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News Reports for October 22, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 18:02:53 PM EDT

Reminder: Please do not post whole articles, just snippets and links, and do not post articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Thanks!

• Tamil Nadu: Swine flu cases crop up again (Link)
• Andhra Pradesh: Woman from East Godavari dies of swine flu (Link)

Saudi Arabia
• ProMED: Novel coronavirus - Saudi Arabia (13): history, collateral damage (Link)

United States
• Flu Vaccines in Grade Schools Significantly Curb Illness (Link)

• India: Surinder Sud - Dangers of 'animal spirits' (Link)

• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for October 22, 2012

News for October 21, 2012 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 August 10, 2012
Charts and Graphs on H5N1 from WHO
Google Flu Trends
CDC Weekly Influenza Summary
Map of seasonal influenza in the U.S.
CIDPC (Canada) Weekly FluWatch
UK RCGP Weekly Data on Communicable and Respiratory Diseases
Flu Wiki

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India: Swine flu cases crop up again (Tamil Nadu)
(Snip) Sengodampalayam village has been brought under the department's scanner after a lorry driver hailing from there was diagnosed with swine flu. (Snip).

Officials said P Saravanan was admitted to a private hospital in Salem, when he tested positive for swine flu on October 19. Subsequently, he was shifted to the Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College Hospital. He had contracted the virus while ferrying goods to Gujarat and Maharashtra (Snip).

(Snip) health department officials led by deputy director Dr B R Jemini, district entomologist Dr V Murthy and block medical officer Dr Thenmozhi visited the village and initiated steps to prevent the flu from spreading. "The house where the driver stayed was disinfected and 16 persons including his family members were given Tamiflu medicine," (Snip). A medical team has been monitoring Sengodampalayam. http://newindianexpress.com/st...

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


ProMED: Novel coronavirus - Saudi Arabia (13): history, collateral damage
Four months ago, a mucus sample arrived in Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki's laboratory in Saudi Arabia. The mucus had been coughed up by a 60-year-old Saudi Arabian man with a strange case of pneumonia. He had been admitted to the Dr. Soliman Fakeeh hospital in Jeddah on [13 Jun 2012]; soon after, his kidneys began to fail. Eleven days after being hospitalized, the man was dead.

When the patient was admitted, Zaki was working in the hospital's virology lab, which he helped establish in 1994. He was sent samples of the patient's sputum, mucus coughed up from his lungs.

Eventually, this spot of sputum would lead Zaki to the discovery of a virus never before seen in humans: a novel coronavirus, the same type of virus behind the SARS outbreak in 2003 that swept across 30 countries and killed approximately 800 people, including 44 Torontonians.

Zaki's discovery -- and his decision to post it online -- touched off a chain of events that quickly unearthed a 2nd patient in another country and enabled the global health community to gain an upper hand in the face of a potentially deadly new virus.

Scientists have now learned the virus's genetic code, discovered its likely link to bats, and equipped labs around the world with the means to diagnose it. Virologist buddies from the "old SARS club" have reunited, collaborating once again across borders, and teams of experts have been deployed to the Middle East to aggressively investigate the virus and its origins.

And the World Health Organization currently feels reassured enough to give its blessing for travel to Saudi Arabia, where millions of pilgrims are descending this week for the hajj, one of the world's largest mass gatherings.

For Zaki, his discovery was fortunate, "a favour for the globe." Yet, as of last week, it seems to have cost him his job.

But on [13 Jun 2012], Zaki was still faced with that basic medical question: What mysterious thing was making this patient so sick? Zaki 1st ran a battery of tests on the sputum and blood samples. Initially, he looked for influenza, the usual suspect in a respiratory ailment. All initial results came back negative. Zaki decided to culture the samples to see what grew. In late June [2012], viruses began replicating in the sputum culture, but by this point, the patient was already dead.

Yet Zaki continued his sleuthing. He had a sense that this was something bigger than just one patient. So Zaki turned his mind to the possibility of a paramyxovirus, a class of virus responsible for some acute respiratory diseases. It was a path that took him to Dr. Ron Fouchier, a professor of molecular virology at the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Zaki has never met Fouchier but knew his reputation as one of the world's leading influenza researchers. He also knew Fouchier had recently developed a test for paramyxoviruses and called him.

Fouchier listened to Zaki and could not help thinking about SARS; the clinical picture just sounded so similar. Had Zaki tested for coronaviruses yet?

This was certainly going to be Zaki's next step. He mailed the virus to Fouchier in Rotterdam. While he waited for a response, Zaki tested his virus sample to identify whether it was in the coronavirus family. It was.

