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News Reports for January 16, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 14:05:11 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
• Flu spiking, spreading in Canada (Link)

India
• Punjab & Haryana: Swine flu death toll 4 (Link)
• Punjab: Two swine flu cases reported in Sangrur, Barnala (Link)

Nepal
Bird flu hits 4 places in Pokhara (Link)

United States
• Report: Preparedness steps hedge against busy flu seasons (Link)
• US: 100 kids die of flu each year (Link)
• Flu Epidemic Exposes U.S. Risk Management Flaws (Link)
• Why There Are Flu Vaccine Shortages (Link)
• A flu that just won't go away: From soccer to Mass, people try not to spread germs (Link)
• Mild flu season helped create current epidemic (Link)
• CA: Local flu rates double in a week (Link)
• IL: Flu Fight 2013 Closes Schools, Halting Kids From 'Sharing Secretions' (Link)
• IL: Sympathy for the snifflers (Link)
• MT: Confirmed flu cases jump to 244 in Flathead County (Link)
• NY: ProMED - Avian influenza (04): USA (NY) H5 LPAI, poultry, RFI for N-type (Link)
• NY: CIDRAP - H5 virus detected in duck at NYC live bird market (Link)
• NY: Youth club bans high-fives due to flu (Link)

Research
• NanoViricides moves ahead with anti-flu drug program shown to be superior to Tamiflu (Link)

General
• In Flu Season,Use a Mask. But Which One? (Link)
• Flu Activity and Norovirus on the Rise in Europe (Link)
• Flu Vaccine: The Best You Can Do Is Not the Best We Can Do (Link)
• 7 Flu-Fighting Strategies for Family Caregivers (Link)
• Flu In Poor Communities Shows Inequality Of 2013 Outbreak (Link)
•  Speaking of fighting the flu, where do germs lurk in your office? (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for January 16, 2013

News for January 15, 2013 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 December 17, 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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US: Local flu rates double in a week (California)
The number of confirmed flu cases surged last week in San Diego County, according to the latest tracking report released Tuesday afternoon.

The report tallied 311 cases last week, more than doubling the 142 cases reported the week before. The numbers are significantly higher than in the same weeks last year, though they are less than they were in 2009, when the H1N1 "swine flu" struck.

The spike comes amid an active flu season nationwide driven by a dominant strain of the influenza virus that experts warn is more likely to result in hospitalization.

The rapid acceleration in case volume, and a total of six flu-related deaths in the county, however, was not enough to worry Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "There is no cause for panic or overreacting," she said. "The flu season is here. What we are seeing is within normal reason for a flu season."

Wooten said two additional county residents with the flu died last week: a 49-year-old man on Jan. 7 and a 91-year-old woman on Thursday. In all, six people, four women and two men with an average age of 72, had the flu at the time of their deaths. A total of 14 people, by comparison, died during the 2011-2012 flu season.

Wooten noted that each person who died this year had an underlying medical condition in addition to the flu. Continued: http://www.utsandiego.com/news...

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

     


India: Swine flu death toll 4 (Punjab and Haryana)
Chandigarh, Jan 15: One more person succumbed to the swine flu here, pushing the death toll from the dieseas to four in the past one week in Punjab and Haryana (Snip).

More swine flu cases are pouring into various hospitals in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, they said.

A middle-aged man from Yamunanagar became the latest casualty of H1NI (Snip). A patient (Snip) from Kartarpur in Punjab died at the PGIMER here while another person, a resident of Karnal in Haryana, succumbed to the disease at another hospital in the city. A Chandigarh resident from Manimajra town also died (Snip).

As many as 20 patients with symptoms of H1NI influenza were undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the city. (Snip). http://www.greaterkashmir.com/...

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

     


India: Two swine flu cases reported in Sangrur, Barnala (Punjab)
SANGRUR/BARNALA: Two cases of swine flu has come to light in adjoining Sangrur and Barnala districts pointing towards the spread of the deadly disease in Punjab' Malwa region.

