"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 27th Dec 2017

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Pandemic Influenza News
S. Korea Kills 201000 Birds to Stem Spread of Bird Flu
South Korean quarantine officials have slaughtered 201,000 birds in the country’s southwestern areas to contain the spread of avian influenza, an official said. Quarantine workers culled the ducks between Nov. 18 and Friday, said an official handling the issue at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The culling came after the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain hit four duck farms in Jeongeup, Gochang and Yeongam in the country’s southwest
S. Korea confirms highly pathogenic AI at another duck farm
The South Korean government has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza at a local duck farm, raising the total number of contaminated farms to four throughout the country. The H5N6 bird flu was discovered on the farm with 29,000 ducks in Jeongeup, 260 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Two dead birds test positive for H5 avian flu virus, Hong Kong authorities say
Two dead birds found at different locations in Hong Kong tested positive for the H5 avian flu virus on Friday, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said. Further tests are being carried out to confirm the results, while both sites where the birds’ bodies were discovered have been thoroughly disinfected, according to authorities.
Saudi government on top of efforts to contain H5N8 avian flu outbreak
In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture reported that the country’s food security is safe after H5N8 avian flu cases had been reported in the capital. “We are monitoring all poultry farms and incubation chambers all over the Kingdom. We, in fact, had a similar case in 2007, and we were capable of protecting our food,” the ministry’s spokesman told Arab News
Saudi Arabia confirms H5N8 bird flu outbreak: OIE
Saudi Arabia has confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Friday. The highly pathogenic H5N8 strain infected and killed 14 birds at a non-specified location in the Saudi capital. The other birds in a flock of around 60,000 exposed to the virus were culled, the report said
Netherlands, Italy report new avian flu outbreaks
In ongoing avian flu activity in Europe, the Netherlands reported two more highly pathogenic H5N6 outbreaks in wild bird species, and Italy reported another highly pathogenic H5N8 poultry outbreak. Also, European public health agencies posted updated risk assessments regarding both viruses
Did the NIH Just Open the Door to the Next Killer Pandemic?
The NIH has released guidelines for studying viruses like bird flu, including a code of ensuring ethical justifiability, safety precautions, and that the pathogen in question could be reasonably expected to affect humans. The hope is to ensure safety while encouraging continued scientific progress. But a contingent of scientists believe the research could be dangerous. One prominent group was the Cambridge Working Group, which collected concerned scientists to speak out publicly on why they saw research into extremely contagious viruses like bird flu—and also smallpox and anthrax—as dangerous and ask that the moratorium move from being temporary to being legally binding and permanent
Philippines reports 4th H5N6 avian influenza outbreak since August
Dr Enrico Garzon, Assistant Secretary for Livestock, Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture, Quezon City, Philippines reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) an additional outbreak of Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N6 virus. This is the fourth such outbreak in the Philippines since Aug. 2017. The current outbreak was reported in a farm in Nueva Ecija province in Central Luzon
Industry News
Triple Antiviral Drug Combination for Treatment of Influenza Fails to Provide Clinical Benefit
In what researchers refer to as the largest and most comprehensive study assessing combination antiviral therapy for the treatment of influenza, a triple antiviral drug combination significantly decreased viral shedding. However, the triple antiviral failed to provide more clinical benefit than a single agent with less virological effect. The randomized study included 50 sites across the US, Thailand, Mexico, Argentina, and Australia, and included 633 participants seeking outpatient treatment for influenza; the participants received either the triple combination of oseltamivir, amantadine, and ribavirin or monotherapy with oseltamivir and 2 placebo formulations
Medical industry advances towards more efficient, customized 3D printed vaccinations
At a health conference in Bilbao, Spain about advancements in vaccinations, a number of professionals cited the potentials of 3D printing for advancing the efficiency of administering as well as customizing vaccines. Pedro Alsina, from the Institutional Relations of Sanofi, spoke about how 3D printing will enable the production of customized vaccines. Another key goal addressed at the conference was the development of more efficient vaccines, especially for the flu. “We must work to achieve a more immunogenic injection in the most vulnerable people and for the universal flu vaccine so that it is not necessary to go through the process once a year,” said Dr. Ramón Cisterna, a professor of microbiology and the president of AMYS
The Coahuila Ministry of Health denied that there is a shortage of medicines used to fight influenza
The Ministry of Health in Coahuila denied that there was a shortage of Tamiflu, a drug used to fight influenza. In the last few days, some patients reported that several public health institutions were reporting that it was difficult to obtain medicine to fight the flu. However, Jorge Luna, in charge of the department of social communication at the Ministry of Health, reported that until now there has been no lack of Tamiflu has been reported at any hospital. There is a supply of Tamiflu. Treatment with it begins if there is confirmation of any type of influenza. It is not delivered without prior medical review and prescription by the attending physician," he said.
