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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 28th Dec 2017

Seqirus mentions

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Pandemic Influenza News
UAE Bans Poultry Imports from Saudi Arabia Following H5N8 Bird Flu Outbreak
The United Arab Emirates has announced a ban on poultry imports from Saudi Arabia following a reported outbreak of a bird flu in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment took the measure following a notification from the Gulf Early Warning Centre of the outbreak of a "highly contagious" strain of bird flu, H5N8, in the Azizia market in Riyadh, the UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Iran poultry farms hit hard by culling of 16m chicken
Major egg producing Iranian provinces, namely Qazvin, Tehran, Alborz and East Azarbaijan, are dealing with an outbreak of avian flu, which has led to the culling of 16 million chicken and a rise in egg prices, the chairman of the board of directors at Tehran’s Union of Producers of Egg-Laying Chicken said.
Taiwan Reports Low-Path H5N6 Bird Flu
Dr Tai-Hwa Shih, Chief Veterinary Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture in Taipei, has reported two outbreaks of the H5N6 strain of low pathogenic avian influenza at two farms located in Zhushan, a township in Taiwan. The outbreak, which was initially observed on 19 December was confirmed on 24 December after reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and gene sequencing tests were carried out on 21 December and 24 December respectively at the Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI). Both tests gave out positive results.
OIE Notified Of HPAI H5N1 In Crows - Bangladesh
While once a major hotbed of H5N1 activity, including the detection of 8 human cases, reports have become far more sporadic from Bangladesh over the past few years with only one outbreak reported in all of 2016. Today, however, the OIE is reporting two incidents in Dhaka - roughly less than 5 miles apart and on the same day (11/25/17) - involving the deaths of 63 crows
Cambodia: More Media Reports Of H5N1
On December 9th we looked at Media Reports Of An H5N1 Outbreak In Cambodia, which was quickly confirmed by the OIE. On December 22nd the Cambodian MOH posted a statement suggesting the earlier outbreaks continue to spread
Russia: Follow Up & OIE Notification Of H5N8 Outbreak In Kostroma
A week ago FluTrackers (h/t Gert van der Hoek) posted a Russian media report of a subtype H5 avian flu outbreak in the Kostroma Region, roughly 200 miles north and east of Moscow. The OIE Has confirmed this outbreak to be HPAI H5N8 , and the number of birds affected to exceed 660,000
Six countries report more avian flu outbreaks
A handful of countries reported new avian flu outbreaks over the past few days that involved different strains, including H5N6 in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, H5N1 in Bangladesh and Cambodia, and H5N8 in Russia.
Industry News
BiondVax Plans Phase 3 Clinical Trial Following Receipt of Scientific Advice from the European Medicines Agency
BiondVax announced that the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use reviewed its Phase 3 trial plan, provided advice, and allowed it to proceed with the Phase 3 clinical trial plan for M-001, its universal flu vaccine candidate. The CHMP advice will facilitate procedures in the countries where the Phase 3 study will take place. The trial is expected to take place in Eastern Europe and begin prior to the 2018/19 flu season
Texas continues to hold top spot for influenza activity
Influenza is wreaking the most havoc on Texans, according to the Walgreens Flu Index. The tool—which follows the trend using nationwide retail prescription data for antivirals that treat the condition—identifies Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches) as the country's most affected area for the week ended December 16
Jump in H3N2 flu prompts CDC warning, antiviral reminder
The U.S. CDC warned clinicians that flu activity has increased significantly in recent weeks, much of it from H3N2, which poses a heightened threat, especially to seniors and young children, and elevates the importance of prompt antiviral treatment. The CDC said predominant H3N2 activity has major implications for clinical treatment, given that the vaccine is generally less effective against that subtype, and that neuraminidase inhibitors, such as (oseltamivir) Tamiflu, will be a useful treatment adjunct.
