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News Reports for January 8, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 19:57:02 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!

• House Balks at Extra Funds For Graft-Hit Vaccine Plant (Link)
• Bali braces for bird flu epidemic (Link)

• Jordan records 66 swine flu cases (Link)

• Airport calls swine flu alert (Link)
• DOH: Watch out for H1N1 during Black Nazarene (Link)

United States
• CDC: Data Show Worsening Flu Season (Link)
• IA: With children back in school, Iowa's flu season could worsen (Link)
• IL: US doctors feel pinch of early flu season, push for vaccinations (Link)
• MI: Funeral for 15yr who died of flu (Link)
• PA: Flu outbreak continues in Pennsylvania  (Link)
• PA: Hospital opens flu tent as number of cases skyrocket (Link)

• The Myth of Tamiflu: 5 Things You Should Know (Link)

• Recombinomics: United States H3N2 T128A Frequency Increases To 40% (Link)

• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for January 8, 2013

News for January 7, 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 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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US: CDC - Data Show Worsening Flu Season
ATLANTA (AP) - Health officials say this flu season is shaping up to be one of the more severe in recent years.

Earlier reports indicated that this could be a bad flu season, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the data now confirm it. In the last week of December flu was widespread in 41 states; flu-related child and infant deaths climbed to 18 and outpatient visits for flu symptoms had jumped to 5.6 percent.

The CDC's Tom Skinner says "people who come down with the flu can be pretty sick," with severe muscle aches and high-grade fever lasting 4 or 5 days. (Snip) for "certain groups of people (Snip) it can be life-threatening."

He says the vaccine is well-matched to this year's flu strains, but isn't 100 percent effective. It does reduce the severity of the illness for those who do get it, though -- (Snip). http://www.wsiltv.com/healthy/...

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


United States H3N2 T128A Frequency Increases To 40%
Recombinomics Commentary


The presence of T128A in 6 of the 15 most recent H3 sequences raises concerns that this change is leading to limited efficacy for the H3N2 vaccine and the rapid spread of H3N2 in the US and other countries in the northern hemisphere.  The presence of this change is also being reported by other agencies.  The first US H3N2 sequences of the current season released by the Navy surveillance system for Department of Defense personnel, A/Oklahoma/3059/2012, has T128A as do the first two sequences released by the Health Protection Agency in the UK.

The CDC reported two more pediatric deaths in the week 52 FluView, increasing the number of deaths reported in the past two weeks to 10, which brings the season total to 18.  Media reports have described 5 additional pediatric deaths, raising concerns that the number of cases reported by the CDC will continue to rise.  Similarly, the Pneumonia & Influenza death rate increased to 7.0 in the week 52 report, just shy of the epidemic threshold of 7.1%.

Full commentary is here:  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


US doctors feel pinch of early flu season, push for vaccinations (Illinois)
Chicago: When Dr. Diane Chaney arrived for her morning shift at the University of Chicago Medicine's emergency department on Monday, there were nine patients from the overnight shift waiting for treatment.

By late morning, 36 patients, most with flu symptoms, were waiting.

Across town, doctors at Rush University Medical Center have seen 203 flu patients since Nov. 5, compared with 119 patients for the entire flu season last year.

"We are coming to the point where we are running out of testing supplies," said Dr. Ed Ward, an expert in emergency and internal medicine at Rush, a teaching hospital.

Similar scenes are being played out in emergency departments across the country as the United States grapples with the earliest flu season in a decade.

"The emergency rooms are quite full and it's clear that the annual flu epidemic is in full swing," said Dr. Brian Currie, medical director for research at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of people visiting their doctor for a flu-like illness has climbed from 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent in the last four weeks. That compares with 2.2 percent during last year's mild flu season and a peak of 7.7 percent during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. http://www.financialexpress.co...  

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


Philippines: Airport calls swine flu alert
AIRPORT authorities on Monday raised an alert for travelers afflicted with the H1N1 virus (Snip) after Chinese health officials reported the death of two women from the illness.