(Snip) Satish Kumar is admitted at Ludhiana's DMC hospital while Sukhdev Singh is admitted at a private hospital in Patiala. (Snip). "Satish Kumar of Sunam's Peelbad Mohalla with high fever had approached private hospital few days back and upon finding complications he was referred to DMC where he was found to be suffering from flu", said CMO.

(Snip) health authorities distributed the flu medicine to family members and 16 persons in the area, who had in contact of the patient to avoid the spread of the disease.

The 46-year-old Sukhdev Singh of village Kaleka in Barnala has been admitted at a private hospital at Patiala and a sample of the patient has been sent to PGI, Chandigarh. http://timesofindia.indiatimes...

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

     


ProMED: Avian influenza (04): USA (NY) H5 LPAI, poultry, RFI for N-type
On behalf of Veterinary Services, APHIS, US Department of Agriculture, I'd like to provide the following additional information on the 12 Jan 2013 posting "Avian influenza (03): USA (NY), H5N1 LPAI, poultry, RFI":

A Muscovy duck from a Brooklyn, NY, Live Bird Market tested positive by rRT-PCR specific for the hemagglutinin H5 gene and negative for the neuraminidase N1 gene of avian influenza virus.

Virus isolation is pending and we do not have an N-type at this time.

The amino acid sequencing at the hemagglutinin protein cleavage site is compatible with North American low pathogenic avian influenza.

The market underwent an immediate sell down, closure, and cleaning and disinfection (C&D). The C&D was completed on 11 Jan 2013.

Tracing and testing of the source flocks is underway.

Randall L Levings, DVM PhD
Scientific Advisor
Emergency Management and Diagnostics
VS, APHIS, USDA
USA
Randall.L.Levings@aphis.usda.gov
---------------------------------

We appreciate Dr Levings sharing with us a larger and more accurate accounting of the situation in the New York live bird market. We will be anxiously waiting for the N-type.

(Note: The above is a follow up to this article: Avian influenza (03): USA (NY) H5N1 LPAI, poultry, RFI 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: H5 virus detected in duck at NYC live bird market
Testing is under way to charachterize an H5 virus found in a Muscovy duck during suveillance at a Brooklyn, N.Y., live bird market (Snip) The questions arose after an earlier report from a poultry trade publication surfaced on FluTrackers and ProMED Mail.

It erroneously said the virus was a low-pathogenic H5N1 strain. However, Randall Levings, DVM, PhD, a scientific advisor with the Emergency Management and Diagnostics division of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wrote that the duck tested negative for the neuraminidase N1 gene of the avian influenza virus, that viral isolation is pending, and that the N-type hasn't yet been determined.

Amino acid sequencing suggests the virus is compatible with North American low-pathogenic avian influenza. 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

     


CIDRAP: Report - Preparedness steps hedge against busy flu seasons
Jan 15, 2013 (CIDRAP News) - Low demand for flu vaccine in previous years could limit the supply of vaccine, leaving the nation unprepared for a year when levels are higher, according to a new analysis of flu vaccine trends and policies by Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

The TFAH report, posted today on its Web site, cited numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which show that over the past two flu seasons fewer than half of Americans were vaccinated against flu. As of November 2012, this season's vaccine uptake was similar to the same period in 2011, about 36.5% for Americans ages 6 months and older, TFAH said, citing CDC estimates.

Jeffrey Levi, PhD, TFAH executive director, said in the report that flu is an annual threat that varies in its impact. "The problem is we let our guard down during mild seasons and then we aren't ready when a harder season hits," he said. "We need to maintain a steady defense and make annual flu vaccinations -- and the manufacture of sufficient supply -- a much higher priority every year."

Federal health officials have said the flu season started roughly a month earlier than usual and has been dominated by the H3N2 strain, which is known to cause more serious disease. High levels of flu and other viruses that circulate during the winter have placed a burden on hospital emergency departments and have led a few jurisdictions to declare public health emergencies.

