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News Reports for January 1, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 14:01:19 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!

Canada
• Quebec: Too many people with colds, flu and gastro (Link)
• Ontario: Flu virus sweeping across Ontario (Link)

Indonesia
• East Kalimantan Tightens Checks on Bird Flu Fears (Link)

Norway
• Norway faces possible H1N1 flu outbreak (Link)
• Swine Flu Attacking Norway People (Link)

United States
• IN: Indiana hospital fires 8 workers who refused flu shot (Link)
• OH: Ohio sees spike in flu cases as hospitalizations rise significantly compared to last year (Link)
• SC: Flu season intensifes in Carolinas (Link)
• TX: North Texas emergency rooms still packed with flu patients (Link)
• WV: West Virginia sees dramatic increase in flu cases (Link)

Research
• US: Research Moratoriums And Recipes For Superbugs - Bird Flu In 2012 (Link)
• US: UND scientist awarded grant for avian flu research (Link)

General
• Flu levels rising in Canada and Europe (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for January 1, 2013

News for December 31, 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 December 17, 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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Happy New Year everyone!
I hope 2013 is a good year for all of you. I wish you good health, happiness and peace.

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

     


Happy New Year Miss Carol! n/t


United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


[ Parent ]
Happy New Year to you too, cottontop!


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

     


[ Parent ]
Where is BB?
I miss Bronco Bill's snazzy banners.  He must be out having too much of a good time.

[ Parent ]
He's probably drinking up all the good red wine!
Hey BB, you're suppose to share! LOL

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

     


[ Parent ]
Happy New Year and Thanks!
Happy New Year to you and all the Fluwiki team - I hope 2013 is a healthy and peaceful year for all!

[ Parent ]
Research Moratoriums And Recipes For Superbugs: Bird Flu In 2012
For scientists who study a dangerous form of bird flu, 2012 is ending as it began - with uncertainty about what the future holds for their research, but a hope that some contentious issues will soon be resolved.

Last January, dozens of flu experts around the world agreed to what was supposed to be a 60-day pause in controversial experiments on the H5N1 bird flu virus. But none of them resumed work as planned because all year long, the debate over the benefits and the risks just wasn't going away.

Virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands says he reluctantly went along with the moratorium, "but I've not been a great advocate of it because there is urgency in this type of research."
Fouchier gets funding from the National Institutes of Health to study H5N1, which is widespread in poultry in parts of Asia and the Middle East.

H5N1 rarely infects humans, but more than half of those known to have gotten sick with it have died. Scientists have long wanted to know if this bird flu could mutate in a way that could make the virus start spreading between people and cause a pandemic.

So Fouchier's lab experimented with the virus and found that certain genetic changes did make it capable of spreading through the coughs and sneezes of ferrets, which are the lab stand-ins for people. This discovery provided important new clues about how future pandemics might emerge from nature. But at the same time, the findings were basically the recipe for creating a superflu - one that might kill millions.

That's why a panel of government advisers initially recommended against publicly revealing the details of both this experiment and another one like it done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"I think the biggest fear that we had was that these experiments were going on without the appropriate public dialogue," says Paul Keim, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University, who chaired the panel. For years, biologists have talked about the question of how to handle legitimate research that might produce information that could be misused to cause harm. But this so-called dual-use problem was largely theoretical in the life sciences. The bird flu research made it painfully real.

"It upped the ante, both in terms of what's at stake here in terms of public health and what's at stake here in terms of potential risks," Dr. Amy Patterson, who helps to direct the NIH's Office of Science Policy, says. "It captured people's attention."

Months went by as everyone scrambled to figure out what to do. Scientists argued at conferences and published op-eds. The World Health Organization held a closed-door meeting of flu experts. Officials tried, unsuccessfully, to find some legal way of giving the key details only to people who needed to know. In the end, science journals did openly publish full reports describing the studies in detail. But the research moratorium continued and people asked: Well, now what? Is it back to business as usual? Or is there a line that should not be crossed?

The NIH just held a public meeting to discuss whether, and under what conditions, it should fund future experiments that might make this form of bird flu more dangerous. Officials have drawn up a set of draft criteria for making decisions, and they want to know what people think. They're accepting emailed comments until Jan. 10.
At the same time, government officials are finishing up a review of what kind of lab safety measures should be used when doing this type of work.