NHS to cover expense of flu prophylaxis and treatment this winter
Community pharmacists, GPs and other prescribers in primary healthcare may now give some patients antiviral treatment for influenza at the expense of the NHS. But pharmacists have been requested to order antivirals only as needed and not to overstock, to reduce the likelihood of shortages in the supply chain. The NHS will cover the expense of supplying the antivirals oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) to patients in clinical at‐risk groups, and also to those at risk of severe illness and/or complications if their influenza is not treated.
Is Novavax a Buy?
There's excitement among Novavax investors over the potential for its nanoparticle-based influenza vaccine, NanoFlu. Pre-clinical results from NanoFlu were so good that Novavax kicked its program into high gear. The opportunity for NanoFlu is huge. However, it had never been given to a human until September 2017. BIO's report of clinical development success rates between 2006 and 2015 found that fewer than 1-in-5 phase 1 programs in infectious diseases eventually win approval
Academic studies
Designing Artisanal Proteins for Your Body
Researchers identified a pocket on the surface of the flu virus and designed a protein to fit into the viral niche. The researchers then used engineered yeast to turn the semifinalists into real proteins. They turned the proteins loose on the flu viruses. Some grabbed onto the viruses better than others, and the researchers refined their molecular creations until they ended up with one they named HB1.6928.2.3. To see how effective HB1.6928.2.3 was at stopping flu infections, they ran experiments on mice.
Severe influenza greater burden in LMICs than in wealthier countries
Three recent studies underscore the significant burden of severe influenza in developing countries compared with wealthier ones. The data show that health care officials must conduct thorough surveillance and address risk factors for severe influenza in low- and middle-income countries as is done in high-income countries, they wrote in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.
Pediatric influenza news
The FDA Says Homeopathic Flu Remedies Could Be Dangerous To Kids
The FDA has warned against homeopathic flu remedies for kids due to misleading claims. In a time when "natural" options are appealing, experts worry about their effectiveness. The flu in particular can be dangerous for children due to the high fevers and respiratory issues that accompany it. The CDC reported that thousands of children are hospitalized every year for the flu. Even if homeopathic remedies are used alongside conventional medicine, parents should always consult a medical professional first
Children's Hospital hit by influenza outbreak
In Canada, an influenza-like illness outbreak was confirmed at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, where four cases were reported within a seven-day period, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority reported. Two or more cases is considered an outbreak. "We are now up to over 100 confirmed laboratory cases of influenza," said Lori Lamont, WRHA vice-president of nursing and health professionals.
Over 65’s influenza news
Nearly two-thirds of people in East Staffordshire did not get a flu vaccine, but two thirds of over-65s did
Nearly two-thirds of people in East Staffordshire have failed to get a flu vaccine in the run-up to winter, Government figures show. Figures reveal the amount of people registered as patients with East Staffordshire CCG who arranged flu vaccinations between September 1 and November 30: of those patients, 67.6 per cent of people in the borough aged 65 and above got the vaccine, 16,687 out of a possible 24,692
General Influenza News
Seeking to strengthen vaccination campaigns against influenza to avoid an increase in cases
The Mexican Health Commission has asked state governments to redouble their vaccination campaign against influenza across the country and that they include schools, parks and public places, with the aim of achieving greater coverage and protection for the most vulnerable groups in society such as pregnant women, children under nine, adults over 60 and people with chronic diseases.
UMass Amherst and Research Partners Aim to Improve Flu Season Forecasts
Research teams, including one led by biostatistician Nicholas Reich at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, are participating in a national influenza forecasting challenge to try to predict the onset, progress and peaks of regional flu outbreaks to aid prevention and control.This year, the Reich Lab is leading an effort to improve the forecasting by increasing the collaboration between groups.
