H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: OTC antivirals, Ukraine aid, Amazon tribe struck, pain relievers and vaccine, cat has H1N1

Nov 4, 2009

Norway OKs OTC antiviral sales
To ease response to the H1N1 pandemic, Norway is allowing over-the-counter sales of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), the Associated Press (AP) reported. The new policy starts tomorrow and is in effect until the middle of 2010. Norway has ordered 9.4 million doses of vaccine, but the manufacturer has reportedly not produced enough to meet demand.

EU asked to help with Ukraine outbreak
Poland's prime minister called on the European Union to help respond to the flu threat in the Ukraine, and another official warned that the virus could spread rapidly in eastern Europe, Reuters reported yesterday. The Ukrainian health ministry said today that 86 people have died of respiratory illnesses, five of them from the pandemic virus, the National News Agency of Ukraine reported today. A global team is in the country to help assess the outbreak, which has hit western regions hardest.

Flu hits remote Amazon tribe
Pandemic flu has struck an isolated Amazon Indian tribe over the past 2 weeks, killing 7 and sickening about 1,000 people, Reuters reported today. The outbreak in the Yanomami tribe, who live in an isolated area at the Venezuela-Brazil border, was described in a statement from Survival International, an indigenous people's rights group. The group's director said the situation requires immediate response from the two governments. Venezuela has reportedly sent a medical team.
Nov 4 Reuters story

US officials say terror suspects not set to get vaccine
White House officials yesterday denied reports that terrorism detainees at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay prison would soon receive the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, the AP reported. An earlier report from a jail official that said detainees and guards would soon get the vaccine provoked an outcry that terror suspects would get their doses before most Americans. However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said no vaccine is at the facility, and none is on its way.
Nov 3 AP story

Pain relievers may blunt vaccine response
Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce the pain of flu injections appears to blunt immune response, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) reported recently at a conference. They found the association across a range of vaccine and pain relievers. They say that cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors block optimal production of B lymphocytes, which make antibodies. Czech researchers recently found that acetaminophen weakened infants' response to vaccines.
Nov 3 URMC press release

Iowa cat tests positive for pandemic flu
A 13-year-old Iowa house cat was recently diagnosed as having novel H1N1 after two of its three owners were sick, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported today. Iowa's public health veterinarian Dr Ann Garvey said the cat and its owners have recovered and that people should remember to protect family pets from illnesses. The American Veterinary Medical Association said it is the first pandemic virus isolation in a cat, and it doesn't appear the cat spread the virus.
Nov 4 IDPH press release

Canada exports excess vaccine antigen
Canada's chief public health officer, Dr David Butler-Jones, said yesterday that the country's Glaxo plant has exported excess bulk pandemic H1N1 vaccine antigen, the CTV and the Canadian Press reported today. Sources did not say how much antigen had been produced. Butler-Jones said domestic fill-and-finish operations have not yet been able to package all the already-produced antigen for the Canadian market. He said the export would not slow vaccine delivery to Canadians.
Nov 4 CTV story

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