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News Reports for December 4, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 13:43:56 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!

• B.C. backs off mandatory flu shots for health workers (Link)
• Flu season gets head start (Link)

• CIDRAP: Jordan calls novel coronavirus cases isolated (Link)

• Bird Deaths in Russia Are Being Blamed on 'Low Pathogenic Flu' (Link)

United States
• NY, Onondaga County: Surge of flu activity (Link)

• CIDRAP: Draft criteria for US funding of H5N1 research spark debate (Link)
• Why Is the Flu More Common During the Winter Season? (Link)
• Progress towards controlling avian influenza (Link)

• Recombinomics: Novel Beta Coronavirus HCW Clusters Raise Concerns (Link)

• H(Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for December 4, 2012

News for December 3, 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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Novel Beta Coronavirus HCW Clusters Raise Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary

(Snip) Outcome of close contact follow-up ten days or more since last exposure to index case with a novel coronavirus infection, London, September 2012 (n=64)

The above (Snip) is from the Eurosurveillance report entitled "The United Kingdom public health response to an imported laboratory confirmed case of a novel coronavirus in September 2012" which included testing of contacts of the first confirmed novel betacornavirus case (49M) from Qatar.  (Snip) there were 13 health care worker (HCW) contacts who were symptomatic.  Ten were tested by PCR, (Snip) samples were collected from cases who were exposed 10 or more days prior to collection.  These HCWs were not hospitalized (they self quarantined at home) and viral RNA levels would likely be low.  Thus, collection times would have to be optimal for detection, so a failure to detect the novel betacornavirus was not unexpected.  Moreover, a fatal case (from Saudi Arabia), who died at the beginning of September, was not tested.

The large frequency of contacts with symptoms (13/56 = 23%) was similar to frequencies seen in the SARS CoV outbreak in 2003, raising concerns that the negative data for the HCWs reported above was false.

The cluster in Jordan was more serious.  The cases were linked directly or indirectly to the ICU in Zarpa.  Local media reports noted that the presentation was similar to SARS and the symptomatic cases were hospitalized.  Although many of the 12 cases were only hospitalized briefly, two of the cases died, one with renal complications and the other with cardiac problems (which were in addition to respiratory problems).  Samples were sent to labs in France and Egypt.  The ECDC report noted that the US CDC and WHO were aware of the outbreak.  Initial testing in April was negative for respiratory virus including a panel of known coronaviruses, including SARS. (Snip) re-testing use a PCR test using the sequence from the initial isolate, EMC/12, identified the virus in the two fatal cases.

The positive results were reported by WHO, but the report had no detail (age, gender, or key dates of disease onset, hospitalization, death or discharge).  (Snip) media reports on the press conference by the Jordan MoH indicated the first fatality (40F nurse) died on April 19, while the second fatality (25M intern) died on April 26.  The one week gap in date of death suggests that disease onset dates had gaps supporting human to human (H2H) transmission, as did symptoms in the son of the first fatal case.

The confirmation of the novel coronavirus in two members of the cluster, as well as symptoms in at least one family member and the 1 week gap in the date of death for the two fatal cases, raises strong concerns that the other members of the cluster were also infected, but tested negative due to collection and/or sensitivity issues.

The transmission within the group is also supported by the Riyadh family cluster, which tested positive for three of the four symptomatic family members, including the two fatal cases whose date of death were at least 4 days apart.

Although WHO undoubtedly has the age, gender, and key dates for each of the confirmed / probable / suspect cases in these clusters, the data has been withheld as WHO continues to cite possible common sources for the clusters, which have no scientific support, but are cited, in part, because the data that contradicts this possibility is withheld.

WHO should release the withheld data, which will strongly support sustained human transmission over a seven month period.  Sequences should also be released, which will also clearly support the emergence of a human contagion. 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


CIDRAP: Jordan calls novel coronavirus cases isolated
Dec 3, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - Following the recent retrospective confirmation of two fatal infections with a novel coronavirus (CoV) in Jordan, the Jordanian health ministry said no more such cases have surfaced in the country since April, (Snip).


