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News Reports for February 12, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Feb 11, 2012 at 21:23:43 PM EST

Reminder: Please do not post whole articles, just snippets and links, and do not post articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Thanks!

•  Almost 800 adverse reactions to swine flu vaccine identified (Link)

•  Flu outbreak hits more than 2.11 million nationwide (Link)

•  Mexico's 2012 Swine-Flu Death Toll Climbs to 81 (Link)

•  Avian influenza in Itahari farm (Link)
•  3 Jhapa locations test positive for bird flu (Link)
•  Opinion: Bird Flu Menance (Link)

New Zealand
•  Air NZ flight health scare 'just flu' (Link)
•  Air NZ flight sealed due to health scare (Link)

United States
•  NJ: Flu vaccine could be mandatory for New Jersey health care workers (Link)

•  What's the potential for a bird flu pandemic? A Q&A (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for February 12, 2012

News for February 11, 2012 is here.

Thanks to all of the newshounds!
Special thanks to the newshound volunteers who translate international stories - thanks for keeping us all informed!

Other useful links:
WHO A(H1N1) Site
WHO H5N1 human case totals, last updated February 8, 2012
Charts and Graphs on H5N1 from WHO
Google Flu Trends
CDC Weekly Influenza Summary
Map of seasonal influenza in the U.S.
CIDPC (Canada) Weekly FluWatch
UK RCGP Weekly Data on Communicable and Respiratory Diseases
Flu Wiki Main Page

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Japan: Flu outbreak hits more than 2.11 million nationwide
TOKYO - The flu epidemic sweeping across Japan has now affected people in all 47 prefectures, but the epidemic may not have peaked yet, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Saturday.

The institute said that as of Feb 5, the number of flu patients in Japan topped 2.11 million, an increase of 380,000 over the previous week. The number of patients visiting hospitals and clinics for flu treatment has now exceeded that during the peak week of the swine flu outbreak in 2009, when 1.89 million patients sought medical help (Snip)

The institute says its figures are estimates based on data sent by 5,000 medical institutions across the country at regular intervals. The data show that most patients tested were found to have been infected by the A strain of the virus, known in Japan as the "Hong Kong" strain.

The institute's estimates suggest that although patient numbers decreased in 11 prefectures, it increased in 36 others. "In previous years, this time of year would have marked the peak of the virus, but this year we are preparing for the possibility that the infection rate will continue to climb," Continued: http://www.japantoday.com/cate...

(Note: The name "Hong Kong" flu in the article is seasonal H3N2.)

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Nepal: Avian influenza in Itahari farm
ITAHARI: Samples of dead chicken collected from a farm at the Itahari-based PK Poultry tested positive for bird flu (Snip) at the Kathmandu-based central laboratory.

A government team (Snip) had not bothered to inspect the farm after poultry farm owner Nirmal Shrestha insisted that the section of the poultry, where 3,500 fowls had died some days ago, was free from bird flu.

After confirmation of bird flu, a team of technicians (Snip) will cull 6,000 chickens of the farm tomorrow, warning that bird flu might take epidemic proportions. (Snip) http://www.thehimalayantimes.c...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Mexico's 2012 Swine-Flu Death Toll Climbs to 81
MEXICO CITY - The AH1N1 flu strain has left a total of 81 deaths in Mexico so far this year (Snip) From Jan. 1 until Feb. 9, 2012, there have been 3,882 cases confirmed and 89 deaths from the different types of flu virus, the Health Secretariat said in a statement.

Three seasonal viruses are currently being transmitted in Mexico - AH1N1, AH3N2 and influenza B - but the AH1N1, or swine flu, is the predominant one this year, with 91 percent of the infections and the same percentage of deaths.

By Feb. 3 the secretariat had registered the deaths of 58 people across the country in 2012 from the different types of seasonal flu, which meant the number of fatalities had jumped by 53 percent. Continued: http://www.laht.com/article.as...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


US: Flu vaccine could be mandatory for New Jersey health care workers
A bill making its way through the New Jersey legislature would require health care facilities to give their workers flu vaccines. The bill, approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee last week, could be voted on in the full assembly as early as next week.

