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"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 8th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
NHS reels as flu epidemic bites: Spike in hospital admissions, GPs overwhelmed, half a million calls to helpline...and worse to come
In the UK, the NHS is bracing itself for a flu epidemic following a surge in cases at hospitals and GP surgeries. The NHS is using a flu jab that does not work for the elderly even though a better one has been available for 20 years. Public Health England has approved the use of the new vaccine – called Fluad – which experts say could save up to 1,700 lives annually. But it won't be available until the autumn, even though it has been offered in Italy, Germany and Luxembourg for almost 20 years.
GPs told to order two different types of flu vaccines amid efficacy fears
GP practices have been advised by NHS England to order a separate adjuvanted vaccine, Fluad, to give to over-75s in the 2018/19 flu season. However the directive has been met with concern by some GPs over the potential logistical and financial issues with ordering two separate vaccines. Dr Kieran Sharrock, medical director of Lincolnshire LMC, said that NHS England's advice had come 'too late' for many practices, but Dr George Kassianos, GP and RCGP immunisation lead, said GPs should follow NHS England's advice.
2017 a banner year for North Carolina’s life science ecosystem, from IPOs to startups, deals and more
Seqirus, the world’s second-largest influenza vaccine company, broke ground for a $9 million expansion of its manufacturing facility in Holly Springs. Seqirus said the construction of a 15,000-square-foot warehouse would enable the company to grow its seasonal flu-vaccine business and support its biosecurity partnership with the U.S. government in pandemic preparedness.
Seqirus and Farmavenix distribute flu vaccine across the country
Seqirus won the contract to supply three types of flu vaccines in thirteen Spanish autonomous regions for the 2017-2018 season. This amounts to four million doses, or 50% of the number of flu vaccines administered in Spain. It has been working with Farmavenix to organise the logistics of the operation
Pandemic Influenza News
China: CHP notified of human case of H5N6 avian influenza A in Fujian
The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (January 5) received notification of an additional human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Fujian, China, from the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The case involved a three-year-old girl, who had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms. The patient had recovered after medical treatment and her close contacts remain asymptomatic.
Outbreak of bird flu in Karnataka; Maharashtra border districts on alert
In India, officials of the Maharahstra Animal Husbandry Department have been put on alert along districts near the Karnataka border after an outbreak of H5 avian influenza was reported at Dasarahalli village in Bengaluru Urban district. Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Commissioner Kantilal Umap, however, assured that the situation was being monitored and “there was no need for alarm”.
Avian flu leads to culling of 10,000 birds at Taiwan chicken farm
In Taiwan, according to the Yunlin County's Animal and Plant Disease Control Center, a chicken farm has been identified to be infected with a subtype of the H5 avian influenza virus which has led to the slaughtering of 10,461 birds as a preventive measure to stop the disease from spreading. On Monday, a similar case was reported in the county's Yuanchang Township where 15,239 birds were culled as a result of the avian flu
Saudi MEWA: 11 new cases of H5N8 - Jan 6th
The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture (MEWA) continues to provide detailed daily updates on their battle against the recently arrived (announced Dec 20th) H5N8 avian flu virus. Saturday's update, with 11 new outbreaks listed from 4 different locations, indicates just how tough a job they are facing.
As H5N6 hits more poultry, researchers test threat of earlier strain - CIDRAP
In research developments, two different groups that conducted lab experiments to gauge the threat of H5N6 to mammals and poultry found that the virus doesn't easily spread by the airborne route among ferrets, though it can infect ducks, chickens, and mice, and can cause severe disease in mice, which may signal a threat to other mammals.
Bulgarian firm buys AgriLabs
The Bulgarian company Huvepharma announced Friday that it has acquired the human and animal health firm AgriLabs. Steve Schram, president and CEO for AgriLabs, said the change will help it accelerate the further development of the first vaccines ever licensed for chickens due to recent outbreaks of avian influenza, after an announcement in November.
Poultry owners told to keep birds indoors 'til spring after Avian flu prevention zone period extended
In the UK, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that has been in place since 6 December will be extended until 28 February to help protect poultry and captive birds from avian flu, the Chief Veterinary Officer has announced. Public Health England advises that the risk to public health remains very low
Industry News
First quadruple flu vaccine now approved for six months or more (Vaxigrip Tetra)
To date in Germany, tetravalent flu vaccinations were available only for children from the age of three. From now, though, Vaxigrip Tetra can be used to vaccinate children of an earlier age - children from six months old . This was just announced by the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur on Friday. Also the STIKO advisory committee is recommending some quadruple combinations, which contains an additional protection when compared to the triple shot.