Concerns about rising levels of the disease have prompted health officials in several states to renew their advice for the public to get immunized against flu, which has led to a few spot shortages of the vaccine.

Recent rigorous reviews of the flu vaccine have found that it is only about 60% effective in healthy adults, and an early CDC estimate for this season's vaccine suggests that it is 62% effective. However, health officials say until better vaccines are developed, immunization against flu with the current vaccines is still the best tool for preventing the disease.

The TFAH report, citing CDC findings for last flu season, points out that flu vaccination levels varied widely by state, with South Dakota, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Iowa as the top-ranking states for flu vaccine coverage. The five states that ranked the lowest were Florida, Montana, Alaska, Idaho, and Nevada.

TFAH's report also said this flu season shines a spotlight on other actions that could fill persistent gaps in preparedness and policy. It said Congress should reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) to better enable the public health system to respond to health threats and give federal officials resources to invest in the development of flu-related medications and technologies.

After months of work to craft a final bill that included common ground from both the House and Senate versions, the Senate did not vote on it in the final days of the 112th Congress, which means the new Congress must start the PAHPA reauthorization process all over again.

Among 12 other actions, TFAH urged policymakers to educate the public and at-risk groups about the importance of vaccination, invest in expanded domestic flu vaccine manufacturing capacity, support the development of a universal flu vaccine, expand triage lines to relieve some of the flu burden on hospitals, and improve disaster surge capacity so that hospitals and providers are better able to handle increased loads during events such as a busy flu season. 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

     


US: 100 kids die of flu each year
NEW YORK - How bad is this flu season, exactly? Look to the children.

Twenty flu-related deaths have been reported in kids so far this winter, one of the worst tolls this early in the year since the government started keeping track in 2004. (Note: Actually, there has been about 33 deaths.)

But while such a tally is tragic, that does not mean this year will turn out to be unusually bad. Roughly 100 children die in an average flu season, and it's not yet clear the nation will reach that total.

The deaths this year have included a 6-year-old girl in Maine, a 15-year Michigan student who loved robotics, and 6-foot-4 Texas high school senior Max Schwolert, who grew sick in Wisconsin while visiting his grandparents for the holidays. (Snip)

Health officials started tracking pediatric flu deaths only nine years ago, after media reports called attention to children's deaths. That was in 2003-04 when the primary flu germ was the same dangerous flu bug as the one dominating this year. It also was an earlier than normal flu season.

The government ultimately received reports of 153 flu-related deaths in children, from 40 states, and most of them had occurred by the beginning of January. But the reporting was scattershot. So in October 2004, the government started requiring all states to report flu-related deaths in kids. Continued: 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

     


NanoViricides moves ahead with anti-flu drug program shown to be superior to Tamiflu
NanoViricides provided Tuesday an update to its flu program, and said that both its oral anti-flu and related injectable drug have now shown "significantly superior" results to Tamiflu against an H1N1 strain of the flu that is the same type as the 2009 epidemic virus.

The previously reported animal study results were reiterated as the company also announced that a "highly optimized" floor plan for its cGMP production facility for its nanoviricide drugs has now been completed by its design team.

The company's cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) facility is being designed to produce sufficient quantities of the drugs needed for human clinical trials that will test various nanoviricide drug candidates as they advance into the FDA process further.

The development-stage company is developing its NanoViricides class of drugs against a number of viral diseases including H1N1 swine flu, H5N1 bird flu, seasonal influenza, HIV, oral and genital herpes, viral diseases of the eye, Dengue fever, and Ebola virus, among others.

It is first focused on advancing its FluCide drug candidates through the regulatory process, and has already designed the toxicology and safety pharmacology studies for the IND submission and the first-in-human clinical trials of its FluCide investigational anti-flu product.

"The need for an effective, broad-spectrum, anti-influenza drug cannot be overstated," said CEO Eugene Seymour. "The current 2012 influenza season is already considered to be an epidemic.

"The current vaccine did not work well even though the same strain of H3N2 that is causing serious cases, was included in the vaccine mix. Vaccine effectiveness is only around 60%.

