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News Reports for February 20, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 22:43:40 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!

• Hong Kong: HK bans northeast German poultry (Link)

• Why the swine flu situation in India is bad (Link)
• Swine flu claims 30 lives in two months in Gujarat (Link)
• Rajasthan: Central team says flu cases 'alarming' in state (Link)

• Mexican Authorities: More Than 1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu (Link)

United Kingdom
• Sars victim's eight-day fight for life (Link)
• CIDRAP: British man dies from novel coronavirus infection (Link)

United States
• MO: Local Specialists Keeping An Eye On Deadly Coronavirus (Link)

• US: Amid massive security, bird flu virus research awaits approval (Link)

• Avian influenza, human (09): Cambodia, Egypt, China, WHO (Link)
• Why Pregnant Women Should Get Flu Shots (Link)
• Coronavirus: what you need to know (Link)
• After sixth patient dies, analysis of new coronavirus emerge (Link)
• Novel Coronavirus Well-Adapted to Humans, Susceptible to Immunotherapy (Link)
• Immunotherapy could be answer to treating novel coronavirus (Link)

• Recombinomics: Mild UK Beta Coronavirus Case Concerns (Link)

• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for February 20, 2013

News for February 19, 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 February 15, 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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Amid massive security, bird flu virus research awaits approval
University of Wisconsin-Madison center aims to prepare people for possible mutations

Madison - A bird flu virus at the center of an international debate sits in a padlocked freezer, deep inside a University of Wisconsin-Madison lab, waiting for new government guidelines that will allow researchers to continue unlocking its secrets.

The virus is protected by alarms.

It isn't deadly.   (???)

But government anti-terrorism rules dictate tight security around any biological agent that poses a potentially severe health threat.

Similar H5N1 avian influenza viruses circulating in nature don't follow anyone's rules.

They may be mutating into deadly threats capable of causing great loss of life, UW-Madison scientist Yoshihiro Kawaoka says, as he leads a hand-picked group of scientists, FBI agents and journalists on a rare tour of the $12.5 million Influenza Research Institute built exclusively for his research.

Some scientists believe the risks of accidental release or misuse of experimental viruses in labs such as this one outweigh the benefits of the research.

But a subset of mutations identified by Kawaoka's team already has been detected in viruses circulating in poultry flocks in Egypt and parts of Southeast Asia, he says.

If those viruses gain the ability to jump from birds to people, scientists will need stockpiles of the right vaccines and antiviral drugs to stop a deadly pandemic, says Kawaoka, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

While the research is on hold in the United States and several other countries, Kawaoka is losing valuable time. "Not just me. The entire world," the scientist says matter-of-factly.

Continued with lots more: http://www.jsonline.com/featur...

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


Mild UK Beta Coronavirus Case Concerns
On 5 February, an adult member of the same extended family of the two confirmed cases - who had not travelled abroad - developed an influenza-like illness. The illness remained mild, not requiring hospital admission, and there has been a full recovery. A sputum sample from this case was later confirmed to contain novel coronavirus. This case had limited exposure to the index case on three occasions while the latter was in hospital, and had no contact with the second case.

The limited contact that one of the cases had with the index case, however, leaves open the possibility of an intermediary case within the extended family.

The above comments are from a detailed description by the HPA of the four cases who were novel betacornavirus confirmed in the UK.  The other three cases had severe disease and were placed on life support (ECMO machines).

The first case (49M) developed symptoms while performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia in August.  Symptoms resolved after he returned to Qatar, but reappeared 2 weeks later and his condition deteriorate prior to transport to the UK by air ambulance.  He was placed on an ECMO machine and has been hospitalized for five months.  Contact health care workers developed mild symptoms and tested negative for the virus.

