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News Reports for December 14, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 14:30:35 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!

• Five test positive for swine flu (Link)

• HMore virulent bird flu found in Indonesia (Link)

United Kingdom
• Demand £500m back for Tamiflu, urge MPs (Link)

United States
• With new rules, few public health labs to handle riskiest agents (Link)

• ProMED: Avian influenza, 2003 - Netherlands - HPAI A(H7N7) wind spread  (Link)
• CIDRAP: Global study notes progress against infectious diseases (Link)

• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for December 14, 2012

News for December 13, 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: Five test positive for swine flu (Rajasthan)
JAIPUR: Five persons tested positive for swine flu in the state on Thursday. Two of them were residents of Bikaner district. They were brought to the Sawai Man Singh hospital's swine flu ward in Jaipur early on Thursday morning.

One of the patients is a 50-year-old woman and the other is a 54-year-old man (Snip). their swab tests, which tested positive for H1N1 influenza. Now, three swine flu patients are undergoing treatment at the SMS hospital's swine flu ward.

The other three cases of swine flu were detected in Jodhpur and Sirohi. Since April 1 as many as 217 persons have been tested for swine flu and 34 of them died. (Snip). http://timesofindia.indiatimes...

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


UK: Demand £500m back for Tamiflu, urge MPs
Ministers should demand that the pharmaceutical firm Roche returns £500 million to the NHS if it is found to have sat on trials data showing the flu drug Tamiflu to be ineffective, say MPs.

The Swiss drugs giant has been accused of withholding key data on effectiveness of Tamiflu, which the NHS stockpiled in vast quantities in 2009 (Snip).

Roche claims the drug reduces the risk of developing flu-related complications including bronchitis and pneumonia.


(Snip) over the last year scientists have begun to challenge Roche's claims. They have regularly asked it to publish all its clinical trials into the drug - it has carried out at least 123 - but at the moment some claim 60 per cent remain unpublished.

Scientists fear Roche has cherry-picked the most favourable trials to publish - and effectively hidden the rest. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/hea...

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


CIDRAP: With new rules, few public health labs to handle riskiest agents
Dec 13, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - With tougher security requirements set to take effect next April, few state public health laboratories plan to maintain stocks of certain pathogens considered most tempting to bioterrorists, according to the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and officials with state labs.

Pathogens such as Bacillus anthracis, Ebola virus, and several others have been designated "Tier 1" agents on the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS's) list of select agents and toxins. Come Apr 3, labs that want to keep samples of Tier 1 agents on hand will have to meet special rules for personnel screening and physical security, on top of those already required by the Select Agent Program. Some lab directors describe the extra requirements as burdensome.

A recent informal survey by the APHL suggested that only a few labs will take the trouble to register as Tier 1 labs, said Chris N. Mangal, MPH, the association's director of public health preparedness and response. "We did a quick survey, and what we've seen so far is only about six of our labs indicated they'd have an interest in pursuing Tier 1 registration," Mangal told CIDRAP News. She said all six were state labs.

Labs participating in the HHS Select Agent Program were supposed to notify the agency last week whether they planned to seek Tier 1 registration. If they don't go that route, they will have to get rid of their Tier 1 samples by April.

Mangal and some other lab experts say that with only a few labs holding Tier 1 registration, the nation's lab capacity could fall short in the event of another bioterrorist incident like the anthrax letter attacks of 2001. Others, though, are less concerned.

Labs not registered to handle Tier 1 agents will still be able to test for and detect them, with the help of control strains that are not dangerous, Mangal and others said. But if they find one of the agents, they will have only 7 days to either destroy the sample or ship it to a lab with Tier 1 credentials. The 7-day deadline means those labs will have difficulty doing further analysis of Tier 1 agents, such as DNA fingerprinting, which would probably be required if deliberate release of an agent was suspected.

"I don't believe that the Tier 1 select agent requirements will limit their [labs'] ability to perform the initial testing for threat agents," said Mangal. "Where this new regulation becomes a problem is the additional characterization that is typically needed for evidentiary purposes."

Besides Ebola virus and B anthracis, which causes anthrax, Tier 1 agents are Francisella tularensis (the cause of tularemia), Marburg virus, variola major and minor viruses (smallpox), Yersinia pestis (plague), Clostridium botulinum and botulinum toxin (botulism), Burkholderia mallei (glanders), and Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis).

Mangal said that during the 2001 anthrax episode, the Laboratory Response Network (LRN), which then included about 60 labs, ran more 1 million tests. She wonders if, in the event of a similar emergency, the burden of testing would fall mostly on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and the Department of Homeland Security's National Biodefense Forensic Analysis Center in Maryland.

