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News Reports for January 27, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 19:29:51 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!

Cambodia
• Two Cambodians die from bird flu: WHO (Link)

Mexico
• ProMED: Avian influenza: Mexico (JA) high path H7N3 susp, poultry, RFI (Link)

Uganda
• ProMED: Undiagnosed fatalities - Uganda: (MD), RFI (Link)

United States
• Flu season rolls on, with some declines (Link)
• CDC: Elderly have two types of flu shot (Link)
• Risk To All Ages: Roughly 100 Kids Die Of The Flu Each Year (Link)
• Flu Activity Up and Down, Still Epidemic (Link)
• CA:  9-year-old girl who died from flu was healthy (Link)

Research
• Swine flu pandemic infected at least one in five Indians: Study (Link)
• CIDRAP: Study puts global 2009 pandemic H1N1 infection rate at 24% (Link)
• The Bird Flu Experiments (Link)

General
• ProMED: Influenza (10): European region update (Link)
• Got the flu? Stay home from work (Link)
• Why Google Flu Trends Will Not Replace the CDC Anytime Soon (Link)

Commentary
• Recombinomics: Reporting Delays In US Pediatric Flu Deaths (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for January 27, 2013

News for January 26, 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 January 16, 2013
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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Two Cambodians die from bird flu: WHO
Two Cambodians have died from bird flu (Snip), the World Health Organization said Friday.

Tests on the victims, a 15-year-old girl and a 35-year-old man who died earlier this week, confirmed they had contracted the H5N1 strain of avian influenza (Snip).

An eight-month-old boy admitted to hospital in Phnom Penh on January 9 was also infected with H5N1 but later recovered (Snip).

There was evidence of infections among poultry in the villages of the two who died and the pair "prepared sick chicken for food prior to becoming sick", (Snip).

Cambodia has recorded 24 cases of H5N1 since 2003 with all but three of the victims dying. Continued: http://www.terradaily.com/repo...  

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

     


India: Swine flu pandemic infected at least one in five Indians: Study
LONDON: The 2009 global H5N1 swine flu pandemic - the first in over 41 years that swept throughout the globe in record time -- infected at least one in five Indians with the highest rates of infection being among children.

A joint Imperial College, London, and the World Health Organization global study released on Saturday found that 47% of those aged five to 19 showed signs of having caught the deadly influenza virus in India.

Older people were affected less, with only 11% of people aged 65 or above becoming infected.

The study analyzed data from 19 countries, including India, UK, US and China, to assess the global impact of the 2009 pandemic.

It collated results from over two dozen research studies involving more than 90,000 blood samples collected before, during and after the pandemic and showed that the virus that continues to infect and kill Indians now affected 20-27% people studied during the first year of the pandemic.

The study was published in "Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses" journal on January 26.

Imperial College's Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said, "This study is the result of a combined effort by more than 27 research groups worldwide, who all shared their data with us to help improve our understanding of the impact the pandemic had globally.'' She said the samples were tested for antibodies produced in response to the specific flu strain that caused the pandemic.

While this study did not set out to look at mortality, the authors also used previously published estimates of pandemic influenza mortality together with mortality estimates that are still in progress to estimate the proportion of people infected who died from the pandemic virus.

Based on an estimate of approximately 200,000 deaths, they suggest that the case fatality ratio was less than 0.02%.

The study said multiple exposures to previously circulating influenza viruses may have given older people some protection against the strain.

Blood samples from before the pandemic showed that 14% people aged 65 or above had antibodies that reacted to the 2009 strain. Continued: http://timesofindia.indiatimes...

(Note: This is bad enough but it's a really scary thought to imagine even 20% percent of the world's population infected with H5N1. The number of deaths would be so much greater. The number of people with antibodies from previous strains of flu would be almost non-existent. H5N1 continues to evolve without any sign of dying out and the CFR hasn't shown any sign of decreasing. I think we dodged a bullet in 2009 but we may not be so lucky next time..... and history has proven there will be a next time. JMO)

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

     


Reporting Delays In US Pediatric Flu Deaths
Recombinomics Commentary

Eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 3. Two were associated with influenza A viruses for which the subtype was not determined and occurred during week 1 (week ending January 5, 2013), and six were associated with influenza B viruses and occurred during weeks 43, 46, 50, 52, and 3 (weeks ending October 27, November 17, December 15 and 29, 2012 and January 19, 2013).