"In the previous 2009 epidemic, the virus swept the world long before a vaccine could become available. The 2009 virus was a novel strain, even though it was a subtype of H1N1. Vaccines are highly specific (narrow-spectrum) because they elicit antibodies in the human host, and antibodies are by nature very specific to their target."

NanoViricides' injectable anti-flu drug, NV-INF-1, is intended for use in hospitalized patients with the flu, and the company has said it could receive an orphan drug classification for use in immuno-compromised patients.

It has also developed an oral anti flu drug candidate, NV-INF-2, which it has said may be the "first ever nanomedicine drug of any kind that is active when administered orally." The drug is being developed for out-patient flu cases, and may also be useful for influenza prophylaxis, as in use for the protection of health care workers. Continued:  http://www.proactiveinvestors....  

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

     


Flu Epidemic Exposes U.S. Risk Management Flaws
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bre...

Note: Keep in mind that the figure of 20 million deaths in the 1918 pandemic is by far the lowest estimate. Most of the time the estimated death toll given is 50 to 100 million deaths.

By Robert Cyran | Posted Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, at 2:41 PM ET

In a typical year influenza inflicts about $90 billion worth of economic damage and kills about 36,000 Americans - and this year's epidemic is shaping up to be worse. Yet Uncle Sam spends far more on homeland security than on flu prevention. Poor resource allocation can be a hard thing to cure.

The sprawling nature of the activity makes spending on domestic defense hard to unravel, but the proposed Department of Homeland Security budget for 2013 includes $33 billion to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks. This includes functions like border patrol, customs and the coast guard which are needed anyway. But $5.2 billion alone is direct spending for "domestic counter-terrorism." And the budget excludes the cost of the FBI and CIA as well as heavy military expenditure on overseas conflicts, some of which grew out of terrorist attacks or fears.

The government spends a lot less money preventing flu. The National Institutes of Health spent $272 million on influenza research in fiscal year 2011. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spend about $160 million a year on influenza planning and response. There is the occasional budgetary windfall: the last epidemic resulted in a one-time shot of $8 billion to spend on everything from vaccines to hospital supplies.

Even so, the balance is off. The flu is costly for society - a CDC study pegs the annual total economic damage at about $87 billion. Some other estimates give higher figures. And the annual death toll calculated by the CDC is more than 10 times the number of U.S. citizens killed since 2001 by "terrorist action" according to the U.S. State Department.

Moreover, the worst-case flu scenario is horrendous, even compared to a rogue nuclear attack that might kill millions. The Spanish flu in 1918 killed 20 million people by low estimates - at a time when the world's population was under 2 billion. The same probability of death now would kill nearer 70 million worldwide. Some known varieties of avian flu appear more infectious and dangerous than the 1918 strain and the world has become a more interconnected place, too.

[snip]


Nepal: Bird flu hits 4 places in Pokhara
BHARAT KOIRALA
2013-01-16

POKHARA: Bird flu (H5N1) has been confirmed at least four places in Pokhara, the sub-metropolitan city on Tuesday.

All the chicken, used materials in the farms of all four places have been destroyed during this evening after the Bird Flu confirmation.

Regional Director at the Western Regional Animal Health Directorate Dr. Bamsi Sharma said that the officials from the directorate culled over 2200 chickens, destroyed their wastes, grains and medicines from five sheds of all four Bird Flu hit farms.

All the culled chicken, destroyed grains, their waste and medicines have been buried and all confirmed sites have been put under surveillance.

Dr. Sharma informed that the farmers were asked not to run any poultry farms in Bird Flu hit sites for at least another two months.

According to Sharma, further decision of letting farms run or not would be made after two months.

http://www.thehimalayantimes.c...

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


In Flu Season,Use a Mask. But Which One?
http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes...

MEDICAL ISSUES January 16, 2013, 6:14 am3 Comments
By JUDITH GRAHAM

Note: This article also covers N95 masks and when they are needful. Most untrained people don't know how to fit and put the N95 masks on properly, thereby rendering them relatively useless.