An increase in the number of flu cases in Queretaro
In its report for Week 51, issued by the Epidemiology Directorate of the Federal Ministry of Health, it said that there were 11 more confirmed cases of influenza in Queretaro, which means there has been a total of 26 to date. This places the state in fifth place nationwide for flu cases, with the largest number of cases in Mexico City, 42; Coahuila, 41 and San Luis Potosí, 37.
Winter flu: Should we expect the worst?
To make the adult flu vaccine, virus is grown in hen eggs but this can also lead to virus mutation. And recent studies have suggested that antibodies raised by these mutant egg-grown H3N2 vaccine viruses are unable to kill viruses that are infecting humans. However, for Dr John McCauley, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza at the Crick Institute UK, it isn't just down to the way the virus is grown: "For the attenuated vaccine, which is also grown in hens' eggs, the protection was good."
Flu shot only 10% effective against most common strain this year
As flu season starts to move into the Atlantic region, Nova Scotia's top doctor is warning the current vaccine isn't as protective as it could be. Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said this year's the flu shot is only about 10 per cent effective against what is likely to become to most prevalent strain. Nonetheless, he still advises Nova Scotians to get their flu vaccinations because "some protection is better than zero protection."
Hospitals are facing double threat of superbugs and flu
In Ireland, flu cases are rising with the spread of a number of strains including the A(H3N2) form, which led to widespread infection during the last Australian winter. More patients are expected to be struck with the flu in the coming weeks due to increased travel and more social gatherings. Hospitals across the country have dramatically wound down activity for the next two weeks which should allow A&E departments to cope an influx of flu patients and a post-Christmas surge
Aussie flu: These are the symptoms to look out for as deadly flu heads to UK this winter
In the UK, public health expert Professor Robert Dingwall, of Nottingham Trent University, said it's "almost inevitable" that Aussie flu will come to Britain over this winter. He said: "The reports from Australia suggest the UK might be in for the worst winter flu season for many years." Public Health England meanwhile, has said it isn't yet known whether the UK will suffer as much as Australia
With Influenza Widespread in CT and 3 Flu-Related Deaths Already This Season, DPH Advises It's Still Not Too Late To Get a Flu Shot
Influenza activity has rapidly increased in the past two weeks and has contributed to the deaths of three individuals in Connecticut over the age of 65 so far this season, according to the State Department of Public Health. While the increase in flu activity and deaths is not unusual for this time of year, DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino strongly urged people who have not yet had a flu shot to get one
Survey: 93.6 percent of Kansas hospital staff vaccinated for flu in 2016-17 season
A survey conducted by a nonprofit focused on health care found that 93.6 percent of hospital staff in Kansas received a flu shot during last year’s flu season. Kansas Healthcare Collaborative’s annual Health Care Personnel Influenza Immunization Survey found Kansas ranks 11th in the nation for the highest percentage of hospital personnel immunized during the 2016-17 flu season
Health authorities promote flu vaccination against influenza
Vaccination against influenza in Costa Rica is important as Oct-Feb is the peak season for cases, which last year caused the death of 44 people during this same period.
Burden of disease
Mother-of-two, 34, claims she was left blind, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and covered in a rash "after having the FLU JAB" and fears she may never recover
A mother went blind in one eye and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just weeks after getting the flu shot, she has claimed. Jennifer Whitney, from Mukilteo, Washington, had the vaccine due to the insistence of her boss - despite being concerned about any side effects. Her naturopath claimed it was all down to her flu vaccine - despite an array of evidence claiming the shot is completely safe
Why this may be a bad flu season, especially around the holidays
This flu season could be a potentially harsh one, and experts say the worst time could coincide with the height of the holiday season and start of the new year. “Flu is picking up and picking up early,” said Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Private doctors to be recruited to Hong Kong public hospitals to tackle winter flu season
In Hong Kong, the private sector will play a more significant role in easing demand for public health care during the winter surge in influenza, as the government is to broaden the scope of collaboration with private hospitals and recruit more part-time private doctors. The authority will also boost a virology service, a rapid test for influenza, from a quota of 30,000 last season to 100,000 this season. Patients of all ages who show symptoms of influenza are eligible for the tests which give results in 24 hours.