Academic studies
Universal Influenza Vaccine: A Game Changer in Prevention
With the aim of overcoming the shortcomings of currently available influenza vaccines, researchers led by experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) embarked on a quest to develop a universal influenza vaccine. Infectious Disease Advisor discussed the latest progress on UIV research with Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of NIAID at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and Florian Krammer, PhD, associate professor in the department of microbiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Popularity on Facebook could be key to targeted flu vaccinations - study
Facebook accounts and telephone records can be used to pinpoint the best individuals to vaccinate to stop a disease outbreak in its tracks, researchers say. Such people would be ‘central’ in their social networks, and thus likelier to spread disease-causing germs from one group to another. Assuming there is an outbreak, and not enough vaccines for every person in the world, immunising these well-connected individuals would remove social ‘bridges’ by which germs can spread, experts wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Strategy introduces stable components of flu virus for long-lasting, DNA-enhanced protection
A UW Medicine researcher is working on the development of a universal vaccine that would protect from all strains of influenza virus. The research in Deborah Fuller's lab uses a DNA vaccine to instruct the individual's own skin cells to produce antigens and induce antibodies and T cell responses to fight the infection.
ISU Researchers Developing Nanovaccine to Protect Against the Flu
Iowa State University researchers are on the cutting edge of developing a new vaccine that could protect the world from the flu, and so far they're seeing promising results. "The nanovaccine is made of nanoparticles that contain proteins that are specific to the particular pathogen that we`re trying to immunize against," said Dr. Balaji Narasimhan, a professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering. The particles go inside the body, get internalized by immune cells, then they fall apart and release their payloads; which are influenza proteins.
Pediatric influenza news
Tennessee officials say three children have died from the flu
Tennessee health officials say three children have died from the flu. Department of Health spokesman Bill Christian told media that two deaths were recorded in East Tennessee and one was recorded in Middle Tennessee. He says the state typically sees two to three pediatric flu deaths each flu season, though 15 were recorded in 2009.
Children's Hospital of San Antonio experiences a spike in flu, RSV cases
In the U.S., the flu continues to make its rounds in San Antonio and it’s taking a toll on children. In just the last few weeks, a spokesperson with The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio says that hundreds of sick children have visited the hospital, many with flu-like symptoms. Pediatrician Mark Gilger with The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio says that the number of cases are significantly higher this year
School flu vaccinations in Baton Rouge downscaled in wake of criticism of FluMist
Even as Louisiana is in the middle of a busy flu season, a promising avenue to limit the spread of the virus, school-based vaccination drives, is on indefinite hold thanks to a decision 18 months ago by federal health officials to cease supporting nasal spray vaccinations that had become ineffective. FluMist, produced by MedImmune, had become the clear favorite among children and the go-to method of vaccination in schools.
"Keep your child at home if they display symptoms of the flu", pleads minister
In Ireland, parents have been asked to keep their children at home next week if they are showing flu-like symptoms in a major escalation of the healthcare crisis. Health Minister Simon Harris told the Herald that the new school term could cause the flu epidemic to worsen. And he also urged any nursing home patients who develop the flu to remain in their facilities if possible, rather than attending a hospital.
Flu warning as ill children are left on hospital trollies
In Ireland, the number of children hospitalised with flu is expected to rise rapidly as children return to school next week, the HSE has warned. Twelve children were waiting on trolleys on Friday, the majority of whom are understood to have severe cases of influenza. Sick children waiting on trolleys was described as “particularly poignant and unacceptable” by Colm Henry, the HSE’s national clinical adviser
CHP investigates case of severe paediatric influenza B infection
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 7) investigating a case of severe paediatric influenza B infection. The 3-year-old girl, with good past health, has developed fever, cough with sputum, runny nose and sore throat since January 5. The patient was found unresponsive with cyanosis yesterday (January 6) and subsequently sent to the Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital where she was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for treatment on the same day.
Over 65’s influenza news
Gloucestershire care homes hit by flu outbreaks and people urged to stay away if they have symptoms
In the UK, health chiefs are urging people not to visit care homes if they have flu symptoms due to an increasing number of outbreaks in Gloucestershire care homes. Public Health England say there were 19 flu outbreaks at care homes in Gloucestershire between October 2 and December 18 last year, the latest figures available. That means there were 19 reported incidents in care homes in which two or more linked cases of flu were identified during that period.
Flu kills four elderly Iowans, as serious outbreak worsens
Flu viruses are taking a toll among Iowa’s elderly residents, amid one of the most severe flu outbreaks the state has seen in recent years. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that it has recorded four recent deaths from flu-related illnesses. The average age of the victims was 86. Three of the four had other health issues that could have made them more susceptible to flu complications.
Most older adults think nursing homes should require staff flu shots
Almost three-quarters of older adults think nursing homes should require all staff to get the influenza vaccine and most said they would be less likely to choose to reside in a particular nursing home if they knew that a percentage of staff was not vaccinated, according to a new poll conducted by the University of Michigan.
