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News Reports for December 3, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 13:43:23 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!

India
• Gujarat: 38 cranes dead; avian flu back? (Link)

United States
• ProMED: Influenza (109): USA update (Link)
• U. S. Flu Season Starts Early (Link)
• Health leaders: Could be bad year with an earlier-than-normal flu season and more severe illness (Link)
• U.S. flu season gets strong early start (Link)

Research
• Stop touching your face to avoid flu: Study (Link)

General
• ProMED: Influenza (108): Europe update (Link)
• CIDRAP: Two Jordan cases in April shift novel coronavirus picture (Link)

Commentary
• RecombinomicsFatal Novel Beta Coronavirus HCW Cluster In Jordan (Link)


• H(Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for December 3, 2012

News for December 2, 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 August 10, 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

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India: Gujarat - 38 cranes dead; avian flu back?
Ahmedabad: The sudden death of 38 cranes in the wetlands (salt pans) close to Victor village in Rajula range of Amreli district has raised fears of a return of the deadly bird flu virus. The matter first came to light when a bird lover informed forest officials about the death of five birds on Saturday.

Sunday saw the death of 30 more birds while a few others were found to be extremely ill. Of the ill birds, three more died taking the toll to 38. Incidentally, two eagles, believed to have feasted on the dead cranes were also found dead. Cranes migrate to the wetlands in this part of Gujarat from Siberia during the four months of winter. (Snip).

Mangubhai Thapa, a bird lover and resident of a nearby village was the first to be told about death of five birds. He said that there had been sporadic incidents of bird deaths for the last one week. "A fortnight ago we found 15 dead birds but thought it was the handiwork of dogs. It was only when villagers informed me of the death of five birds that an alarm was raised. We informed the forest officials who sent the birds' remains for a post-mortem," said Thapa.

(Snip)

(Snip) the post-mortem of the birds will be done on Monday. Regarding the post-mortem report of the five birds who died earlier, he said that the reports showed that they had died due to respiratory troubles. As for the possibility of a return of avian flu, he said nothing could be said without proper investigation. "The forest department may send samples to Junagadh or Bhopal to know more details about the bird deaths," said Makwana. A team of veterinary doctors from Amreli is also likely to visit the place on Monday to collect samples.

Director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Assad Rahmani, said there is a need to investigate. "Nothing can be said without proper investigation. The blood samples of the birds should be scientifically collected and sent to Bhopal for investigation. Then only will we know what caused the birds' death," said Rahmani. He also said that stomach samples of the birds should be sent to know if they died due to unintentional pesticide poisoning or avian flu.

Another source in the department said that paralysis, as displayed by the birds, is a symptom of viral infection. (Snip).  http://daily.bhaskar.com/artic...

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

     


ProMED: Influenza (109): USA update
Influenza activity in the United States has increased substantially throughout the nation, most notably in the south central and southeast regions of the country. This update reports influenza activity for the period18-24 Nov 2012

Summary of these key indicators:
- The proportion of visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) was at the national baseline. This is the earliest in the regular season that influenza activity has reached the national baseline level since the 2003-2004 season. This week, 5 U.S. regions reported ILI activity above region-specific baseline levels and 5 states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas), experienced high ILI activity.

- A total of 4 states reported widespread influenza activity (Alaska, Mississippi, New York, and South Carolina). Regional influenza activity was reported by 7 states (Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Ohio). 19 states reported local influenza activity. This is an increase from the 8 states that reported local influenza activity in the previous week week.

- The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza based on the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System was below the epidemic threshold.

- No influenza-related pediatric deaths were reported for the period 18-24 Nov 2012. Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported so far during the 2012-13 season. Nationally, the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in the United States during the week of 18-24 Nov 2012 was 15.2 percent. This is an increase from the previous week and remains relatively elevated for this time of year. The regional percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses ranged from 3.8 percent to 20.6 percent.

- Both influenza A (H3N2 and 2009 H1N1) and influenza B viruses have been identified this season. During this week 571 of the 812 influenza positive tests reported to CDC were influenza A and 241 were influenza B viruses. Among the 571 influenza A viruses identified that week, approximately 35 percent were H3 viruses and less than 1 percent were 2009 H1N1 viruses; 65 percent were not subtyped.

- Since 1 Oct 2012, CDC has antigenically characterized 140 influenza viruses, including two 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses, 90 influenza A (H3N2) viruses and 48 influenza B viruses. The 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like. This is the influenza A (H1N1) component of the Northern Hemisphere vaccine for the 2012-2013 season. All 90 of the influenza A (H3N2) viruses were characterized as A/Victoria/361/2011-like. This is the influenza A (H3N2) component of the Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 season. Approximately 71 percent of the 48 influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses, and were characterized as B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like, the influenza B component for the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. The remaining 29 percent of the tested influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Victoria lineage of viruses.

- Since 1 Oct 2012, the CDC has tested 2 2009 influenza A (H1N1), 122 influenza A (H3N2), and 81 influenza B virus isolates for resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors this season. Each of the viruses showed susceptibility to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. High levels of resistance to the adamantanes (amantadine and rimantadine) persist among 2009 influenza A (H1N1) and A (H3N2) viruses. (Adamantanes are not effective against influenza B viruses.