[big snip]

But the scientific evidence about how influenza is transmitted is not as strong as experts would like, said Dr. Carolyn Bridges, associate director of adult immunization at the C.D.C. It is generally accepted that the flu virus is transmitted through direct contact - when someone who is ill touches his or her nose and then a glass that he or she hands to someone else, for instance - and through large droplets that go flying through the air when a person coughs or sneezes. What is not known is the extent to which tiny aerosol particles are implicated in transmission.

Evidence suggests that these tiny particles may play a more important part than previously suspected. For example, a November 2010 study in the journal PLoS One found that 81 percent of flu patients sent viral material through air expelled by coughs, and 65 percent of the virus consisted of small particles that can be inhaled and lodge deeper in the lungs than large droplets.

That is a relevant finding when it comes to masks, which cover much of the face below the eyes but not tightly, letting air in through gaps around the nose and mouth. As the C.D.C.'s advisory noted, "Facemasks help stop droplets from being spread by the person wearing them. They also keep splashes or sprays from reaching the mouth and nose of the person wearing them. They are not designed to protect against breathing in the very small particle aerosols that may contain viruses."

In other words, you will get some protection, but it is not clear how much. In most circumstances, "if you're caring for a family member with influenza, I think a surgical mask is perfectly adequate," said Dr. Carol McLay, an infection control consultant based in Lexington, Ky.

[big snip]


Youth club bans high-fives due to flu
http://msn.foxsports.com/foxso...

The flu epidemic has promoted a youth club to ban high-fives and fist bumps during games.

UPDATED JAN 15, 2013 2:29 PM ET    

Widespread concerns over this year's flu epidemic has reached new proportions after a New York City youth sports club took extreme measures by urging kids from giving high-fives and fist bumps during matches.

The Manhattan Soccer club reportedly sent an email on Monday warning parents that "the safest thing to do is touch elbows" during a team's post game lineup for club high-fives.
[snip]


Why There Are Flu Vaccine Shortages
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

The Huffington Post  |  By Katherine Bindley
Posted: 01/16/2013 8:13 am EST

[snip]
the flu vaccine takes months to create and involves technology that dates back to the 1940s. By the time it's known how much of the vaccine will be needed, the supply is already set and the producers can't just make more on demand. On top of that, Americans are somewhat divided on whether they think the flu vaccine is a good idea and have a tendency to not get vaccinated until they're spooked by reports of how severe the season is panning out.

According to a blog post released by Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there were 135 million doses of the flu vaccine produced for this season. So far, 128 million of those doses have been distributed. (That doesn't mean they've all been administered, though).

Hamburg noted that while temporary spot shortages are being experienced, people who still want to be vaccinated can visit Flu.gov and click on the "Flu Vaccine Finder" to see a list of locations in their area that might still have the vaccine.

[snip]

Since 2004, the CDC has maintained a stockpile of flu vaccines for children, in case a crisis situation arises, reports Slate. During the swine flu pandemic of 2009, vaccinations were handed out on an emergency basis. But, Slate notes, with spot shortages of the flu vaccine such as the ones being experienced this season, there is no system to redistribute vaccines that have already been shipped out to different locations.
[more]


Flu Activity and Norovirus on the Rise in Europe
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01...

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR
Published: January 15, 2013

Americans are not the only ones under siege by influenza. The flu is now widespread in at least 10 European countries, and a growing number are reporting an increase in cases.

At least 16 European countries are reporting increasing flu activity, with much of it in the northwestern part of the Continent, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm.

Norway appears to be hardest hit. So far it is the only nation on the Continent reporting "high intensity" flu transmission. As of this week, about a dozen other countries, including France, Germany and Ireland, were experiencing more moderate levels, up from four in the last week of 2012, the center said.

