"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 15th Jan 2018

Seqirus mentions
Three flu deaths reported among Allegheny County residents in past week
In the U.S., three people in Allegheny County have died from flu complications in the past week, the county Health Department confirmed Friday. Health Director Karen Hacker urged residents who are experiencing flu symptoms to contact their health care provider to see if antiviral drugs should be prescribed. The CDC recommends three antiviral drugs: oseltamivir (either generic or with the trade name Tamiflu), zanamivir (trade name Relenza) and peramivir (trade name Rapivab).
San Angelo not spared from widespread flu cases across Texas
This flu season in the U.S., a quadrivalent recombinant influenza vaccine is available (last season, only trivalent recombinant influenza vaccine was available.) For the first time, a cell-grown H3N2 vaccine reference virus was used to produce the H3N2 component of the cell-based vaccine, Flucelvax (the remaining Flucelvax vaccine components were manufactured using egg-grown reference viruses.)
Pandemic Influenza News
Culling of 92000 chickens begins in Japan after bird flu detected
Local authorities in western Japan's Kagawa Prefecture began culling about 92,000 chickens after the highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza was detected. The outbreak was confirmed at a poultry farm in the city of Sanuki as the chickens tested positive in genetic tests, making it the first bird flu case affecting livestock in Japan this season
Bird flu gives a scare, doctors say all is safe
In India, doctors are reassuring people after one case of avian flu was found in a chicken recently. They explain how the avian flu virus would spread to a human and that no human infections have occurred in the country so far. While the suspected outbreak of Avian Influenza at a poultry farm near Bengaluru has been contained, report of samples sent from Mandya to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases came back as negative to any form of bird flu that is lethal to humans
Bird flu confirmed in 17 wild animals in Dorset
In the UK, bird flu has been confirmed in 17 wild birds in Dorset, the Government has said. A virus closely related to the H5N6 avian flu strain led the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to declare a prevention zone around the affected area. Defra insisted the strain was not a food safety risk for shoppers, and Public Health England said the risk to people’s health was “very low”
Taiwan bans poultry from Japan following outbreak of avian flu
Taiwan issued a new ban on Japanese poultry after an H5 strain of avian flu was detected in Japan's Kagawa Prefecture that led to the culling of 92,000 chickens. The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine on Friday listed Japan as an epidemic region for the highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza and reinstated a ban on the import of its poultry that was only lifted on Monday. This news comes on the heels of reported outbreaks of the avian influenza throughout Japan, South Korea and Europe.
Two more farms infected with avian flu
In Taiwan, two more poultry farms in Pingtung County have been infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2 strain and another H5 subtype, following an alert issued on Friday regarding an avian flu outbreak in Japan and other countries, the Council of Agriculture said
H7N9 avian flu fatality reported in Xinjiang
The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission reported on an additional human case of avian influenza A(H7N9), this one from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. This is the 14th case reported from this region. The 72-year-old male patient died on January 10. He had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms.
Industry News
Google backs bid by Oxford biotech Vaccitech to beat flu
Google has invested millions of pounds in an Oxford University spinout that is developing a universal flu vaccine. The Silicon Valley giant is among a clutch of investors ploughing a total of £20m into Vaccitech, a company designing a vaccine to protect against most strains of flu. If successful, Vaccitech’s product could end vaccine shortages and ineffective flu jabs, and prevent a repeat of the Spanish Flu pandemic
Flu Vaccine Fluarix Quadrivalent Approved For Children 6 Months+
In the U.S., the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research expanded the indication for Fluarix Quadrivalent for use in people 6 months and older. During clinical trials with children aged 6 through 35 months, the most common adverse reactions from Fluarix were pain and redness.
Young Girl Severely Hallucinates After Taking Tamiflu, Family Says
A six-year-old girl from Allen, Texas, reportedly suffered extreme side effects after taking Tamiflu, a preventive flu medication, her family said. The family has no intention of utilizing the drug again after Tamiflu allegedly caused their young child to experience hallucinations and even attempt to inflict harm on herself
GPs are told to give patients Tamiflu pills amid worsening flu outbreak as Oxford professor says the drug is no better than paracetamol
In the UK, Tamiflu and other antivirals should be given to the most vulnerable people with symptoms of flu, according to a ‘health alert’ sent to all GPs. But officials also suggested the drugs be used as a preventative measure for elderly people, even if they have received the flu vaccine – which is feared not to work for over-65s this year. A leading scientist condemned the decision, saying there is no evidence antivirals are effective.