Academic studies

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Pediatric influenza news
Local pediatrics hospitals see rise in flu patients
The pediatric departments of many Shanghai hospitals saw a rapid increase in the number of young patients this week. The number of children requiring emergency treatment at Xin Hua Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, for instance, increased by 6.7 percent this week alone. Qian Jihong, chief of pediatrics at Xin Hua Hospital, said many children are reporting symptoms mainly caused by the influenza virus and rotavirus
Many children seeing the doctor as cold and flu season heats up
Lots of children have been spending their Christmas vacation in the doctor's office, sick with a variety of illnesses. General Pediatrician Docotor Greg Eberhart told FOX 45 he hasn't seen anything like this in a decade, and that he's concerned about what he's seeing in his office in the last week or two. "It seems like everything is hitting at the same time. We've had influenza hitting, we've had RSV hitting, we've had strep throat, croup a stomach virus," Dr. Eberhart
Over 65’s influenza news
How flu shots for the young can prevent pneumonia among seniors
Seniors are advised to get a flu shot every year, but the immune systems of older people just don’t work as well as those of younger people, so they don’t always mount a good response to the vaccine. Young people, on the other hand, do respond well to the shot, and if they avoid flu infection, there will simply be less flu virus circulating in the air that could infect seniors
Flu-like symptoms affected 33 senior living residents
In Indiana, local health officials are optimistic an outbreak of a flu-like illness at a senior living community has been contained. After ISDH Field Epidemiologist Jill Stauffer received the report, she immediately contacted Parkside officials to provide them with immediate procedures necessary to follow to reduce the risk of further infection
Very virulent flu epidemic spreading through France
In France, the flu epidemic has now spread to 8 regions, and is affecting older people worse than any other group, as they tend to be more vulnerable, and are often housed in very warm accommodation without proper hydration. Flu vaccination remains the best defence againt the virus
General Influenza News
Loads of flu vaccination doses could well be leftover by 31st December
Health authorities are inviting the Panamanian population that have not yet been vaccinated against influenza to attend Health Centers and get in done immediately. This is because the state has bought approximately 2 million vaccine doses and many are still unused and they will expire this December 31. For its part, the national director of health Itza Barahona said that due to the large number of cases that emerged last year it was decided to vaccinate the whole population so as to reduce the number of deaths due to influenza during the 2017-18
Reports of 3 confirmed cases of Influenza in the Gomez Palacio district
These are the first confirmed cases in the Durango region of Mexico and the local health experts told the media that 70,000 doses of flu vaccination will be given out by a team of 600 health experts and 900 flu vaccination points
Doctors: Flu Vaccine Only 40 to 60 Percent Effective on a Good Year
There are rising concerns about the flu virus as hospitals and clinics across Arkansas fill up with patients testing positive. According to the CDC, there have been nearly 14,000 confirmed cases of the flu this season. Many of those cases are in people who did get the flu vaccine. Jonesboro Doctor Kasey Holder says the vaccine is only 40 to 60 percent effective on a good year. And white it's been speculated that the vaccine may only be 10 percent effective this year, Dr. Holder says it's still a good idea to get the shot.
What You Need to Know About the 2017 Flu Vaccine
If current numbers are any indication, the U.S. may see a sharp rise in influenza cases as Americans return from the holidays this year in particular. The CDC says that this year’s flu strains are expected to be mostly similar to last year’s, when the vaccine was 39% effective (a tad behind recent historical norms). The 2017 flu vaccine was created, to some extent, with such considerations in mind. Still, we won’t really know how effective this year’s shot is until the flu season has actually passed.
Queen's Hospital's "stay away" plea to those with minor illnesses amid worst flu outbreak in decades
UK medics facing the worst winter flu outbreak in 20 years are urging those with minor illnesses to stay away from hospital. New NHS papers have highlighted a particularly virulent strain of seasonal flu, workforce shortages and problems with capacity. The briefing paper stated that the NHS had a long history of advance planning to deal with flu and had "significantly increased its focus" this year, including the use of incentive payments for hospitals which had 75 per cent of staff vaccinated.
Sonora health authorities strengthen their fight against the spread of flu
In the Sonora region of Mexico, there have been 10 confirmed cases of influenza, so the Ministry of Health has strengthened reinforced its flu vaccination campaign against the disease. To date, this winter, 450,000 vaccination doses have been applied, however, there are enough vaccines available for the entire population to be vaccinated. "This year we will have a higher incidence of cases, therefore also probably more serious cases and therefore a higher risk of deaths," said Dr. Gilberto Ugson, Sonora's Health Secretary.
The state flu vaccination campaign continues apace
In Mexico, the Ministry of Health is continuing its influenza vaccination campaign aiming to meet the goal of more than 760,000 doses given out across the state of Coahuila in the period from the end of this year to the end of the first quarter of 2018. A vaccination task force, composed of two nurses belonging to Social Security, will be installed on Padre Flores street, between Abbott and Ocampo. This campaign is aimed primarily at pregnant women, children under 5 years, people with chronic diseases and older adults
Taipei urges foreign care workers to get free flu vaccination
Taipei City’s Department of Health announced that a total of 6,000 flu vaccines would be available at designated MRT stations and Taipei City Hospital-affiliated outpatient clinics for residents and foreign nursing care workers. Statistics showed that over 90 percent of patients with severe or complicated influenza have not been vaccinated against the virus, according to the DOH
Flu season ramps up early in KC, but will the vaccine work?
Some health experts feared the U.S. would have a rough flu season this year because it’s been particularly bad in Australia. This year’s flu vaccine was only about 10 percent effective against the strain that caused the most trouble there. But a study published earlier this month by researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that the vaccine is a better match for what appears to be the most prevalent strain in the U.S. this year
Burden of disease
Swine flu hits Rajasthan: 253 deaths reported so far in 2017
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. “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 said. To curb the spread of the disease, the government has launched a poster and video campaign aimed at educating people
Flu Comes Early And Aggressively In Connecticut
Connecticut’s flu season is rapidly getting worse, with three deaths attributed to the virus through the middle of December. There were 355 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Connecticut and a total of 144 people were hospitalized with the virus through Dec. 16, according to the most recent report from the state health department. That compares to 255 confirmed cases and 98 hospitalizations a week earlier.
