H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Severe cases, death toll, public buy-in, TB, delays in Ukraine, vaccine approvals

Nov 16, 2009

Study profiles Aussie hospital cases
Australian researchers who studied hospitalized H1N1 flu patients in seven Melbourne hospitals from May to mid July report that 30 of 112 patients (27%) required intensive care and 3 died. Patients who had multifocal changes on chest x-rays were hospitalized longer and were more likely to need intensive care, according to the Medical Journal of Australia. Twenty-four patients had no known risk factors. Fifteen patients—a quarter of the women—were pregnant or in the postpartum period.
Nov 16 Med J Aust report

Disparity between H1N1 and seasonal flu deaths explored
A Canadian Press report probed the wide difference between the numbers of H1N1 flu deaths reported so far and the estimated toll from seasonal flu. Canada, with 4,000 to 8,000 flu-related deaths yearly, has 161 confirmed H1N1 deaths. Experts note that those numbers count different things, because only a small fraction of all seasonal flu–related deaths are directly attributed to flu. In most cases, flu contributes to death from such direct causes as bacterial pneumonia or heart attack.
Nov 15 Canadian Press story

Public buy-in crucial in H1N1 response
Mistrust in government and economic fears are two factors that would make it difficult to maintain social distancing during a pandemic, according to findings published today in the American Journal of Bioethics. The study was based on the results of focus groups in four Michigan cities. The authors said more intense efforts are needed to engage the public in pandemic planning.
November  Am J Bioeth article

WHO notes pandemic-related TB challenges
Because many H1N1-related deaths have involved people with chronic respiratory conditions, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a statement to alert tuberculosis (TB) program managers to possible "challenges and synergies" in the effort to control the two diseases. The statement stresses the importance of maintaining TB treatment during a pandemic and notes that lab services developed for TB control can be useful for pandemic H1N1 diagnostics and surveillance.
Nov 12 WHO statement

Delays faulted in Ukraine's severe cases
Factors such as delays in seeking medical care and getting antiviral medication to outbreak areas contributed to a sudden spike in severe flu-related pneumonia cases in the Ukraine, the New York Times reported. The late-October surge in flu-like illnesses prompted a WHO probe, which found the patterns in line with other countries. Doctors blame the news media and politicians for spreading misinformation, while others say a weak healthcare system played a role.
Nov 13 New York Times story

Switzerland, France OK H1N1 vaccines
Novartis announced that Swiss regulators approved its adjuvanted cell-culture pandemic H1N1 vaccine, which was previously licensed by Germany. In clinical trials a single dose containing 3.75 mcg of antigen and 0.125 mcg of MF59 adjuvant provoked a strong immune response. The vaccine is cleared for use in people ages 3 years and older. Also, Sanofi said French regulators approved its unadjuvanted H1N1 vaccine.
Nov 13 Novartis press release

Pandemic flu detected in North Korea
In what may be the first pandemic H1N1 virus detection in North Korea, a man from South Korea got sick with the flu while working across the border at an industrial complex, the Korea Times reported today. The man was diagnosed in South Korea, where the country's unification ministry announced the case today. South Korea reported the case to North Korea and advised it to check all North Korean workers at the industrial complex.
Nov 16 Korea Times story

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