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News Reports for January 30, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 19:31:00 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
• CIDRAP: Cambodia, WHO confirm country's 2 latest H5N1 deaths (Link)
Bird flu spreads in Cambodia (Link)

India
• Gujarat: Suspected cases of swine flu in Ahmedabad (Link)

Indonesia
• Five Toddlers Probable Bird Flu Infection (translated) (Link)

Taiwan
• Filmmaker files suit over bird flu (Link)

United States
• CDC: More adults need vaccines, and not just for the flu (Link)
• FDA warns company over unapproved flu remedy  (Link)
• Flu outbreak 2013: A new stomach virus more potent, harder to kill (Link)
• MN: Minnesota sets up online tool to tackle flu vaccine shortages (CIDRAP) (Link)

Research
• Han Chinese genes boost influenza peril, study says (Link)

General
• CIDRAP: FAO warns of inadequate global surveillance and control of avian flu (Link)
• Global warming linked to worse flu seasons  (Link)
• Tracking the flu with technology and Twitter  (Link)
• Decoding Over-The-Counter Flu Meds (Link)
• Chances are good the bug that bit you isn't the flu (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for January 30, 2013

News for January 29, 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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Taiwan: Filmmaker files suit over bird flu
Citizen journalist and documentary filmmaker Kevin Lee  yesterday morning filed a lawsuit against eight government officials, including Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji, over the alleged cover-up of three recent avian flu outbreaks.

Lee's lawsuit, filed at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, accuses incumbent and former council officials of malfeasance and document forgery in connection with three avian flu outbreaks last month and this month for reporting the highly pathogenic cases to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as "of a low pathogenic level."

The other seven officials are COA Deputy Minister Wang Cheng-teng, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Huang Kwo-ching, former Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine director Hsu Tien-lai, former COA minister Chen Wu-hsiung, Animal Health Research Institute Director General Tsai Hsiang-jung, and division heads Yang Wen yuan and Chiu Chui-chang .

Lee said two outbreaks occurred in Magong, Penghu, on Dec. 21 and Jan. 4, and a third in Zaociao Township, Miaoli County, on Jan. 18.

Lee has spent more than six years investigating avian influenza in Taiwan and first reported on suspected cover-ups of avian flu outbreaks in his documentary titled A Secret That Can't Be Exposed, which sparked a controversy last year and led to Chen Wu-hsiung's resignation. Continued: http://www.taipeitimes.com/New...  

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

     


CIDRAP: Cambodia, WHO confirm country's 2 latest H5N1 deaths
In a joint news release today, Cambodia's Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization's (WHO's) Western Pacific Region Office confirmed two deaths in girls from H5N1 avian flu that were reported yesterday in the media. In the past week Cambodia has confirmed five H5N1 cases, four of them fatal. (Snip)

The first of the two new cases involved a 17-month-old girl from Prey Nheat village in Kampong Speu province in southwestern Cambodia. She developed a fever, cough, runny nose, and vomiting on Jan 13 and was initially treated by local private practitioners. After her condition worsened and she became very sleepy and had difficulty breathing, she was admitted to (Snip) Hospital in Phnom Penh. "Unfortunately, despite intensive medical care," (Snip) she died yesterday.

The second case involved a 9-year-old girl from Thmei village in Kampot province, which lies south of Kampong Speu. She developed a cough and fever on Jan 19 and was admitted (Snip) on Jan 27 with somnolence and dyspnea, as well. She also died yesterday after intensive treatment. All five cases have been in Phnom Penh or nearby provinces. Since 2005 Cambodia has had 26 confirmed H5N1 cases, 23 of them fatal. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Jan 29 MoH/WHO news release  http://www.wpro.who.int/mediac...

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

     


CIDRAP: FAO warns of inadequate global surveillance and control of avian flu
The world risks a repeat of the disastrous avian flu outbreaks that occurred in 2006 unless surveillance and control of this and other dangerous animal diseases are strengthened globally, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today.

"The continuing international economic downturn means less money is available for prevention of H5N1 bird flu and other threats of animal origin," FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth, DVM, said in an FAO press release. "Even though everyone knows that prevention is better than cure, I am worried because in the current climate governments are unable to keep up their guard," he said, adding, "I see inaction in the face of very real threats to the health of animals and people."