A total of 37 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2012-2013 season from New York City [1] and 18 states (Arkansas [1], Colorado [4], Florida [4], Indiana [1], Kansas [1], Maine [1], Massachusetts [1], Michigan [4], Minnesota [1], Nebraska [1], New Jersey [2], New York [3], Ohio [1], South Carolina [1], Tennessee [1], Texas [7], Washington [1], and Wisconsin [1]).

The graph ( http://www.recombinomics.com/N... ) and descriptions are from the week 3 CDC FluView which cited 8 additional cases to raise the 2012-03 season total to 37 (and the total of 34 reported for the entire 2011-12 season).  However, as noted most of the 8 cases were from 2012 and 6 of the 8 were associated with influenza B, indicated that the wave of pediatric deaths linked to the appearance of influenza A (largely H3N2) has not been reflected in the week 3 totals.  Four of the eight added in the current report had been reported in Colorado weekly reports in week 50 and week 2.  The delay in reporting the state results in the national tally increases the delays in the state lab reports.

Continued with much more: 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

     


ProMED: Influenza (10): European region update
The patterns of influenza activity remain diverse across the WHO European Region. Consultation rates for influenza-like illness (ILI) and/or acute respiratory infection (ARI) are increasing in the majority of countries in the Region, including eastern Europe, but have started to decrease in northern countries.

Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and type B viruses are circulating in the Region, but the relative proportion of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in samples from sentinel and non-sentinel sources continues to increase. The number of reported hospitalizations due to severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) is increasing slowly in association with the increase in influenza activity in the eastern part of the Region

Virological surveillance for influenza
-------------------------------
The number of specimens testing positive for influenza in the Region was similar to the previous week, again mainly due to detections in the western part of the Region. Overall, a total of 3741 specimens tested positive for influenza in week 3/2013, which 2840 (76 percent) were influenza A.

For week 3/2013 the picture related to the proportion of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses versus A(H3N2) was similar to those in the 2 previous weeks, with A(H1N1)pdm09 dominating: of 1856 influenza A viruses subtyped, 1488 (80 percent) were A(H1N1)pdm09 while 368 (20 percent) were A(H3N2).

Since the beginning of the season (week 40/2012), 16 457 influenza viruses from sentinel and non-sentinel sources have been typed: 11 318 (69 percent) were influenza A and 5 139 (31 percent) influenza B. Of the influenza A viruses, 6698 were subtyped: 4552 (68 percent) as A(H1N1)pdm09 and 2146 (32 percent) as A(H3N2). In addition, since week 40/2012, the lineage for 788 influenza B viruses has been determined: 707 (90 percent) belonged to the B/Yamagata lineage and 81 (10 percent) to B/Victoria.

The circulation of influenza viruses remains variable across the Region. Influenza A (mainly A(H1N1)pdm09) continues to be reported as the dominant virus in an increasing number of countries in northern and central Europe, the Russian Federation and Turkey, while influenza B is reported as the dominant virus in some countries in the southern and western parts of the Region. Between these areas, co-circulation of A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and influenza B is reported.

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: Avian influenza: Mexico (JA) high path H7N3 susp, poultry, RFI
Ricardo Estrada de la Torre, president of the Poultry Farmers Association in Tepatitlan, Jalisco, said a new outbreak of avian influenza virus infection was detected in a farm in the municipality of Encarnacion de Diaz.

The source said that the return of the disease was due to a breach of the targeted immunization stages indicated by the National Health Service of the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture. The center involved carried out the 1st vaccination of birds, but ignored the 2nd vaccination and the corresponding biosafety monitoring, and as a result had the outbreak.

