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News Reports for February 22, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 22:44:23 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!

• Second nurse infected with swine flu dies (Link)

• Scientists develop new drug to combat flu pandemic (Link)

• More than 600 swine flu cases reported in Delhi (Link)
• Delhi: 65 more swine flu cases in Delhi (Link)
• India draws up emergency plan to tackle H1N1 outbreak (Link)

• Bird flu kills chickens worth Rs 29.4 million (Link)

Saudi Arabia
• Saudi Arabia reports new coronavirus case, marking 13th confirmed infection (Link)
• New Saudi case takes coronavirus death toll to seven (Link)

United Kingdom
• Hajj group expresses concerns after virus scare (Link)
• Flu cases double in two weeks, 57 deaths (Link)

United States
• CDC: Flu vaccine only provided 9 percent protection for seniors against worst strain (Link)

• US: Studies of H5N1 bird flu to require strict reviews (Link)
• US: New federal guidelines unveiled for bird flu research at UW and beyond (Link)

• CIDRAP: WHO confirms 13th novel coronavirus case (Link)
• The Coronavirus Could Be The 'Next Big One (Link)

• Helen Branswell: Saudi Arabia reports new coronavirus case; UK wonders about 4th case in cluster (Link)

• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for February 22, 2013

News for February 21, 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 February 15, 2013
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 - Flu vaccine only provided 9 percent protection for seniors against worst strain
A new government report on the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine finds dramatic discrepancies in the amount of protection Americans received, with senior citizens being left the most vulnerable.

The 2012-2013 influenza vaccine contained two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain. The A strains included an H1N1 (swine flu) strain similar to the one that caused a 2009 pandemic and a new H3N2 strain, that officials later discovered to be behind much of the serious illness reported this year. The vaccine also contained a 2010 influenza B strain.

The new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the vaccine offered 58 percent protection against the most common and dangerous H3N2 strain for children ages 6 months to 17 years old, 46 percent protection for adults ages 18 to 49, and 50 percent protection for adults 60 to 64 years of age.

However, for seniors 65 and older, this year's flu shot was found to be only 9 percent effective against the more virulent H3N2 strain, the report showed.

Overall, the flu vaccine was found to be 56 percent effective at reducing the need for medical visits caused by the illness. That's around the initial 62 percent effectiveness figure the CDC reported in January based on early test results collected from 1,155 children and adults who went to doctors with respiratory infections.

In recent years, the vaccine has been about 60 to 70 percent effective at preventing flu.

For adults 65 and older, the vaccine was found to be 27 percent effective against the three strains, according to the new report -- the lowest in about a decade, but not far below from what's expected.

But the vaccine did a particularly poor job of protecting older people against the harshest flu strain, and CDC officials say it's not clear why.

The findings were published Feb. 21 in the CDC's journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"There's obviously bad news and there's some better news that we have to remind ourselves of," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease researcher at Vanderbilt University who served as past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CBSNews.com Thursday. Continued: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-20...

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/previe...  

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


Nepal: Bird flu kills chickens worth Rs 29.4 million
KATHMANDU: (Snip) The country has witnessed 38 outbreaks in the last four years.

Bird flu has severely affected the country's poultry farming, said spokesperson of the Directorate of Animal Health Dr Narayan Ghimire. "There have been over three dozen outbreaks in the last four years which have directly affected farmers," he said, adding that chicken, eggs and feeds worth millions of rupees have been destroyed so far.

(Snip) bird flu has displaced farmers from the business. "Bird flu has been creating havoc among poultry farmers and hundreds have already quit the business," he said. This trend has been creating chicken shortage in the market and its price has climbed to an all time high of Rs 280 a kg in the wholesale market and Rs 300 per kg in the retail market. The department's report reveals that bird flu has affected all corners of the country. Continued: http://thehimalayantimes.com/f...

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


US: Studies of H5N1 bird flu to require strict reviews
U.S. health officials announced plans for scientists to move forward with controversial research on the deadly H5N1 bird flu and said that any discoveries about how the virus might gain the ability to spread easily among humans should be shared with other scientists and the public.

The new policy, released Thursday by the National Institutes of Health, requires that studies aimed at making the virus more dangerous would now be subject to a heightened level of review. Effective immediately, researchers will have to explicitly delineate the potential science and health benefits - as well as safety risks - involved in their work before they can get government funding, said Dr. Amy Patterson, NIH associate director for science policy. Continued: http://www.latimes.com/news/sc...