The second case (60M) also developed symptoms while performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia.  He returned to the UK via commercial airline and his condition deteriorated. He was confirmed to be co-infected with the novel coronavirus as well as pandemic H1N1 (H1N1pdm09). He was also placed on an ECMO machine and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The third case (38M) was the son of the index case and had contact at home and in the hospital.  He had no recent travel outside of the UK and developed symptoms.   He tested positive for the novel coronavirus, supporting import into the UK via his father's arrival via commercial airline, representing the first confirmed case due to import of the novel coronavirus.  He was also placed on life support (EMCO machine), but subsequently died.

The third family member (30F), described above, had limited contact with the index case and no contact with his son.  She also had no recent travel outside of the UK and represents the second example of a confirmed case infected by an imported virus.

She developed a mild case and was confirmed via testing of a sputum sample.  The testing of a sputum sample may explain why she is the first confirmed mild case.  The limited testing of mild cases has targeted nasal samples, which may have an undetectable level of viral RNA, leading to false negatives. Continued: 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


The above is a Recombinomics Commentary.

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


[ Parent ]
India: Swine flu claims 30 lives in two months in Gujarat
As many as 30 people have succumbed to the deadly swine flu virus in the past two months across the state, while 99 others tested positive for the disease, health officials said on Tuesday.

Six deaths have been reported in the city so far this year (Snip). "Five of these deaths were reported in February, a month when winter generally recedes, while one death was reported in January," (Snip).

(Snip) 28 persons have tested positive for H1N1 virus in the city this month while 12 persons tested positive in January. Last week, (Snip) 23 deaths had been reported till now due to swine flu, while 82 persons were undergoing treatment across the state in various government and private hospitals.

The state government had attributed the rise in the number of deaths due to prolonged winter. Meanwhile, Kutch, the most-affected district, has reported 11 deaths and 21 positive cases in the last two months (Snip).

The swine flu death toll in Rajkot has touched 10, following a 57-year-old man's death last night. He was admitted to a private hospital with swine flu symptoms three days back.

A 40-year-old woman from Keshod town of Junagadh district, who was rushed to RajkotCivilHospital with swine flu symptoms, died even before her medical report arrived (Snip).

Twenty-five people, who tested positive, are undergoing treatment at Rajkot Civil Hospital's swine flu ward. The Rajkot Municipal Corporation has decided to launch an awareness drive in schools and colleges to educate people about the disease (Snip).

In Jamnagar, three persons have died since the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus, while 13 others have tested positive (Snip). http://www.rediff.com/news/rep...

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


China: HK bans northeast German poultry
I can only post the link to this article because it is copyright protected. http://www.foodnavigator-asia....

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


Why the swine flu situation in India is bad
There's something very familiar with the way swine flu news filters in from around the country. As the temperatures dip, the authorities of various states claim that the situation is under control, there is enough stock of medicine, enough laboratories to test the virus, enough wards in government hospitals to keep the victims isolated, etc. etc... ad nauseum. Despite this, news of deaths and positive cases of swine continues.

Since the 2009 pandemic, there is clearly no strategy in place to prevent the disease from spreading. At best, the state government's initiatives can be termed as treating the victims. The problem with the swine flu H1N1 virus is that it's becoming more and more difficult to diagnose and treat due to several viral strains that have been traced such as H1N1, H3N1 and H3N2.

Why India is more vulnerable to swine flu?

India is even more vulnerable because of its climate. While in most countries the swine flu virus makes an appearance during the winter season, in India it surfaces twice a year - during the monsoon and winter seasons. Add to that the fact, that our population density is very high, public places and transport is overcrowded and there's utter disregard for sanitation and hygiene. There's also a lack of awareness about the disease and many people still believe that virus spreads from pigs. The swine flu situation actually points out the deficiencies of India's public health system.

What needs to be done?