Academic studies
Past exposures shape immune response in pediatric acute respiratory infections
By analyzing immune cells of children who came to the emergency department with flu symptoms, researchers found that the suite of genes these early-response cells expressed was shaped by factors such as age and previous exposures to viruses. Better understanding how early infections influence long-term immune response has implications for the diagnosis and treatment of young patients who suffer from acute respiratory tract infections.
Pediatric influenza news
CHOA says child flu cases have doubled in just weeks
In Georgia, doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta said they are seeing a huge spike in childhood flu cases, some requiring hospitalization. The Georgia Department of Health says there have been four flu-related deaths in the state so far and that number is expected to increase. Doctors said the number of confirmed child flu cases at CHOA hospitals has more than doubled over the past few weeks from an average of 12 percent to 28 percent.
Severe and deadly flu season, children are particularly vulnerable
In Florida, the flu is spreading like wildfire and the H3N2 strain is particularly bad for children and the elderly. There have been at least two pediatric deaths in the state so far and people are still advised to get vaccinated
Kentucky reports 2 pediatric flu deaths
Kentucky health officials are reporting the state’s first pediatric flu deaths. Acting Department for Public Health Commissioner Jeffrey D. Howard said that two of the state’s 36 flu deaths so far have been children. The agency said the average age for adults who have died from the flu is 75
2018 could be a record year in KC for flu diagnoses in children, doctors say
In Kansas, doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital said it could be a record year in Kansas City for flu diagnoses in children. Children between six months and two years old seem to be the biggest target for the flu. Although there are no child deaths reported in Kansas City, doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital have seen children with the flu on top of other serious diseases.
Over 65’s influenza news
Elderly and young children worst hit as flu cases double
In Ireland, the number of flu cases reported in the first week of this year was almost double that of the same period last year and it is the over-65s and children who face the greatest risk of contracting the virus. The over-65s face a greater risk of contracting flu compared to other adults. One GP warned the spread of the virus is complicated by patients refusing the flu vaccine or presenting at clinics unnecessarily.
General Influenza News
Boots "temporarily" runs out of flu vaccine as Brits scramble to get protected against virus
In the UK, several Boots stores “temporarily” ran out of the flu vaccine on Friday as scores of Brits scrambled to get vaccinated against the virus. The stores reported a “high level of demand” for the service amid growing concerns about the severity of flu viruses circulating this year. A Department for Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "Vaccines are the best protection we have against flu. As well as getting the jab from a pharmacy, patients can also book an appointment with their GP. "We are in close contact with the vaccine manufacturers and we are confident there is sufficient vaccine availability."
Shortage of flu vaccine amid fears of UK epidemic
In the UK, there has been a surge in demand for flu vaccines and some chemists are running out of stock. The government says it has flu vaccine stocks and is confident there is enough to satisfy demand
Aussie flu: Jab stocks running low in Barrow as demand surges
In the UK, pharmacies across Cumbria are running out of flu vaccines as people rush to get the jab amid the high-profile Aussie flu scare. The NHS has been urging people to make sure they are protected. Yet a CN Group investigation has revealed many pharmacies across the county no longer have stocks, or are running low. Some GP surgeries in Cumbria have also turned patients away, saying the vaccine is no longer available
Three million vulnerable Brits need vaccination against Aussie flu that has swept the UK
In the UK, Health chiefs have warned high risk people to get vaccinated within the next fortnight as the Aussie flu outbreak is dubbed the biggest wave of “public fear” since swine flu struck in 2009. A letter from Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England Medical Director, and Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, urges doctors to ensure that all remaining stocks of vaccinations are “used to immunise eligible patients in the next two weeks”.
