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News Reports for February 1, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 19:32:19 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!

Argentina
•  Concern at a hospital in Carmen de Areco by a virus which affected 11 people (translated) (Link)

Canada
•  Infected salmon declared fit for human consumption by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Link)

India
• Punjab & Haryana: Four more test positive for swine flu, total rises to 18 (Link)

Nepal
• Tarai districts at high risk of bird flu (Link)

Tunisia
• Swine Flu Claims First Tunisian Victim in 2013 (Link)

United States
• Flu epidemic waning nationwide, CDC says (Link)
• IL: Hospital flu masks raise questions (Link)

Research
• How to better prepare for pandemic (Link)
• US: Volunteers wanted for bird flu vaccine trial (Link)
• Flu Patients Can Emit Virus Up To 6 Feet Away, Study Finds (Link)
• Will climate change mean worse flu seasons?  (Link)

General
• Pandemic risk may impact capital reserves: RMS (Link)
• Flu Season: The Health Dangers Of OTC Medications (Link)

Commentary
• Recombinomics: US Week 4 Pneumonia & Influenza  Death Rate At 9.4% (Link)
• Recombinomics: 8 US Pediatric Flu Deaths In Week 4 FluView (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for February 1, 2013

News for January 31, 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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How to better prepare for pandemic
BRIGHTON, England, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Planning for an influenza pandemic means preparing for surprises and responding rapidly under conditions of uncertainty, a British researcher says.

Paul Forster, of the STEPS Centre, a global research and policy center funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, investigated the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009/2010 and said lessons from the last pandemic show planning for the next pandemic should be different.

Science, public health policy makers and the worldwide public were confounded in 2009/2010 by the uncertainty, complexity and politics of pandemic influenza and the high emotions it inspires. Amid this confusion, the global and national institutions responsible for protecting public health were shown to be over-reliant on a reductive, science-led approach that prioritized a one-size-fits-all response, and failed to address the needs and priorities of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Continued: http://www.upi.com/Health_News...  

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

     


Volunteers wanted for bird flu vaccine trial
Researchers in Newcastle are doing their bit to help protect the world against a potentially deadly outbreak of the bird flu virus.

Only about 600 people worldwide are known to have had the virus but it carries a mortality rate of three in five. That has got the United States government concerned and it is funding a global vaccine project being trialled in humans.

Newcastle's Hunter Clinical Research is one of the centre that has been chosen to take part. It is looking for volunteers to undergo human trials of an H5N1 vaccine which could be stockpiled in readiness for a global pandemic.

(Snip)

"If it does mutate and we get human to human transmission then we would be looking at millions of infections and potentially a very large number of deaths."

Researchers are hoping to find out the smallest dose of the vaccine needed for human protection. They hope to have the results within two years. http://www.abc.net.au/news/201...  

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

     


Pandemic risk may impact capital reserves: RMS
Research on the highly virulent H5N1 avian influenza viruses resumed last week after a year-long ban. With the controversial lifting of the moratorium, researchers will now try to increase the transmissibility or virulence of H5N1 to help prepare vaccines and other medical treatments in case of a pandemic. According to analysis from RMS' infectious disease model, however, pursuing this 'gain of function' research increases the chance of a man-made H5N1 pandemic. While the probability of such an event occurring remains low, insurance companies need to ensure they have enough capital to manage the risk.

"Laboratory experimentation remains controversial because of the possibility of creating a super flu that might not have occurred naturally. The H5N1 influenza virus is highly virulent and rapidly mutating, and its evolution, through either natural or laboratory means, could pose the most significant pandemic threat of the modern era," commented Dr. Maura Sullivan, senior director of LifeRisks at RMS.

RMS has used its infectious disease model to simulate scenarios for pandemics that could result from the escape of a virus from a research laboratory. It estimates that there is a small but significant likelihood of an escaped lab pathogen triggering a global pandemic. Commenting on the implications for insurers, Dr. Andrew Coburn, senior vice-president of LifeRisks at RMS, comments: "In the long run, if this research results in good vaccines, then it could reduce pandemic risk by 30%, but in the short term the research itself poses an increased risk. For risk managers looking to stress test their Solvency II capital requirements, RMS' model indicates that an additional five per cent in capital may be required to compensate for a possible man-made pandemic occurring as a result of the lifting of the research ban."