Most public health experts argue that authorities need to do two things to contain the disease - provide vaccination for the at-risk population and make swine flu drugs more easily available to the public. Sadly, the government has turned both suggestions down. Vaccination is only given to people who are treating swine flu-infected patients and the centre ruled out universal vaccination for the time being. Also the drugs to treat the disease aren't widely available - it's only available at designated government hospitals and over-the-counter sales are banned. This is ostensibly done to prevent indiscriminate use which could lead to resistance against the drug. Continued: http://www.jsonline.com/featur...

(Note: I think there is another factor in play too. I think the circulating H1N1 swine flu virus has become a little more virulent in parts of India. But that's just my opinion. The only ones that can shed light on that is the Indian government and the WHO. The government doesn't want people panicking. The WHO keeps everything a big secret..... well, a big secret from the public. I have an opinion on that too but I better keep that one to myself.)

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


Mexico: Mexican Authorities - More Than 1 Million Chickens Exposed to Bird Flu
The outbreak of bird flu detected in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato is confined to 12 farms that have more than 1 million chickens (Snip).

(Snip) 10 of the poultry farms are chicken-fattening operations and two produce eggs for human consumption.

Senasica, which is an agency under the control of the Agriculture Secretariat, said that all the affected farms are owned by the Bachoco company.

Last Friday, authorities decreed a health emergency due to an outbreak of avian flu on seven Bachoco farms in Guanajuato, where some 582,000 domestic fowl exposed to the virus could be slaughtered to eradicate it, officials said.

Health authorities confirmed the presence of "high-pathology" AH7N bird flu, "as was the case in the (Mexican) states of Jalisco and Aguascalientes" in 2012. Continued: http://latino.foxnews.com/lati...

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 ]
India: Central team says flu cases 'alarming' in state (Rajasthan)
JAIPUR: A four-member team of health officials from Centre, who arrived in Jaipur on Tuesday, found the swine flu situation in the state 'alarming' but expressed satisfaction on the state's preparedness for fighting the disease. (Snip). In the past three months, the disease has claimed 109 lives while 850 were tested positive in the state, the highest in the country.

(Snip) Figures say that the state is on the top in terms of deaths and the number of positive cases this year. In fact, Rajasthan has witnessed 442 swine flu deaths since its outbreak in 2010 which indicates that it is very vulnerable for any epidemic-like situation.

"The team took samples for sending them to lab for studying the spread of virus in the Rajasthan," (Snip). They will submit a report before to the Union ministry on the basis of which a strategy to curb the menace will be formed. Already special teams have been formed in some districts for door-to-door survey in order to sensitize the entire locality. The team will visit a few other towns in the state before submitting a report.


Government is already providing free treatment and free test to elders above 65 years, children below 5 years, pregnant women, admitted patients and BPL families.

Meanwhile, health minister AA Khan said that the government has decided to screen 100 houses near every H1N1 positive case instead of 50 houses. (Snip).

In fact, Rapid Response Teams formed by health department is screening people living around swine flu positive persons. "They are also tracking those who came in contact with patients," (Snip)

* Swine flu continues to play havoc in the state as one death and 13 were reported positive on Tuesday. The death toll reached to 110 and over 870 were tested positive in last three months. Continued: http://timesofindia.indiatimes...

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 ]
ProMED: Avian influenza, human (09): Cambodia, Egypt, China, WHO
Summary and assessment as of 15 Feb 2013. Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses and associated animal health events

From 2003 through 15 Feb 2013, 620 laboratory-confirmed human cases with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus infection have been officially reported to WHO from 15 countries, of which 367 died. Since the last update on 16 Jan 2013, 10 new laboratory-confirmed human cases with influenza A(H5N1) virus infection were reported to WHO.

Since 16 Jan 2013, Cambodia reported 7 [and a suspected 8th case (Snip) new human cases with influenza A(H5N1) virus infection including 6 fatal cases. These cases come from 4 provinces all located in southern Cambodia. These cases do not seem to be linked epidemiologically, and most had contact with sick poultry in the village. Enhanced surveillance has been put in place and did not detect additional cases linked to these cases. Current evidence does not support human-to-human transmission. It has been suggested that the A(H5N1) virus is endemic in poultry in Cambodia (Snip) and that there is more poultry and human movement around the Lunar New Year. As such, additional sporadic human cases might be expected.

