"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 20th Dec 2017

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Pandemic Influenza News
U.S. lifts funding ban on studies that enhance dangerous germs
The U.S. government on Tuesday lifted a 2014 temporary ban on funding research involving the flu and other pathogens in which scientists deliberately make them more transmissible or more deadly. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said the funding ban was lifted after the Department of Health and Human Services issued a framework to guide decisions over work involving enhanced pathogens with the potential to cause a pandemic
Public awareness of avian influenza needed as migratory birds return to Europe
WHO/Europe calls on the public to remain vigilant about avian influenza virus outbreaks in poultry and wild birds. Since some avian influenza viruses can infect humans, it is important that people in countries experiencing outbreaks take protective steps and avoid unnecessary contact with sick and dead birds.
Avian flu gives poultry farmers no respite
About a month ago, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) re-evaluated the risk of avian influenza . It considered the risk of H5 introduction and spread across Germany in poultry flocks "likely". Previously, the risk assessment was still at "low to moderate." High-risk areas include the wintering areas of waterfowl, Lake Constance, the Rhine and other waterways, as well as the North and Baltic Seas.
Industry News
Improved Nanovaccine Seeks to Destroy Flu Virus
Researchers from Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are working together to develop and test what they think could be a better way to fight the flu. Based on preliminary studies, researchers believe the nanovaccine will activate both kinds of immune cells (T cells and B cells) and provide protection in the upper airway and the lower airway
Novavax shares fall on RSV, NanoFlu vaccine updates
Shares of Novavax fell 22 percent Tuesday after the company disappointed investors by saying it would announce data for the phase 1/2 trial of its NanoFlu seasonal flu vaccine candidate in February. Investors had been looking for results on the program this month. Company officials did not say what the latest data show about NanoFlu's effectiveness. But they said the vaccine could benefit from recent concerns about the status of seasonal flu vaccine effectiveness.
Academic studies
ECDC: European laboratories move forward towards stronger epidemic readiness for infectious disease threats.
The latest EULabCap data on assessing the public health laboratory capacities among 30 EU and EEA countries in 2016 reveal continuous improvement in reducing inequalities, with ten more countries reaching fair to high capability levels over the 4 years of monitoring. Data released today show that in 2016, areas of improved service capabilities across Europe included more robust infection diagnosis and antimicrobial susceptibility testing and wider contribution of reference laboratories to detect and respond to emerging and epidemic diseases and multidrug resistance threats
Pediatric influenza news
Aussie flu warning: Parents are urged to get children vaccinated against deadly virus
Dr Frank Atherton, the Wales' Chief Medical Officer, said getting young children protected against the flu virus could reduce hospital admissions. He said it could stop flu spreading in the community to other vulnerable groups, which include the elderly. Flu can prove deadly in older people, and Dr Ranj Singh recently told Express.co.uk that getting children vaccinated could protect their more senior relatives
Over 65’s influenza news
Aged carer provider Japara reveals impact of flu outbreak
Aged care provider Japara Healthcare has revealed its occupancy rate was dramatically hit by the deadly Australian flu season, which claimed the lives of a number of its residents. The company told the market today that its occupancy rate during fiscal 2018 had been impacted by the unusually severe influenza outbreak, which it said was experienced across south eastern Australia. Japara’s occupancy levels declined from 94.2 per cent at June 2017 to a low of 91.7 per cent at September. The deadly flu season had hit Australia a month earlier than usual, and after the peak had claimed nearly 600 lives, mostly the elderly.
General Influenza News
Allergic to eggs? You can now get the flu shot, new guidelines say
In the past, people with egg allergy were advised to explore egg-free flu vaccination options. But a paper published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found the flu shot to be safe and recommended its use for people who are allergic to eggs. "People with egg allergy of any severity can receive the influenza vaccine without any special precautions," said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, the paper's lead author and chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Food Allergy Committee
NHS England to use live seasonal illness data to plan winter capacity
Data revealing patterns of seasonal illness outbreaks will be used to direct patients to GP services, easing pressures on secondary care, NHS England has said. Data collected by Public Health England will reveal when it is more likely to expect a rise in the outbreak of acute seasonal illnesses or flu, respiratory syncytial virus and norovirus.
Pennsylvania spared from widespread flu activity, for now
A dozen states are reporting widespread flu activity but, so far, Pennsylvania has been spared. Pennsylvania's current status is labeled “local” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning increases are limited to a single region of the state. Widespread activity means that the flu has been confirmed in at least half the regions of a state. “I suspect it is only a matter of time before we climb to this status,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert for the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Flu jab 2017: 20% of doctors won't be getting vaccine over ‘concerns of effectiveness'
Flu jabs are the best way to protect against flu, according to Public Health England, but one in five doctors declined the vaccine this year, over concerns of its effectiveness, a new poll has revealed. Public Health England still urged all GPs to get the flu vaccine, and maintained it was the best way to prevent infection this year.
