CDC on Wednesday said they were investigating a "fast-moving" E. Coli outbreak that has sickened 14 people in Ohio and 15 in Michigan, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Georgia, Massachusetts, and New York.
- Georgia: CDC on Wednesday said they were investigating a "fast-moving" E. Coli outbreak that has sickened 14 people in Ohio and 15 in Michigan. As of Aug. 17, nine people had been hospitalized and no deaths had been reported. According to CDC, the outbreak has not yet been linked to a food source. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services noted that while the investigation is still in the early stages, laboratory results have identified a connection between some of the cases. “While reports of E. coliillness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” said Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “This is a reminder to make sure to follow best practices when it comes to hand hygiene and food handling to prevent these kinds of food-borne illness.” (Levenson/Rubin, New York Times, 8/17)
- Massachusetts: Bluebird Bio on Wednesday received FDA approval for Zynteglo—a gene therapy designed to treat a rare blood disease called beta-thalassemia, which disrupts the production of hemoglobin. Notably, the gene therapy is one of the most expensive drugs in the United States, with a price of $2.8 million per patient. Bluebird said it plans to reimburse private and commercial payers for up to 80% of the drug's cost if it no longer works after two years. Currently, Bluebird estimates that around 850 of the 1,500 beta-thalassemia patients on blood transfusions are healthy enough for Zynteglo. (Walker, Wall Street Journal, 8/17)
- New York: Health officials on Tuesday announced that West Nile virus had been detected in two New York City residents—one in Brooklyn and one in Queens. The New York City health department warned residents to take steps to prevent mosquito bites after a record number of infected mosquitos was reported across all five boroughs. According to CDC, roughly 20% of people infected with the virus will develop symptoms, including a fever, headaches, and extreme fatigue. While most infected individuals will recover from the illness, around one in 150 will develop a potentially fatal illness called the West Nile neuroinvasive disease, which primarily effects those with weakened immune systems and people 60 and older. (Chen, Axios, 8/17)