(Snip) thermal scanners are in place at all entry and exit gates of the three NAIA terminals to screen passengers and detect possible carriers. (Snip) they immediately assess travelers when scanners detect high body temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius or higher.

"If there is a strong possibility that the patient has bird flu, we put him on quarantine and send him to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, a hospital dedicated to these cases," Rillo said.

Every year, the Manila International Airport Authority mobilized its medical unit to guard against the possible entry of passengers suspected to be carriers of the dreaded bird flu virus.

A poster posted at the entrance of the arrival immigration hall was placed reminding incoming passengers that they are (Snip) required to disinfect their foot wear on the foot bath located at the aircraft tube going to the arrival hall. http://manilastandardtoday.com...

(Note: Hmmm, it sounds like the officials in the Philippines think the two Chinese women died from H5N1 instead of H1N1 swine flu. I wondered the same thing when I was posting articles on their deaths. JMO)

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


at least, they don't trust Chinese...
... like you, the authorities might simply not trust anything the Chinese put out anymore - and are not taking any precautions. What amazes me is that people travel when sick... although, given the impossibility of getting refunds on your expensive ticket, I guess that makes a bit of sense.

[ Parent ]
Jordan records 66 swine flu cases
AMMAN: Jordan has seen a spurt in the number of swine flu "H1N1" cases after 66 people were confirmed positive in the Kingdom. (Snip) the cases registered up until Monday night rose to 66 cases after 11 new cases were confirmed positive.

A 26-year-old man died in hospital on Saturday after contracting H1N1 flu, according to the Ministry of Health. (Snip) the man had been admitted to Princess Basma Hospital in Irbid suffering from symptoms of pneumonia. After examining the patient, doctors there diagnosed him with H1N1 flu. (Snip) the patient's medical condition was critical because he also had cardiovascular disease.

Health Ministry Spokesperson (Snip) told The Jordan Times (Snip) that the ministry would launch a hotline on Monday for anyone who suspects they may have H1N1 to call in and report their symptoms.

(Snip) 49 cases of H1N1 flu had been registered in the Kingdom since the beginning of winter.

The H1N1 virus first emerged in Jordan in June 2009 with 3,049 cases and 16 related fatalities(Snip). The strain re-emerged in December 2010, causing 289 illnesses and 17 related deaths. http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/l...

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


Indonesia: House Balks at Extra Funds For Graft-Hit Vaccine Plant
January 08, 2013

Legislators have questioned the government's move to seek increased funding to complete the construction of a stalled bird flu vaccine plant, arguing that the initial funding is still mired in allegations of markups and corruption.

Ribka Tjiptaning, the chairwoman of the House of Representatives' Commission IX, overseeing health affairs, said the House would not approve an increase, despite the government's justification that the facility was needed to address bird flu cases in nine provinces.

"We didn't even approve the funding request at the national level, let alone for the regional level," she said on Monday.

Ribka, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said legislators might be willing to reconsider the new funding request if the government provided a clear explanation about the potential state losses incurred from the initial phase of the vaccine plant project.

Agung Laksono, the coordinating minister for people's welfare, previously said that the government needed additional funding to produce vaccines in an effort to tackle bird flu cases in West, Central and East Java, Yogyakarta, Banten, Lampung, Riau, West Sulawesi and South Sulawesi.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi warned late last year that her office had identified a new strain of the avian influenza virus that was found to attack ducks that were immune to the more common strain.

The new strain has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of poultry, although none of the 10 human fatalities from bird flu last year has been attributed to it.

Nafsiah said her ministry needed to boost the capabilities of its laboratories to study the new strain, in anticipation that it could mutate to affect humans.

"Right now we're increasing the capabilities of our existing laboratories," she said last month.

"That means there shouldn't just be one laboratory in Jakarta that can detect [the new virus strain], but our network of 42 laboratories across Indonesia should also be able to do so."


United we stand: Divided we fall

Bali braces for bird flu epidemic

The local health authorities have begun implementing the necessary measures to deal with the ongoing outbreak of avian influenza affecting the duck population, and the possible spillover of the disease into the human population.