On Nov 30 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that tests identified the novel CoV in 2 of 11 people, including 8 healthcare workers, who had severe respiratory infections in a hospital intensive care unit in Zarqa, Jordan, in April. The cases increased the global tally of novel CoV cases to nine, with 5 deaths.

There was no word today on further tests results for any of the people in the Jordanian illness cluster.

Besides the Jordanian cases, five cases, with three deaths, have been reported in Saudi Arabia and two cases in Qatar. Three of the five Saudi cases were part of a family cluster.

(Snip) the Canadian government on Nov 30 urged travelers to take precautions in light of the novel coronavirus. In an updated travel health notice, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said travelers may be subject to quarantine in some countries, including Saudi Arabia, if they show signs of a flu-like illness. The notice advises people to postpone travel if they have flu-like symptoms. It also recommends good respiratory hygiene and says people who have breathing difficulty after returning from a trip should seek immediate medical attention.


Meanwhile, the WHO today released a revised set of frequently asked questions about the novel CoV. It stresses how little is known about the pathogen, noting that officials don't know how people become infected or whether they can spread the virus to others. But unlike the SARS virus, the new virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, the agency commented.

In the cases so far, the WHO said, "common symptoms have been acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Based on current clinical experience, the infection generally presents as pneumonia." Five cases involved acute renal failure, (Snip).

The WHO also updated its surveillance guidance for the novel CoV today. The latest version includes only some alteration in wording for clarity, with no substantive changes.

In other reporting, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) supplied a recap of the novel CoV situation in its weekly communicable disease update today.

Continued with links: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...  

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


CIDRAP: Draft criteria for US funding of H5N1 research spark debate
A set of proposed criteria for US government funding of experiments that could produce potentially more-dangerous H5N1 avian influenza viruses is sparking debate among researchers, according to a Nov 30 ScienceInsider report.

The key requirement for funding such "gain-of-function" research is that it must not be designed or expected to yield a virus with increased transmissibility, pathogenicity, or host range unless there is evidence that natural evolution could produce a similar virus in "the foreseeable future."

Amy Patterson, MD, associate director for science policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said this criterion was "very controversial" in the government committee that produced the list, the story said. The criteria also say the study must address a topic of high public health significance and that other, safer ways to address the same scientific question are unavailable.

The list was unveiled last week at a meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which advises the government on biological research that could be used for good or ill.

Some flu researchers said the plan would block funding for many potentially useful studies, while others called it a sign of progress in government efforts to reduce the risks of H5N1 research, according to the story.

Continued with more info and links:  http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidr...

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


Why Is the Flu More Common During the Winter Season?
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2012) - Influenza, commonly known as the flu, has distinct transmission patterns around the world. In temperate regions, influenza's occurrence peaks during the winter season, while in some tropical regions, the disease's occurrence tends to correspond with the rainy season.

Linsey Marr, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, and her colleagues, Wan Yang, of Blacksburg, Va., one of her doctoral students, and Elankumaran Subbiah, a virologist in the biomedical sciences and pathobiology department of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, measured the influenza A virus survival rate at various levels of humidity.

Their study presents for the first time the relationship between the influenza A virus viability in human mucus and humidity over a large range of relative humidities, from 17 percent to 100 percent. They found the viability of the flu A virus was highest when the relative humidity was either close to 100 percent or below 50 percent. The results in human mucus may help explain influenza's seasonality in different regions.

"We added flu viruses to droplets of simulated respiratory fluid and to actual human mucus and then measured what fraction survived after exposure to low, medium, and high relative humidities," said Marr.

At low humidity, respiratory droplets evaporate completely and the virus survives well under dry conditions. But at moderate humidity, the droplets evaporate some, but not completely, leaving the virus exposed to higher levels of chemicals in the fluid and compromising the virus' ability to infect cells.

(Big Snip)

The researchers found humidity could explain the seasonality of influenza by controlling the ability of viruses to remain infectious while they are in droplets or aerosols. The viruses survived best at low humidity, such as those found indoors in the winter, and at extremely high humidity. Humidity affects the composition of the fluid, namely the concentrations of salts and proteins in respiratory droplets, and this affects the survival rates of the flu virus. http://www.sciencedaily.com/re...