The Secretariat of Agriculture ordered a definitive quarantine of area, located about 44 kilometers [27 mi] from Aguascalientes.

It was precisely in Jalisco, producer of 55 percent of the eggs in Mexico, where the disease 1st appeared in June 2012. It was declared controlled at the end of October 2012, but forced to terminate more than 22 million chickens. (Snip)

(Snip)

---------
Communicated by:

ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

Jalisco, Mexico, may be found on the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map: http://healthmap.org/r/3yzA

While the article does not give us many details, we might presume this is H7N3 highly pathogenic avian influenza based upon its occurrence in the same region in late 2012. - Mod.TG  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: Study puts global 2009 pandemic H1N1 infection rate at 24%
In a new analysis of serologic studies from 19 countries, researchers estimate that about 24% of the population were infected with the 2009 H1N1 influenza (pH1N1) virus during the first year of the pandemic, a finding modestly higher than what US health officials estimated in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.

When the estimate is combined with recent estimates of the pandemic's death toll, it appears that about 1 in 5,000 (0.02%) of those infected with the virus died, says the report by a large team of researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other institutions. It was led by Maria D. Van Kerkhove, PhD, of the WHO and Imperial College London.

In accord with previous findings, the analysis showed that pH1N1 incidence varied widely by age-group, with the highest rates in children and the lowest in people 65 and older, who enjoyed a degree of protection by virtue of exposure to related H1N1 viruses much earlier in life. The study was published Jan 21 in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

The popular view of the 2009 pandemic is that it was fairly mild, even though it defied the typical seasonal flu age pattern by hitting younger adults more often than the elderly. But the authors note that its global impact is not well understood, largely because with the high volume of cases, the WHO recommended early on that testing focus on severe and fatal illnesses only. As a result, the numbers of cases and deaths reported to the WHO - fewer than 1 million and more than 18,449, respectively - are believed to be small fractions of the true numbers, they write.

They say their study is the first to assess pH1N1 serologic data by age-group from countries and regions around the world. 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 - Uganda: (MD), RFI
Mubende residents worried as strange disease kills 5
--------------------

Ministry of Health officials say blood samples have been taken for tests, and locals have now resorted to witchcraft for cure.

Five people have so far died while 30 others are admitted to different health centres as a result of a strange disease that has hit Mubende District.

According to residents, the disease that broke out a few weeks ago, causes heat around the chest and itching in the neck, and within a few hours, the patient starts vomiting and bleeding through the nose and the mouth. It also causes diarrhoea and a high fever.

Residents claim that the disease is as a result of witchcraft, since some of the patients have sought help from witch doctors and allegedly felt better.

The district health officer, Dr Wilson Mubiru, explained that the 1st patients registered with symptoms of the disease suspected they were suffering from Ebola.

"We have forwarded blood tests to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe. Although we are yet to get the results, we highly doubt whether this is Ebola," Dr Mubiru said.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Dr Asuman Lukwago, yesterday [24 Jan 2013]confirmed that cases of the strange illness had been reported to them, saying they were following it up.

(Snip)

-----------

Communicated by:

ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

According to the description of the clinical picture provided in the above newswire, there appears to be an outbreak of an as yet undiagnosed febrile illness with onset of hemorrhagic manifestations later in the course of the disease. Thusfar there are reports of 5 deaths out of 35 ill individuals for a case fatality rate (CFR) of 14.3 percent. 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

     


The Bird Flu Experiments
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01...

Published: January 26, 2013

Scientists who had stopped research during the past year on a newly created bird flu virus because of safety and terrorism concerns have announced plans to resume their work. We wish we could be as sanguine as they are that all the earlier concerns have been dealt with.

The concerns arose after two research groups, one in the Netherlands and one in Wisconsin, genetically altered a bird flu virus, which seldom infects humans but is lethal when it does. Five to nine genetic mutations in the Dutch experiment allowed the bird flu virus to spread by coughs and sneezes among ferrets, a laboratory model for what might happen in humans.

