In brief

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 06 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7504

A fifth UK injecting drug user is infected with anthrax: A fifth UK person has been diagnosed with anthrax infection after injecting heroin. The latest patient is in Oxford and is recovering. In August and September two people who injected drugs died from anthrax infection in Blackpool. Two other people, one in Scotland and one in Wales, are recovering. It is unclear whether the UK cases are linked to the recent cases in Europe (four in Germany, two in Denmark, and one in France), but the Health Protection Agency is continuing to monitor the situation.

UK agency is awarded grant to develop anthrax vaccine: The US government has awarded a contract worth £4m (€5; $6.4m) to the UK’s Health Protection Agency to develop a next generation anthrax vaccine at facilities in Porton, Wiltshire. The agency is hoping to develop a vaccine that is delivered by fewer doses than currently required and by an intranasal spray device instead of an injection.

Uptake of flu vaccine is slow: Just 48.9% of patients in England aged 65 or older had had the flu jab by 28 October, down from 54.8% in the same week last year, show figures from the Department of Health. Similarly, 28.7% of patients with conditions that put them at increased risk of complications from flu, including asthma, heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes, had been vaccinated by 28 October, down from 32.2% at the same time last year.

Scientists get access to compounds unused by drug firm: The UK Medical Research Council has awarded £7m to 15 research projects that give academic researchers access to 22 chemical compounds that had been put on hold by the drug company AstraZeneca. Scientists will use the compounds to study conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lung disease, motor neurone disease, and muscular dystrophies. Eight of the projects will involve clinical human trials of potential new treatments, and seven will focus on work in laboratory and animal models.

Women in southern Africa with cervical cancer are being treated too late: Southern African governments are failing to provide for the screening, treatment, and care of women with cervical cancer, resulting in thousands of needless deaths each year, a new report states. The Southern Africa Litigation Centre says that many women access treatment only once they have advanced cancer. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among women in the region; an increased vulnerability is linked to a high rate of HIV infection.1


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7504