NEWS SCAN: Hospital group pushes flu vaccination, flu resources for schools, WHO TB report, dengue in Miami, H1N1 and cancer

Nov 11, 2010

Washington hospitals adopt strong flu immunization policies
All but 4 of Washington's state's 98 hospitals have adopted flu immunization policies that require healthcare workers to be immunized or take protective actions, such as wearing a mask to protect patients, dictated by facility infection control programs, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) announced on Nov 9. The achievement makes the state the first in the nation to achieve such high adherence. The hospitals implementing the strict policies, in effect this flu season, account for 99% of Washington's inpatient beds. To counter lagging immunization rates from voluntary policies, the WSHA said its board of trustees urged it to take aggressive action to increase rates. Over the past few years several Washington hospitals have taken strong steps to boost vaccination rates, the WHSA said, including Virginia Mason Medical Center, which boasts a 99% staff flu immunization rate. According to WSHA background materials, the push for a state law requiring hospitals to have strong policies failed, with opponents maintaining that the association could move forward with its own policy. In July the WSHA requested all hospitals to adopt policies and has since developed a toolkit to help hospitals implement the policies.
Nov 9 WSHA press release
WSHA background materials and flu immunization toolkit

CDC offers guidance for controlling flu in schools
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided two new online resources for preventing influenza in K-12 schools. One is a one-page summary of recommendations for school administrators, and the other is a two-page set of guidelines for cleaning and disinfection procedures to use in schools. The one-page summary includes recommendations about vaccination, hygiene, staying home when sick, cleaning, responding to illnesses, and communicating with health officials.
CDC flu guidance on cleaning and disinfection

WHO cites progress against TB, says major challenges remain
In a major report on tuberculosis (TB) control, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that TB mortality and incidence are dropping but that major challenges remain, as 1.7 million people died of the disease last year. Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO's Stop TB Department, said 41 million people have been cured of TB and 6 million lives have been saved since 1995. "Since 1995, we have seen considerable improvements in the quality of TB care, and these improvements are having a positive impact in some of the world's poorest countries," he said. The WHO said the TB mortality rate has dropped from 30 to 20 per 100,000 population since 1990, and the estimated global incidence fell to 137 cases per 100,000 in 2009, after peaking at 142 per 100,000 in 2004. "The rate is still falling but too slowly," the agency said in a fact sheet. The 1.7 million people who died of TB in 2009 included 380,000 women and 380,000 people with HIV infection. The WHO also estimated that 440,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB occurred in 2008, with 150,000 deaths, and said that fewer than 5% of such cases are being properly treated. The agency said the report is its most comprehensive ever on TB.
Nov 11 WHO press release with link to full report
WHO TB fact sheet

Miami reports local dengue case
Health officials in Miami today said they have confirmed a locally acquired dengue fever case in Miami-Dade County, according to a press release. The patient was diagnosed as having the infection based on symptoms, and lab tests confirmed the dengue fever virus. The health department said the patient has fully recovered. At a press briefing today, officials said the patient is a man who had not traveled outside the county for more than 2 weeks, according to the Miami Herald. He was briefly hospitalized, and tests found that the strain was different than the one involved in Key West and Broward County dengue infections. Authorities said they're not sure where the man was infected. The local dengue case is Miami's first since the 1950s, the Herald reported.
Nov 11 Miami-Dade County Health Department press release

Study shows 'useful' response to H1N1 vaccine in kids with cancer
A British study of children with cancer—a group at increased risk of complications from pandemic 2009 H1N1 flu—found that the H1N1 vaccine produced "limited but useful" protection from the disease. Researchers studied 54 children aged 1 to 16 years (median, 6.3) recruited from a leading cancer center in London who received two doses of an adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine 21 days apart. The rate of seroconversion, defined as a fourfold increase in hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titer and an HI titer of at least 1:32, varied from 33% to 71%, depending on cancer type. It was 33% (9 of 27) for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 36% (4 of 11) for those with lymphoma or other leukemias, 67% (6 of 9) for those with brain tumors, and 71% (5 of 7) for those with other solid tumors.
Nov 9 Clin Infect Dis abstract

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