States' report card highlights threat of weather, infectious diseases
Karen Remley, MD, MBA, CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spoke about the need for more vaccination efforts across the country, citing outbreaks of measles and whooping coughs as costly public health crises that could have been avoided with routine immunizations. "The AAP maintains that vaccines are safe, effective, and save lives," Remley said. Only 20 states reported vaccinating more than half of their populations against seasonal influenza, a rate that climbed from 10 states in last year's report.
Report Highlights Florida’s Lack Of Flu Vaccinations With A Severe Season Expected
The percentage of Florida’s population properly inoculated against the flu is far lower than federal health officials recommend, according to a new report. The Sunshine State has the 12th lowest vaccination rate in the country. Trust for America’s Health CEO John Auerbach said no state meets the federal government’s recommendation of a 70 percent vaccination rate.
Flu Vaccine: The Jar Is Three-Quarters Full, Not Half Empty
William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, explains the strengths and weaknesses of the flu vaccine.
Paula Simons: Covenant Health's flu fight needs shot in the arm
Few hospitals and health facilities in Alberta, Canada, are doing a stellar job of ensuring their workers get immunized against influenza.Last week, Alberta Health Services released its latest report card on vaccination rates in health centres. The rates are up from this time last year, by 2.8 per cent. Yet only two facilities in this entire province had vaccination rates of better than 80 per cent
Flu vaccine could work as well as last year's shot: study
The flu has reached epidemic proportions in seven of the 10 regions in the country, according to Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the U.S. CDC's influenza division. Even more troubling, the same, more severe H3N2 flu strain that was around last year is circulating again this year, she said. That concerned flu experts who had watched the vaccine show only 10 percent effectiveness against the H3N2 strain that circulated in Australia, where the flu season has just ended. But a recent report in the journal F1000 Research found the Australian strain of H3N2 is not identical to the predominant virus circulating in the United States.
Burden of disease
Reported flu-like cases trending up: CDC
In Taipei, a total of 66,513 cases of flu-like illness were reported last week, including a 36-year-old man who died from serious complications in just five days, the CDC said. The weekly number of reported cases increased 15 percent last week, showing a continuous growth trend, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping said
Three trainee Rajasthan Administrative Service officers test positive for swine flu
In India, three Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) trainee officers have tested positive for swine flu in Jaipur, a senior official said Tuesday. More than 250 newly-appointed officers of RAS are undergoing training at the Officers Training School in Jaipur at present. Dr Narottam Sharma, the chief medical and health officer of Jaipur-I, said one of the trainee officers was suffering from high fever and was on medication.
Tunisia records 5 H1N1 virus-related deaths
Five death cases related to the H1N1 flu virus were recorded from 7 to 13 December, Tunisian minister of Health Imed Hammemi revealed on Monday.The government official spoke at a press briefing announced that two pregnant women, a diabetes-affected woman and a 3-month-old infant, are among these deaths. Hammemi added that 20 other cases related to the virus have been reported since the beginning of the cold season in Tunisia. The current health situation is “serious”, he warned, and that a crisis unit was set up to monitor the epidemiological situation of the flu, since December 7 when the first case of death was reported.
Flu hit Texas early and hard, but there's time to get vaccinated, CDC says
Influenza cases have been increasing in Texas and across the nation since November, according to the CDC. The uptick in illness has proven deadly. The state's first pediatric flu death in November was counted among eight nationwide, the CDC reports. The flu usually hits hardest in January and February, which means there's time to get vaccinated.
Hamilton hospitals planning for flu season 'surge'
In Canada, it's still early in the flu season, but hospitals in Hamilton are already beginning to plan for a "surge" in visits to the emergency room. "Comparing this year to last year just based on public health reporting of numbers, we seem to have an earlier hit and seeing more numbers at this time last year," said Sarah Khan, the associate director of infection and control at Hamilton Health Sciences
This Season’s Flu Sending Patients To The Doctor’s Office Sooner
It’s flu season and new numbers show the virus is active in almost all of California. Sacramento doctors are seeing patients roll into their offices sooner than expected. So far this season, only 39% of people in the U.S. got a flu shot. It’s a number doctors say needs to go up
Colorado Flu Hospitalizations 3.5 Times Higher Than Last Year
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 438 people have been hospitalized with influenza this year. That is three and a half times higher than this time last year. “We do recommend everybody getting the flu vaccine,” said Hospitalist Dr. Kristine Appel at RMHC.
Influenza A H1N1: An update on the Kumasi, Ghana outbreak
In a follow-up on the H1N1 influenza outbreak reported in Kumasi City, Ghana, 17 additional cases have been reported, bringing the outbreak total to 94. The death toll remains at four. Health officials say no new cases have been reported since 12 December 2017 and no new deaths have occurred since 5 December 2017. The etiology of the cluster of acute febrile illness and the four fatal cases has been attributed to influenza A H1N1 pdm09
Health officials say flu now widespread in Connecticut
Connecticut health officials say flu is now widespread in the state. The Connecticut Post reports that the Department of Public Health has received reports of influenza in at least half the regions of the state. Connecticut is one of 12 states where flu activity is now widespread. The state reported its first flu-related death last week. The department says 254 people tested positive for the flu as of Dec. 9. Nearly 100 people have been hospitalized for flu.