[snip]

Critics of the research had focused initially on whether terrorists might steal the virus or use the publications as a blueprint to make their own lethal strain. Later the emphasis shifted to safety - the risk that the virus might escape from a laboratory or that inept imitators might unwittingly unleash an epidemic.

The researchers claim that the benefits of the research - greater understanding of how flu viruses adapt to mammals and advance warning as to whether bird flu is close to becoming transmissible through the air - outweigh what they consider small risks in such experiments.

But as an editorial in Nature observed, "an independent risk-benefit analysis" of such research "is still lacking." The editorial warned, wisely, "The potential risks of the work demand exceptional precautions in any future research."


Got the flu? Stay home from work
http://www.usatoday.com/story/...

Kim Painter, Special for USA TODAY6a.m. EST January 26, 2013

[snip]

Yet Pavia and other experts say there are many good reasons to resist that pressure [ to go to work] during this winter's widespread flu epidemic

[snip]

You feel awful. The flu is not a cold. "The typical case of the flu starts suddenly, and you feel like you were hit by a truck," Pavia says.

[snip]

Most people with the flu are just too sick to work effectively, Pavia adds. "Many people will find they get more work done by going home and recovering than by going in and walking around like a zombie."

You may get better sooner. "For most infectious diseases, rest seems to speed recovery,

[snip]

You will protect others.

[snip]

But you don't need to touch or breathe on someone to infect them. Coughs and sneezes can spread viruses to people 6 feet away, Pavia says. Some viruses stay suspended in the air and travel even greater distances, he adds. Flu viruses also can survive on surfaces - such as keyboards, desks and doorknobs - for up to 24 hours and infect people who touch them and then touch their eyes, noses and mouths, says Neil Schachter, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York.

As a general rule, you will be most infectious when you first get sick and OK to return to work 24 hours after your fever breaks - a signal that your immune system has the upper hand, Schachter says. Some people with relatively mild cases will reach that milestone in a couple of days, but others will need several days, he says.

• It might be a matter of life and death. The flu is a passing illness for most of us, but a killer for a few.

[snip]

• It's also polite. Maybe you would never go to work with the flu, because, at the very least, it's rude.

[snip]


Flu season rolls on, with some declines
http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/25/...

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
updated 1:01 PM EST, Sat January 26, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
CDC: High levels of influenza-like illness were seen in 26 states
The flu vaccine is about 62% effective, but it's the best tool available
Vaccine manufacturers told CNN earlier this month that there is enough for those who want it

(CNN) -- Flu activity is still high, but is decreasing in many parts of the country, according to a report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention examining data from the week of January 13 to 19.

A total of 47 states reported "widespread" geographic influenza activity, down from 48 last week. "Widespread" means that more than 50% of geographic regions in a state -- counties, for example -- are reporting flu activity. This is a measure of the spread of the flu, not its severity.

High levels of influenza-like illness were seen in 26 states, representing a decrease from the 30 reported last week. Cases in the Southwest and Northwest were rising, but levels seem seem to be declining in the South, Southeast, New England and the Midwest.

The CDC counted eight pediatric deaths associated with influenza during the week. This brings the pediatric death toll to 37 for the season, which has already exceeded the count of 34 last season, a very mild flu season. The CDC does not count the number of flu-related adult deaths.

[continued at link]


CDC: Elderly have two types of flu shot
 http://www.upi.com/Health_News...

Published: Jan. 27, 2013 at 11:08 AM

ATLANTA, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- This year's flu season hit the elderly the hardest and U.S. health officials still recommend the flu vaccine for the elderly, who have two vaccines available.

Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said they continue to recommend influenza vaccination for those age 6 months or older, who have not yet been vaccinated as long as influenza viruses are circulating, including those 65 and older.

The elderly have two vaccines available to them: a regular trivalent inactivated vaccine -- the regular flu shot -- and the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine designed specifically for people age 65 and older.

"The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains a higher dose of antigen than regular influenza shots, and this might give older people a better immune response to the vaccine.

