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News Reports for December 8, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 13:45:30 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!

Canada
• Ontario nurses balk at receiving mandatory flu shots (Link)

Nigeria
• ProMED: Undiagnosed fatalities - Nigeria: (AD) RFI (Link)

Taiwan
• H5N2 Confirmed in Poultry Penghu Island (Link)

United States
• High flu activity in US leaves 3 children dead (Link)
• Influenza widespread in eight states (Link)
• ProMED: Influenza (111): USA (AL, RI, AR, KY)  (Link)
• CIDRAP: Early-season rise in US flu activity continues (Link)
• Vaccines available for flu season (Link)
• NY: Oneida County approaches 1,000 confirmed cases of the flu (Link)
• TX: Texas Among Top 5 States in Early Flu Outbreak (Link)

General
• CIDRAP: Study finds influenza C in kids hospitalized with pneumonia  (Link)
• UK: Birds tagged in Jersey show pox signs (Link)
• CIDRAP: European labs use novel coronavirus tests, devise new ones (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for December 8, 2012

News for December 7, 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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CIDRAP: Study finds influenza C in kids hospitalized with pneumonia
http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Influenza C generally isn't thought to be a cause clinically significant disease, but a study in Italian children who were seen in the emergency department for pneumonia found the virus in five children, with a disease severity that resembled influenza A.

The study evaluated data from four flu seasons from 2008-09 to 2011-12 at a pediatric clinic in Milan and appeared today in an early online edition of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. (snip)

Of 391 children included in the study, influenza C was identified in 5 (1.3%). Influenza A was detected in 26 children, and influenza B was found in 3. Influenza C was found only during two of the four seasons: 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Four of the children with influenza C were younger than 3 years old, and one was 14 years old. No viral coinfections were found in the children who had influenza C.

All of the children with influenza C infections were hospitalized, but their clinical symptoms improved a few days later. (continued)


High flu activity in US leaves 3 children dead
Flu activity is up this week in the U.S. and is responsible for the deaths of three children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that out of 5,511 specimens tested between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, 20 percent, or 1,139 were positive for the influenza virus. Three pediatric deaths associated with influenza were reported - one linked with influenza B and two with influenza A.

"Increasing flu activity should be a wake-up call," said Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Snip). "For anyone who has put off vaccination: It's time to get your flu vaccine now."

Eight states are reporting widespread flu activity: Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Fifteen states are reporting regional activity: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) was 1.9 percent, which is below the national baseline of 2.2 percent (Snip). Three regions reported ILI above the national baseline.

Four states are experiencing high ILI activity: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Thirty-seven states and New York City are experiencing minimal ILI activity. Continued: http://www.foxnews.com/health/...


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

     


US: Influenza widespread in eight states
ATLANTA -- Almost 21 percent of more than 5,500 specimens tested positive for influenza last week and eight states reported widespread flu, U.S. health officials said.

(Snip) for the week ending Dec. 1, widespread influenza activity was reported by Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Regional influenza activity was reported by 15 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Local influenza activity was reported by 15 states: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Sporadic influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia, Guam and California, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and West Virginia.

The CDC classified four states as having high levels of influenza-like illness: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

(Snip) deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold, but three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.

Most of the influenza viruses characterized thus far this season are well matched to the 2012-2013 vaccine (Snip).

Healthcare providers should continue to offer flu vaccine to all unvaccinated persons age 6 months and older throughout the influenza season (Snip). http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/...  

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

     


[ Parent ]
chart shows the regions where ped. deaths occurred
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/#S3

From chart labeled National and Regional Summary of Select Surveillance Components
Three in Region 4: AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN;
One in Region 5: IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI;
One in Region 6: AR, LA, NM, OK, TX;
This makes 5 pediatric deaths for this season, but no further details were available.

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor


[ Parent ]
UK: Birds tagged in Jersey show pox signs
More than 130 birds caught in Jersey were found to have a potentially deadly form of avian flu, according to Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. (Snip) 138 starlings caught and ringed at Trinity Manor were showing signs of avian pox.

The disease, which is spread by mosquitoes, can not be spread from bird to bird and it can not affect humans. But it causes uncomfortable growths (Snip).

Mr Young wants people in Jersey to be on the look-out for the signs. (Snip) "A lot of these birds like starlings and great tits will be seen on people's bird tables so people may see these problems.

"Usually they are warty like structures around the face, the eye and the bill and also on the legs." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl...

(Note: This is called "avian flu" but it doesn't infect humans. I'm posting it here because I found it interesting and also because we never know what zoonosis may affect us in the future, especially if the meat from infected birds and animals are consumed.)

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

     


ProMED: Influenza (111): USA (AL, RI, AR, KY)
[1] USA (Alabama)
[2] USA (Rhode Island)
[3] USA (Arkansas)
[4] USA (Kentucky)

Full article is here:  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: Early-season rise in US flu activity continues
Dec 7, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - Influenza is widespread in eight US states, and some other indicators of an early flu season continue to rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today.

