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News Reports for January 24, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 20:04:11 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!

India
• Border States on high alert after bird flu in Bhutan (Link)
• Punjab: Eight cases of Swine flu detected in Punjab (Link)
• Punjab: 2-year-old dies of swine flu in city (Chandigarh) (Link)

Indonesia
Bird Flu, Thousands of Chickens Died in Jambi (translated) (Link)

Mexico
• Mexico sees further bird flu outbreak (Link)

Norway
• Swine Flu Confirmed in Pigs in Norway (Link)

United States
• House reauthorizes Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (Link)

Yemen
• H1N1 virus concerns locals, hospitals reassure public (Link)

Research
• Science: Voluntary Pause on Avian Flu Transmission Research Should End in Some Countries (Link)
• Quail as a potential mixing vessel for the generation of new reassortant influenza A viruses (Link)
Bird flu research resumes - but not in U.S. (Link)
•  Work resumes on lethal flu strains: Study of lab-made viruses a 'public-health responsibility' (Link)
H5N1 virus: Transmission studies resume for avian flu (Link)
Bird Flu Studies, Halted Over Terrorism Fear, to Resume (Link)
• Flu Researchers Say: Let Us Get Back To Work Studying Risky Mutations (Link)

General
• GSK's Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine linked to risk in narcolepsy in children (Link)
• Swine flu kills three in Central Europe (Link)
• Flu Prevention at Home: Tips to Keep Your House Free of the Bug (Link)

Commentary
• Recombinomics: US Week 3 Pneumonia & Influenza Death Rate Spikes to 9.8% (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for January 24, 2013

News for January 23, 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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Science: Voluntary Pause on Avian Flu Transmission Research Should End in Some Countries
In a statement jointly published in Science and Nature this week, 40 influenza virus researchers announced that the voluntary pause on certain types of H5N1 avian influenza research should end in countries where the aims of this moratorium have been met and authorities have reached decisions about how best to conduct such work safely.

In 2012, two research teams published findings in Science and Nature about changes that could be introduced to the H5N1 influenza virus to make it transmissible between ferrets via respiratory droplets. The work could assist efforts to develop global influenza biosurveillance as well as drugs and vaccines to protect against this threat. The findings underscored the risk that a similarly transmissible virus might evolve naturally and cause a human pandemic. Concerns also emerged about the safety of such research, including the possibility that it could be used for harmful purposes.

In January of last year, influenza researchers from around the world announced a voluntary pause on any research involving H5N1 influenza viruses leading to the generation of viruses that are more transmissible in mammals. (Snip).

In the new letter, the original signatories of the voluntary moratorium now explain that the moratorium's aims have been met in some countries and are close to being met in others. H5N1 viruses continue to evolve in nature, and H5N1 virus transmission studies are essential for pandemic preparedness. Researchers who have approval from their governments and institutions to conduct this research under appropriate biosafety and biosecurity conditions, the authors write, have a public health responsibility to resume this important work.

"The greater risk is not doing research that could help us be better equipped to deal with a pandemic. We want the world to be better prepared than we currently are," said Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison during a 23 January teleconference. (Snip).

(Snip)

The authors of the letter caution, however, that scientists should not restart their work in countries where no decision has yet been reached on the conditions for this research, including the United States and U.S.-funded research conducted in other countries. Further, "scientists should never conduct this type of research without the appropriate facilities, oversight and all necessary approvals," they write. http://www.aaas.org/news/relea...

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

     


Bird flu research resumes - but not in U.S.
(Big Snip)

While the Nature study looked at how a bird flu virus could become airborne through mutations and re-assortment with other viruses, the Science study suggests mutations alone could do the trick. It would take between five and nine mutations for the H5N1 flu to become airborne, scientists said, which is a low range.

"It's so easily mutated, so the risk exists in nature already, and not doing the research is really putting us in danger," Kawaoka said at a press conference Wednesday.