(Snip)

H5N1 influenza research currently requires biosafety level three laboratories rather than the maximum security level four. Researchers are resisting upgrading to level four because they argue that it will slow research progress. Historical laboratory-acquired infections demonstrate that biosafety measures occasionally fail, and if a pandemic were to occur from a laboratory escape, there is a wide range of potential outcomes.

"We need to ensure an appropriate level of laboratory safety to balance the increased risk with the public health benefit," says Dr. Sullivan. "The research community alone should not be solely responsible for regulating practices that could significantly increase infectious disease mortality risk for all. Even a mild epidemic with limited mortality can have catastrophic economic impacts." Continued: http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir...

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

     


India: Four more test positive for swine flu, total rises to 18 (Punjab & Haryana)
Four fresh cases of swine flu have been reported in the city taking the total number of cases from the city to 18 so far. The UT health department in order to contain the situation is laying emphasis on contact tracing so that chemoprophylaxis can be provided to the high risk contacts in order to limit the spread of infection. Visits to the positive patients and their contacts are being carried out in order to provide necessary chemoprophylaxis.

Instructions have been given to the positive patients and their contacts to remain quarantined for a period of one week. A 24X7 emergency ward has been established in GMSH- 16 and at the civil hospital in Manimajra with all necessary equipment and life saving medicine. The sample collection facility (throat swab) for Swine Flu is available in all government hospitals ion Chandigarh.

PGIMER is the apex referral lab for the testing of H1N1 by RT PCR. Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is the recommended drug for prevention and treatment of Swine flu and is provided only to high risk contacts as per the Centre's guidelines. Continued: http://www.cirmagazine.com/cir...

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

     


US Week 4 Pneumonia & Influenza Death Rate At 9.4%
Recombinomics Commentary

The graph from the CDC week 3 FluView shows the Pneumonia and Influenza Death Rate spiking to 9.8%.  Tomorrow's week 4 FluView will show a decline to 9.4%, which remains higher than any week since the 2003-04 season.  The high level in week 4 is associated with high rates across the country.  When the rate spiked to 8.3% in week 2, there were 16 cities which had 10 or more P&I deaths and a rate above 10%.  In week 3 then number of cities meeting the same criteria reached 36.

In week 4 the number of cities fell to 33, as seen in the list below.  Tomorrow's FluView will also add 8 more pediatric deaths, raising the total to 45, but 14 additional confirmed or probable cases have been reported in the media or state weekly reports.

Regions
PACIFIC 15.1%
NEW ENGLAND 14.2%
ES CENTRAL 11.1%
EN CENTRAL 10.5%
S ATLANTIC 10.4%

Continued: List of cities with their percentages and the graph: 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

     


8 US Pediatric Flu Deaths In Week 4 FluView
Recombinomics Commentary

NJ (2 ), FL (1 ), TX (2 ), CO (1 ), AZ (1 ), HI (1 )

The above distribution of week 4 pediatric flu deaths will increase the season total from 37 to 45.  (Snip) in addition to the 8 deaths cited above, and the 37 cited in week 3, there are 14 additional cases which have been cited in media or state lab weekly reports.

(Snip)

The pediatriatric flu deaths are a trailing indicator and the large jump in influenza hospitalizations and deaths are not yet reflected in the week 4 FluView. http://www.recombinomics.com/N...