Swine flu hits Rajasthan hard
The highly-contagious swine flu virus has hit Rajasthan hard as so far 253 deaths have been reported since the start of this year in the state, an official said on Tuesday. "From the start of this year till December 26, 253 people have died due to swine flu in the state. Besides this, 3,380 have been found H1N1 positive," an official of the Medical and Health Department official told IANS here.
Flu On The Rise In Tri-State
The CDC said that Indiana and Kentucky are among 23 states which have been hit hard by the flu this season. The number of categorized states jumped from just 12 the week before. Ohio was already on the list. Indiana has seen two influenza-associated deaths this season, according to the latest report from the Indiana State Department of Health. Influenza-like illness is widespread across the state. The most common strand in Indiana and nationally has been the H3N2 strand.
Eight-hour waits in emergency rooms as Hong Kong hospitals feel flu season surge over Christmas holidays
In Hong Kong on Christmas Day, medical wards saw an overall occupancy rate of 108 per cent, up from 104 per cent on Christmas Eve. The seasonal strain hits the public health sector every year as the influenza virus hits its winter peak when most private clinics are closed for the holidays and more public doctors are on leave.
Toronto's flu season is underway but it's too soon to tell how bad it will be, says an expert
Toronto's flu season has begun but it's not yet clear how bad it's going to be, says an expert in influenza who works at Mount Sinai Hospital. But Dr. Allison McGeer, microbiologist and and infectious disease consultant in the hospital's department of microbiology, says early signs suggest it could be a "pretty average" season.
Reports of the first case of AH1N1 of the current flu season
The Ministry of Health (Ssa) registered the first case of a person infected with the influenza virus AH1N1, so far this winter season. This virus caused an epidemiological alert in 2009. In the health authority's report, 413 positive cases of influenza have been confirmed, of which, the majority are due to AH3N2, 299 cases; there has been 84 for influenza type B; 29 cases for type A and one case of AH1N1. Up to week 51 of the influenza season, five people died: two due to AH3N2, two due to influenza type B and one person due to influenza type A. The deceased came from Hidalgo, Aguascalientes, Yucatán and Queretaro.
64% increase in flu cases
The 2017-18 influenza season now totals 413 confirmed cases and five deaths, according to the Ministry of Health (Ssa). The figure represents 64 percent more cases of influenza than those recorded in the same period last year, which runs from October 1 to December 21, when there were 252 occurrences. However, fewer deaths have been recorded this year than last, when there were 26 deaths and to date there has only been five. In the current season, there has been 299 cases of AH3N2, 84 for Type B, 29 for Influenza Type A and one for AH1N1 to date. Two deaths have been reported for influenza AH3N2, two for B, and one for type A. The five deaths due to this disease occurred in Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Yucatán and two in Hidalgo, according to a report from the General Directorate of Epidemiology, published yesterday.
CDC puts Missouri on "widespread" levels of influenza activity
According to a weekly influenza surveillance report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of influenza activity in Missouri has reached “widespread” levels. According to Dr. Cynthia Brownfield with Mosaic Life Care, the H3N2 strain is the culprit. And this year’s flu shot doesn’t seem to be effective on the current strain
The first recorded case of death from influenza
This week saw the first death due to influenza type B of this winter season in Aguascalientes. The Secretary of State Health, Sergio Velazquez Garcia, after announcing the death, urged the people of Aguascalientes to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza as soon as possible, especially citizens belonging to the most at-risk and vulnerable groups. He assured the public that there is no cause for alarm, however it is advisable to take the necessary measures to avoid the contagion spreading as this disease can have fatal consequences. Velazquez Garcia explained that the death was of an eight-month-old baby who was not timely vaccinated by their parents. The death was recorded on December 17, at the Hidalgo Hospital. The girl had a case of pneumonia caused by Type B influenza, terminal renal failure and Down syndrome
Flu spreading in Louisiana at one of the nation's fastest rates
Flu season is peaking early, and Louisiana is one of the states getting hit the hardest. According to the CDC, ten states are experiencing high flu-like activity, including Louisiana. Dr. Fred Lopez with Louisiana State University says the number of people who are getting sick this year likely has to do with the predominant strain of the flu -- H3N2
Outpatient flu visits spike as more states note high activity
In the U.S., the proportion of people visiting outpatient clinics with influenza-like illness symptoms is now 3.5%, well above the national baseline of 2.2% and up from 2.7% the week before, the CDC said in its weekly flu update. Flu is now widespread in 23 states, up dramatically from 12 the week before. The CDC also reported one pediatric influenza death
HSE issues warning of ‘Aussie flu’ on the rise in Ireland
In Ireland, Dr Kevin Kelleher of the HSE said: “Influenza-like illness increased in all age groups except in those aged 0-4 years. Hospitalised cases of influenza and influenza- associated outbreaks in residential care facilities have also increased. “Although flu is starting to circulate, flu activity remains at low levels. Prevention is better than cure, and the increase in flu activity means it is even more important to get your flu jab if you are in an at-risk group. Initial indications so far point to more people in at-risk groups and more healthcare workers getting the flu vaccine this year. The HSE would urge those who have not yet been vaccinated to join their peers and their colleagues in getting the flu vaccine this year.”