The percentage of patients' respiratory samples testing positive for flu grew to 20.7% in the week ending Dec 1, up from 15.2% the week before. And, as before, the H3N2 strain continues to dominate, which can be a sign of a more severe flu season.

The percentage of flu-positive specimens varied widely by region, from 6.2% in the Southwest to 33.5% in Midwestern states. Southern states also reported percentages above the national average.

(Snip) three new flu-related deaths in children, bringing the season's total to five. One of those deaths was attributed to influenza B and the other two to influenza A viruses that were not subtyped.

(Snip) This week Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and South Carolina reported widespread activity, 15 states reported regional activity, 15 experienced local activity, and 12 had sporadic activity

In its state-by-state summary of influenza-like illness (ILI) activity, the CDC classified four states as having high levels: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Three states are experiencing moderate activity, 6 states low activity, and 37 states minimal activity.

Two other flu indicators, however, are below epidemic thresholds: the proportion of outpatient medical visits for ILI (at 1.9%, below the 2.2% threshold) and pneumonia and influenza mortality (6.5% of all deaths, below the 6.8% threshold).

Of the 1,139 respiratory specimens that tested positive for flu during the week, three fourths were influenza A and one fourth influenza B. Of the 410 flu A viruses that were subtyped, 406 (99%) were H3 and only 4 (1%) were pandemic 2009 H1N1 (pH1N1).

The CDC reported no antiviral-resistant flu isolates, nor were any infections with novel H3N2 viruses found.

In contrast to the US situation, flu activity in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere has picked up only slowly, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update.

H3N2 activity in Canada has increased slightly (Snip), while in Europe flu activity remains low, with only sporadic detections.

Tropical countries seeing slightly increased activity include Honduras, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, the WHO said. The Southern Hemisphere is reporting only sporadic activity.

Globally, the H3N2 strain also dominates (Snip). Flu A is outpacing flu B 70% to 30%, while H3N2 has accounted for 82% of type A viruses so far this season, compared with 18% for pH1N1. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Dec 7 CDC weekly flu update http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

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

     


CIDRAP: European labs use novel coronavirus tests, devise new ones
Dec 7, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - Diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus (CoV) that recently emerged in the Middle East are being deployed rapidly in Europe, and about 250 patients have already been tested for the virus, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

An ECDC survey revealed that a screening test for the virus is available in 23 of 46 responding countries in the World Health Organization's (WHO's) European Region, according to a report yesterday in Eurosurveillance. Those include 19 of 30 countries in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).

Confirmatory testing of positive screened samples is available in 22 of 46 responding countries, including 18 of 30 EU and EEA countries, according to the survey. Six EU and EEA countries reported that they had tested about 250 patients who met the WHO surveillance criteria, the ECDC said.

The available screening test was the upE RT-PCR (reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) assay, while confirmatory testing involved ORF1b RT-PCR or other target RT-PCR assays with sequence analysis, the report said.

Nine novel CoV infections, with five deaths, have been identified in the world so far.

In a companion report, a German team describes a new confirmatory test for the novel CoV and a serologic test to detect antibodies to the virus. The authors say the recent investigation of a cluster of novel CoV cases in Saudi Arabia suggested that RT-PCR testing may miss cases in patients with symptoms and epidemiologic links to known cases.

The team used samples from a patient who was treated in Germany to develop their tests. (The WHO reported on Nov 23 that a Qatari man had been flown to Germany for treatment and recovered there.) The new confirmatory test is described as a "rigorously validated and highly sensitive" real-time RT-PCR assay targeting the ORF1a gene, called the 1A assay, which can be used in combination with the previously reported upE assay. Continued: 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

     


ProMED: Undiagnosed fatalities - Nigeria: (AD) RFI
At least 5 people have been confirmed dead, while 70 others are lying critically ill at the hospital following an outbreak of a yet to be diagnosed ailment. It was gathered that over 200 households in the border area of Mubi-South in Adamawa State have been affected.

On Wednesday [5 Dec 2012], Usman Lamorde, member representing Mubi-South in the state House of Assembly, confirmed the death toll, saying the nature of the disease has not been determined.

(Snip) Usman Lamorde said over 200 households were affected in Nduku-Seranyi village. "This disease comes without warning, and by the time it is discovered, it's too late. The disease is characterized by excessive vomiting, diarrhoea, high fever, and in some instances, coughing, hence the need for urgent intervention," he said.

(Snip) disease control personnel have moved to the affected areas, and that the state government is waiting for the outcome of the specimen sent for analysis. (Snip)  samples have since been sent to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Gombe for analysis.
-----------------------------------

Communicated by: ProMED-mail

Checking the newswires for additional information on the outbreak mentioned above revealed that there has been flooding in Adamawa state recently. The history of recent flooding followed by an outbreak of a febrile illness with gastrointestinal symptoms (excessive vomiting and diarrhea) and, as mentioned above, some respiratory component (coughing) suggests diseases that are more prone in the rainy season including such diseases known to have rodents as intermediate hosts and where there is exposure to rodents and their excretions, such as Lassa fever, Ebola virus disease, and leptospirosis to mention a few.

