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News Reports for February 28, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 19:49:22 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!

Cambodia
• Cambodia: Bird flu strikes again, ninth human case this year (Link)
• Cambodia sees spike in bird flu deaths (Link)

Kazakhstan
• Doctors recorded 11 cases with "swine flu" in Kazakhstan (Link)

Nepal
• Govt helps bird flu affected farmers (Link)

United States
• FDA panel endorses quadrivalents, setting stage for new flu market  (Link)

General
• Osterholm says officials should be more frank about limits of flu vaccine (Link)
• Officials Monitor Coronavirus to Avert SARS-Like Spread (Link)
• Higher humidity may thwart flu virus, study shows (Link)
• Scientists race to understand deadly new virus (Link)

Commentary
• Recombinomics: Saudi Arabia Import of Beta Coronavirus? (Link)
• Recombinomics: Additional Beta Coronavirus Cases Raise Concerns (Link)


• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for February 28, 2013

News for February 27, 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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Additional Beta Coronavirus Cases Raise Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary

A novel coronavirus has infected 13 people, killing seven, Gwen Stephens, with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health, said at an American Society for Microbiology biodefense conference in Washington today.

The World Health Organization is trying to confirm reports of two additional cases, she said.

The above comments suggest the number of novel beta coronavirus cases will continue to grow.  Currently there are 13 confirmed cases and an equal number of probable cases which have not been confirmed due to testing issues.  The probable cases are epidemiologically linked to confirmed cases.

The most recent confirmed case (61F) was in Saudi Arabia, and all but one of the cases identified since the summer of 2012 have been linked to Saudi Arabia, although media reports have suggested that the most recent case, who died in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia developed symptoms while abroad.

Full sequences have been published for three of the cases, and partial sequences have been published for two additional cases, and all sequences are virtually identical and not closely related to any know sequence, including the group 2c sequences from bats in Asia, Africa, and Europe.  Most of the human cases have no reported animal contact and all have been identified with PCR tests that target the novel beta coronavirus (nCoV), so the sequences for the other confirmed cases will also be virtually identical (Snip).

The sequence identities, coupled with clustering and confirmation of a mild case, strongly suggests that the number of cases is orders of magnitude higher than the confirmed cases, which cover infections with disease onset dates almost a year apart, and involve multiple locations in Saudi Arabia as well as Jordan and Qatar.

(Snip) 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

     


Saudi Arabia Import of Beta Coronavirus?
Recombinomics Commentary

The Saudi patient was hospitalized on Jan. 29 in a hospital in Riyadh and died there on Feb. 10.

The woman had recently returned from abroad with symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the official said.

The above comments describe the most recently confirmed novel betacornavirus case (61F).  Previously, confirmed cases include those who traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.  After developing symptoms, both cases returned home to Qatar or England.  The Qatari case (49M) became asymptomatic for two weeks after returning home, but symptoms returned and his condition deteriorated.  He flew to England via air ambulance, was confirmed, and has been hospitalized in England for the past 5 months.  

The second case (60M) returned to England via commercial airline.  He (Snip) remains hospitalized.  (Snip) at least two family members developed symptoms and two were confirmed.  Since neither had recent travel outside of England, human to human transmission was likely.  This would represent the export of the virus from Saudi Arabia to the UK.  (Snip) five prior confirmed cases were from Saudi Arabia.

(Snip) the above description of the latest case (61F) suggests the novel coronavirus was recently imported into Saudi Arabia, since the fatal case developed symptoms abroad, prior to confirmation in Riyadh, suggesting that the virus is also spreading outside of Saudi Arabia.

A recent media report cited two additional cases under investigation, but details were not released. (Snip). 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

     


Cambodia: Bird flu strikes again, ninth human case this year
The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Cambodia said today that a ninth case of human bird flu, or avian influenza, has been confirmed, according to a Joint news release of the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia and World Health Organization Wednesday.

35-year-old man from Kbal Ou village, Me Sar Chrey commune, Stueng Trang district in Kampong Cham province, was confirmed positive for influenza H5N1 on 23rd February 2013 by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge.

He developed fever on 8th February 2013 and his condition worsened on 10th February 2013 with fever, frequent cough, and dyspnea. Local private practitioners initially treated him but his condition further deteriorated. On 13th February he was admitted to the Kampong Cham Hospital with fever, severe cough and dyspnea and was immediately treated with Tamiflu.