FluView pediatric cases (45)
Wk #   Location
04  8   NJ(2) FL TX(2) CO AZ HI
03  8   NYC FL(2) TX CO(4)
02  9   MA NY(2) OH MN NE TX(2) MI
01  2   KS TX
52  2   MI NY
51  8   AR FL ME MI(2) TX WA WI
50  2   NJ
49  1   TX
48  3   IN FL SC
46  1   TX
41  1   TN

Pediatric deaths not in FluView (14)
04  3   PA AZ NY
03  4   MI+ NJ+ CA* NH
02  5   OH+ DE* MD* CA* IL+
52  1   IN
49  1   OH#

* = Lab confirmed
+ = Under investigation
# = Obituary report

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

     


Tunisia: Swine Flu Claims First Tunisian Victim in 2013
A small child died from swine flu in Tunis last week, the first recorded death from the virus in 2013, the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases (ONMNE) told Tunisia Live Thursday.

The boy, around three or four years old, passed away at the Children's Hospital of Bab Saadoun; ONMNE has also recently identified eight cases of swine flu in Tunis and Sfax governorates, said chief operating officer Noureddine Achour.

Achour said Tunisians should take preventative measures, such as getting vaccinated to boost their immunity and frequently washing their hands. Yet, he said people should not exaggerate the risk of swine flu (officially known as the H1N1 virus) because it is "a common influenza type and represents no particular gravity." He said other strains of influenza are also circulating throughout Tunisia this winter. Continued: http://www.tunisia-live.net/20...

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

     


Argentina: Concern at a hospital in Carmen de Areco by a virus which affected 11 people
Translated

Health authorities in the province clarified that so far no deaths from this disease. The goal of physicians is to prevent the virus from spreading, and of unknown origin and form of attack patients. The first affected had symptoms similar to those of influenza A, but tests ruled out the disease.

Therefore, according to preliminary information could be a hospital infection, but not yet the results of the studies. Among the patients presenting symptoms are high fever, headache, muscle pain and abdominal pain.

The provincial director of preventive medicine at the Ministry of Health of Buenos Aires, Luis Crovetto, confirmed that 15 people made ​​inquiries, of which 11 became patients.

(Snip) "The first two patients are two intensive care nurses who are critically ill, hospitalized in intensive care with serious prognosis." Continued: http://news.google.com/news/ur...

(Note: This is an unknown illness so far and it has affect medical personal too so apparently it is contagious.)


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

     


[ Parent ]
Canada: Infected salmon declared fit for human consumption by Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Toronto Star
For the first time, Canada's food safety regulator is allowing Nova Scotia salmon infected with a flu-like virus to be processed for supermarkets and restaurants.

Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency declared fit for human consumption 240,000 Atlantic salmon with infectious salmon anemia - a disease it says poses no risk to human heath...

...

Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist, says infectious salmon anemia is an influenza-type virus and can mutate in unpredictable ways, especially if it comes into contact with another flu virus in a human being.

"I don't think it's a good idea for people to be eating it," said Morton, who has worked as a government fisheries scientist and was a visiting lecturer at Dalhousie University last year. "We know that pathogens are becoming more virulent all the time and it's events like this that I believe really risk human health safety."


Our neighbors to the south can take comfort from the fact that their government won't allow the product into the United States. This will be strictly for domestic consumption.

Hi pogge
"Alexandra Morton, a marine biologist, says infectious salmon anemia is an influenza-type virus and can mutate in unpredictable ways, especially if it comes into contact with another flu virus in a human being."

IMO, Canada's food safety regulator has made a very disturbing (and stupid) decision. Sounds as if the government is putting the economy ahead of people's health and a very real potential for disaster. But then that isn't the first time we've seen that happen, huh?

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

     


[ Parent ]
You're not the only one who thinks this is a serious mistake n/t


[ Parent ]
Flu epidemic waning nationwide, CDC says
http://www.usatoday.com/story/...

Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY12:15p.m. EST February 1, 2013

[snip]

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Rates of deaths, doctors' visits down slightly from last week
Forty-five children have died from flu-related illnesses
Forty-two states report widespread flu activity
The flu appears to be waning nationwide after an early start in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Flulike-illness activity fell in the East but is rising sharply in the West. Forty-five children have died as a result of the flu since the season's start.

Nationally, 9.4% of deaths reported in CDC's 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza as of Jan. 26. That's above the epidemic threshold of 7.2%. The rate of deaths linked to pneumonia and flu the week before was 9.8%.

