H1N1 NEWS SCAN: Risk factors, vaccine cross-protection, testing for serious illness

Underlying risk factors common in UK deaths
A study published today found that 77% of Brits who died of pandemic flu last year had underlying risk factors such as low immunity or respiratory disease. The study, which assessed data on 440 deaths, found fatalities were most common in young adults (median age 53, and 85% were under 65). The case-fatality rate was 0.9% in those 65 and older and 0.04% for those under 64. The authors state that the results point to the need for early, targeted intervention for pandemic flu.
May 20 Eurosurveillance study

Study: Seasonal flu vaccine offers some H1N1 protection
In a study of 1,205 military personnel who contracted pandemic H1N1 in 2009, researchers found that those who had received seasonal flu vaccine the year before had a 45% level of vaccine effectiveness (VE) against the novel virus. Those who had been vaccinated against seasonal flu as early as 2004 had 41% VE. The study also showed VE of 62% against severe disease, compared with 41% against milder outcomes. Shots appeared to grant a higher VE (44%) compared with the nasal-spray vaccine (24%).
May 19 PLoS One study

Severe H1N1 may warrant serum testing
Australian researchers determined that up to a third of severe cases of pandemic H1N1 may not be properly detected without serologic testing. The authors collected acute and convalescent blood specimens from 33 patients with severe H1N1 admitted to intensive care units. With hemagglutination inhibition of novel H1N1, 29 paired serum samples showed significant increases in specific antibody titers. Of these 29, only 18 had pandemic H1N1 RNA detected by routine nucleic acid testing.
May 19 Clin Infect Dis abstract

Cambodia announces second vaccine round
Cambodia's ministry of health announced plans to administer 1.5 million doses of pandemic H1N1 vaccine by the end of this month, according to the Phnom Penh Post. The new vaccine arrived recently from the World Health Organization. In March the country received 300,000 doses, which have been administered to high-risk groups.

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