-----------------------------------

New isolate of A/H3N2v

The US CDC also received a new report of H3N2v infection, the 1st to be reported since the end of September [2012]. The patient, from Iowa, had no contact with swine or other livestock the week before becoming sick.

(Snip) the H3N2v infection was detected within the past 2 weeks through routine surveillance. The patient is a child who has since recovered. Iowa reported 3 H3N2v cases in 2011, but it did not detect any over the summer and fall when several states -- especially Indiana and Ohio -- were reporting cases linked to fairs and other similar events.

The CDC said the new H3N2v case pushes the number of such infections reported since July to 311. Most cases were related to contact with swine in fair settings. The CDC said though instances of human-to-human transmission have been identified, there is no evidence of ongoing transmission. Continued: http://www.promedmail.org/dire...

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

     


ProMED: Influenza (108): Europe update
Week 47 : 19 Nov 2012-25 Nov 2012 - Summary

Generally low influenza activity in Europe, but more countries are reporting increasing ILI [influenza-like illness] or ARI [acute respiratory infection] rates.

Levels of influenza activity in the WHO European Region remain low, but more countries are reporting increasing rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) and/or acute respiratory infection (ARI) than in the previous week. Sporadic detections of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and type B continue to be reported, almost exclusively in the north-western part of the Region. The number of hospitalizations due to severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) is stable, with very few cases testing positive for influenza to date. Continued: http://www.promedmail.org/dire...

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

     


CIDRAP: Two Jordan cases in April shift novel coronavirus picture
Nov 30, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - The World Health Organization (WHO) reported today that two cases of novel coronavirus (CoV) infection occurred as part of a cluster of hospital respiratory infections in Jordan back in April. Besides adding one more to the list of affected countries, the announcement signaled that the virus emerged 2 months earlier than previously thought and increased the likelihood that it can spread from person to person.

Also today, the WHO said testing confirmed the virus in a fatal case that was part of a previously noted family cluster of four illnesses in Saudi Arabia. Today's developments increased the overall case count to nine, including five deaths, in three neighboring countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan.

The cases include five, with three deaths, in Saudi Arabia; two in Qatar; and the two fatal illnesses in Jordan. The latest count is two more than reported yesterday. Five cases involved acute renal failure.

The Jordanian illness cluster in April involved 11 people, including eight healthcare workers, in a hospital intensive care unit in Zarqa, (Snip). Health officials had mentioned the cluster previously as suspicious in light of the novel coronavirus. Until now, the first novel CoV infection was believed to be that of a Saudi man who died in his home country in June, though his case was not reported until September.

At the time of the Jordanian cluster, officials from US Naval Medical Research Unit 3 (NAMRU 3) in Cairo tested patient samples at Jordan's request and found they were all negative for known coronaviruses and other viruses, the WHO said in one of its two statements today. No specific tests for the novel virus existed at the time, since it hadn't been discovered yet.

In October, after the discovery of the novel CoV, Jordan sent stored samples to NAMRU-3 for testing, the WHO said. Recently the lab provided results that confirmed the novel virus in two of the cases. The WHO did not say how many of the patients were tested. In response to Jordan's request, WHO experts arrived in Amman on Nov 28 to help investigate the cases and strengthen the country's sentinel surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections, (Snip).

The WHO said the existence of the case clusters in Jordan and Saudi Arabia increases "the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission or, alternatively, exposure to a common source. Ongoing investigation may or may not be able to distinguish between these possibilities."

In the Saudi Arabian family cluster, two of the three confirmed cases were fatal. One more family member also had a similar illness and recovered but tested negative by polymerase chain reaction, the WHO noted.

Despite the two clusters, the WHO said, "Based on current information, it [the virus] does not appear to transmit easily between people, unlike the SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] virus." The SARS virus, also a coronavirus, sickened about 8,000 people and killed about 900 in 2003.

Saudi Arabia's deputy minister for public health, Ziad A. Memish, MD, today suggested that the virus in the Saudi Arabian family cluster may be different from the strain in the earlier cases. "We think the virus in the last family cluster is different as it had significant spread among households while none of the previous cases behaved in a similar way," (Snip).

The Jordanian cases seem to confirm the need to watch for the novel virus in places beyond just Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as recommended by the WHO lately. Last week the agency called for broader vigilance, and yesterday it offered more detailed surveillance recommendations.

The WHO reiterated those recommendations today. It said authorities should consider testing of patients with unexplained pneumonia, especially if they live in or visited the Arabian peninsula or neighboring countries. Any cluster of severe acute respiratory infections in healthcare workers should be carefully investigated, regardless of the location, the statement said.  

Continued with more information and links: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...  

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

     


U. S. Flu Season Starts Early
December 3, 2012
http://www.chron.com/news/texa...
NEW YORK (AP) - Flu season is off to its earliest start in nearly 10 years - and it could be a bad one.  Health officials on Monday said suspected flu cases have jumped in five southern states, and the primary strain circulating is one that tends to make people sicker, especially the elderly.