He developed pneumonia on 21st February and was transferred to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, despite intensive medical care he died on 25th February making him the eighth fatality reported in he Kingdom in 2013.

He is the 30th case of human avian influenza reported in Cambodia (Snip) Of the 30 cases, 27 died (90 percent) as a result of the lethal virus. Continued: http://www.theglobaldispatch.c...

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

     


Doctors recorded 11 cases with "swine flu" in Kazakhstan
Copyright protected. The link to the article is here: http://www.kt.kz/?lang=eng&uin...

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

     


Nepal: Govt helps bird flu affected farmers
2013-02-27

KATHMANDU: The government has distributed about Rs 10 million in the last four years to bird flu affected farmers. The Animal Health Directorate provided the compensation to over five dozen farmers.

The directorate has culled 90,142 chickens due to bird flu (H5N1) infection across the country. "We have noticed 38 outbreaks in the last four years," said senior veterinary doctor Dr Bal Bahadur Chand. According to him, directorate destroyed 48,219 eggs in the period.

Bird Flu Control Directive has provisioned to compensate affected farmers. According to it, a farmer gets Rs 500 for a full grown chicken, Rs 250 for chicken above four weeks, and Rs 130 for chicken below four weeks.

Similarly, compensation of Rs 100 and Rs three have been provisioned for one kg chicken meat and an egg, respectively, that are destroyed during culling.

The first case of bird flu was reported in Jhapa in 2008, followed by Pokhara, Banke, Kailali, Dang and Tanahu in 2009, and Kathmandu, Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Chitwan in 2010.

Recent outbreaks have been reported since November, 2012, in Pokhara, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Nuwakot. Repeated bird flu outbreaks have been noticed in Jhapa, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Pokhara.

Although millions of birds have been infected with the virus since its discovery in 1987, only 359 humans have died from the H5N1 virus in 12 countries, including Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam according to the World Health Organisation.

The chance of humans being infected with the H5N1 virus is 60 per cent.

full article

http://www.thehimalayantimes.c...

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


Osterholm says officials should be more frank about limits of flu vaccine
http://www.minnpost.com/second...

By Susan Perry | 02/25/13

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Among people aged 65 and older the flu vaccine was dismally inadequate.

[snip]

It was 47 percent effective for influenza A viruses (mostly H3N2) and 67 percent effective for influenza B viruses. (Not enough data was available to determine its effectiveness against a third strain, H1N1.) That meant that the vaccine had an overall effectiveness of 56 percent.

But among people aged 65 and older - the demographic group most at risk of being hospitalized and dying from complications of the flu - the vaccine was dismally inadequate. It was only about 27 percent effective in protecting older Americans from all of the flu viruses and only 9 percent effective in protecting them from H3N2, which was the strain that caused the most illness this flu season. In fact, those numbers were so low, they were deemed to be statistically insignificant.

The report's findings, wrote its authors in an accompanying editorial note, "reinforces the need for continued advances in influenza vaccines, especially to increase protective benefits for older adults."

Not surprising

[snip]

Adding to concerns about the flu vaccine's ineffectiveness are recent findings from a multi-center European study that suggest its protection may wear off within three months.

"That's challenging the whole notion of our immunization program - that you get vaccinated in the fall so you're ready to go for the whole flu season," said Osterholm.

A need for frankness
Osterholm wants public health officials to be more frank with the public about the limitations of the flu vaccine.

"What I worry about more than anything is the long-term credibility of science in public health," he said. "Will people trust us if they don't think that we're being honest and forthright with the public data? Are we becoming nothing more than the anti-science people?"

Individuals - particularly the elderly and others at increased risk of developing serious and even deadly complications from the influenza - should still get an annual flu shot, he stressed, but health officials should "be honest about what it is. Stop trying to spin it."

[snip]


Officials Monitor Coronavirus to Avert SARS-Like Spread
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/...

By Anna Edney - Feb 27, 2013 9:03 AM MT

A deadly respiratory virus in the Middle East and U.K. is being monitored to see if it may evolve into a superbug like the 2002 SARS outbreak that killed almost 800 people, health officials said.

A novel coronavirus has infected 13 people, killing seven, Gwen Stephens, with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health, said at an American Society for Microbiology biodefense conference in Washington today. The World Health Organization is trying to confirm reports of two additional cases, she said.