Flu Season 2017: Nine Children Have Died From Influenza So Far This Winter
In the U.S, another child died from the flu last week—the ninth to die so far this season, according to new data released by the CDC. However, the number of people who died from pneumonia and the flu continued to stay below the seasonal baseline last week. The CDC estimates 12,000 to 56,000 people may die from the flu each year. The percentage of people going to their doctors for something that looked like the flu for the week that ended on December 16 also increased quite a bit; nearly 3.5 percent of visits last week were for flu-like symptoms, up from 2.6 percent the week before
3rd flu-related death confirmed; hospitals enact voluntary visitor restrictions
A third flu-related death in McLean County, Illinois, was confirmed Friday and more hospitals are enacting voluntary visitor restrictions. Coroner Kathy Davis said the individual, who was over 60 years of age, died Thursday from flu-related complications in addition to other medical issues
"Stay away": Families warned over Addenbrooke's Hospital flu outbreak
In Cambridge, UK, health bosses have confirmed an outbreak of flu has hit Addenbrooke's Hospital, and are warning people who have any symptoms - including diarrhoea or sickness - to "stay away" from the hospital in order to prevent the infection spreading
1 Child Death, Rampant Flu Reported In Illinois
Cases of flu are on the uptick in Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported one pediatric death as a result of the flu since October. The influenza virus is now categorized as "widespread" in Illinois and 22 other states. That marks an increase from last week, when it was categorized as "regional." Since the start of flu season in October, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 68 people have been admitted to the intensive care unit due to influenza, a big spike from just a month ago when 27 ICU admissions were reported. The vast majority of those are patients age 65 and older
Australian flu warning: NHS fears materialise after eight deaths so far in UK this winter
In the UK, there are currently 25 cases of people in intensive care after catching flu, and so far there have been eight flu-related deaths this year. Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director said: “NHS staff are working flat out to cope with seasonal pressures and ensure patients receive the best possible care. “However, given the scale of the challenge, hospitals should be planning for the surge that comes in the New Year by freeing up beds and staff where they can to care for our sickest patients.”
4 more people die of flu in Calgary this week, as province hits 19 deaths from virus
In Canada, with double the amount of laboratory confirmed cases and three times the number of deaths, the latest numbers released from Alberta Health Services reveal this year's flu strain is continuing to hit Calgary much harder than Edmonton. The province has seen 867 Albertans admitted to hospital with the flu, with more than half (488) reported in the Calgary zone. Only 218 people have been admitted to hospital in Edmonton with the flu. Across the province, nearly 1.12 million doses of the influenze vaccine have been administered
Flu-related deaths in Alberta rise to 19
The number of flu-related deaths continues to creep up in the province, with Alberta Health Services reporting 19 deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations. New statistics released by the health agency show Alberta recorded 3,355 confirmed cases of the virus and 867 hospitalizations as of Dec. 16. The Calgary region remains the hardest hit, accounting for 12 deaths and 488 hospitalizations. The Edmonton zone has reported four deaths — an increase of one from last week — and 218 hospitalizations.