The FAO noted "large reservoirs" of H5N1 virus in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries where the disease has become endemic. If adequate controls are not continued, (Snip) the disease could easily spread globally as it did in 2006, when 63 countries had avian flu outbreaks. Continued: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Jan 29 FAO press release  http://www.fao.org/news/story/...

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

     


Comment:
The above is a dire warning on H5N1 by the FAO. At the same time we have 5 WHO confirmed new human cases of H5N1 in the same area of Cambodia, which is probably the newer strain of the 2.3.2 clade. It first spread from China to Vietnam, has now been found in ducks in Indonesia and is most likely in Cambodia, Laos and maybe Thailand.

Both the WHO and the FAO are UN organizations so I have to ask, "is the whole story being told"? Has WHO discovered a change in the H5N1 virus that has infected the 5 Cambodians? Does the FAO have new knowledge about H5N1 that has prompted them to speak up so strongly at this particular time?

It may just be coincidence but it sure has gotten my attention!

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

     


CIDRAP: Minnesota sets up online tool to tackle flu vaccine shortages
In an effort to alleviate spot shortages of influenza vaccine, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has set up an online forum to help healthcare providers who still have vaccine to link up with those who don't (Snip). The MDH said some providers have used up all their doses and are looking for more. The agency said it is not directly facilitating the redistribution of vaccine, but just providing a way for providers to connect (Snip). The forum is intended for the exchange of privately purchased vaccine only. Localized shortages of flu vaccine have been reported in many places around the country in recent weeks. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

Jan 29 AP story http://www.twincities.com/minn...

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

     


CDC: More adults need vaccines, and not just for the flu
The flu isn't the only illness adults should be immunized against, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday, as a new study found current adult vaccination rates in the country "unacceptably low."

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that a "substantial increase" in adult vaccinations is needed to prevent diseases including pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis, shingles and whooping cough.

"Far too few adults are getting vaccinated against these important diseases, and we need to do more," said Dr. Howard Koh, an assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2011, there were 37,000 cases of invasive pneumonia in the United States, and most of the 4,000 people who died from the illness were over the age of 50, Koh said.

The CDC, a federal agency, recommends that older patients at risk for pneumonia receive vaccinations for the disease, he said.

Adults who don't get vaccinated can put others, including children, at risk, Koh said. In 2012, 9,300 adults were diagnosed with whooping cough out of a total of 42,000 cases.

(Snip)

Some vaccines, such as flu shots, are recommended for all adults, the CDC said. Others are suggested based on a patient's age and overall health. Continued: http://www.mercurynews.com/hea...

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

     


Han Chinese genes boost influenza peril, study says
http://www.taipeitimes.com/New...

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 -
AFP, PARIS


Nearly a quarter of ethnic Han Chinese have a tiny genetic variant that boosts sixfold their risk of falling gravely ill when infected with flu,
a study published on Tuesday said. Researchers in China and Britain looked at Chinese hospital data from the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Patients who had the minute variant were six times likelier to be treated for severe infection compared with patients who had a different genetic type, they found.

The variation focuses on just a single change in the code of a key gene in the immune system. The IFITM3 gene - interferon-induced transmembrane protein-3 - determines how cells fight the influenza virus.

The single code change is called rs12252 and it comes in three variants, also known as genotypes: CC, CT and TT.
About 24 percent of Han Chinese have the CC genotype, but their numbers are disproportionately high among those who were badly affected by flu, the investigators learned.
Among those who were treated for serious symptoms and whose genetic code had been sequenced, 59 percent had the CC genotype.

"The CC genotype was estimated to confer a sixfold greater risk for severe infection than the CT and TT genotypes," said the paper, which was published in the journal Nature Communications.
[continued at link]


FDA warns company over unapproved flu remedy
http://minnesota.publicradio.o...

January 30, 2013

By MATTHEW PERRONE
AP Health Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators say a Florida company has been marketing an untested inhaled formula as a flu remedy in violation of drug safety regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning letter to Flu and Cold Defense LLC for making misleading, unproven claims about its GermBullet inhaler.