States Reporting Widespread Flu Nearly Doubles in One Week
The number of states reporting widespread flu activity has nearly doubled this week, just 1 indicator of an intensifying flu season. In the CDC’s FluView report for week 50 ending December 16, 2017, 23 states reported widespread influenza. In the previous week, the flu was geographically widespread in just 12 states. During week 50, Puerto Rico and 23 states reported regional flu activity, while the District of Columbia and Delaware, Hawaii, Utah, and West Virginia reported only local flu activity. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) has reached 3.5%—up from 2.7% the previous week—and is continuing to climb above the national baseline of 2.2%.
Widespread flu outbreaks hitting California, nearly half the country
According to a new CDC report, "seasonal influenza activity increased sharply in the United States." The number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 12 to 23. Flu activity in California has hit what's considered 'widespread'. The best way fight the flu, is to get a flu shot, says the CDC. The second best option, according to their report, is antiviral drugs
It's early in the flu season, but it's shaping up to be a nasty one
As the holiday season continues, the U.S. is also entering peak flu season. According to the CDC, up to 650,000 people worldwide could die from complications of the flu. The CDC recommends getting immunized, even if it only may provide a relatively small amount of protection.
CDC Flu Update: H3N2 Viruses Continue to Predominate
According to this week’s FluView report from the CDC, seasonal influenza activity increased sharply in the United States. The number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 12 to 23, the proportion of samples testing positive for influenza at clinical laboratories went from 8.4% to 14.0%, and the percentage of people seeking outpatient care for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased from 2.7% to 3.5% over last week’s report. ILI has been at or above the national baseline for four weeks so far this season. During recent seasons, ILI has remained at or above baseline for 13 weeks on average. H3N2 viruses continue to predominate.
North-east hospital closes ward to new patients amid fears of flu
In Scotland, a ward at a North-east hospital has been forced to close to new admissions, due to a small number currently in the ward who have been displaying flu-like symptoms. The health board has also urged patients with flu-like symptoms who are aged 65 or over, pregnant, have a long term medical condition or a weakened immune system to speak to their doctor about getting vaccinated against the flu
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.
Central Queensland battles one of its worst flu seasons yet
Central Queensland has battled one of its worst flu years yet with more than 2000 cases reported to the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service. Queensland Health data confirmed there were 2399 lab-confirmed influenza cases, almost triple the average of 859 for Central Queensland.
Christmas break sees surge in seasonal flu
Hundreds of people attended the emergency department at St Bernard’s hospital over the Christmas period, as Gibraltar – in common with many other countries around Europe – experienced a surge in cases of winter influenza and other flu-like illnesses. Around 500 people were seen by emergency medical staff between December 22 and December 27, with 12 patients admitted to hospital, eight of them into the critical care unit, according to the Gibraltar Health Authority. Additional cardiac monitoring facilities have been made available in Dudley Toomey ward if needed and all other exposed patients and staff members are taking the prophylactic flu medicine Tamiflu
Flu outbreak has reached epidemic levels in Switzerland
In Switzerland, the flu has now spread everywhere and the epidemic level has been reached. Children under the age of 4 are the group most affected at the moment
Spike in Flu Cases Leads to Restricted Visitation at U. of C. Hospital
Starting Wednesday morning, visiting patients at The University of Chicago Medical Center will be a bit more difficult, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. As flu season picks up, the hospital won’t allow children under 12, or anyone having a fever, cough or runny nose to enter as a visitor. Visitation at the hospital has been restricted during every flu season since 2011, but this is the first time it has happened this early
Seasonal Flu Reports Increasing Across China, Asia
Last summer Southern China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan reported an unusually severe out-of-season spike in (mostly) H3N2 flu cases. Now that the traditional season for flu has arrived, we are seeing another rise in flu cases again after only a 5 month respite
Doctors Warn San Diego Is Being 'Hit Hard' By Flu This Season
Local doctors are warning residents of San Diego County that the flu is hitting hard this year. Ten people have died this season according to San Diego County officials. Two men younger than 65 are included in the death rate, officials said. They passed away from Influenza A. Health officials said last season at this time, there were four deaths in the county. "We've seen about 50 percent or above our usual patient volumes every day," said Dr. Phil Yphantides, Medical Director of Sharp Reese-Stealy Urgent Care. "And this is the worst we've seen in eight years."
WHO: Influenza update, December 25
Influenza activity continued to increase in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere while in the temperate zone of the southern hemisphere activity decreased at inter-seasonal levels. In Central America and the Caribbean, influenza activity remained low. Worldwide, influenza A(H3N2) and B viruses accounted for the majority of influenza detections.