The week before it was 8.3%.

Nationally, the proportion of people visiting the doctor for influenza-like illness was 4.2% down from 4.3%the week before, CDC's FluView report showed. The baseline number for the year is 2.2%.

Flu remains "elevated" nationwide, with 42 states reporting widespread geographic influenza activity and seven reporting regional activity, CDC said. The previous week, 47 states had widespread activity.

Despite the downward tick, the flu continues to hit hard, especially in the West, and people are still dying from it across the nation. Flu rates are at the highest levels seen in the past four years in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

[continued at link]


Flu Season: The Health Dangers Of OTC Medications
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jo...

PHARMA & HEALTHCARE | 2/01/2013 @ 8:22AM |114 views

pain relievers w/ active ingredient acetaminophen/paracetamol.

[snip]
The severity of this year's flu season prompted the FDA last week to issue guidance - not on the use of prescription drugs - but on one of the main staples for treating pain and cold symptoms, acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.

The warning, called "Don't Double Up on Acetaminophen", points out that there are over 600 medications (both prescription and OTC) that contain acetaminophen. Ordinarily, this is a pretty safe medication. However, overdosing on acetaminophen can lead to liver failure. In fact, acetaminophen is the leading cause for calls to the Poison Control Center (>100,000/year), accounts for 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths annually. With over 600 medicines containing this drug, it is pretty easy for people to inadvertently take daily doses of it in excess of the recommended 3,000 mg/day threshold.

This almost happened to me last fall. I was experiencing a kidney stone attack and was prescribed Percoset, which is a combination of the opioid, oxycodon (5mg) and acetaminophen (325mg) to be taken every 3 hours depending on my level of pain. Given all the publicity around opioid addiction, I asked one of my sons, a liver transplant surgeon, about the wisdom of taking Percoset so often, despite my pain. He responded that he was less worried about the oxycodon portion of my medication than with all of the acetaminophen that I'd be ingesting. If I indeed did take the drug every 3 hours, I'd be taking 2,600 mg which would approach the acetaminophen daily limit. IHe is pretty sensitive to acetaminophen overdosing as he has had to perform liver transplants on patients who did, in fact, go into liver failure due to acetaminophen. Ironically, I hadn't even paid attention to the acetaminophen component of my medication, after all this is OTC and is considered relatively benign. It was, instead, the potential addictive effects of the opioid that I worried about.

I am sure that my response is not unique. The ability to buy a medicine off a shelf bears with it an expectation of a high degree of safety. But any medication has the capacity to do harm, whether it be prescription or OTC. One should avoid medicines if at all possible. But when necessary, it is important to know the dosing limits of whatever you are about to take. An OTC medication can land you in the hospital just as easily as a prescription drug.


Flu Patients Can Emit Virus Up To 6 Feet Away, Study Finds
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Posted: 02/01/2013 10:40 am EST

Even when flu patients aren't sneezing, they can still spread the virus as far as six feet away, according to a new study from the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The study also showed that some people, who researchers called "super-emitters," emit more of the virus than others. The findings are hugely important for people working in the health and medical fields who have regular contact with flu-infected people -- and how they protect themselves from becoming infected.
[continued at link]


How to better prepare for pandemic
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Health_News...

Published: Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:00 PM

BRIGHTON, England, Jan. 31 (UPI)

[snip]

Science, public health policy makers and the worldwide public were confounded in 2009/2010 by the uncertainty, complexity and politics of pandemic influenza and the high emotions it inspires. Amid this confusion, the global and national institutions responsible for protecting public health were shown to be over-reliant on a reductive, science-led approach that prioritized a one-size-fits-all response, and failed to address the needs and priorities of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people.

"Preparing for an influenza pandemic means preparing for surprises and being ready to respond rapidly and flexibly under conditions of uncertainty. If people across the globe are to be ready, plural and diverse response pathways are required," Forster said in a statement. "The world would be better protected by a re-ordering of pandemic preparedness and response efforts around the needs of the world's poorest, most vulnerable and most exposed people."