The warning comes amid a worse-than-usual flu season that has hit the elderly particularly hard. So far, half of confirmed flu cases are in people 65 and older.

FDA regulators say they are seeing an uptick in bogus flu remedies, including fake flu vaccines, counterfeit antiviral drugs and air filters that allegedly remove the flu from the air.
[continued at link]


Global warming linked to worse flu seasons
 http://www.upi.com/Health_News...

Published: Jan. 30, 2013 at 7:34 AM

TEMPE, Ariz., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Climate change will add earlier and more severe flu seasons, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Sherry Towers, a research professor at Arizona State University, studied waves of influenza and climate patterns in the United States from the 1997-98 season to the present.

The research team said data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate a pattern for both A and B strains: Warm winters were usually followed by heavy flu seasons.

"It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence," Towers said in a statement. "And when a flu season begins exceptionally early, much of the population has not had a chance to get vaccinated, potentially making that flu season even worse."

[continued at link]


Tracking the flu with technology and Twitter
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01...

By Heather Kelly, CNN
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)

The Germ Tracker web app features a map of flu-related tweets.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Social media information like tweets is being used to map the current flu outbreak
Researchers are working on ways to better filter tweets for accurate real-time predictions
There are apps and tools from the CDC, Google and startups dedicated to tracking the flu

(CNN) -- Complaining on social networks about being sick might annoy your friends and followers, but it can be useful for tools that track the spread of illnesses.

A new method for filtering tweets, developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, could make the real-time data pouring in more accurate.

The United States is in the middle of one of its most severe flu seasons in years. Tech companies, universities and health organizations are harnessing the wealth of data from social networks and search engines, in addition to the usual reports from vital statics offices, hospitals, doctors and public health departments, to keep the public informed and better prepare public health workers.

[continued at link]


Decoding Over-The-Counter Flu Meds
http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/201...

Decoding Over-The-Counter Flu Meds (Added: January 30, 2013)
It?s one of the worst flu seasons in years, but when you go to the drugstore for some relief, sorting through all of the options can make your headache worse. (more)
Post a Comment for this Video
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By: Consumer Reports | NBC4
Published: January 30, 2013

[snip]
You really have to read the entire label in order to know how much you're taking.

Claims like "all day" and "long acting" are tricky, too.  All-Day Aleve lasts up to 12 hours. But some all-day medicine lasts 24 hours.

Drugs that say "PM" or "non-drowsy" can be confusing also. If the label says "PM," the drug probably contains an antihistamine that'll help you fall asleep. But if the label says "non-drowsy," don't assume the drug will help you stay alert. Only some have caffeine or another stimulant that'll keep you awake.

And with drugs that claim to relieve multiple symptoms, such as cold and flu symptoms and sore throat, you could end up taking something you don't need. They often have more than one ingredient, sometimes as many as four. So if you also take another medicine that contains one of those ingredients, you might wind up taking too much.

Consumer Reports says best is choosing a single-ingredient drug whenever you can, such as ibuprofen for aches and pains or acetaminophen for a fever or headache.

And when in doubt, check with a pharmacist for help understanding over-the-counter drug labels.


Five Toddlers Probable Bird Flu Infection
http://news.mnctv.com/index.ph...
January 30, 2013
Padang, Indonesia:  Five toddlers in the city of Padang are allegedly infected with the bird flu virus and hospitalized in Muhammad Jamil.  The five children whoare allegedly infected with bird flu in the city of Padang, allegedly had contact with dead poultry.  They were treated intensively in isolation with the suspected disease in hospital M Jamil.  Some of them had been treated for three days.

Until now, their condition is not stable and they are still experiencing shortness of breath and high fever. To make sure whether they are positively infected by the H5N1 virus, blood samples have been sent to a hospital in Jakarta.  Based on information from the patient's parents, their sons had direct contact with chickens that died suddenly in the home environment.  Anticipating the spread of the H5N1 virus, the Padang Animal Husbandry Department has been spraying and checking poultry in the traditional markets.  Since its inception in 2011, they have found 10 cases of birds that died suddenly in the city of Padang.  Dozens of dead birds were positively infected with the H5N1 virus.  Traders are advised to keep them in their chicken coops.


