmunk found at the Lake Tahoe Forest Service Visitors Center in South Lake Tahoe has tested positive for bubonic plague. Health officials are posting warning to visitors to the area not to handle live or dead wild animals, not to rest, sleep, or camp near a rodent burrow (how do you know?), and make sure that any dogs or cats you bring into the area wear flea collars and don’t mess with rodents. The last recorded death due to pneumonic plague in the area occurred in 1980 when a cat brought home a dead chipmunk and transmitted the infection to its owner.