The measures have been taken following confirmed reports of avian influenza killing thousands of ducks in farming areas in three separate regencies: Buleleng, Tabanan and Klungkung.

Laboratory tests have confirmed that the ducks were killed by the new, more malignant strain of the avian influenza virus known as H5N1 Clade 2.3.2. A similar strain of the virus killed hundreds of thousands of ducks across farming regions in Java weeks before the first reported case in Bali.

Provincial Animal Husbandry and Health Agency head Putu Sumantra stated that preventing the spread of the disease was his top priority.

"Our priority now is preventing the disease from spreading into vulnerable regencies, like Badung, Gianyar and Jembrana, which all have sizeable duck populations," Sumantra stated, adding that local animal husbandry agencies across the island had been alerted to implement preventive measures.

One effective preventive measure is selected culling, in which infected ducks and ducks at infected farms are killed and the carcasses burned before being buried under the supervision of the agency's officials.

"As many as 1,500 ducks have been culled; the farmers will get financial compensation from the local administration," he said, adding that the agency was still negotiating with the local administrations in the affected areas on the amount of compensation and the legal foundation for the compensation mechanism.

"If the outbreak escalates into an epidemic, we will find a way so as the provincial agency could play a role in providing monetary compensation to the farmers."


United we stand: Divided we fall

PA: Flu outbreak continues in Pennsylvania

BRADFORD COUNTY---(WENY)  Health officials say the flu is still considered wide-spread in Pennsylvania and that it's not too late to get your flu shot. Since the beginning of October, there have been over 7,000 confirmed flu cases in the state, of that,103 are in Bradford County.

    According to the centers for disease control, up to 1.3 million Pennsylvanians get the flu each year with up to 2,000 deaths.

IA:With children back in school, Iowa's flu season could worsen

More and more Iowa flu cases have been reported, and officials say the seasonal outbreak could get even worse now that children are back in school.

The Des Moines Register reports that at least 151 people were hospitalized for flu complications in Iowa during the last week of December. The Iowa Department of Public Health says that during the last week of December 2011, public health officials didn't record any flu hospitalizations.

Department medical director Patricia Quinlisk said Monday that she doubts the tide of illnesses will ebb soon. Quinlisk says the flu incidences show "all the hallmarks of a relatively bad and prolonged flu season."

She says people who traveled during the holidays were exposed to viruses that quickly could be spread by children who have resumed classes.

Comment: True of most states - we'll have to see if cases spike in the next week.

PA: Hospital opens flu tent as number of cases skyrocket

The Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest had to open an emergency space to care for the increased number of people with flu-like symptoms.

Comment: Definitely not a good sign!!

Michigan: Funeral for 15yr who died of flu

1/8/13 - Funeral services are set for the Lake Fenton High School freshman who died over the weekend from a fast-developing case of respiratory influenza. 15-year-old Joshua Polehna died Saturday at C.S. Mott Childrens Hospital in Ann Arbor, five days after initially seeking treatment for erratic breathing following the onset of flu-like symptoms.
Lake Fenton Community Schools Superintendent Wayne Wright sent a letter home to parents reassuring them that the death of Pohlena and that of a Fenton man about a week before from the flu were unrelated. 44-year-old Kirk Beauchamp, a father of five in the Lake Fenton Community Schools district, died from flu complications December 29th. The Genesee County Health Department is reviewing the causes of both deaths.

Comment: "Unrelated"? As in "there's no flu epidemic here? Huh...

The Myth of Tamiflu: 5 Things You Should Know
Influenza-like-illness is sweeping the country with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reporting that most areas of the country experiencing high rates. I should know, my family is in the midst of it despite having been vaccinated. This year may rival some of the worst years in recent history.

These illnesses are more than uncomfortable - they can cause life-threatening complications. Worries about complications lead many people to want to be prepared with a treatment. I have a friend who once stockpiled Tamiflu, an antiviral agent sold by Roche, wanting to be prepared to protect his friends and family. He was not alone. The US actually reportedly stockpiled $1.5 billion of the drug prior to the global outbreak of H1N1 influenza and while the vaccine was being prepared.