Health officials have seen individual cases and infections in family clusters as well as two probable cases of human-to- human transmission that could accelerate the spread of the pathogen. The earliest known are two hospital workers in Jordan who died in April and weren't found to have the coronavirus until samples were tested in November.

"Are we looking at the tip of the iceberg, or are we making mountains out of molehills?" Alison Bermingham, with the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency, said at the conference.

[snip]


Cambodia sees spike in bird flu deaths
http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/28/...

By Madison Park, CNN
updated 11:58 AM EST, Thu February 28, 2013

Hong Kong (CNN) -- In the last two months, eight people in Cambodia have died from bird flu, a rare but deadly disease causing concern among health authorities. Six of the victims have been children.

The H5N1 virus, known to be highly contagious to poultry, typically resembles the flu when contracted by humans. But it kills more than half the people it infects, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the nine confirmed H5N1 cases in Cambodia this year, only an 8-month old infant has survived. The infant had received medical attention early, said Dr. Ly Sovann, the Ministry of Health's deputy director for communicable diseases control in Cambodia.

The eight bird flu deaths in the last six weeks -- considering that Cambodia has had 19 reported deaths from the disease in the last 10 years -- has sparked increased surveillance efforts. Health officials are warning people to wash their hands often, to keep children away from poultry and to avoid eating sick poultry.

So far, the nine cases are not believed to be related, although most of them came from the southern region.


Higher humidity may thwart flu virus, study shows
http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_new...

[Interesting read. I recommend the whole article for a description of the study.]
By Linda Carroll

[big snip]

They found that when the humidity was less than 23 percent, the virus retained between about 71 percent of its ability to infect. When the humidity was boosted to 43 percent or higher, the infectivity dropped to about 15 percent.
And that drop-off in infectivity happened fast -- within 15 minutes of the initial cough.

The experiment may explain why we see so much more flu in the fall and winter months, Noti says. "In the winter months when the heat is on, the air is really dry," he says. "It's often down around 10 percent or less. So that may be what is driving all that February activity."


This makes more sense. n/t


[ Parent ]
FDA panel endorses quadrivalents, setting stage for new flu market
http://www.fiercevaccines.com/...

GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca already have four-strain vaccines approved
February 28, 2013 | By Eric Palmer

It will be a different influenza vaccine market moving forward. After years of consideration, an FDA panel has given its approval to quadrivalent or four-strain vaccines. It should be a boost to consumers who suffered through a particularly bad flu season this year and to the two companies that already have quadrivalents approved, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune.

The FDA advisory panel on vaccines gave its endorsement Wednesday to a proposal by the World Health Organization (WHO) that next season's flu vaccines contain two "A" influenza strains and at least one "B" strain, according to The Wall Street Journal. The quadrivalent vaccines will contain two "A" strains and two "B" strains. The panel suggested that the "B" strain from this season's vaccine be altered to better match the influenza strains that wreaked havoc in the U.S. this year.

Three-strain vaccines will continue to be available but should over time be replaced with four-strain versions. With four strains, the vaccines boost the likelihood of health experts and vaccine manufacturers matching circulating strains with the ones in the vaccine. Glaxo in December got its Fluarix Quadrivalent approved following the approval of MedImmune's FluMist Quadrivalent. It puts four strains into a mist for patients who shy away from needles.

[snip]


Scientists race to understand deadly new virus
http://www.sciencenews.org/vie...

This article contains information that was new to me. It's a recommended read.

[snip]
Meanwhile, Munster and his colleagues are conducting animal studies to learn how the virus produces illness and perhaps how to counter it. His group tried - and failed - to infect mice and ferrets, both common stand-ins for people in infectious disease studies. Rhesus macaques did get mildly to moderately ill when infected with the novel coronavirus. The monkeys lost their appetites, and developed fevers, goose bumps, rapid breathing, and hunched postures, Munster reported. The virus damaged the monkeys' lungs, but didn't show up in any other body tissues. The monkey study confirmed that the coronavirus that scientists had isolated really can cause disease.

To stop the virus, researchers first have to know how it damages the body. The monkey study begins to address that issue. After the monkeys were infected with the virus, activity of 173 genes changed, Munster's group found. Many of those genes are known to fight viruses, produce inflammation or direct cells toward chemical signals. By day six of the infection, the monkeys were already starting to clear the virus out of their bodies, and the activity of all but 37 genes had returned to normal, Munster reported.
His team is now using what they've learned from monkeys to focus on developing antiviral therapies and vaccines, he said.

[snip]


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