The bill calls for each health care facility to establish and implement an annual influenza vaccination program.

Health care facilities, such as a general or special hospital, nursing home, or home health care agency, would fall under the mandate. Continued: http://www.lehighvalleylive.co...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Nepal: 3 Jhapa locations test positive for bird flu
BHADRAPUR: Bird flu or avian influenza A (H5N1) has been confirmed in chickens in poultry farms in three different locations of Jhapa district.

The confirmation was made by the Central Animal Disease Research Laboratory, Kathmandu after it tested samples of dead fowls from the three farms collected some time ago, according to Chief of District Livestock Services Office (Snip) The samples had been collected from (Snip) Pathamari-1, (Snip) Arjundhara-7 and (Snip) Charpane-3.

(Snip) the District Bird flu Control Technical Committee today decided to declare those areas as 'crisis zone'. (Snip) culling of the fowls will begin soon, said Mandal.

Prior to this, the H5N1 virus had also been confirmed in fowls in Sunsari and Ilam districts. http://thehimalayantimes.com/f...

Map link: http://www.maplandia.com/nepal...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


What's the potential for a bird flu pandemic? A Q&A

Q. Is bird flu the most dangerous germ?

A. It's hard to say, but it's a particularly high threat. Perhaps the three germs that pose the highest risk are the engineered avian influenza virus, the reconstructed 1918 influenza virus and the SARS virus of 2003. And avian flu likely has a higher fatality rate than the other two.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


excellent article everyone should read! Here's a couple more chilling points
Q Would they need some super, high-tech lab?
A. No. It's not something you would do in your garage, but it also doesn't require unusually elaborate facilities. This could be done in many university or corporate labs.
Q. Were efforts made to keep these experiments secret? If not, why is the government now insisting that details be kept confidential?
A. No effort was made to keep it secret. This research was not performed in a classified setting; it was public domain, as biomedical research has been historically. It's been seen by editors at the scientific journals, external scientific reviewers and dozens of U.S. federal agencies. Attempting to restrict publication now is closing the barn door too late.

Always have a plan B.

[ Parent ]
Nepal: Opinion - Bird Flu Menance
Following the discovery of H5N1 virus, hundreds and thousands of chickens were culled in Sunsari, Ilam and Panchthar last week. Perhaps this is the first time such a huge number of birds have been affected by bird flu in Nepal. However, this was not the first outbreak of the year. Bird flu had hit Bhaktapur few months back and a number of birds were culled to prevent the spread of the virus. This should have prepared the government for issuing timely warning to the farmers of eastern Nepal. But instead, the government tried to keep the public in the dark. In this write-up, I dwell on nature, causes, effects and treatment methods of bird flu virus.

The H5N1 bird flu virus had first appeared in Jhapa district on January 16, 2009. Ever since it has appeared and reappeared every year. It is important to make timely diagnosis and declaration of the disease. And government authorities should notify the public as soon as possible so that the people can take some precautions. Affected Farmers in Sunsari claim the infected birds were sent to the nearest laboratory in Biratnagar and then to Central Veterinary Laboratory to identify and confirm infection on January 18. But the authorities were silent on its etiology and said the case had been sent to Weybridge Laboratory in the UK for further confirmation.

Strangely, virus had been confirmed as bird flu in its preliminary tests in Regional Veterinary laboratory in Biratanagar and Kathmandu. Naturally, the government should have notified the public right at this point. The result should have been publicized much earlier and disease should have been declared. But nothing of the sort happened. This is not time taking process. A test called RT-PCR (Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction) takes no more than 24 hours for confirmation of virus. I wonder what kept our government so long to announce the outbreak despite such an easy and fast identifying procedure in place. Continued: http://www.myrepublica.com/por...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


New Zealand: Air NZ flight health scare 'just flu'

The Health Minister is playing down a health response underway at Auckland International Airport after a large group of people on a flight from Japan reported flu-like symptoms.

Air New Zealand said the group of around 60 were among 274 passengers that arrived on flight NZ90 from Narita, Tokyo this morning. (snip)

Health Minister Tony Ryall said it was unlikely the passengers had contracted anything worse than normal seasonal flu.