Kawaoka cannot continue his research in Wisconsin, funded by the National Institutes of Health, pending further guidance from the United States. Fouchier also receives some NIH funding, but the rest is supported by the European Union and other organizations, so his group can continue studying avian flu using those non-U.S. resources.

At Fouchier's facilities in the Netherlands, employees who work on avian flu wear "moon suits" and there's always a barrier between them and the virus, Fouchier said. Workers are also vaccinated against avian flu, although it is hard to find a company to produce the vaccine; the last vaccination was a year ago.

Fouchier's group is not restarting experiments immediately, but probably within the next few weeks, he said. His group will attempt to nail down exactly how many mutations - and which - are sufficient to make the H5N1 avian flu virus airborne, and whether these particular mutations can also make other bird flu viruses airborne.

Avian flu strains from Indonesia and Vietnam has been studied in the context of mutations so far.  But, says Fouchier, "there are other genetic lineages of H5N1 in Egypt, in China, for instance, that we would like to test whether also, in these countries, viruses may emerge with an airborne transmission phenotype." http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/...

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

     


[ Parent ]
Border States on high alert after bird flu in Bhutan
The Centre on Wednesday sounded 'high alert' in border States against avian influenza (Snip).

Thousands of birds have been culled in Bhutan after the outbreak, which is yet to be controlled. (Snip).

West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have been warned to observe strict surveillance along their border with Bhutan to ensure that no poultry is smuggled or imported from across the border. Veterinary officers have been asked to do special surveillance of the live poultry markets in the border areas.

People in these States have huge poultry farms in their backyard threatening huge populations of the birds in the event of an outbreak of the influenza. (Snip). http://www.thehindu.com/news/s...
 

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

     


India: Eight cases of Swine flu detected in Punjab
Ludhiana: The number of cases of Swine Flu is increasing in Punjab. On Tuesday alone, eight cases were detected in hospitals in Punjab. This has increased the tally to an alarming 34.

(Snip)

In January alone, 43 case has been detected nation wide. This rise in number has given grave concern to health department. http://daily.bhaskar.com/artic...

(Note: "alarming 24" and "grave concern" over a total of 43 cases so far in January? I want to ask them, are you sure you aren't worried about it being something other than "swine flu"? Seems a little bit of an over reaction to a relatively small number of swine flu cases considering the population of that area. JMO)

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

     


India: 2-year-old dies of swine flu in city (Chandigarh)
Another swine flu death was reported in the city on Wednesday. A two-year-old resident of Manimajra died at PGI. (Snip) another person (Snip) tested positive for the disease. http://www.indianexpress.com/n...

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

     


[ Parent ]
Swine Flu Confirmed in Pigs in Norway
NORWAY - The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has confirmed influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 virus (swine flu virus) in samples taken from pigs (Snip) at Gudbrandsdalen and Rogaland.

(Snip) the disease was expected after farm workers had a flu-like illness just before the pigs were sick.

It is thought the pigs became infected due to contact with ill farm workers. http://www.thepigsite.com/swin...

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

     


Quail as a potential mixing vessel for the generation of new reassortant influenza A viruses
Hat tip to mojo for sending this to me.

Abstract

Quail has been proposed as one of the intermediate hosts supporting the generation of newly reassortant influenza A viruses (IAVs) with the potential to infect humans. To evaluate the role of quail as an intermediate host of IAVs, co-infections of quail with swine-origin pandemic H1N1 2009 (pH1N1) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) duck H3N2 (dkH3N2) viruses (n=10) or endemic Thai swine H1N1 (swH1N1) and dkH3N2 viruses (n=10) were conducted. Three additional groups of five quail were each inoculated with pH1N1, swH1N1 and dkH3N2 as control groups to verify that each virus can infect quail. Our result showed that co-infected quail shed higher viral titers from the respiratory tract than single virus infected quail. This study confirmed that reassortant viruses could be readily generated in the respiratory tract of quail from both the pH1N1/dkH3N2 co-infected group (100% of quail generating reassortant viruses) and the swH1N1/dkH3N2 (33% of quail generating reassortant viruses) co-infected group without discernible clinical signs. Continued: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...
 