The problem is that we actually know little about the effectiveness and safety of Tamiflu - and Roche is not willing to share all the relevant data they have. Last year the Cochrane group, the world's most respected organization devoted to synthesizing evidence and providing assessments on medical interventions, updated their review of the Tamiflu studies. If you are enamored by the idea of Tamiflu, then here are 5 things you should know from their report.

1. The manufacturer of the drug sponsored all the trials and the reviewers found evidence of publication and reporting biases. With so much at stake I was surprised that there had been no prospective, placebo-controlled trials conducted that were funded by an independent source. Industry trials can be well conducted, but there are many situations where a lack of independence has had an influence on the way the study was designed and the results that are released. At the very least, it is worth noting that they were probably designed to have the best chance of showing benefit. And that the reviewers had concerned about whether all the information was released. In addition the experts found evidence of reporting bias. According to Tom Jefferson, one of the authors of the Cochrane study: 60% of randomized data from the Tamiflu treatment trials (i.e. in people with influenza-like-illness symptoms) have never been published including the biggest trial ever conducted (which was done in the US, so it's of great relevance to you)."

2. The studies did not show that Tamiflu reduced the risk of hospitalization. One of the reasons people might take an antiviral is to prevent the illness progressing to the point where they would need to be hospitalized. Unfortunately there was no evidence that the drug produced that benefit.

3. The studies were inadequate to determine the effect of Tamiflu on complications. Even though the drug did not reduce hospitalizations, some people may think it would prevent less severe complications. Unfortunately, the reviewers found that limitations in the design of the trials, their conduct, and the way they were reported precluded any conclusions about the effect of the drug on complications. To expect that Tamiflu can reduce complications would be a leap of faith currently unsupported by the available evidence. You should also know that the FDA requires Roche to print on the label: "Tamiflu has not been shown to prevent such complications [serious bacterial infections]."

4. The studies were inadequate to determine if Tamiflu reduced transmission of the virus. Same story. Some people might prescribe the drug to prevent the spread of the virus. The expert reviewers simply said that with what information they had available; they could not assess the effect of the drug on transmission. I asked Peter Doshi, one of the authors of the Cochrane report about this issue of transmission and here is what he wrote me: "Roche's prophylaxis trials were not designed to answer the question of transmission. The prophylaxis trials - and FDA approval of Tamiflu for prophylaxis - is based on its proven ability to reduce the chances of symptomatic influenza. (But since we don't know anything about asymptomatic influenza infections, we cannot say anything about whether or not Tamiflu reduces actual transmission of virus.)"

5. The use of Tamiflu did reduce the duration of symptoms by about a day. The reviewers found 5 studies that assessed the effect of Tamiflu on the duration of symptoms. They were fairly consistent in their findings - though the duration of the symptoms varied quite a lot across the studies.

After conducting this review the reviewers felt that they needed access to more information to make firm conclusions about the drug. They asked Roche for full clinical study reports, with study protocols, the reporting analysis plan, the statistical analysis plan and individual patient data so that all they could more fully determine what could be concluded from the studies. Unfortunately, Roche has not complied. Continued: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ha...

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


Philippines: DOH: Watch out for H1N1 during Black Nazarene
MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) has warned those who will be joining the Black Nazarene procession on Wednesday against viruses such as the H1N1 flu strain, which is feared to be making a comeback in the country.

This after two women recently died in China from H1N1, which can spread through droplets.


Tayag noted that 73,000 Filipinos suffered from flu in 2012. Of the number, 5% were H1N1 cases. He said, however, that no casualties were reported.


Hundreds of thousands of devotees are expected to flock to Quiapo on Wednesday, January 9, for the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which sees the procession of replicas of the image of the Black Christ.

In recent years, the DOH recorded cases of injuries, heat stroke and even heart attacks during the event. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lif...

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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