Of note, there was a report of Lassa fever outbreak activity in Taraba state earlier this year (Snip). In another report in February 2012, there was mention of Lassa fever cases in Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau, Ebonyi, Taraba, Yobe, Ondo, Rivers, Gombe, Anambra, Delta, and Lagos (Snip). Another illness that manifests with excessive vomiting and diarrhea is cholera, although high fever is not often seen with cholera.

More information on the results of laboratory and epidemiologic studies of this outbreak would be greatly appreciated.

Adamawa state is located in the northeastern part of Nigeria. Bordering states include Borno to the northwest, Gombe to the west, and Taraba to the southwest. It shares its eastern border with Cameroon. 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

     


Texas Among Top 5 States in Early Flu Outbreak
December 8, 2012
http://www.chron.com/news/hous...
Houston, Texas:  If you've been putting off your annual flu shot, don't delay any longer: Texas is already being hit hard this flu season.  Houston-area hospitals have seen a spike in the number of emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms, said Porfirio Villarreal, spokesman for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. During the week of Nov. 18, about 1,580 visits to emergency rooms were attributed to flu-like illnesses, compared with just 249 visits during the same week last year, Villarreal said.
(snip)

"Flu is predictably unpredictable," said Dr. Gail Demmler-Harrison, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Texas Children's Hospital and pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine. "There's no cause for alarm but cause for action. People should get themselves vaccinated so it doesn't get any worse."
(snip)

Although the influenza season usually peaks in February, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases, with rates rising quickly nationwide, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.  Along with Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are also reporting high levels of activity.
(more)


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


New York: Oneida County approaches 1,000 confirmed cases of the flu
By GARY LIBERATORE
Story Created: Dec 7, 2012

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - As of Friday afternoon, the number of confirmed cases of the flu in Oneida County is 994.

snip

Fanelli says that the county is seeing an average of 60 to 70 new cases of influenza reported to the health department each day.

"It articular strain of influenza is the same strain that circulated the country in 2003-2004. He says it's a particular virulent strain of the flu, but the good news is that the vaccine that is being given is a good match for the strain, which is sickening so many people.

"We're urging people, if they haven't gotten the flu shot by now, they should do so and do so as soon as possible," Fanelli said. "I remind the viewing audience that it takes two weeks to develop immunity against the flu after you've gotten the shot, so don't put it off."

Health officials say the largest numbers of flu victims at this time are in the 1 to 9 years old age group, with the the second largest group being ages 9 - 14.

full article

http://www.wktv.com/news/local...

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


Taiwan: H5N2 Confirmed in Poultry Penghu Island
2012/12/08 19:16:08 Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) Outlying Penghu Island has reported the first highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak and all chickens on the affected farm have been destroyed, an official from the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Friday.

Huang Kuo-ching, deputy director of the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said the owner of the chicken farm first detected a massive die-off of 150 chickens Nov. 19 and alerted the health authorities.

Another 50 chickens died the next day and test results obtained Nov. 22 showed that H5N2 was to blame, prompting the Penghu county government to order the surviving 431 chickens killed.

According to scholars, the H5N2 virus is normally low pathogenic, but the latest outbreak was caused by a highly pathogenic strain that they said could be a mutation of the virus.

Huang said the farmer had bought chickens at an auction in Chiayi Nov. 14 and speculated that the outbreak was caused by these birds.

There are three other chickens farms around the affected one, but the bureau said it had detected no abnormalities so far, although it added that safety can only be assured after a three-month observation period.

http://pandemicinformationnews...

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


Canada: Ontario nurses balk at receiving mandatory flu shots
Ontario nurses balk at receiving mandatory flu shots
TORONTO - The Ontario Nurses' Association is pushing back again mandatory influenza vaccinations for registered nurses.

In a letter to the Canadian Nurses Association this week, ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud demands that the organization retract its Nov. 29 position statement that all registered nurses get the flu shot unless they have a condition which would exempt them such as an allergy.



Vaccines available for flu season
Dec 08, 2012 3:40 AM PST

NEW YORK CITY (NBC) - Flu season progresses as millions of vaccines are still available and a high-grade strain of the virus is spreading across the country.

snip

Starting earlier than previous flu seasons, this year the H3N2 virus is a more severe grade of the flu.

The number of states reporting widespread flu activity doubled last week to eight, while states reporting regional flu activity also doubled.

Hospitalizations due to the flu are also higher than normal.

snip

"We've still got 20 million doses of influenza vaccine in refrigerators across the country, they can't prevent flu until they get into arms," said Dr. Schaffner.

http://www.walb.com/story/2029...

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


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