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

     


US: House reauthorizes Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act
The US House of Representatives yesterday passed reauthorization of the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act on a 395- 29 vote, sending the bill to the Senate. The bill is similar to one the House passed last month and reauthorizes several federal programs designed to counter biological, chemical, and nuclear threats to the country, including pandemics and bioterror attacks.

(Snip)

Given the urgent need to reauthorize our nation's most critical biodefense and preparedness programs, I am hopeful this bipartisan legislation can be quickly passed by the Senate.

Continued with more info 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

     


GSK's Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine linked to risk in narcolepsy in children
Bird-flu vaccine linked to rise in narcolepsy among children. Rise in narcolepsy cases among European youngsters immunised with British-made H1N1 vaccine prompts probe into drug's role. (Note: Narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder.)

Swine flu kills three in Central Europe
BUCHAREST: Three people have died in Romania and Macedonia after being infected with the H1N1 influenza strain (Snip).

"Two people have died from the H1N1 flu," Romania's state secretary of health, Alexandru Rafila, announced on private TV (Snip). The victims were a 55-year old woman and a 61-year old man. "But we cannot in any way talk about a flu outbreak," he said.

In a separate announcement, Macedonian authorities said a 62-year old man had died after falling ill with the virus last week. (Snip) since Monday, 14 people have been infected with swine flu in Macedonia. Continued: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Ne...

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

     


Yemen: H1N1 virus concerns locals, hospitals reassure public
SANA'A, Jan. 23 - Following five confirmed deaths in Sana'a in December and four recent deaths in Taiz as a result of the H1N1 virus, an administrator at a local hospital said outbreaks of swine flu, as the virus is commonly known, are not as dangerous as public perception would lead.

Dr. Salem Sameer No'man, the financial administration manager at the Yemen German Hospital, said the majority of those who die from the H1N1 virus are patients who already have compromised immune systems.  He says the public can protect itself by going to pharmacies where vaccinations against the virus are readily available.

Dr. Nassr Al-Qadasi, the head of Al-Jamhouri Hospital in Sana'a, blames drug companies who produce the vaccines for exaggerating the dangers of the virus.  

(Snip)

According to Al-Qadasi, five patients entered Al-Jamhouri with flu like symptoms last week, but only one, who is currently recovering, was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.  

Despite reassurance from doctors and officials from Ministry of Health and Population, who told the Yemen Times in December that necessary precautions have been taken to deal with the virus, many locals still fear infection.

Ali Qaed, an engineer in Sana'a, said, "The principal reason behind the spread of this virus in Yemen is deteriorated health facilities."

Esam Zahra, an employee at Yemen Radio and Television Corporation, said he heard about H1N1 on local and foreign TV channels, but doesn't believe the Ministry of Health has taken responsibility to launch educational programs about the danger of the virus. Continued: http://www.yementimes.com/en/1...

(Note: 5 Patients entered the hospital with flu symptoms but only one tested positive and that's the one who is recovering. The other 4 died. I hope they are also testing for the new coronavirus (SARS), which has recently been found in patients in Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.)

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

     


Mexico sees further bird flu outbreak
I can only post the link to this article because it is copyright protected.

http://www.globalmeatnews.com/...

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

     


US Week 3 Pneumonia & Influenza Death Rate Spikes to 9.8%
Recombinomics Commentary

Tomorrow's week 3 CDC FluView will cite a Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) death date of 9.8% due to 1373 P&I deaths (out of 13,973 deaths in the largest 122 cities in the United States).  As seen in the P&I graph ( http://www.recombinomics.com/N... ) for the period between 2002-2006, the 9.8% is the highest since late 2003 when the rate briefly topped 10%.

In week 2 of this season the rate rose to 8.3% from 7.3% in week 1, raising concerns that week 4 will have a rate higher than seen in the above graph.