"Back in 2001 we saw how many samples came through and the vast amount of surge and storage space required," she said. "What would happen if something like that happened again? . . . A surge in samples could possibly overwhelm the limited labs that would be at Tier 1."

The LRN for Biological Threat Preparedness and Response, which now includes about 165 labs, is designated by the CDC and APHL to respond to potential bioterrorism events and other infectious disease threats. Mangal said the APHL worked successfully to ensure that LRN members would not have to qualify for Tier 1 in order to stay in the network. There have been indications that HHS and the US Department of Agriculture, which administers a separate Select Agent Program, might suspend some of the Tier 1 rules in an emergency, allowing labs to keep agents longer, according to Mangal.

CDC spokesman Jason McDonald agreed that that could happen. He said the federal Bioterrorism Act allows the HHS secretary to exempt a facility from the Select Agent Program regulations if the step is judged necessary because of a public health emergency. Continued: 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: Global study notes progress against infectious diseases
Dec 13, 2012 (CIDRAP News) - Infectious diseases are causing fewer deaths and illnesses worldwide than two decades ago, with fewer kids dying, but younger and middle-aged adults are bearing more of the overall medical burden, according to a massive multipart study published today in The Lancet.

Titled the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010), the report represents the biggest systematic effort to portray the world's distribution and causes of a wide range of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors, and the first since a 1990 GBD study was commissioned by the World Bank, according to a Lancet press release.

Continued with lots more: 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


ProMED: Avian influenza, 2003 - Netherlands: HPAI A(H7N7) wind spread
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry can cause severe economic damage and represent a public health threat. Development of efficient containment measures requires an understanding of how these influenza viruses are transmitted from one farm to the next. However, the actual mechanisms of inter-farm transmission are largely unknown. Dispersal of infectious material by wind has been suggested but never demonstrated as a possible cause of transmission between farms. Here, we provide statistical evidence that the direction of spread of avian influenza A(H7N7) is correlated with the direction of wind at date of infection. We find the direction of spread by reconstructing the transmission tree for a large outbreak in the Netherlands in 2003 using detailed genetic and epidemiological data. We conservatively estimate the contribution of a possible wind-mediated mechanism to the total amount of spread during this outbreak to be around 18 percent.

Communicated by: ProMED-mail

"Wind-related spread of avian influenza has direct consequences for containment efforts. Farms emit vast quantities of particulate matter, which could well carry viable virus. Several systems, such as air scrubbers, water or oil sprinkling, changes in ventilation rate, and ionization systems have been shown to reduce dust concentrations and could be an efficient way to stop infectious particles from getting in or out. Alternative wind-related mechanisms cannot be excluded on the basis of our analysis.

Wild birds or insects acting as vectors for the disease, flying preferentially in the direction of the wind, would explain our observations as well, but call for different control strategies. Furthermore, culling strategies may take into account the role of wind. 1st, care should be taken to ensure contaminated material does not get into the environment during culling activity. 2nd, wind direction should be taken into account when estimating the risk of infection for farms; the most efficient culling order will 1st target those farms that are at higher risk of infection and, when infected, will pose higher risks to other farms themselves. Thus, increased knowledge of which farms are at risk, provided by current and forecasted wind direction, allows for a more efficient culling strategy. 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


More virulent bird flu found in Indonesia
December 13, 2012 by Bryan Cohen

Indonesia's veterinary office recently identified a bird flu virus that killed hundreds of thousands of ducks in the last few weeks as a more virulent type that is new to the country.

A poultry breeders' association reported the death of more than 300,000 ducks since November in several provinces on Java Island. The H5N1 virus involved in the deaths was part of a clade that is not typically found in Indonesia, AFP reports.

"We found a highly pathogenic avian influenza sub-type H5N1 (virus) with clade 2.3," Syukur Iwantoro, the agriculture ministry's veterinary chief, said, according to AFP. "This clade is a new clade found for the first time in Indonesia, that is very different to the avian influenza found before, which is clade 2.1."

A clade is a group of organisms with a common ancestor.

Iwantoro called for additional research to determine if the virus genetically shifted from one previously in the country or if it came from other countries, such as Thailand or Vietnam.

Health officials are asking local governments to stop and check pick-up trucks and motorbikes used to transport poultry to attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

Bird flu can spread from birds to humans through direct contact, though experts worry the it could mutate into a form that transmits easily between humans. According to the World Health Organization, out of 359 worldwide human fatalities from bird flu since 2003, 159 of them occurred in Indonesia, AFP reports.


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