As in the United States, the flu arrived early in Europe. But experts there say that although activity is increasing, they do not expect the flu season overall to be much worse than normal.
[snip]


Flu Fight 2013 Closes Schools, Halting Kids From 'Sharing Secretions'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Posted: 01/15/2013 9:56 pm EST

Note: This article discusses research in the effectiveness of school closures in mitigating the effects of a flu epidemic.


Flu Vaccine: The Best You Can Do Is Not the Best We Can Do
http://www.newfluwiki2.com/pos...

Posted: 01/15/2013 7:18 pm

[Note: This article discusses recent research in the effectiveness of current flu vaccines.]

This year's precocious and somewhat ferocious flu season shows that our current vaccination approach is more feeble than we'd like to admit. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2012-2013 is shaping up to be a highly active flu season. The party started up a little earlier than usual (most commonly, the flu peaks in February) and last Friday the CDC announced that infection rates have officially reached epidemic levels.

About 80 percent of this year's flu infections are coming from an H3N2 influenza A virus, and 20 percent are coming from an influenza B virus. Our old friend H1N1 -- the pandemic 2009 "Swine Flu" -- and a second influenza B virus claim smaller bit roles.

The good news from the CDC is that antigen characterization -- a look at the nitty-gritty molecular makeup of the viruses -- shows that three of these viruses (H3N2, B/Yamagata, and H1N1) are well-matched in this year's vaccine. The second B virus, B/Victoria, isn't in there, but it's been active in recent flu seasons and was covered by annual flu vaccinations from the 2010-11, 2011-12 flu seasons.

The bad news is that according to new CDC research released on Friday, getting vaccinated is no guarantee that this year's angel of darkness will pass you by. The CDC's most recent study showed the vaccine to be 55 percent effective against this year's major player, H3N2, and 70 percent effective against influenza B; average the two, and you get 62 percent.
[continued]


The next story is the same. It posted twice because I made a double click.
The double click was involuntary and very fast. This happened with another day before yesterday, too. Something must have changed in the software.

[ Parent ]
Flu Vaccine: The Best You Can Do Is Not the Best We Can Do
http://www.newfluwiki2.com/pos...

Posted: 01/15/2013 7:18 pm

[Note: This article discusses recent research in the effectiveness of current flu vaccines.]

This year's precocious and somewhat ferocious flu season shows that our current vaccination approach is more feeble than we'd like to admit. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2012-2013 is shaping up to be a highly active flu season. The party started up a little earlier than usual (most commonly, the flu peaks in February) and last Friday the CDC announced that infection rates have officially reached epidemic levels.

About 80 percent of this year's flu infections are coming from an H3N2 influenza A virus, and 20 percent are coming from an influenza B virus. Our old friend H1N1 -- the pandemic 2009 "Swine Flu" -- and a second influenza B virus claim smaller bit roles.

The good news from the CDC is that antigen characterization -- a look at the nitty-gritty molecular makeup of the viruses -- shows that three of these viruses (H3N2, B/Yamagata, and H1N1) are well-matched in this year's vaccine. The second B virus, B/Victoria, isn't in there, but it's been active in recent flu seasons and was covered by annual flu vaccinations from the 2010-11, 2011-12 flu seasons.

The bad news is that according to new CDC research released on Friday, getting vaccinated is no guarantee that this year's angel of darkness will pass you by. The CDC's most recent study showed the vaccine to be 55 percent effective against this year's major player, H3N2, and 70 percent effective against influenza B; average the two, and you get 62 percent.
[continued]


Correct link:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

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

     


[ Parent ]
A flu that just won't go away: From soccer to Mass, people try not to spread germs
http://www.washingtontimes.com...

By Meredith Somers-The Washington Times Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A New York youth sports club is discouraging high fives for fear of spreading germs. Catholic churches in Rhode Island and Texas are telling congregants celebrating Mass not to shake hands or drink wine from a shared chalice. A Northern Virginia hospital system is advising visitors that they might be screened for flulike symptoms.