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


Flu outbreak 2013: A new stomach virus more potent, harder to kill
http://rollingout.com/culture/...

7:30 AM EST
1/30/2013 by Terry Shropshire

While the nation is on the lookout for the worst influenza strain to crash ashore in more than a decade, there is another potent and hard-to-kill stomach virus hunched in the tall weeds of American society and it can strike its prey easier than the flu bug.

It is called the norovirus, better known as the stomach virus. Given the name GII.4 Sydney because it is imported from Australia, the new norovirus, or stomach virus, is said to cause severe gastrointenstinal problems, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

"It's nasty," said Kennedy Health System's chief medical officer Dr. David Condoluci, an infectious disease specialist. "Basically, you go through about 24 to 48 hours of hell."

The illness is notorious for causing dehydration because its victims fail to replenish their body fluids quickly enough to replace the discharged liquids.

Condoluci says people have mistakingly called it the influenza virus, better known as the flu, which caused high fever, relentless coughing, body aches and respiratory complications.

Physicians said that the norovirus, which is currently wrecking havoc in some parts of New Jersey, according to the Jersey Star Ledger, is much easier to catch, harder to kill and packs a wallop on its victims. However, while it is not usually deadly, it can be for those with other medical complications, the very young and old, and also those with a compromised immune system.

[continued at link]


Now is this noro or flu?
I guess it's the norovirus. I had it back in Oct and was ill for 6 days and exhausted for several weeks. My Dad caught it too and he stopped eating. It took a stay in hospital (threat made him slightly better not the docs) and another month of trying stuff he'd swallow before he started to mend. Altogether it was about 8 weeks of almost no food. Even now he's only just begun to eat something more substantial than soup.

Very nasty bug.


[ Parent ]
Hi UK - Bird
So sorry to hear about you and your dad having this really nasty strain of norovirus. I read an article some time back that said around 1 million people in the UK had it and they filled the emergency rooms for a while.

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

     


[ Parent ]
Chances are good the bug that bit you isn't the flu
http://www.indystar.com/articl...

Jan 29, 2013   |

Some of these bugs produce symptoms remarkably similar to those of the influenza virus. In many cases, only a flu test can distinguish influenza from its imitators.

Flu's signature symptoms include rapid onset of fever, muscle aches, a sore throat and a headache. If some one wakes up feeling fine and takes ill a few hours later, flu may be to blame.

[snip]

An illness that takes longer to develop and includes symptoms such as nasal congestion or a runny nose is usually not the flu. Nor are illnesses whose primary symptoms are upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. That's more likely to be gastroenteritis, often caused by a norovirus, which will pass in a few days.

[snip]

In her practice, she and her colleagues often test patients just to reassure them that they do not have the flu. About 30 percent of the tests they do come back positive for flu, Rohr-Kirchgraber said.

"If we only tested those people who had all the symptoms, we would have a much higher result," she said.

Colds and respiratory viruses always run rampant this time of year, but this year seems a little worse than usual, perhaps because of the flu season's early start, said Dr. Topper Doehring, vice president for medical ?affairs at the hospital.

[snip]

By this point in the flu season, however, many doctors don't bother with the test. When a patient has classic symptoms and has fallen ill within the past 24 hours, many doctors opt to start treatment with antiviral medication that can shorten the course of the illness.

Pediatrician Shannon Tighe sees a much higher percentage of positive flu tests, somewhere around 85 to 95 percent. Tighe, a pediatrician with the Community Physician Network in Geist, orders a test only when she has a high index of suspicion that her patient has the flu.

Many of the young patients she has seen in recent weeks have RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, which tends to produce lower fevers than the flu and to cause pulmonary problems with a wheezy cough, Tighe said.

With everything that's going around, does it still make sense to bother with a flu shot?

Of course, experts say. It can ward off the flu or lessen its severity should it strike.


Bird flu spreads in Cambodia
The deaths of four Cambodians from avian flu have health experts worried. Just four weeks into the year, the toll is Cambodia's second highest since avian flu was first detected here in 2005.

Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan, the WHO's communications officer, said Wednesday, January 30, that the organization remained concerned at the deaths from H5N1 (Snip). "These are the first cases globally this year," he said.

(Snip)

H5N1 is extremely dangerous once it jumps from poultry to humans. Worldwide it has killed 364 people out of 615 infected since 1997.

(Snip) experts fear H5N1 could undergo a recombination and re-assortment with another influenza virus. "And that could give rise to a new virus that is transmittable between humans," he said.

Seventeen of Cambodia's 26 confirmed infections have occurred in children, the Ministry of Health said Tuesday. The victims who died on Monday were a 1-year-old girl and an 8-year-old girl. Earlier this month the disease claimed a 15-year-old girl and a 35-year-old man. The fifth person infected, a baby, recovered. In response, the authorities have sent teams to the villages where the victims lived, culled thousands of chickens and ducks, and sprayed disinfectant.

(Snip)

The WHO's Krishnan said health teams have monitored the condition of people who came in contact with the victims, adding that all had tested negative for the virus. The government has also boosted the number of television and radio spots warning of avian flu and telling people how to protect themselves, and staff at health clinics in the affected provinces will receive refresher training on avian flu in February.

However, two imminent events will add to the challenges of containing the spread of the disease.

The first is the February 4 cremation of Norodom Sihanouk, the country's revered former king, in Phnom Penh. The government expects that more than a million people will travel to the capital to pay their respects. Many will bring food, including live poultry.

The other is Chinese New Year on February 10. In preparation for the festival, large numbers of chickens and ducks are usually transported ahead of that date to markets in the cities and towns.

Either event could promote the spread of the disease. On Tuesday, government and UN health experts met to work out how best to prevent that. Krishnan said officials would hand out information leaflets to people coming to the capital to warn them of the risks and advise them how to avoid contracting the disease. That includes not eating birds that have died from illness, and cooking poultry thoroughly.

Most of the efforts underway are designed to ensure that people do not get infected with avian flu in the first place. Once they do, the chances of recovery are slim - not least due to the country's weak healthcare system. In total, 23 Cambodians out of 26 infected to date with avian flu have died - a fatality rate close on 90 percent, and well above the global figure of nearly 60 percent.

(Snip)

UN alert

On January 29, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that the world risks repeating the 2006 avian flu outbreak when 63 countries were affected. Experts worry the flu could claim more lives in 2013 than it did in 2006.

The FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth said countries were not doing enough. The global economic crisis meant there was less cash to combat diseases that originate in animals, including H5N1. "This is not only true for international organizations but also countries themselves," Lubroth said. "Even though everyone knows that prevention is better than cure, I am worried because in the current climate, governments are unable to keep up their guard."

H5N1 is endemic in a number of countries in Asia and the Middle East, and the FAO said countries must spend more on prevention methods and improve the surveillance of livestock. Lubroth said inaction risked another pandemic. "We need to come together to find ways to ensure the safety of the global food chain," he said. "The costs - and the dangers - of not acting are just too high." http://www.dw.de/bird-flu-spre...

(Note: It's all the warnings and statements like this lately, "Experts worry the flu could claim more lives in 2013 than it did in 2006", that make me wonder if there aren't some new developments they are telling us about.)

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

     


I meant that to say:
that make me wonder if there aren't some new developments they are not telling us about

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

     


[ Parent ]
India: Suspected cases of swine flu in Ahmedabad (Gujarat)
AHMEDABAD: The long winter has led to spike in influenza in the city, and with it suspected cases of swine flu have streamed into city hospitals. In this month alone two swine flu patients and two other suspected cases were admitted to Apollo Hospitals for treatment.

State health department claims the two confirmed cases were from Rajasthan, while two others from the city are under observation. "One patient may be discharged on Wednesday if laboratory reports do not confirm swine flu," (Snip).

The two swine flu cases from Rajasthan were admitted on January 19 and January 21. One of the patients is a woman. The patients' conditions are stable at the moment (Snip).

(Snip) "We have a dedicated ward for suspected swine flu patients," says Sheth. AMC had earlier informed major city hospitals to maintain special isolation wards with adequate monitoring equipment to handle such cases. http://timesofindia.indiatimes...

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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