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Issue Number 178            July 28, 2000


  1. Surgeon General and Congress announce new campaign to improve public awareness about hepatitis C
  2. Three lots of IMOVAX rabies vaccine recalled
  3. CDC reports on progress toward polio eradication, European region


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July 28, 2000

CDC has issued the following press release:


On Thursday, July 27, 2000, Surgeon General David Satcher and bipartisan representatives from Congress announced their plans to increase public awareness about hepatitis C. Dr. Satcher has prepared a "Dear Citizen" letter for dissemination by Members of Congress to their constituents. The letter emphasizes the need for persons at increased risk for HCV infection to go to their doctor to be tested.

The letter recommends routine HCV testing for those groups with risk factors outlined by CDC in its Oct. 16, 1998, MMWR Recommendations and Reports (Vol. 47 No. RR-19), i.e., a history of injecting drugs, transfusion or transplant prior to July 1992, receipt of a blood product for clotting problems produced before 1987, long-term kidney dialysis, needlestick contaminated with HCV-infected blood, and birth to an HCV-positive mother. It will be up to individual Members of Congress to mail the letter to their constituents.

Additional information about hepatitis C can be obtained from the Hepatitis Branch, CDC website at or toll-free information line at 1-888-4HEPCDC (1-888-443-7232).



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July 28, 2000

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a "Notice to Readers" in the July 28, 2000, issue of the MMWR entitled "Voluntary Recall of IMOVAX Rabies I.D. (Rabies Vaccine) Used for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis." The notice reads as follows:


Through routine stability testing, Aventis Pasteur recently learned that the potency of one lot of IMOVAX Rabies I.D. (Rabies Vaccine), used as an alternative to rabies vaccine administered intramuscularly for pre-exposure prophylaxis, had fallen below specification 24 months after manufacturing. Although this product met all specifications at the time of release, its potency fell below specification before the product's expiration date. Only lot P0313-2 was involved; however, lots P0030-2 and N1204-2 also are being recalled as a precautionary measure. All three lots were prepared from the same initial bulk lot.

To help ensure all persons who received a vaccination from one of the recalled lots are alerted, the company is contacting all customers who received a shipment of the recalled lots. A toll-free telephone number also has been set up for medical inquiries about the recall, (800) 752-9340. Persons who received pre-exposure vaccination for rabies should contact their health-care provider to determine whether they should be revaccinated. 

As a precaution, patients who were vaccinated with one of these lots for pre-exposure prophylaxis--and who remain at risk for rabies exposure--should either be tested to measure the presence of antibodies and be vaccinated as needed (if the testing will not substantially delay vaccination), or be revaccinated. Aventis Pasteur recommends that patients being revaccinated receive one dose of IMOVAX Rabies, Rabies Vaccine for intramuscular (IM) use.


To read this notice online, go to:

For information on how to obtain a free electronic subscription to the MMWR, see the instructions that follow article three below.

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July 28, 2000

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published "Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication--European Region, 1998-June 2000" in the July 28, 2000, issue of the MMWR. This report summarizes progress toward polio eradication in the 51 member states in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region (EUR) during 1998-June 2000.

According to the the Editorial Note, "Indigenous poliovirus transmission probably was interrupted in EUR countries in 1998; this status is attributed to improvements in routine vaccination coverage and the successful implementation of coordinated supplemental vaccination through Operation MECACAR and MECACAR Plus. In addition, AFP [acute flaccid paralysis] surveillance in nearly all EUR countries where polio was recently endemic has improved substantially. Along with continued observation, the quality of surveillance and timely transport of specimens in some areas of the region need further improvement to document that indigenous transmission has been interrupted and that any transmission secondary to imported poliovirus is detected promptly. Strengthening of surveillance and specimen transport is particularly important in some areas of Turkey.

"Eastern and southeastern areas of Turkey adjacent to Syria, Iran, and Iraq remain at high risk for wild poliovirus transmission; wild polioviruses have been isolated from AFP cases in Iraq during 1999 and in early 2000. Although cross-border travel is generally prohibited and tightly monitored, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan remain at risk for polio because of ongoing poliovirus transmission in neighboring Afghanistan. . . .

"EUR priorities include 1) maintaining and strengthening AFP surveillance systems, particularly in the Caucasus, Turkey, and the Central Asian Republics; 2) conducting high-quality NIDs [National Immunization Days] or sub-NIDs through Operation MECACAR Plus in selected countries with persistent high risk for wild poliovirus circulation, in coordination with bordering EMR countries; 3) implementing coordinated house-to-house supplemental vaccination activities among key border area populations; 4) maintaining and strengthening the political commitment of governments for polio eradication and certification; 5) consolidating the support of donor governments and partner agencies to ensure sufficient financial and human resources; and 6) implementing laboratory containment of wild poliovirus and potentially infectious materials. These activities will ensure that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is maintained and that the region can be certified as polio-free by 2003."

To read the entire article, go to:

To obtain a free electronic subscription to the "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" (MMWR), visit CDC's MMWR website at:
Select "Free MMWR Subscription" from the menu at the left of the screen. Once you have submitted the required information, weekly issues of the MMWR and all new ACIP statements (published as MMWR's "Recommendations and Reports") will arrive automatically by e-mail. 

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Editorial Information

  • Editor-in-Chief
    Kelly L. Moore, MD, MPH
  • Managing Editor
    John D. Grabenstein, RPh, PhD
  • Associate Editor
    Sharon G. Humiston, MD, MPH
  • Writer/Publication Coordinator
    Taryn Chapman, MS
    Courtnay Londo, MA
  • Style and Copy Editor
    Marian Deegan, JD
  • Web Edition Managers
    Arkady Shakhnovich
    Jermaine Royes
  • Contributing Writer
    Laurel H. Wood, MPA
  • Technical Reviewer
    Kayla Ohlde

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