Egypt has reported one new human case with influenza A(H5N1) virus infection in Behera Governorate. The A(H5N1) virus is also endemic in poultry in some areas of Egypt, and additional sporadic human cases are possible.

On 10 Feb 2013, China reported 2 new human cases of influenza A(H5N1) virus infection. (Snip) The cases come from the same province but do not seem to be epidemiologically linked. Neither had documented contact with sick or dead poultry. Contact tracing and follow up is ongoing but no additional cases have been identified. The last official report of A(H5N1) in poultry in mainland China was from Guangdong Province in September 2012.

Continued: http://www.promedmail.org/dire...

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 ]
Local Specialists Keeping An Eye On Deadly Coronavirus

February 20, 2013 6:11 AM


Dr. Nirav Patel, an infectious diseases specialist at Saint Louis University Hospital, says little is known at this point.

"There's not any significant person-to-person spread - I think there's only been two cases of person-to-person spread - compared to what they had with SARS," he said. "But there are some concerns. It's very early in the outbreak so they're not sure how it's going to play out. It may be nothing but they're not taking any chances."

Patel says those most at risk appear to be people who have visited the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan.

"There's some concern expressed here but at this point, I think we're just very vigilant," he added.

Why Pregnant Women Should Get Flu Shots

By Dr. Siobhan DolanFeb. 20, 20133 Comments

The flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and can protect both mother and baby from the flu and its possible consequences.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from flu because pregnancy takes a toll on their respiratory and immune systems. Pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized with flu and influenza infections can increase their risk of preterm labor and delivery. Health complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly.

Newborns are also at an increased risk of severe illness and even death from the flu.  Nationwide, 64 child deaths have been reported this flu season.

Studies have shown, however, that if mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy their newborns are less likely to become ill with the flu during their first six months. It's critical for a newborn to have this passive immunity from mom during those early months since it's not recommended that babies under six months receive a flu shot.

Concerns about flu shots having a negative impact on developing babies in utero also seem to be unfounded. Studies that included thousands of pregnant women who received the seasonal flu vaccine found that their babies did not have a higher risk of being born too soon or developing a birth defect when compared with babies born to women who did not get immunized. In fact, researchers found that women who were vaccinated were less likely to suffer a stillbirth compared to those who did not get vaccinated.

Based on this evidence, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the March of Dimes, and the CDC all urge pregnant women to get their flu shots to avoid getting infected, and if they do, to treat their symptoms as soon as possible in order to keep themselves and their growing baby healthy.

Sars victim's eight-day fight for life

20 Feb 2013 00:00
Every medic who came into contact with the man wore protective masks, gowns and gloves - as did the patient's three visitors

Picture exclusive: Inside the critical care unit
Edward Moss
[photo]This is the emergency unit where doctors battled in vain for eight days to save the Sars-like virus victim's life.

The man, 39, had admitted himself to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on February 9. Within 24 hours he had fallen seriously ill and was transferred to the 100-bed critical care unit, which is the biggest in Europe.

Every medic who came into contact with the man wore protective masks, gowns and gloves - as did the patient's three visitors.

The victim had already been an outpatient of the £545million hospital. He was having treatment for a health problem unconnected to the illness that killed him.


Bosses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham said that the victim - who has not been named by officials - died on Sunday morning.

Coronavirus: what you need to know
Coronavirus: what you need to know

20 February 2013 15:24 | By Ian Jones, MSN UK news editor

[The article is an FAQ on the novel coronavirus.]

CIDRAP: British man dies from novel coronavirus infection

[This is an excellent article and is best read at the link.]    