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


US: New federal guidelines unveiled for bird flu research at UW and beyond
The federal government Thursday unveiled broad new guidelines for funding future bird flu research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and elsewhere.

The new guidelines "suggest we're moving closer" to removing a voluntary moratorium on the research in the U.S., Rebecca Moritz, research compliance specialist for UW-Madison's Select Agent Program, said Thursday.

Under the guidelines, UW-Madison would not be required to make any structural or procedural changes at its Influenza Research Institute to resume studying how the H5N1 avian influenza virus could become transmissible among mammals, and possibly people.

But any proposals for new bird flu research would have to go through an elaborate risk-and-benefits review before gaining approval for federal funding.

The guidelines add a front end, multidisciplinary review before the research can begin. In addition to public health and science experts, the team doing the review would include experts in security, intelligence and countermeasures such as vaccines and drugs. Continued: http://www.jsonline.com/featur...

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


[ Parent ]
Australia: Scientists develop new drug to combat flu pandemic
CANBERRA: A new drug has been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of various strains of influenza including resistant strains of the virus, Australian top science institute CSIRO said.


CSIRO scientist Dr Jenny McKimm-Breschkin, a researcher that developed the first flu drug Relenza, said that understanding exactly how flu viruses become resistant to drugs has helped them to design a better flu drug.

"The new drug is effective against these resistant strains. As the site where the drug binds is found in all flu strains, the new drug is expected to be effective even against future flu strains.

"With millions of poultry currently infected with bird flu globally, there are still concerns about its adaptation and potential to spread among humans, causing the next pandemic," she said.


Although it is hoped the drug will be effective against future strains of the flu virus, the scientists indicate it will be seven years before it is available to the public. http://thestar.com.my/news/sto...  

This article was posted by me.

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


[ Parent ]
India: More than 600 swine flu cases reported in Delhi
New Delhi - Forty-five more people have been detected with H1N1 virus on Thursday, taking the total number of swine flu cases in the national capital to 615.

With the death of two more people on Tuesday, the number of people succumbing to the virus is 11 this season. (Snip) there were no deaths on Thursday but 45 fresh cases have been reported.

Top health department officials are monitoring the situation. Delhi Health Minister A K Walia is also keeping a close watch. Continued: http://www.ndtv.com/article/ci...

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


Saudi Arabia reports new coronavirus case, marking 13th confirmed infection
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

TORONTO -- Saudi Arabia has discovered another infection with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization announced Thursday.

The infected person was hospitalized in late January and died on Feb. 10, but confirmation of the infection was only made Feb. 18, the WHO said in a statement. Further investigation of the new case is underway.

The Geneva-based agency urged countries to consider testing for the new virus when patients present for care with unexplained pneumonias or when patients with severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illnesses don't respond to treatment -- especially if those patients have
recently travelled to or come from parts of the world where infections have occurred.


Ron Fouchier, a virologist at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, also sees those similarities.

Fouchier is concerned about how many infections may be going unnoticed, untested or unreported. He noted that several of the 13 confirmed cases were diagnosed in European hospitals.

In addition to the current cluster in Britain, one case from Qatar was diagnosed in Britain in September and a second from Qatar was diagnosed in Germany in October. Both men got sick in Qatar but left the country for treatment -- a practice which is not uncommon for wealthy residents of Middle Eastern countries.

"The fact that we are finding these cases in Europe and not anywhere else, that has to raise suspicion," Fouchier says. "What we're seeing in Europe is just the tip of the iceberg and we really have no clue how big the iceberg is."

full article


United we stand: Divided we fall

New Saudi case takes coronavirus death toll to seven
JEDDAH - An old woman admitted to a hospital in Riyadh with a new virus from the same family as SARS has died, taking the global death toll from the previously unknown disease to seven.

The Saudi health ministry informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that the patient was hospitalized on Jan. 29 and died on Feb.10, WHO said in a statement.

A laboratory confirmed on Feb. 18 that the person had died from the so-called novel coronavirus, or NCoV, it added.

This brings to 13 the number of cases of the virus that have so far been reported to WHO since it was first detected in the middle of last year, with six previous fatalities - three in Saudi Arabia, two in Jordan and one in Britain.