Patients' lives are being put at risk as scores of doctors and nurses ignore official pleas to get the flu vaccination
In the UK, two-thirds of doctors and nurses at some hospitals have ignored official pleas to get themselves vaccinated against flu this winter. Last week, senior doctors warned that not enough NHS workers are having the jab. Now an official report shows shockingly low staff vaccination rates at some of the country’s biggest and busiest hospitals
The UK media's "Aussie flu" fears have gone viral – but can a global source be identified?
The UK flu report shows H3N2 is the main virus being detected but intensive care admissions – a marker of serious disease – show flu B is having a big impact too, in all age groups but especially children. There is no easy way to prove the viruses in Britain originated in Australia. Detailed genetic sequencing and detective work could help but that work hasn’t been done, and it’s an academic question anyway. Vaccination remains our best defence against the multiple strains that surge during our flu season every year. Adding resources and pressure to calls for improved vaccines rather than where the vaccine target originated from are more likely to help to those who sicken and sometimes die from flu.
CDC Delays Nuclear-Preparedness Training to Focus on Flu Instead
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control announced that it would delay a nuclear-preparedness teaching session to focus instead on a more quotidian danger: the flu. This year’s influenza season is unusually severe, with a strain that has not been responding well to vaccines. “To date, this influenza season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the United States is seeing at the same time, which can stress health systems,” the CDC said
More than 100,000 “at-risk” patients not safe from deadly flu outbreak
In the UK, health bosses have urged vulnerable people to protect themselves from a deadly flu outbreak sweeping the country as figures revealed that almost 120,000 “at-risk” individuals have not been vaccinated across the north and north-east.
Mission settles flu vaccine discrimination case involving Christian, Muslim employees
In North Carolina, Mission Hospital has agreed to pay $89,000 and to furnish other relief to settle a discrimination lawsuit involving Christian and Muslim workers who were fired after refusing to take the flu shot because they said it violated their religious beliefs. Mission said the settlement still allowed the hospital to keep a strong flu vaccination policy
Flu vaccine under scrutiny
In Canada, the growing number of flu cases this season are bringing the contents of the flu shot — and their effectiveness — into question. According to Dr. Allison McGeer, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Director of Infection Control at Mount Sinai Hospital, flu vaccines work better against the H1N1 strain than H3N2 because the H3N2 virus evolves more quickly.
Surge in flu cases prompts fresh call to make all nurses have jab
In England, nursing staff have been once again urged to ensure they are vaccinated against influenza, while one of England’s most senior doctors has suggested that immunisation should be compulsory in future. The latest focus on vaccination among NHS staff follows a surge last week in cases presenting in primary care and admissions to hospital for flu and other respiratory diseases
Aussie flu vaccine: Can the flu jab protect you against symptoms of the killer strain?
In the UK, the flu is spreading rapidly. Dr Ben Coyle, medical director at the Now Healthcare Group, says the flu vaccine can act as protection. “Yes the jab can help. It may not work in all instances because of the possibilities of the viruses mutating, but you definitely won’t be protected if you don’t have it. “It’s still available so get it done!”
Why not all flu vaccines work - and how to make sure you're protected against all strains
Not all vaccines against the deadly flu sweeping the UK protect people against all strains of the illness. Deaths from flu this winter have almost doubled to 93. There are three vaccines on offer - the trivalent vaccine, which doesn't contain protection against the Influenza B flu strain, a quadrivalent jab and a nasal spray, which both do. All of the vaccines offer protection against Aussie flu
Flu vaccine only works in 30-40% of cases, researchers say
The flu vaccine used to fight this winter's outbreak is only working in 30-40% of cases, the director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre laboratory in London has told Sky News. Dr John McCauley, director of the laboratory based at the Francis Crick Institute, said the threat posed by H3N2 may have been over-stated, and figures show it is responsible for only one in four cases. But the vaccine intended to control it has not proved as effective as hoped
Burden of disease
Flu activity still rising, but CDC warns many weeks of activity ahead
In the U.S., the CDC said flu activity is at the highest it's been all season, with all parts of the country reporting widespread levels of the virus. Dan Jernigan, MD, MPH, director of the influenza division at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said it's too early to tell if this flu season is more severe than recent seasons, including the 2014-15 season. "People should do everything they can still do to reduce the risk of infection, including getting the flu vaccine," Jernigan said.