Lisa Schnirring  Staff Writer
Feb 19, 2013 (CIDRAP News) -


Mild infection raises transmission questions
The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) today released new information about the third patient in the family cluster, who has recovered from a milder version of the illnesses after more limited contact: visiting the older man in the hospital on three occasions. The third patient had no contact with the man who died and, according to a new risk assessment from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), is a 30-year-old woman.


The woman's limited contact with the man who died raises the possibility of an intermediary case within the extended family, the HPA said. The ECDC also noted the limited time the woman spent with the older patient, which it said might point to an intermediary case or fomite spread. "However, the investigation and intensive case finding around the three cases remain ongoing and the results cannot be prejudged," the agency said.

Public health authorities are tracing the contacts of the family members, including people who sat within two rows of the older man on a flight from Saudi Arabia to London, during which he first felt ill. Follow-up is also underway on health workers, patients, family, and friends who were in contact with the patients in hospital settings.

Health officials reconsider threat assessments


Meanwhile, the ECDC said recent developments with the three UK cases increase the threat to the European Union, because the infection came to Europe on a commercial flight and resulted in two more illnesses, though the cluster is isolated to one family.

Emergence of a mild secondary case, the first of its kind, is worrisome, because other mild illnesses that are missed during NCoV detection efforts could spread the infection, the ECDC said. More work is needed to flesh out the illness spectrum, such as whether it causes severe disease of uncommon zoonotic origin, as well as mild or even asymptomatic infections, it said in the risk assessment.

Also, the emergence of the mild illness and the possibility that surveillance will find more of them raises questions about whether new case-finding strategies are needed, the ECDC said, noting that it is reviewing the issue with its member countries and global health partners.


After sixth patient dies, analysis of new coronavirus emerge


On Tuesday, The Guardian issued a Q&A analysis of the NCoV threat http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie... , providing detail on what it is, how it operates, where it came from, and how dangerous it is currently.

Coronaviruses are particularly dangerous, as they utilize numerous proteins to help suppress early detection by the immune system, blocking the immune system's interferons from eliciting an early detection that would otherwise alert a healthy response from the body. This stealth mechanism allows the virus to replicate silently and to impact the lungs more deeply and dangerously than an influenza virus, which does not carry as many of these stealth proteins.

As the Toronto Star reported http://www.thestar.com/news/wo... , NCoV is a very effective and disruptive virus, but it is challenged currently in spreading easily from person to person.

"The good news is this virus is not different to other coronaviruses in terms of its vulnerability to interferons," Dr. Volker Thiel, of the Kantonal Hospital's Institute of Immunology in Switzerland, said, according to the Toronto Star report.

"Interferon treatment should work - to some extent, at least."

Novel Coronavirus Well-Adapted to Humans, Susceptible to Immunotherapy

[Note: this is only a small snippet. This is an excellent article. Please read it at the link.]

Feb. 19, 2013 - The new coronavirus that has emerged in the Middle East is well-adapted to infecting humans but could potentially be treated with immunotherapy, according to a study to be published on February 19 in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The study indicates that the virus HCoV-EMC can penetrate the lining of the passageways in the lung and evade the innate immune system as easily as a cold virus can, signs that HCoV-EMC is well-equipped for infecting human cells. The study also reveals that the virus is susceptible to treatment with interferons, components of the immune system that have been used successfully to treat other viral diseases, opening a possible mode of treatment in the event of a large-scale outbreak.

"Surprisingly, this coronavirus grows very efficiently on human epithelial cells," says co-author Volker Thiel of The Institute of Immunobiology at Kantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Thiel says these new data indicate that although HCoV-EMC may have jumped from animals to humans very recently, it is just as well adapted to infecting the human respiratory tract as other, more familiar human coronaviruses, including the SARS virus and the common cold virus, HCoV-229E.

Immunotherapy could be answer to treating novel coronavirus

[Another good article on the same subject. Read at link.]

[ Parent ]
Please post new news stories to...

News Reports for February 21, 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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