"It looks like it's shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news is the nation seems to be fairly well prepared, Frieden said. More than a third of Americans have been vaccinated, and the vaccine is well matched to the strains of flu seen so far, CDC officials said.  Higher-than-normal reports of flu have come in from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. An uptick in flu cases like this usually doesn't occur until after Christmas.  
(snip)

There's more vaccine now, and flu vaccination rates have risen for the general public and for key groups like pregnant women and health care workers.


"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."  Thomas Jefferson


Fatal Novel Beta Coronavirus HCW Cluster In Jordan
Recombinomics Commentary

on April 19 died nurse Arbainet of infected infection pneumonia severe hospital blue is under treatment in a private hospital , and then died on April 26, also a college student at the age of 25 years, a resident of Zarqa, the ministry announced in a timely manner for these deaths. "

He said he then instructed in the month of April transfer, a university student from Blue State Hospital to Prince Hamzah Hospital as he was complaining of heart inflammation of the membranes and suspicion of tuberculosis disease and encountered his hospitalization in conjunction with the pandemic.

The above translation of a media report on the Jordan Health Minister (Abdul Latif Wrekat) December 2 press release on the April novel betacornavirus outbreak linked to the ICU department of the public hospital in Zarpa provides detail that was absent from the WHO update on the two lab confirmed (by NAMRU-3) fatal health care workers (HCWs).  

(Snip) the cluster was linked to the ICU and included 7 nurses, 1 doctor, and 3 additional cases.  The ECDC report also noted that one of the nurses died.

Local April media reports noted the April 19 fatality (40F).  (Snip) several of the other HCWs had been discharged, and agencies indicated the nurse was the exception for severity, which may have been linked to her natural immunity.  (Snip) the death of a second HCW (intern, Amjad Akram Rizk, who had been at the same public hospital, but transferred to a private hospital on April 15), raised significant concerns.  The heart problem and a suspicion of tuberculosis were cited in the denial that the second fatality (25M) was linked to the earlier cases.

Initial testing was negative for all of the cases, but re-testing by NAMRU-3 identified the novel coronavirus in the two fatal cases.  The failure to identify the coronavius in the milder cases, which includes the son of the fatal case, raises serious concern that the current assay lacks the sensitivity to detect milder cases.

The cluster at an ICU bears striking similarities with multiple outbreaks that affected HCWs associated with confirmed SARS CoV cases in 2003, as well as the close medical contacts of the first case from Qatar (49M).  13 of the contacts were symptomatic but tests on 10 of these contacts were negative for the recent novel betacornavirus.

(Snip) although WHO continues to claim that the clusters linked to the confirmed cases fail to demonstrate sustained transmission, symptomatic clusters of contacts raise concerns that the WHO assessment is linked to false negatives generated by recent PCR testing. http://www.recombinomics.com/N...

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

     


US: Health leaders - Could be bad year with an earlier-than-normal flu season and more severe illness
The United States is having its earliest flu season in nearly a decade and may see more severe illness than in recent years, so now is the time to get vaccinated, federal health leaders said Monday.

One of the predominant flu strains that is circulating -- influenza A H3N2 -- tends to cause more serious illness than other strains (Snip). "It looks like it's shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell," he said. Continued: http://www.contracostatimes.co...

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

     


Stop touching your face to avoid flu: Study
London: Something as innocuous as touching your face could infect you with flu, especially after your hands brush with contaminated surfaces, according to a study. "There are many opportunities in between hand-washing episodes for people to re-contaminate their hands. If a deadly respiratory virus is around, this is something to really take into account," said Wladimir Alonso, from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, who led the study, according to Daily Mail.

Alonso and colleagues picked 249 people to observe in public places on the Washington D.C. subway and in Florianopolis, Brazil, the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reports. They found that people touched common objects an average of 3.3 times per hour and their faces 3.6 times per hour. "We are therefore likely to get germs on our hands far more quickly than they are washed off," Alonso said. Continued: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/sto...

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

     


U.S. flu season gets strong early start
Elizabeth Weise and John Bacon, USA TODAYShare6Comment

3:32PM EST December 3. 2012 - This year's flu season is starting earlier and hitting harder than it has in almost a decade, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"This is at least a month earlier than we would generally see the beginning of the uptick in cases," said CDC director Thomas Frieden.

The flu strains circulating in the United States this year, especially the N3N2 strain, tend to cause more severe disease as well, he said. The good news is that this year's flu vaccine is a 90% match for the circulating strains. "So we're particularly encouraging people who haven't been vaccinated to do it," he said.

One of the signals CDC uses to indicate the official start of flu season is when more than 2.2% of all visits to the doctor nationwide are for flu-like illnesses. In non-flu months such as the summer, about 1% of doctor visits are for flu-like illnesses. As of last week the nation had reached that 2.2% threshold, said Scott Epperson with CDCs Influenza division.

SNIP

The percentage of deaths from pneumonia and flu was 6.3% for the week, below what the CDC considers an epidemic rate of 6.7%. No new pediatric flu deaths were reported, and only two have been reported thus far this season.

(MORE)


Link to above article:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/...

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

     


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