A re-ordered response would allow the undue pre-eminence of pharmaceuticals to be examined, and bring focus on the pressing need for disease surveillance in animals, scrutiny of contemporary agricultural practices and a broadening of research efforts, Forster suggested.


Repeated article
I just looked back at the top and realized that Carol@SC had already posted this story! I look the stories over before I start posting, but I totally forgot this one had been done. Preparing for the next pandemic is an important subject, though. Our next pandemic is liable to be much, much worse than the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.

[ Parent ]
Better to post an article twice than to miss one.....
besides that, I recently did the same thing on one of your posted articles! LOL

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

     


[ Parent ]
Will climate change mean worse flu seasons?
http://www.myfoxal.com/story/2...

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News)

[snip
That, at least, is the theory. The study, which appeared Jan. 28 in the journal PLoS Currents: Influenza, shows a correlation between warm U.S. winters and more flu misery the following winter.

"But correlation doesn't mean causation," said lead researcher Sherry Towers, a research professor at Arizona State University, in Tempe.

"The dynamics that cause a severe flu season are so multifactorial," Towers said. One example is whether the flu shot for a particular season is a good match for the flu strains that are actually circulating. (To formulate the flu vaccine every year, scientists have to predict which strains will predominate in the upcoming season.)

Still, Towers said her findings offer "compelling evidence" of a link between mild winters and extra flu misery the next time around.

For the study, she and her colleagues looked at U.S. government data for each flu season since 1997. They found an interesting pattern, Towers said: When a winter had above-average temperatures, the flu season the following fall and winter was more severe than normal 72 percent of the time.
[continued at link]


Hospital flu masks raise questions
http://www.chicoer.com/news/ci...

By LARRY MITCHELL-Staff Writer
Posted:   02/01/2013 12:09:40 AM PST

CHICO - It's become a national trend - and a sometimes controversial one - for hospitals to require employees to wear masks if they haven't had flu shots, said Dr. Mark Lundberg, Butte County's health officer.

Last week, Enloe Medical Center adopted a mask policy. It says staff members who haven't been vaccinated must wear masks if they enter patients' rooms or come within six feet of patients.

Oroville Hospital officials said they were considering taking the same step. This week in Paradise, Feather River Hospital administrators were about to impose a similar rule, but held off so the matter could be given further study.

This morning, David Welch, a nurse who represents the nurses union at Enloe, said he would meet with the hospital administration to discuss the mask policy. Some nurses have complained to him about it, he said.

Controversy over the issue isn't surprising, Lundberg said. "There is debate about whether these things will make a difference. And I think when you start requiring things and changing people's work conditions, people will ask questions."

A number of county health officers around the state have required hospitals to impose mask policies, but Lundberg said that's not his style.

He said he's glad hospital leaders are discussing the matter. "It's impressive to me that the local hospitals are stepping up and doing the best they can for their patients."

[continued at link]


Nepal: Tarai districts at high risk of bird flu
NEPALGUNJ: Banke, Bardiya and Dang of Mid-western Tarai region are at high risk of bird flu, sources said today.

Regional Livestock Directorate today organised a press conference in Nepalgunj and informed that due to the open border these districts are at high risk of bird flu. (Snip) mid-western's Banke, Bardiya and Dang are at high risk, while Rukum and Surkhet are at moderate risk of bird flu.

Dr Singh said due to the open border with India, birds and bird-related equipments are imported illegally even though administration has banned the import of such goods from India.

He said quarantine check posts have been established in Banke, Bardiya and Dang to control the import of birds and related equipments. He further said they have been spreading awareness regarding bird flu danger through campaigns and pamphlets.

(Snip)

(Snip) bodies have beefed up checking to stop the import of flu-prone materials from India. Local Development Officer at Banke said public awareness programmes should be organised in every sector to minimise the risk. http://thehimalayantimes.com/f...

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

     


Bronco Bill, it's Friday joke time!
Your giggles are here: http://www.newfluwiki2.com/dia...

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

     


Please post new news stories ...
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