General Influenza News
Flu vaccine may not be very efficient against this year's dominant flu strain
In Canada, the head of Public Health said that the flu vaccine this year might be well be ineffective against a particularly nasty influenza A strain. In Quebec, the ERs are full of people infected with that strain, H3N2. She said that besides the flu shot, there are antivirals available to fight the virus, such as Tamiflu and zanamivir
Cali Mayoralty team has 11,000 flu vaccines ready in health centres across the region
Allexander Duran, health secretary, said that "taking into account that we knew we were going to have a cold season, we took the decision to stock up on our supply of vaccines against influenza." 'It is our goal to see to it that those most at risk are protected,' he concluded
How Australian flu outbreak compares to the swine flu pandemic
Britain seems to be in the grip of ‘Australian flu’, with offices and schools decimated as people are struck down by the virus. But the good news is that it won’t match the devastating impact of swine flu, and is extremely unlikely to reach pandemic level. Dr Jeff Foster, who has a private GP practice at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, explained that the flu jab has helped to control the spread of the virus.
Winter flu heaps pressure on NHS as officials warn jab ineffective against most common strain
The flu jab most frequently given to adults may not offer protection against the most common strain of the virus, Public Health England has warned. In a letter to GPs in the south west, the body warned that people could still get ill if they have had the “trivalent” flu jab, which protects against three strains of the illness. It warned practices that most adults and staff have had the three-strain jab and this is likely to include hundreds of thousands of NHS staff vaccinated as part of a drive to limit the impact of staff sickness over winter.
Spike in flu cases causes shortage of some meds
In North Carolina, doctors are seeing a spike in Type A flu and it's creating a shortage of some medicines used to treat it. Doctors are giving prescriptions for Tamiflu but said it's been sold out in many pharmacies.
ISSSTE has organised the distribution of 1,268,000 flu jabs to those most in need
By December, 65 percent of the target flu vaccination group had been reached by health authorities in Mexico and it is expected that by the end of the winter season this group will be fully covered. The IISSSTE gave out 1,268,000 flu shots between October and December 2017, these were drawn from the two million doses that were available, to prevent cases of seasonal influenza season 100 percent will have been covered.
Calls to make free flu jab "a priority"
In Scotland, adults eligible for the flu jab are being urged to have the free vaccination as the “best defence” against the illness. Just over four in 10 (41%) of those aged under 65, who are considered “at risk”, have had their flu jab this winter. The uptake level among pregnant women with other risk factors is 57.5% and 44% in pregnant women without other risk factors, Health Protection Scotland data showed.
Doctors and nurses urged to get flu jab amid warnings that a French epidemic could spread to Britain
In the UK, NHS trusts are failing to get medical workers to have flu jabs amid warnings that a French epidemic could spread to Britain. Health officials are pleading with NHS staff to have the jab as figures show as few as one in three workers have been vaccinated at some hospitals. Health officials also urged members of the public who are eligible for the jab to come forward.
Less than 40% of nursing staff take flu vaccine
Less than 40% of Ireland's nursing staff have had the flu vaccine — and influenza season is set to peak next week. “What’s very interesting is, with nursing two to three years ago, [the vaccine uptake] was down in the low teens, now it’s over 30%. We’ve seen a big change,” said the HSE’s assistant national director for public health, Dr Kevin Kelleher. “The evidence from the UK is that if we carry on like the UK, in three or four years’ time, we should be well up into the 50s.” Asked if hospital staff could be forced to take the vaccine, he said the HSE uses an incentive approach
Burden of disease
This year's flu is more dangerous and deadly in California, report says
In California, emergency rooms are crowded, pharmacies are running out of medicine, and the death toll is rising, the LA Times reports. As of Friday, Jan. 5, 27 people younger than the age of 65 have died from the flu in California since October—only three died last year within the same timeframe, according to the report. Some officials note it’s still tough to say if this year is worse than last year’s flu season.
Just two areas of the UK are free from Aussie flu as hospitals close their doors to visitors and churches ban handshakes to stem the epidemic
In the UK, just two places remain uninfected by the 'Aussie flu' virus as it rapidly spreads across the country. Only Dorchester and the City of London have reported zero cases, according to website Flusurvey.org.uk. Perthsire, Inverness, Preston, Glasgow and Midlothian - previously untouched - have now all reported cases of the dangerous new H3N2 strain of Influenza A. The online FluSurvey map, which updates every three minutes, relies on self-reported data from patients, meaning the true figure is likely to be much higher
Influenza death toll in Multan rises to 14
In Pakistan, an outbreak of seasonal influenza in Multan has claimed 14 lives so far, as health authorities continue to struggle to contain the epidemic. Eight more patients suspected of having contracted the virus were hospitalised in last 24 hours. A team of specialist doctors arrived in Multan earlier this week for the treatment of the influenza. The team has been deployed at Nishtar Hospital while a massive influenza vaccination drive has been launched in the region
Ohio flu hospitalizations exceed 2,000 this season
Flu hospitalizations in Ohio have topped 2,000 for the 2017-2018 flu season, and state officials are stressing it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. Ohio is now reporting 2,104 flu-associated hospitalizations for the 2017-18 flu season, compared to 369 at this same time last year, according to the department.