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


Bird Deaths in Russia Are Being Blamed on 'Low Pathogenic Flu'
The H5N1 avian flu didn't cause deaths of wild birds in Russia's southern Krasnodar region last week, the government's food safety agency said.

Lab tests proved a "low-pathogenic flu," not H5N1, killed hundreds of wild ducks in coastal lakes in the Anapa and Temryuk districts in the Krasnodar region last week, (Snip)

No poultry for human consumption was infected, Krasnodar's administration said on its website Nov. 30. Governor Alexander Tkachev ordered a quarantine of areas and banned hunting there to keep the virus from spreading, (Snip).


Rosselkhoznadzor will eliminate dead birds from the area and will not cull other ducks, (Snip). There were about 12,000 wild ducks in the Krasnodar areas last week, according to Rosselkhoznadzor data. http://www.businessweek.com/ne...

(Note: I'm have trouble believing this is a "Low Pathogenic Flu". Ducks carry lots of low path. flu strains without even becoming sick. One article said 4000 died due to this outbreak. I have to wonder if we are getting the truth on this.) JMO

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


Progress towards controlling avian influenza
Researchers at the Jenner Institute - a collaboration between the Pirbright Institute and Oxford University - have moved a step closer to developing a universal vaccine against avian influenza.

"Traditional avian flu vaccines are only effective against one particular type of flu, but we want to be able to protect birds, and ultimately people, against different subtypes using just one vaccine," said Colin Butter, who led the project. "This research suggests that, in principle, a universal vaccine is possible."

Poultrymeat is the most popular source of protein across the world and is increasingly in demand in the burgeoning economies of South and East Asia, he added. With the global population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, improving poultry production by controlling disease will be vital.

The team used a vaccine based on proteins from within a human flu virus, which was effective to initiate an immune response in chickens that would, in theory, protect against multiple strains of flu. It also reduced the extent to which birds shed live infectious virus that could further an outbreak of disease.

"We've found that, by using proteins that are very similar in all flu viruses and delivering them packaged inside another harmless virus, we can safely vaccinate the chick while it is still developing inside the egg and then give a booster injection after hatch," explained Dr Butter. "This seems to be effective in priming the chicken's immune systems against a bird flu virus only distantly related to the human virus whose genes we used to make the vaccine." Continued: http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/...  

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


Onondaga County N.Y.:Surge of flu activity
By James T. Mulder, The Post-Standard
December 04, 2012

Syracuse, N.Y. -- The Syracuse area is experiencing a surge of flu activity not seen since the swine flu three years ago.

The number ted cases in Onondaga County exceeded 350 in a single week that year.


Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Onondaga County's health commissioner, said the area has not seen this much flu activity since the 2009 global pandemic of swine flu, also known as H1N1. The number of reported cases in Onondaga County exceeded 350 in a single week that year.


Preliminary information suggests the flu vaccine being used this season is a good match against the circulating flu strains, she said.


United we stand: Divided we fall

Has the flu vaccine been a good match? n/t

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
Hi cottontop
The CDC says the vaccine is a good match. I think we may have flu strains that circulated last season around too and if so, they are not in the vaccine this year. JMO

Here is a recent report from the CDC: "2012-2013 Influenza Season Week 47 ending November 24, 2012"  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

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


[ Parent ]
Thnaks Carol. n/t

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
Canada: B.C. backs off mandatory flu shots for health workers
B.C. backs off mandatory flu shots for health workers
The [British Columbia] government has temporarily backed away from its mandatory flu vaccination policy for thousands of provincial health care workers.

Instead of forcing workers to get flu shots, the Health Ministry says it will work towards getting compliance from workers in the first year of the program.

In a letter to B.C.'s health authority chief executive officers, deputy health minister Graham Whitmarsh says components of the influenza control policy would not be enforced for the first year.

Canada: Flu season gets head start
Flu season gets head start
Flu season has arrived early, say officials from Ottawa Public Health. The virus has already infected at least 11 people and claimed one life.

Last year, there were only two cases reported before January.

But this year, laboratory-confirmed cases were reported as early as October, said Eric Leclair, an public health official.

So far, 11 cases of flu have been reported across the city. Five were from the general population, while six came from long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

Ottawa is in eastern Ontario. (It's also our national capital.)

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