Fouchier, for one, says it's still unclear to him how things will go. "It's critical who is going to do the vetting on this research, who decides what can be done and what cannot be done," Fouchier says. "If you ask infectious disease specialists about what should be done, you're going to get different answers than if you ask security specialists."

Some researchers who don't have to follow the NIH rules may decide to just go ahead with these experiments, despite the lingering uncertainties.

"I suspect that we will be seeing a lifting of the moratorium on the part of people who are not NIH-funded," Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said after the NIH conference. "They will do that according to their own guidelines of their own funders and the country in which they are doing the research." Continued: http://www.npr.org/blogs/healt...

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

     


UND scientist awarded grant for avian flu research
A University of North Dakota immunologist has been awarded a $700,000 state grant for avian flu research.

(Snip) David Bradley's research on avian flu antibodies could help poultry farmers effectively combat outbreaks of the disease.

Bradley is working collaboratively on the project with (Snip) Avianax.

Researchers say they hope to develop commercially viable therapeutic treatments within 12 to 18 months. http://www.ajc.com/news/ap/agr...

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

     


Indonesia: East Kalimantan Tightens Checks on Bird Flu Fears
December 31, 2012

Samarinda, East Kalimantan. Authorities in East Kalimantan have tightened their checks on poultry from Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi, following recent reports of bird flu outbreaks in those regions.

Slamet Soebagyo, head of disease control at the Samarinda Health Office, said on Sunday that animal quarantine officials at ports and airports throughout the province would work around the clock to screen incoming poultry for symptoms of the disease.

"We're being very strict about the checks because we don't want the bird flu virus getting in and spreading," he said.

"Each and every chicken or duck that comes in will be checked. If it shows symptoms similar to those of bird flu, it will be culled on the spot."

In addition to tightening screening of incoming poultry shipments, health officials are also visiting local poultry farms to spray disinfectant in and around the animal pens and cages. Slamet said his office was also urging poultry farmers to routinely clean out their facilities.

Indonesia has been hit hard by bird flu, accounting for 159 human fatalities out of 359 worldwide cases reported, according to the World Health Organization.

That figure does not take into account the death of a boy in Bogor in early December who was confirmed by the Health Ministry to have died from bird flu. His death brought the country's total this year to 10.

The country is now reeling from an outbreak of a new strain of the virus, which has already killed thousands of poultry that were immune to the older strain.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com...

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United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


US: Flu season intensifes in Carolinas
GREENVILLE, S.C. - (Snip) flu season has come weeks early - and has hit the Carolinas hard, health officials say. In fact, this is one of the worst flu seasons in a decade.

"Usually our flu season peaks in February and this one is peaking in December. It's very active. There are a lot of people sick with flu," N.C. Health Department epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies said.

She said the state doesn't count individual cases of the flu. "We couldn't possibly because there are too many people. But what we do is track visits to emergency departments and visits to primary care doctors and what percentage of those is for flu-like illness," Davis said.

Right now, about eight percent of all doctors' visits in North Carolina are for flu-like symptoms: widespread muscle aches, fatigue, high fever. Some medications can shorten the duration of the flu, such as Tamiflu. But they have to be taken when the first symptoms appear. So far, 14 people across the state have died of the flu. Eleven of the people who died were over 65.

The flu season is peaking and should start tapering off in a few weeks. But health officials say they could see flu cases into March. Meanwhile, doctors' offices and emergency rooms are filled with people suffering from flu-like symptoms.

In South Carolina, there have been 13 flu-related deaths since Sept. 30, said Lindsey Evans, spokeswoman S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. "We are categorizing it as widespread. We are seeing earlier outbreaks than in previous years and our numbers are pretty high," Evans said.

Health officials say they aren't sure why it's hit earlier than usual. Other states are in the middle of outbreaks, including Alaska, New York and Mississippi.

(Snip) this particular strain - H3N2 - is typically harder on older Americans than Influenza B or H1N1. "We're seeing a lot of older people getting sick with it, even people who have been vaccinated," Davies said. Continued: http://chronicle.augusta.com/n...

(Note: I live about 20 miles south of Greenville, SC. The flu is very bad here and seems to be infecting more and more people. I think it will be a while before the situation starts to improve. JMO)

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

     


US: North Texas emergency rooms still packed with flu patients
FORT WORTH -- Traditionally, headaches don't start until New Year's morning. But the misery is well underway in North Texas emergency rooms. "It's been very busy," said Dr. Neal Talbott. "Flu season is definitely here. Headaches, body aches, fever, stuffy nose -- feeling quite ill."