One of the deadliest and most severe flu seasons on record has spread to more than 90 percent of the nation. Along with aches and fevers, the problem is depleting vaccine supplies, putting increased pressure on hospital emergency rooms and shuttering businesses and schools, health officials say.

Forty-seven states - including Alaska, which is nearly four hours by plane from the lower 48 border - reported widespread flulike illness, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There's flu all over the country right now," said Dr. Joe Bresee, a medical epidemiologist from the influenza division of the CDC. "There's widespread disease in most states and high levels of disease in most states."


Mild flu season helped create current epidemic
http://www.northjersey.com/new...

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2013    
BY  BARBARA WILLIAMS

As patients complaining of flu-like symptoms continue to flood emergency rooms, a report released Tuesday said that mild flu seasons in the previous two years helped create the current epidemic.

A report by the Trust for America's Health said a number of actions by government, hospitals and private corporations could lessen the impact of the flu. Among them:

* All health care workers should be immunized.

* Investments need to be made in research for a universal flu vaccine that would replace the annual shot.

* Workers should be allowed to earn up to seven job-protected sick days annually to be used to recover from illnesses or care for family members.

Because the flu never really ramped up in the last two years, getting a flu vaccination stopped being a priority for many across the nation, according to the Trust for America's Health, a health advocacy organization.

Now that a virulent strain of flu is spreading, people are scrambling for flu shots.

"The flu is an annual threat," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust organization, based in Washington. "Some years, like this one, the threat is more severe than others. The problem is we let our guard down during mild seasons and then we aren't ready when a harder season hits.

"We need to maintain a steady defense and make annual flu vaccinations - and the manufacture of sufficient supply - a much higher priority every year," Levi said.
[continued]


Sympathy for the snifflers
http://www.chicagotribune.com/...

January 16, 2013

A crowded Chicago cafe. Customers sit elbow to elbow.

A man coughs.

I turn my head toward the hacker. So do several others. Our eyes aim for him like bullets.

Kill the germ spitter!

The man ignores our glares, returns to studying his laptop screen, and the rest of us resume reading, writing, chatting. Then he coughs again, a big gurgling rat-a-tat-tat this time, and half a dozen heads swivel in unison again, and though no one says a word, the chorus of condemnation is loud:

Read our looks, filthy beast. Get out!

[snip]

"I was raised with the idea that you came into work no matter what," he says. "If that meant crawling to work with your severed foot in your backpack, you did it. But things have changed. When I woke up sick Friday, I knew that I would get the serious stink-eye from my co-workers if I showed up. So I didn't. And when I returned three-quarters healthy on Monday, I was interrogated about whether I had gotten the flu shot. I hadn't, for some stupid reason, and was made to feel like I had betrayed the herd, that I was a traitor to my species."

[snip]


7 Flu-Fighting Strategies for Family Caregivers
http://blog.aarp.org/2013/01/1...

Posted on 01/16/2013 by Sally Abrahms

[snip]
Here's what you need to know (thank you Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

1. Besides getting the flu vaccine, wash your hands and the care recipient's hands often (after sneezing, handling a tissue, being in close contact with others) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Act like Lady Macbeth, the compulsive hand washer. No soap? Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; carry a spare in your bag and car.

2. You're not necessarily home free if you've had a flu shot. This year's flu vaccine is 62 percent effective. You can get the shot and still come down with the flu. Still, it's a critical first line of defense.

3. If you're the cougher or sneezer, do it into a tissue (not your hand, and if so wash immediately) and throw it out immediately.

4. Take a hiatus from handshaking and sharing drinks or food. The flu outbreak is so worrisome that the Catholic Archdiocese has asked priests not to share communion wine or touch congregants' hands or tongue and for worshippers not to shake hands.

5. If you have the flu or a bad cold, wear a drug store or doctor's office mask and don't go out until 24 hours after the fever is gone.

6. If you're caring for someone sick, ditto.
Keep those hand wipes handy. Whip them out wherever someone with a cold, cough or flu has been - and use them on car door handles, banisters, kitchen counters, house or office doorknobs, or exercise equipment. Also use them at stores that require communal pens for credit card payments, or other public places.