Coronaviruses can infect many animals and humans and are named for their distinctive crown-like appearance under a microscope. Before 2003, there were only 2 coronaviruses known to infect humans, and both were associated with the common cold. The discovery of SARS 9 years ago [2003] changed everything and opened the world's eyes to the coronavirus's deadly potential and the ominous possibility that new strains were lurking undiscovered. 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


India: Woman from East Godavari dies of swine flu (Andhra Pradesh)
Visakhapatnam, Oct 22 (PTI) A 21-year-old pregnant woman from East Godavari district died of swine flu this morning (Snip) the woman was admitted to Kakinada Government Hospital on October 17, and was transferred here when her condition worsened two days ago. Another woman, 20-year-old, a suspected swine flu patient, was also said to be in critical condition at the hospital. http://www.moneycontrol.com/ne...  

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


Flu Vaccines in Grade Schools Significantly Curb Illness
Study shows that everyone benefits when at least half of a school's students are vaccinated.

Public health officials have been trying to drum up support for flu vaccination for all kids ages six months and older for several years now. Vaccination rates have crept up, but half of all kids still don't get a yearly flu shot. A new study suggests that schools may be the best place to immunize kids, especially schools in lower-socioeconomic areas where annual flu vaccine rates are low.

Getting kids immunized is no small matter. About 24,000 people, adults and children, die each year from the flu. Moreover, studies in recent years have pointed to preschool and grade-school aged children as robust carriers of the virus that then spreads throughout all age groups. If those kids are immunized, the thinking goes, then flu rates would be lower throughout communities.

"Children are very capable of spreading the flu," Dr. Pia Pannaraj, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told Take Part. "They spread the virus very easily to each other. They go home and bring the flu virus to grandma and grandpa and baby brother or baby sister, who could become severely ill with this virus."

In data presented last week, Pannaraj makes a strong case for vaccinating kids in schools. The study was comprised of almost 4,500 kids in grades kindergarten through six at eight schools in Los Angeles County during the 2010-2011 flu season. In four of the schools, information and permission slips for a school-based, free flu vaccine program were sent home to parents. The other four schools were used as a comparison group. In schools with the vaccine program, parents could choose which type of vaccine their child received-shot or nasal spray. The parents did not have to be present when the child received the vaccine. Continued: http://www.takepart.com/articl...

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


Surinder Sud: Dangers of 'animal spirits'
Frequent outbreaks of bird flu, swine flu and other contagious diseases - which move from one country to another and pose a grave threat to animal as well as human health - have necessitated special strategies aimed at combating trans-boundary diseases (TBDs). Most countries are ill-equipped to prevent this cross-border movement, even if they are capable of managing these within their territories.

The liberalisation of global trade has led to a spurt in the trade of livestock products and animal feed. This has elevated the risk of dispersal of these diseases, despite the strict sanitary and phyto-sanitary norms mooted under the trade pact. Even the quarantine provisions that are in place in most countries prove ineffective against viruses and other pathogens disseminated through wild birds, animals and other carriers. The danger is that in the absence of adequate bio-security arrangements, these viruses may fall into the hands of unscrupulous elements and misused as weapons of bio-terrorism.

The list of TBDs is indeed long. The most significant are the highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) caused by H5N1 virus, swine flu by H1N1 virus, the foot and mouth disease of cattle and other animals, and the NIPAH affliction caused by Nipah and Hendra viruses that cause inflammation of brain (encephalitis) and respiratory diseases in livestock and human beings. These and other TBDs are estimated to result in an annual economic loss of around $5 billion globally owing to animal mortality and morbidity.

India and its adjoining countries in South Asia are deemed to be the "hot spots" of many of these high-impact maladies. This region runs the risk of rapid spread of these diseases and suffering heavy losses because of the high density of livestock and human population and poor sanitary conditions. Given the porous borders and a free flow of animals and birds, it is difficult to surmount this menace without mutual cooperation.

It was with this end in view that a three-day meet of TBD experts from Asia and Pacific countries was held recently in New Delhi. Organised jointly by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes, the meet identified the gaps in the preparedness for controlling these diseases and the steps needed to remedy them. The ultimate objective is to evolve a multi-pronged strategy to forewarn, prevent, detect and control these diseases.

Experts generally believe that the policy vacuum is more to blame than technical inadequacies for the unabated threat from these plagues. Public policies in most countries are oriented primarily towards managing domestic disease outbreaks rather than eradicating the infection in the foci of origin through joint regional action. Such myopic policies, obviously, fail to address the long-term consequences and move towards an enduring solution for this problem. The fiasco on this front, moreover, allows these viruses to mutate into more virulent forms. Besides, more effective barriers at the borders, constant surveillance and facilities for quick diagnosis are needed to ensure timely control operations. Continued: http://www.business-standard.c...

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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