Flu counts jump as 46 states report widespread activity - CIDRAP
Influenza activity shot up across the U.S. last week, according to the latest FluView weekly report. Geographic indicators and increasing hospitalizations all suggest high flu activity. Now 46 states are experiencing widespread flu activity, with only Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, and New Jersey reporting regional levels of influenza. New York City and 26 states reported high influenza-like illness activity. Nine states and Puerto Rico reported moderate activity, and 15 states and the District of Colombia reported low or minimal activity.
Michigan strain of H1N1 detected
In India, more than 100 cases of H1N1 influenza have been recorded in Jaipur, Rajasthan, with over 10 deaths in the past one week. The spike in the cases is being attributed a new type of H1N1 virus called the Michigan strain. The Rajasthan government on January 3 sounded an alert in the State after more than 400 people were diagnosed positive for swine flu virus in December 2017.
More cases of A(H3N2) confirmed by health authorities
The Ministry of Health (SSA) reports that there were 735 confirmed cases of influenza and 9 deaths this season, according to Pablo Kuri, Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion. In an interview, the official indicated that, according to data as of January 4, most cases of influenza are of type A H3N2. "What strikes us is that most are A(H3N2), 154. There are only seven A H1N1," he explained. Although there are fewer cases of A H1N1 virus than expected for this season, explained Kuri, you should not lower your guard, because the influenza period has not ended yet. The Deputy Secretary of the SSA indicated that January is usually the most critical month for this disease, so that more cases could occur.
It's flu season — and this could be the worst one Hawaii sees in years
Nationwide in the U.S., this flu season is being called one of the worst on record since 2009, and Hawaii health experts say the state is already seeing a spike in cases. Health experts say this year's dominant strain of flu called H3N2 is unfortunately one of the nastiest because it tends to cause severe illness in people and historically vaccines have not been as effective against the strain.
Doctors warn after Dubai resident dies of flu complications
In the UAE, doctors are urging patients to take flu vaccinations after a man died last week in Dubai due to pneumonia caused by influenza. Dr Mohammed Ashraf, specialist in Internal Medicine, Universal Hospital, said that the 35-year-old Pakistani man was healthy but his condition deteriorated rapidly. Prevention is the key, Dr Ashraf noted, and taking the flu vaccination before the fall season is crucial
Two confirmed cases of severe H1N1 virus in La Spezia
Two "particularly severe" cases of the swine flu H1N1 virus have been recorded in in recent days. A man and a woman over fifty spent several days in care at the Sant'Andrea hospital. Currently both patients are under antiviral treatment with antibiotics. The conditions are still classified as "extremely severe".
One Southern Oklahoma county has the highest numbers of flu hospitalizations in recent study
According to a report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Johnston County is in the top ten counties for most people hospitalized for the flu from September to December 2017, totaling to eleven people hospitalized. 465 people were hospitalized in Oklahoma with the flu within the past four months. That same report shows that southern Oklahoma had a relatively small number of people hospitalized from the flu, but in Johnston County, you can see a noticeable difference.
Flu crisis "to double in intensity" as Taoiseach criticised for lack of action on hospital beds
In Ireland, as the health crisis threatens to disrupt the new school term, it was claimed last night that parents have not been issued clear advice over whether to keep their children at home. The HSE's assistant national director Dr Kevin Kelleher said the crisis will "double in intensity" over the next fortnight. However, he said we have not reached a point whereby school closures will be ordered.
Officials reveal 185 people here hit by strain of bug linked to Aussie Flu
In Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency has confirmed that there have been 185 cases of the flu group that includes the so-called 'Aussie Flu' strain. In this month's flu surveillance bulletin, the PHA said that flu activity in NI had "not even crossed the line" of the "pre-epidemic threshold", and that this year's season had shown "low flu activity to date". The PHA bulletin added: "It is important that the public does not become complacent and miss getting their vaccine if they are eligible."
Spike in flu cases as fears grow over NHS winter pressure
GP consultations for flu-like symptoms rose in all UK countries in the final week of 2017, while hospital admissions for influenza soared to 'very high' levels, as signs grew that flu could put the NHS under growing pressure this winter.