[ Parent ]
Saudi Arabia reports new coronavirus case; UK wonders about 4th case in cluster


[This is a Helen Branswell article. I recommend reading the whole article at the link. The first part of the articles details the specifics of a new novel coronvirus case in Saudi Arabia. The patient died there on February 10, 2013.]

[big snip]

"Some laboratories are working to develop a blood test that will detect antibodies to the virus. Once blood tests are available it should be possible to figure out whether some of the probable cases were actually infected.

One instance where such a tool would be useful involves the current cluster of NCoV cases in Britain.


The third confirmed case in this cluster had mild symptoms and has since recovered. "The fact that she had such a mild illness really does raise our concerns about what we might be missing," Mounts admitted.

The WHO revised its new coronavirus case definition this week to remind doctors not to automatically rule out people with mild symptoms when they look for possible cases.

Mild infections are a mixed blessing. Obviously everyone would hope the virus didn't always cause severe disease. But people suffering only mild infections may be more likely to spread the virus - if the virus transmits easily.


Others share the WHO's concern about the possibility of missed cases. In fact, several of the researchers who were key players in the response to the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic admit the patterns they are seeing bring back memories.

"It is certainly beginning to look concerning, given the obvious fact that there can be onward transmission," said Malik Peiris, chair of the department of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.

"It is somewhat reminiscent of the emergence of SARS in 2002."

[continued at link]

Link to the above article:

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


[ Parent ]
CIDRAP: WHO confirms 13th novel coronavirus case

Jim Wappes  Editorial Director
Feb 21, 2013 (CIDRAP News) -


The WHO said that any SARI clusters or any SARI in healthcare workers should be thoroughly investigated, adding, "WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied."


That three-person family cluster in the United Kingdom, however, may actually include a fourth case, according to a Canadian Press (CP) story today.

A WHO official said health officials suspect that a fourth relative who had a respiratory illness but was not tested until after she recovered was infected with NCoV as well and may have been the one who transmitted the virus to the third confirmed case, according to the story.


Details from a Qatari case
In related news, German investigators today provided a uniquely detailed account of the Qatari case-patient who was treated in that country and has recovered.

Writing in Eurosurveillance, researchers from the country's Robert Koch Institute, the University of Bonn, and other organizations, said the man first started having SARI symptoms last Oct 5 but was not transferred to the lung specialty clinic in Germany until Oct 24.

The patient, from Doha, Qatar, owned a camel and goat farm on which several goats were ill with fevers before the man became ill. He said he had no direct contact with the goats but said he had eaten goat meat.

In addition, the man reported that a caretaker of his animals was hospitalized with a severe cough, and he had had contact with the caretaker.

[continued with more details at link]
Editorial consultant Martha W. Swain contributed to this story.


By Ronan O'Kelly

[big snip]

While medical authorities have made assurances that the virus currently poses a low risk to the general population, the truth is that-at this early stage-it's impossible to determine exactly how dangerous it might be.

A spokesperson for the UK-based Health Protection Agency (HPA) explained: "With any of these sorts of new viruses, you don't really know, because when you have such a small amount of cases, you think that it's behaving in a certain way. But, of course, that could change. Viruses change quite frequently and sometimes suddenly a new one can emerge. But equally, one can slowly emerge over a long period of time with very small morphing. So it's really very hard to say."

But, whether this coronavirus ends with a whimper or a bang, scientists believe that it's only a matter of time until a new potentially catastrophic global pandemic emerges. David Quammen explained, "What the experts say is that, first of all, yes, it is very likely that new diseases will continue to emerge. I talk about the Next Big One-the NBO. It's almost tautological that there will be a Next Big One. The question is: What will it be and how big will it be?"

New disease outbreaks are more common than you might assume. In the past few months alone, a strain of completely drug-resistant TB has begun working its way through sub-Saharan Africa and the number of incurable gonorrhea infections has risen significantly in the US. But more so than any of these other cases, the coronavirus has the potential to become a global problem.
[continued at link]

Hajj group expresses concerns after virus scare

10:26am Friday 22nd February 2013 in United Kingdom news By Asian Image reporter

A Hajj and Umrah association has expressed concerns following the death of a man from Coronavirus.