Talbott has spent 17 years in the emergency room at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. He said he's specifically seeing a big spike in influenza A. Hospital officials say the Harris had 360 visits Sunday -- it was close to a record. "I'm seeing 102 and 103 temperatures," Talbott said.

And he sees a common theme among patients: most of them have not had a flu shot. "Most people - if they get the flu - if they get the flu shot, it will be less severe," he said. Continued: http://www.wfaa.com/news/local...
 

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

     


Canada: Too many people with colds, flu and gastro (Quebec)
MONTREAL-Santa-Cabrini Hospital was a popular place to be on New Year's Eve.

(Snip)

Santa-Cabrini is just one of several Montreal-area hospitals reporting overcrowded emergency rooms. Regional health officials say the ERs are operating, on average, about one-third above capacity. Santa-Cabrini is also dealing with a lot of elderly patients.

"Most of our patients here are 75 and over and when they're already sick and they get the influenza, it's even worse," said Dr. Frank Giuristante, an ER coordinator at Santa-Cabrini. Elderly patients recover in three to five days, while younger patients can be in and out in 24 hours.

Call it Christmas fallout, doctors at Santa-Cabrini say one of the reasons its ER is overcrowded is the amount of family get-togethers between Christmas and New Year's.

On New Year's Eve the hospital's ER was running at twice its normal capacity. Continued: http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/too... ER's  

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

     


Flu levels rising in Canada and Europe
MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Canada is reporting increasing influenza in four regions of Ontario, and in Europe there were clear indications of rising flu activity (Snip).

(Snip) the predominant strain of influenza affecting Ontario was H3N2 with few 2009 H1N1 detections -- similar to the United States, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy reported.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said  (Snip) there were clear indications of rising flu activity, with the disease affecting more countries last week compared with the previous week.

Of 17 European countries that reported clinical data, France and Luxembourg reported medium-intensity flu activity (Snip).  Three countries reported wide geographic spread: Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The proportion of samples testing positive for influenza spiked to 27.3 percent, compared with 17.3 percent the week before. Only a small percentage of people with influenza get treated by a doctor and only some of those samples are tested for influenza.

Overall, 70 percent of the samples in Europe were influenza A, of which nearly 69 percent were H3N2, and influenza B made up 28 percent of the sub-typed viruses.  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

     


Norway faces possible H1N1 flu outbreak
OSLO, Dec. 31 - As more patients are tested positive for H1N1 virus infection in major Norwegian cities, doctors fear that Norway is facing a possible endemic (epidemic?) outbreak of the disease (Snip)

As many as 84 cases of swine flu have been registered so far by the Akershus University Hospital east of Oslo, Jan Erik Berdal, a doctor in the hospital's infectious disease section, told reporters.

"We are facing an epidemic. It seems to me that it has really taken off now. It seems that we are at the top or in the middle of such an epidemic," Berdal said.

Fourteen of the 22 patients hospitalized on New Year Eve with flu symptoms were tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

In the western coastal city of Bergen, 14 people have been hospitalized at Haukeland University Hospital and their blood samples have been taken to see if they have been infected with the swine flu virus, the health authorities in Norway's second largest city announced.

"We expect to detect swine flu among patients in Bergen too, but we do not know this for sure until we get any further tests, " said a statement issued by Haukeland University Hospital.

Meanwhile, three swine flu cases were reported earlier on Monday in the southwestern Norwegian city of Stavanger and one similar case was found on Monday afternoon in St. Olav's Hospital in Trondheim, a major coastal city in central Norway.

Extra personnel have been mobilized in Oslo to deal with a possible major outbreak of the H1N1 infection.

The high numbers mean that many more swine flu cases are yet to be detected, according to medical workers.

Last Thursday an 11-year-old Norwegian boy from Porsgrunn died of swine flu.

But there is no need for panic as people who took vaccines in 2009 have antibodies to resist the disease this year, said health officials. Continued: http://www.nzweek.com/healthli...

Note: "But there is no need for panic as people who took vaccines in 2009 have antibodies to resist the disease this year, said health officials." Really? Someone please inform these health officials that there is a good resaon why we need a flu shot EVERY year.