The 2003-04 season was due to the emergence of an H3N2 strain (Fujian/411/2002) which produced a large number of deaths in those over 65, as well as a high number of pediatric deaths.  (Snip) Tomorrow's FluView will cite 8 more (pediatric) deaths to bring the official total to 37 (Snip).  However, additional cases not in the week 3 total indicate over 50 pediatric deaths have been reported this season.  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

     


Bird Flu, Thousands of Chickens Died in Jambi
January 24, 2013
http://www.antaranews.com/beri...
Jambi, Indonesia: The H5N1 bird flu virus is rapidly evolving in Batanghari, Jambi and has caused the deaths of thousands of chickens owned by residents in the area.  Observation in the field on Thursday showed outbreaks of bird flu virus were originally found in the Durian Luncuk, then spread to other villages.  Currently, the virus is again attacking residents' poultry in the Village Rengas Condong, District Muarabulian.  The chicken deaths from bird flu are positive.  A resident of the Village Rengas Condong, Agus said that in recent days there were a lot of citizens' dead birds, and citizens are also very worried since the virus can be transmitted to humans.

"Within two days many of my neighbors poultry died suddenly," said Agus.

Residents with dead poultry have been asked not to hold the birds and to immediately report to the relevant agency.  Chief District Veterinary Office Batanghari Elly Ismail said officers had gone down to the field and taken samples of residents' dead chickens, and the chickens turned out positive for bird flu.

"Once our officers took samples of dead chickens, they were sure the residents' chickens had the bird flu disease," he said.

After receiving reports from residents, they went down to the site to take samples of dead chickens in order to ascertain whether the dead chickens tested positive for bird flu or other diseases.  To the owners of the chickens, they were asked to bury or burn dead chickens, so that the chickens do not spread to others, including humans.  To cope with outbreaks of bird flu in the village Rengas Condong, they will do the spraying on chicken coosp owned by local residents in order not to spread everywhere.

He admitted that the current outbreak of bird flu has swept Batanghari, including the District Bathin XXIV, Tembesi, Bajubang, and the last in the village Pemayung Rengas Lean Bulian Muara District.  Efforts to tackle bird flu was done in collaboration with the Department of Animal Husbandry Jambi, because of budget constraints, particularly in the procurement of drugs for spraying the cage.

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


Work resumes on lethal flu strains: Study of lab-made viruses a 'public-health responsibility'.
http://www.nature.com/news/wor...

Declan Butler
23 January 2013

A moratorium on research that modifies the potential virulence of avian influenza virus has now been lifted.
JAMES CAVALLINI/SPL

Note: This article is best read in it's entirety. I really hated to leave out parts.


H5N1 virus: Transmission studies resume for avian flu
http://www.nature.com/nature/j...

Text of letter by:
Ron A. M. Fouchier, Adolfo García-Sastre, Yoshihiro Kawaoka & 37 co-authors
AffiliationsCorresponding author
Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature11858
Published online 23 January 2013

In January 2012, influenza virus researchers from around the world announced a voluntary pause of 60 days on any research involving highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses leading to the generation of viruses that are more transmissible in mammals1. We declared a pause to this important research to provide time to explain the public-health benefits of this work, to describe the measures in place to minimize possible risks, and to enable organizations and governments around the world to review their policies (for example, on biosafety, biosecurity, oversight and communication) regarding these experiments.

During the past year, the benefits of this important research have been explained clearly in publications2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and meetings8, 9, 10. Measures to mitigate the possible risks of the work have been detailed11, 12, 13. The World Health Organization has released recommendations on laboratory biosafety for those conducting this research14, and relevant authorities in several countries have reviewed the biosafety, biosecurity and funding conditions under which further research would be conducted on the laboratory-modified H5N1 viruses10, 15, 16, 17. Thus, acknowledging that the aims of the voluntary moratorium have been met in some countries and are close to being met in others, we declare an end to the voluntary moratorium on avian-flu transmission studies.