The Association of British Hujjaj (A.B.H.) is a National Charity working for the welfare and wellbeing of British overseas travellers including Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

The A.H has written to the Secretary of State for Health, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt M.P.and Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davis expressing their grave concern about the recent scare and the tragic death of a man from Birmingham.

Khalid Pervez, General Secretary of ABH said, " The community is shocked and saddened by this tragedy.

"The deceased contracted the Coronavirus from his father, who is also currently fighting for his life in hospital. His father recently returned from Saudi Arabia after performing an Umrah pilgrimage.

[continued at link]

Argentina: Second nurse infected with swine flu dies
A nurse who had become infected with swine flu in a Carmen de Areco hospital died in La Plata after being hospitalized for 20 days.

The woman worked as a nursing auxiliary at the Nuestra Señora del Carmen hospital, in Carmen de Areco, where the virus had affected another 11 people.


Last February 8th, the head nurse in the hospital's ICU department, 39-year-old Andrea Gordillo, also died after becoming infected with swine flu. (Snip) http://www.buenosairesherald.c...

(Note: I've never believed from the first report of this outbreak in healthcare workers that this is swine flu. I think it is a cluster of the new coronavirus. The entire hospital where they worked was closed, all staff and patients were transferred to other area hospitals and the hospital was cleaned top to bottom. I haven't found anything saying it has reopened yet. Various reports gave the number of ICU nurses/medical staff at 11 to 15 as being infected, along with 1 to 2 patients. Only 4 nurses tested positive for H1N1 swine flu. All the others were negative. One of the patients in the UK who was a confirmed case of the coronavirus also tested positive for swine flu. Of course, these comments are just my own personal opinion of the situation.)

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


India: 65 more swine flu cases in Delhi
New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) A total of 65 people tested positive for swine flu Friday, taking the number of people infected by the Influenza A (H1N1) virus here to 680 (Snip). There were no new deaths.


As many as six deaths have been reported this month as of Friday. In January, 39 cases were reported and one succumbed to the virus.

A spurt in cases of swine flu has been seen in the national capital this year. In 2012, only 78 swine flu cases and one death were reported in the capital.

(Snip) 17 hospitals and five private hospitals are treating swine flu patients. http://www.newstrackindia.com/...

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


India draws up emergency plan to tackle H1N1 outbreak
The Indian government has been forced to draft an emergency plan to tackle an escalating outbreak of H1N1 influenza, because it does not have a plan in place to deal with recurring outbreaks of the infection.

Between 1 January and mid-February 872 cases of H1N1 flu were officially reported, including 145 deaths. But senior officials at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare who are monitoring the outbreak have said that the actual numbers are much higher.

Subscription required for full article: http://www.bmj.com/content/346...

(Note: The CFR is 16%, based on the numbers given here. These numbers are definitely low because just Delhi has recorded over 650 cases.)

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


Bronco Bill, it's Friday joke time!
Your giggles are here: http://www.newfluwiki2.com/dia...

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


UK: Flu cases double in two weeks, 57 deaths
 The number of Britons with flu has almost doubled in just two weeks, experts have warned. So far this winter flu levels have fluctuated but remained relatively low across the UK. But new figures show that the number of people seeing their GP with symptoms has risen sharply.

For the week ending February 3, the rate was just under 13 per 100,000. But during the week ending February 17, this had risen to just over 22 per 100,000.

In the latest week there were 55 people admitted to intensive care with confirmed flu, up from 34 the week before when there were also two deaths from the disease. A total of 517 admissions have been reported across the UK since the beginning of the season along with 57 deaths.


Across Europe, particularly in Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Belgium, there is substantial flu activity, but the season appears to have peaked in some countries.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/hea...

Another H5N1 patient dies in SW China

GUIYANG, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The second of two people confirmed by the Ministry of Health to have contracted avian influenza H5N1 died in a hospital in southwest China's Guizhou province on Friday, according to health authorities.

The patient, a 31-year-old man, died of multiple organ failure at Jinyang Hospital in Guizhou, the provincial capital, at 4:40 p.m., sources with the provincial health department said.

The man developed symptoms on Feb. 3 and was hospitalized on Feb. 8.

Another patient, a 21-year-old woman, died of multiple organ failure on Feb. 13. They both tested positive for the H5N1 virus on Feb. 17.

The two patients both had close contact with birds, sources said.

full article


United we stand: Divided we fall

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