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

     


that was a health official's comment??
Yikes - I'd understand that from the general public, but - a health official said that?? I know some people will go overboard in trying to reassure people in "too-late" situations, but they shouldn't stray into falsehoods...  

[ Parent ]
US: West Virginia sees dramatic increase in flu cases
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia is in the middle of one of its worst flu seasons in years, and health officials say time is running out to get vaccinated.

Brandon Merritt, regional epidemiologist at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said cases of "influenza-like illness" and confirmed flu cases have steadily increased since the first week of December. "Every week there's been significant jumps in the number of confirmed positives. We've seen steady increases in confirmed cases from across the county and across the state for five consecutive weeks," he said.

West Virginia is among 31 states nationwide reporting "widespread" flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Since the beginning of December, "there has been increasing influenza activity in more parts of the United States and more cases of flu," said Joe Bresee, chief of epidemiology at CDC's influenza division, in an interview last week with The Washington Post.

"We have seen increasing trends that flu is increasing in the last few weeks of the year, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see that continue into the new year."

(Snip)

There were 10,676 confirmed flu cases in West Virginia as of Dec. 18, (Snip). There were only 6,658 cases in all of December 2011. In December 2010, there were only 6,245 confirmed flu cases.

Merritt said this flu season is shaping up to be the worst since 2009's H1N1 flu pandemic. Continued: http://www.dailymail.com/News/...

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

     


US: Ohio sees spike in flu cases as hospitalizations rise significantly compared to last year
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Health is reporting a spike in the number of people hospitalized with influenza this year compared to last year.

Department spokeswoman Shannon Libby says it's early to see this much flu activity (Snip).

(Snip) 863 Ohioans have been hospitalized with influenza this season, compared with just 65 by this time last season.

(Snip) totals from early October through Dec. 22 included 326 hospitalized across the state during the week of Dec. 16-22. That compares with just nine hospitalized statewide with the flu during the same week in 2011. Continued: http://www.therepublic.com/vie...

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

     


Canada: Flu virus sweeping across Ontario
The flu surge that's gripping parts of Ontario may be surfacing in Sarnia-Lambton. There have been 15 lab-confirmed influenza cases in the area since Sept. 1 (Snip). "I would venture that that's going to go up, given what's going around the province right now," said Joanne Woodward Fraser.

(Snip)

Lambton County's Community Health Services Department reported only four lab-confirmed flu cases in early December. In Chatham-Kent there have been at least 11 lab-confirmed cases since Dec. 19.

(Snip)

Every year seasonal flu results in up to 1,000 hospitalizations and 1,600 deaths in Ontario.

Dr. Doug Sider, Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health told QMI Agency recently the number of lab-confirmed H3N2 strain cases in mid-December was 30 to 35 times higher than the same time period in 2011.

"We've had dozens and dozens of confirmed influenza A outbreaks in long-term care facilities, retirement homes, a few hospital, etcetera, which is much higher than it was last year," he said. Continued: http://www.theobserver.ca/2013...

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

     


US: Indiana hospital fires 8 workers who refused flu shot
A northern Indiana hospital has fired eight employees who refused to get flu shots the hospital says are needed to protect patients from the potentially deadly illness.

IU Health Goshen Hospital officials told its staff in September that flu shots would no longer be optional for staff, affiliated physicians, volunteers and vendors.

(Snip)

McDonald says the flu has the highest death rate of any vaccine-preventable disease. She says the hospital would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that patients with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk for illness and death from the flu. http://www.kpcnews.com/news/st...

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

     


Swine Flu Attacking Norway People
Major Norwegian cities have been increasingly seeing more and more people contracting the H1N1 virus infection. The condition has raised concerns amidst doctors that a possible outbreak of the virus has occurred in Norway.

(Snip) 22 patients, who have been admitted to hospitals on New Year Eve, have flu symptoms. (Snip). The report says this strain of flu virus is far more deadly and leads to severe fever-like symptoms. Therefore, 84 cases that have this year been registered are highly concerning, says Akershus University Hospital, which carried out the report.

(Snip) 14 people are at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen's western coastal city. They are also being tested for the virus. It is expected that more cases could be seen.

"We are facing an epidemic. It seems that it has really taken off now. Continued: http://topnews.us/content/2524...

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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