"We've been briefed on the situation, and advised that it is Japan's flu season, and there are no reports of new strains of flu there. We're keeping a watching brief but have been told there's nothing to suggest it's anything other than seasonal flu."

(Editorial comment:  Wow - 1 in 5 passengers were showing flu-like symptoms.  That was one unhealthy flight!  Too bad they didn't do the screening before the flight took off.)

More information: Air NZ flight sealed due to health scare

(snip) A St John ambulance spokesperson says at least 60 school children have flu-like symptoms.

Ambulance crew in protective gear are on stand-by waiting for the go- ahead to assess passengers. (continued)

(That makes more sense -- a group of school children were likely all exposed from a common source several days ago.)

[ Parent ]
I feel sorry for New Zealand....
the population may see a lot of H3N2 cases if all those passengers are allowed to disperse out to their destinations. The H3N2 case count in Japan is now over 2 million.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


[ Parent ]
NZ is very aggressive in their bio-security
I agree.  

There is a very proactive biosecurity program at Auckland airport, and I suspect that the school group will be kept in quarantine.  However, all of the other passengers who were exposed on the flight but are not yet symptomatic will be allowed to go, meaning that they may well develop symptoms in a few days or a week as they disperse throughout the country.

I keep thinking of what it must have been like on an 11-hour flight with 60 sick kids -- the flight attendants deserve combat pay!  

[ Parent ]
Not so much...
Forget what I said about NZ being aggressive in their biosecurity.


(snip) Aviation Security Services (Avsec) isolated the students inside their plane for about three hours until their health could be evaluated.  Air New Zealand said all passengers had been released from the Boeing 777-200 at 12:38pm. (snip)

Earlier, passenger Lauren Borgas, 26, said she was 'red-stickered' by health authorities after sitting in a row of seats directly in front of the school group. Men in white overalls and masks came onto the plane and eventually escorted all passengers into the airport. Red-stickered passengers were taken into a separate room where St Johns staff took their temperatures and pulses.

Ms Borgas said when she was eventually cleared to join the other passengers in a gate lounge she was surprised to see the school group amongst them.  She said eventually a woman came into the room and told staff to remove the school group. (continued)

(So they isolated some passengers ("red-stickered" them), then brought everyone back together, then separated out the school group again.  Sounds like there was a bit of confusion on the part of the immigration & heath folks.  All of the students are now on their way to their homestay families.  Let's see if there's an unusual spike in flu cases in NZ in a few weeks.)

[ Parent ]
Hi AlohaOR
You've been there and probably witnessed first hand the tight security. Sounds like this is just one of those isolated incidents of the wrong people on duty at the time, making a poor judgement call. Heads may roll over it.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


[ Parent ]
Ireland: Almost 800 adverse reactions to swine flu vaccine identified

THE SWINE flu vaccine has topped the list of drugs responsible for the largest number of suspected adverse reactions, new figures show.

A total of 779 suspected adverse reactions were linked to the vaccine between 2010 and 2011.

Most of these were relatively mild, such as localised swelling, gastrointestinal problems and flu-like symptoms.

However, health authorities have identified up to 30 cases of young people with the sleeping disorder narcolepsy as part of an investigation into a possible link between the condition and the swine flu vaccine, Pandemrix.

Health authorities insist the vaccine is safe and that the risk-benefit balance for the jab remains positive.

The Irish Medicines Board said the high reporting rate linked with the pandemic vaccine reflected "both the extent of usage and repeated requests and reminders by the IMB and Health Service Executive for reporting of experience with their use".

It added that the place of a medicine on an overall list of adverse reactions could not be taken as an indicator of safety or risk.

Overall, figures requested by The Irish Times show there were just over 6,000 adverse reaction reports from January 2010 to December 2011.

The young people in Ireland affected range in age from five to 21 years old. HSE clinics administered more than 900,000 doses of Pandemrix in 2009 and 2010.

The use of Pandemrix is no longer recommended in Ireland and GPs have been advised to return any remaining stocks. This year's seasonal flu vaccine does not contain Pandemrix.


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