H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Campus, prison deaths; China's control measures; H1N1 clusters; travel precautions

Nov 19, 2009

First college flu deaths reported, but cases drop
The American College Health Association (ACHA) today reported the first two deaths from flu-like illness in college students, but said new cases last week decreased 27% from the previous week. All but five states reported decreases. The report for the week ending Nov 13 said 21.3 new cases of flu-like illness per 10,000 students were reported. There were 12 hospitalizations among the 6,373 new infections. More schools reported access to vaccine, but in very small amounts.
ACHA report for week ending Nov 13

Effectiveness of Chinese control measures debated
H1N1 cases in China have risen sharply, despite aggressive quarantine measures, Dr. Michael O'Leary, the World Health Organization's top official in China, told the Associated Press. He said the 70,000 cases and 53 deaths cited by the government are only "minimum numbers." But China's health minister said the control measures helped buy time to develop a vaccine, which is now being given to 1.5 million people a day in an effort to cover 90 million—7% of the population—by the end of the year.

Analysis reveals two genetic clusters of H1N1 viruses
German researchers report in Eurosurveillance that a genetic analysis of 300 pandemic H1N1 viruses isolated earlier this year shows that "two closely related but distinct clusters" circulated in most countries simultaneously. Differences were found in the genes for the two surface proteins and four internal proteins. None of the differences involved parts of the genome responsible for known biological functions, and the importance of the findings remains to be determined, the report said.
Nov 19 Eurosurveillance report

CDC campaigns for flu precautions for travelers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today launched what it called its largest-ever public awareness campaign about avoiding illness while traveling, with a focus on H1N1. The agency will urge people to stay home if they are sick, get vaccinated against seasonal flu and against H1N1 if they are in a target group, and to use hygiene measures. The campaign will continue through the holidays and involve a wide range of media, with themes such as "Prevention can be travel-sized."
CDC travel health campaign page

California reports two prisoners died of flu
California officials reported two recent flu deaths in prisoners, one who died Nov 13 in a facility in the southern part of the state and one who died 4 days later in a central California prison, the AP reported yesterday. Preliminary tests confirmed influenza A, and federal officials have said circulating flu strains have been the pandemic virus. Final results are pending. Outbreaks have been reported at prisons, but few deaths have been reported.

Spike in cases prompts Hungary to declare epidemic
Hungarian officials declared a flu epidemic yesterday after illness reports rose more than 30% in a week, putting cases above the country's epidemic threshold, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported yesterday. The number of flu hospitalizations rose to 172. Hungary launched a pandemic vaccine campaign in October using its own vaccine, which is based on a mock-up produced for the H5N1 virus. Children younger than 18 and people in high-risk jobs receive it for free.
Nov 18 AFP article

Thai official says second wave starting
The second round of the H1N1 epidemic has begun in Thailand, Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said today, according to the Bangkok Post. He said 30% of 200 students tested in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima were infected. An estimated 8.4 million Thais were infected in the first wave of the outbreak, and the death toll reached 185 yesterday. Kaewparadai said the government bought 2 million doses of vaccine from France and is considering buying 800,000 more.

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