[snip]

Early anti-viral treatment -- within 48 hours of illness -- is recommended for all persons with suspected influenza with severe or progressive illness or those age 65 and older.

The decision to initiate anti-viral treatment should be made regardless of vaccination status, should not wait for laboratory confirmation of influenza and should not be dependent on rapid influenza diagnostic tests, the CDC said.


9-year-old girl who died from flu was healthy
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/sto...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

San Joaquin Valley, Calif. (KGO) -- A 9-year-old San Joaquin Valley girl who died of the flu on Thursday had no other health problems according to health officials in Kern County.

The young victim's name has not been released but authorities say the Bakersfield girl first got sick last Saturday.

Officials say she did not receive a flu shot this season.

A letter is being sent to parents in her school district advising them that surfaces at the school are being disinfected.


Why Google Flu Trends Will Not Replace the CDC Anytime Soon
http://www.nationaljournal.com...

Note: Interesting article comparing the CDC's and Google's methods of attaining data on flu.

The search giant's software has the uncanny ability to assess the severity of an influenza outbreak. But it's missing something essential: a human factor.

By Brian Resnick
Updated: January 25, 2013 | 4:04 p.m.
January 25, 2013 | 2:40 p.m.

[snip]

Is it fair to compare CDC's flu tracking with Google's Flu Trends?

There's pros and cons to both systems. Because [Google's] system is real-time, that gives us a peak of what might be coming a week early. The downside is, you can't track down those signals. If you see an increase in flu, you can't find out what it really is, at least not directly. Whereas in our ILI system, if we see an increase in people going to the doctors for flu-like illness and we look at our laboratory data and we don't see any increase in flu, we'll check with our colleagues who look at other respiratory viruses. And we don't see anything there, we can always call the state, and the state calls the physician, and say, "The next few people who come in that look like they have flu, can you take some samples and send them to our lab?" We can directly follow up on those and investigate things that we think are unusual.

There can be things in Google Flu Trends that cause signals that maybe aren't flu. They try very hard to filter out signals that could be caused purely by increased media interest. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2009, they probably had done too good of a job of that. They didn't pick up the signal in the beginning. They modified, and they had said all along, "We're going to do this, and if we learn more we're going to modify our algorithms." And they did, and it seems to be working, but they seem to be a little high. Changes in people's [search] behaviors can change that.

It's really hard, certainly for us at CDC, to understand what's causing that change. They're seeing pretty much record levels of influenza-like illness. And while ours are high, they're not at historical limits by any means. We just have a lot more flexibility and ability to track down and ask additional questions and find the answers to those questions.

[snip]


RISK TO ALL AGES: ROUGHLY 100 KIDS DIE OF THE FLU EACH YEAR
http://www.crescent-news.com/l...

MIKE STOBBEAP Medical Writer Published: January 27, 2013 8:00AM

Note: as you will notice this article is quoting a very old statistic on pediatric deaths for this flu season.

NEW YORK (AP) -- 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.

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.

"He was kind of a gentle giant" whose death has had a huge impact on his hometown of Flower Mound, said Phil Schwolert, the Texas boy's uncle.

Health officials only started tracking pediatric flu deaths 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 at link]


Flu Activity Up and Down, Still Epidemic
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/C...

Note: This article is a summary of flu trends across the US.

By TODD NEALE, MedPage Today Senior Staff Writer
Jan. 27, 2013

Although some areas of the U.S. may be seeing declines in influenza activity, others are seeing increases, and hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise, the CDC reported Friday.

In general, states in the South, Southeast, Midwest, and New England have waning activity and those in the Southwest and Northwest have increasing numbers of cases, the agency said in its report of flu activity for the week ending Jan. 19.

Numbers of hospitalizations and deaths lag behind reported flu cases, however, as it takes time for people to develop the complications from their infections. This past week there was another spike in the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza -- to 9.8 percent from 8.3 percent the week before. That figure remained above the epidemic threshold of 7.3 percent for the third straight week.

[much more at link]


Please post new news stories to...

News Reports for January 28, 2013

Thank you!

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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