Flu outbreak has now killed 93 people in Britain this winter
In Britain, the number of people to have died after contracting the flu this winter has soared to 93. New data from Public Health England states that 27 flu-related deaths were reported in England in the first week of January. This takes the overall number of fatalities since October to 93 – with 85 people dying in England and eight in Scotland.
Flu has killed 20 children already this season
In the U.S., the H3N2 flu strain is taking its worst toll on the elderly, but is also causing complications for Baby Boomers and young children. Those older than age 65 are experiencing the highest hospitalization rates, but those age 50 to 64 also have seen high numbers. In the last week, hospitalizations of children under five have almost doubled and there were seven more pediatric deaths, bringing the season total to 20.
France: already 70 people killed by the flu
In France, 70 people have died because of a flu infection since the start of the flu season. Almost half of them were under 65. This is because the H1N1 and the B strain prove more dangerous to the younger population. The flu epidemic is expected to peak this week
Hospitals ban children as visitors to try to stop the spread of deadly and virulent flu which has already killed 100
In the U.S., hospitals have begun banning children under the age of 13 from visiting patients to try to stop the spread of a deadly and virulent flu which has claimed the lives of 100 people across the country. To date, 20 children and adults across the US have died this season as a result of the deadly H3N2. Seven more American children died of the flu this week alone.
The Perfect Storm Behind This Year's Nasty Flu Season
In the U.S., according to the numbers, this year’s flu season is worse than usual. It got started early, and it’s been more severe. Several factors have come together make this year’s flu worse for patients who get sick and for hospitals trying to treat them: the H3N2 flu strain tends to hit people harder than other strains; the vaccine was only 10 percent effective against the problematic H3N2 strain in Australia; and hospitals are running out of IV bags
GP workload soars as seasonal illness compounds growing flu crisis
In England, figures from the RCGP’s Research and Surveillance Centre suggest nearly 22,000 patients in general practice were affected by flu over the first week of 2018. The figures formed part of the government’s flu report, which showed flu is now circulating at an elevated level of ‘medium’ intensity in England, at a prevalence of 37.3 presentations per 100,000 patients.
Number of flu fatalities in Alberta jumps by 63% in three weeks
In Canada, the number of flu fatalities in Alberta has jumped by 12, to 31 in less than a month, accelerating the death rate in what’s being called an unusually challenging influenza season across Canada. This year’s fatality number is almost double the 17 flu deaths recorded in the province last year at this time, while the number of hospitalizations has also nearly doubled, from 867 to 1,570, in just the past three weeks. Not enough vulnerable people have been vaccinated against the flu
Vulnerable urged to get flu vaccine as cases of virus double
In the UK, cases of flu have doubled and eight people died last week, according to figures that reveal the extent of the outbreak sweeping the country. Doctors are urging anyone eligible for a vaccination to take up the offer amid concern that the uptake has been too low. Hospital chiefs in England said they had run out of beds as they battled with “very high” rates of flu
36 flu deaths in Kentucky includes two children
In Kentucky, the Department for Public Health, within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, says two children have died from the flu this season. "Of the thirty-six flu-related deaths reported so far this season, two of those were children," said the Acting Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey D. Howard. "The average age of death of the other thirty-four people who died as a result of flu is 75 years of age," said Dr. Howard.
China Focus: Beijing, neighbors move to contain flu outbreak
Beijing and neighboring regions are taking measures to contain the winter flu outbreak, as various viruses put pressure on medical resources. Flu infections this winter are 71 percent above the average for the same period in the previous three years, with child cases rising sharply. Influenza virus B, as well as H1N1 and H3N2, subtypes of influenza virus A, are among the most widespread, said Wang Quanyi, with the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control
State emergency issued as result of flu outbreak in Alabama
A state public health emergency has been issued in Alabama as a result of the flu outbreak across the state. The Alabama Department of Public Health has ample supply of the flu vaccine throughout the county health departments. "We have a crisis situation going on" regarding the flu outbreak, said Scott Harris, acting state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health. "This is the normal season of the flu," he said during a Friday afternoon press conference. It is "nothing out of ordinary in the type ... but we are seeing large numbers."