H1N1 infected people continue to shed live virus days after the symptoms

TOPIC: ABC News and other outlets are reporting that two studies released on Tuesday suggest that people infected with the H1N1 virus continue to shed virus after the point where current recommendations say they can resume their normal activities. Detection of the virus doesn't necessarily mean that the patients are still contagious, only that they have the potential to be, according to one of the researchers whose findings were presented at a conference in San Francisco. Dr. Gaston De Serres, of Laval University in Quebec City, found that 19 percent of the 43 patients his team studied were still shedding live virus eight days after their symptoms started. A similar study of 70 patients by a team headed by Dr. David Chien Lye, of Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore, showed that 80 percent were shedding virus after five days, 40 percent after seven days and 10 percent after 10 days. Both researchers agree that more study is needed to determine the period of time the disease can actually be transmitted, but that patients shouldn't rush to return to work or school. In the absence of clear evidence that shedding virus equals infectivity, says Dr. Daniel Jernigan of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "we needed to make a policy that was easy to implement proportional to the severity of the virus. If we had a virus with a very high attack rate or death rate we might have a very different policy."

EXPERTS: ExpertSource can offer several highly qualified experts to comment on this story:

Dr. Adi Gundlapalli, University of Utah School of Medicine Expertise: Influenza, public health surveillance, infectious diseases.

Profile: Adi Gundlapalli, M.D., Ph.D., is assistant professor, tenure track, in Clinical Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He also is principal investigator and director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Rocky Mountain Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research, Emergency Response. Dr. Gundlapalli is an active member of the infectious diseases community and holds numerous committee positions, including lead physician on the University of Utah Hospital Pandemic Influenza Planning Committee; member of the State of Utah TB Elimination Advisory Committee; consultant hospital epidemiologist at North York General Hospital, Toronto; co-chair of the State of Utah Bioterrorism Advisory Committee; and director of emergency response of the NIH Center of Excellence for Biodefence. He also was volunteer medical officer at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Dr. Gundlapalli is a participant on numerous research grant studies, including • Rocky Mountain Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research, Emergency Response-to organize, develop, and implement an emergency response plan for the Center of Excellence for Biodefense • Rocky Mountain Center of Excellence for Biodefense Emergency Response, Training of Clinical First Responders-to develop and conduct training sessions on weapons of mass destruction for clinical first responders in Utah • US Army: Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)-to apply innovative computer and informatics algorithms to visualize community level infectious disease epidemiologic data to enable improved detection of disease outbreaks (principal investigator) • CDC/Johns Hopkins University Subcontract-to evaluate the national surveillance system, BioSense, and offer improvements for detecting events of public health interest Dr. Gundlapalli earned his medical degree from Madras Medical College, Madras, India, and his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut Health Center. He completed a fellowship in infectious diseases and attained his master’s of science degree in biomedical informatics from the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City.

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Expert Contact Information
Name: Adi Gundlapalli
Title: M.D., Ph. D.
Telephone: 801-585-7500

Dr. Alan Shaw, VaxInnate Corporation

Alan Shaw, PhD is President and CEO of VaxInnate Corporation, a privately-held biotechnology company that is pioneering breakthrough technology for use in developing novel vaccines for seasonal and pandemic influenza, including H5 avian flu. He has extensive experience in national and international vaccine research and development, as well as vaccine policy matters. Dr. Shaw's expertise is in the areas of virology, molecular biology, immunology, and protein chemistry. Prior to joining VaxInnate in 2005, Dr. Shaw worked for Merck & Co., Inc., where he was responsible for developing vaccines that are now in wide use, including Gardasil, the world's first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Others include Zostavax (shingles); RotaTeq (rotavirus/infant diarrhea); Varivax (chickenpox); and ProQuad (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella). Following his service in vaccine development, Dr. Shaw was the lead scientist in the Public Policy, Public Health and Medical Affairs group of Merck's vaccine division. Before joining Merck, Dr. Shaw was a senior program executive at Biogen S.A in Geneva, Switzerland, where he led projects on hepatitis B and malaria vaccines, cytokines and their inhibitors, and cell trafficking. He also served as chairman of the Biologicals Committee of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association (IFPMA). Dr. Shaw received a PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry from the Medical College of Ohio, a master's degree in molecular biology from the University of Texas, and a bachelor's degree in biology from Rice University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at both the International Institute for Cellular Pathology in Brussels and the Rockefeller University in New York. As President/CEO of VaxInnate, Dr. Shaw leads a scientific team that is developing novel technology for the production of flu vaccines based upon a proprietary combination of toll-like receptor-mediated immune enhancement and recombinant bacterial production of vaccine antigen. Now in clinical development, this technology has the potential to dramatically improve the potency, manufacturing capacity and cost-effectiveness of flu vaccines -- making it possible to produce highly-effective, low-cost flu vaccine sufficient to meet national needs in a matter of weeks, compared to the months it currently takes.

Contact Information: Dr. Alan Shaw
Mobile: 215-208-9036
[email protected]

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