7. If your parent, spouse or friend is in a health care facility, ask what they're doing to contain the virus.Have any topics you'd like me to cover?


Confirmed flu cases jump to 244 in Flathead County
http://missoulian.com/news/sta...

By TRISTAN SCOTT of the Missoulian(0) Comments
Related Video

CDC: 'A Lot of Influenza Activity Out There

HELENA - Flu outbreaks are spreading across Montana, with one death reported and 57 people hospitalized so far, a state health official said Friday. Read more

KALISPELL - Cases of the flu rose dramatically last week in Flathead County, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 244 for this flu season, according to Flathead City-County Health Department public health officer Joe Russell.

Last week's spike added 92 confirmed cases to the county's total, whereas the previous two weeks saw 52 and 56 confirmed cases, respectively. There are many more suspected cases in the county and statewide, Russell said Tuesday.

"We are in the fourth week of pretty sustained confirmed cases, and last week was a significant jump," he said. "That doesn't reflect the actual number of flu cases, only those confirmed by clinicians' rapid testing and lab tests. There is definitely more flu out in the community than is being reported."

[snip]


Flu In Poor Communities Shows Inequality Of 2013 Outbreak
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Posted: 01/14/2013 6:47 pm EST

The 1918 flu killed more poor people than rich. The same affinity for inequity may be raising the 2013 flu's toll -- on the rich and poor alike. Boston health officials have reported that low-income communities are bearing the brunt of the city's outbreak.

"What you see with flu activity is the same as what we see with health outcomes in general. [snip]But as experts warn, such a disparity may not only be an issue of social justice. Elevated rates of the flu in poor communities may threaten the health of people who live in wealthier communities as well.

"We've found that getting lower-income neighborhoods covered with vaccines benefits higher-income neighborhoods," said Bruce Lee, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pittsburgh and lead researcher on a 2011 study of access to flu vaccines.

Based on computer simulations of 7 million "virtual people" in the Washington metropolitan area, Lee's team found the fewest infections at an epidemic's peak resulted when flu shots were allocated to the poorest counties. Delaying vaccinations in the poorest counties also increased infections among the wealthiest.[snip]Unfortunately, vaccine distribution still tends to go in the opposite direction.[snip]

Poor families, on average, are larger and live in more densely packed neighborhoods, Lee said, suggesting this gives the virus easy opportunities to spread. Poor communities may also have less access to health information, including a convincing rationale for getting a flu shot. And even for those motivated to get a shot, there are often additional roadblocks. People living paycheck to paycheck may not have the money or insurance to cover a vaccine, for example. They may also lack the luxury of missing work to get a flu shot, or to rest through a bout with the bug. In addition to the germs shared with colleagues if they arrive at work coughing or sneezing, the commute itself can mean broad exposures, given their greater reliance on public transit and fewer options for working from home.

[snip]


Speaking of fighting the flu, where do germs lurk in your office?
http://www.ydr.com/business/ci...

I suggest clicking the link and go to the full article. There are a lot of good tips on keeping transmission of flu viruses down in the workplace.


Flu spiking, spreading in Canada
OTTAWA, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Government health officials says influenza activity spiked in Canada during the last two weeks of 2012, with increases reported in all indicators.

(Snip) a total of 4,632 laboratory detections of influenza were reported, of which 97.7 percent were for influenza A viruses, predominantly A(H3N2).

There were 127 new influenza outbreaks -- 87 in long-term care facilities, nine in hospitals, one in a school and 30 in other facilities or communities. In addition, 114 new pediatric influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported, and 176 hospitalizations including 15 deaths among adults older than age 20 (Snip).

(Snip)

In week 51 of 2012, two regions in Ontario reported widespread activity, while in week 52 -- the latest data available -- regions in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland reported widespread activity, and 17 regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island reported localized activity. http://www.upi.com/Health_News...



This was posted by me


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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