[letter continues at link]


[ Parent ]
Bird Flu Studies, Halted Over Terrorism Fear, to Resume
http://www.voanews.com/content...
http://www.voanews.com/content...

Jessica Berman
January 23, 2013

[snip]

Japanese virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Tokyo told reporters he and 40 other signatories to a bird-flu research moratorium last year plan to resume their work to learn more about the H5N1 avian influenza virus, with the goal of preventing a potentially lethal human pandemic.

"Therefore the greater risk is not doing research that could help us be better equipped to deal with a pandemic," he said.

[snip]  

"We have now put these mutations in the context of a virus from Indonesia and Dr. Kawaoka has done in the context of a virus from Vietnam. But there are other genetic lineages of H5N1 in Egypt and China, for instance, that we would like to test whether these viruses will emerge," he said.

Fouchier says the work will also help scientists develop vaccines against H5N1. Besides the Netherlands, he says, China is expected to begin further research with H5N1 in the next few weeks."
[snip]


[ Parent ]
Flu Researchers Say: Let Us Get Back To Work Studying Risky Mutations
http://www.popsci.com/science/...

Virologists are ending their worldwide bird-flu research hiatus, but they need approval from U.S. funding agencies.

By Rebecca BoylePosted 01.23.2013 at 2:30 pm3 Comments

One year after voluntarily pausing their work on airborne bird flu, an international group of flu researchers wants to get back to it, promising safeguards that will protect lab workers and the public. The benefits of studying how avian flu can mutate to infect humans outweigh the risks, which the researchers say are minimal anyway. Now it's a matter of getting government funding agencies to restore funding.
"We know that in nature, H5N1 viruses in birds are becoming more like viruses that affect mammals," said Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, co-signer of a new letter declaring an end to the research moratorium. He is also lead author of a paper examining genetic changes that can make the flu airborne. "The greater risk is not doing research that could help us to be better equipped to deal with a pandemic."

The worldwide moratorium stemmed from a pair of papers examining genetic mutations that could make the bird flu easily transmissible among ferrets, the best animal model for how humans respond to flu. Scientists and government officials were worried the mutated virus could escape from the lab bench, infecting lab workers and the public and causing a pandemic. Biosecurity experts also feared the recipes for the potent, contagious flu could fall into the wrong hands. But scientists have addressed safety concerns and need to resume their work, the letter says. It is signed by 40 people from nine countries.

Resuming the research will help virologists understand how the flu adapts, and how scientists might have to fight it if it mutates to infect humans, said Benjamin tenOever, professor of microbiology at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

[continued at link]


[ Parent ]
Flu Prevention at Home: Tips to Keep Your House Free of the Bug
http://realestate.aol.com/blog...

By HouseLogic   | Posted Jan 24th 2013 10:00AM

By Lisa Kaplan Gordon
[snip]when I heard that Heloise was speaking,[snip] I grabbed the chance to contact her and ask how to make my home flu-free.

Hand-washing is key, says the Texan columnist and adviser on all things domestic; and vigorous hand rubbing is more important than water temperature or type of soap. Also, place paper towels or napkins at the sink that you can use and toss, don't use hand towels that just absorb and pass along germs.

More Anti-Flu Tips:

• Line trashcans with plastic bags from the grocery so you can throw away used tissues without touching them.

• Clean door handles and faucets with inexpensive rubbing alcohol -- 70% or 90% -- rather than commercial anti-bacterial wipes.

• Don't forget to sanitize TV remote controls, especially if a sick person has touched them.

• Crack a window or door to let in fresh air, rather than just breathing the same stale, germy air.

• Wash sheets on sickbeds at least twice a week in the hottest water that they can stand and add a splash of chlorine bleach.

After we chatted about the flu, Heloise shared some remodeling advice -- she's all about advice -- on how to approach DIY projects.

Her top hint: Always assume a DIY project will take longer and require more skills than it looks on television. Then sit down with the directions a day or two before you begin. That way you'll know what tools and skills you need before you're knee-deep in nuts and bolts.
[snip]


Please post new news stories ...
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