NEWS SCAN: Pandemic-wave severity, hospital H3N2 outbreak, flooding and cholera, egg recall

Nov 8, 2010

Canada finds second pandemic wave less severe
A comparison of Canada's two H1N1 pandemic waves found that the second one, which occurred in early fall of 2009, was bigger but had a smaller proportion of severe cases than the first wave in the spring. The report, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), was based on a review of all confirmed 2009 H1N1 cases that resulted in hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and deaths that were reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada from Apr 18, 2009, through Apr 3, 2010. The group's analysis includes 8,678 hospital admissions, 1,473 ICU admissions, and 428 deaths. They found that the second wave was about four times larger than the first, with patients more likely to be older and have underlying medical conditions. The second wave, though, saw a smaller proportion of patients hospitalized with severe outcomes and fewer hospital admissions among pregnant women and Aboriginal people. The researchers suggested that public heath and clinical interventions could have driven the differences between the two pandemic waves. They concluded that the profile of Canada's pandemic flu hospital admissions is similar to other countries', but Canada appeared to have a higher mortality burden.
Nov 8 CMAJ abstract

H3N2 outbreak kills six at Japanese hospital
An outbreak of influenza A (H3N2) has killed six older people and sickened about 80 others at a hospital in Japan's Akita prefecture, Kyodo News reported today. According to the prefecture government, the patients tested positive in "simple" flu tests before they died between Oct 31 and Nov 5, Kyodo reported. A local health center confirmed that one of the patients from Takanosu Hospital in Kitaakita had the H3N2 strain. Others infected at the hospital include patients and healthcare staff. Ages of the fatal cases ranged from 60 to 90. FluTrackers, a Web message board that focuses on flu and other infectious diseases, has been monitoring and translating Japanese-language media reports on the outbreak since Nov 6. Translations, which are sometimes unclear, suggest the facility is a psychiatric hospital and that the outbreak reportedly occurred in a vaccinated population.
FluTrackers thread on nosocomial H3N2 outbreak

Hurricane flooding threatens Haiti's cholera response
Health officials in Haiti fear that flooding from the country's recent hit from Hurricane Tomas could worsen the outbreak of cholera, CNN reported today. Flooding was worst in the western part of the country that bore the brunt of the storm and could swamp latrines and septic systems, contaminating clean water supplies. Alex Larsen, Haiti's health minister, told CNN that so far more than 8,000 cases and 544 deaths have been linked to the cholera outbreak. The latest update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), dated Nov 5 as the storm was bearing down on the country, said health officials expected the storm to create more challenges for managing the cholera outbreak, such as reducing the availability of drinking water, creating difficult hygienic conditions, and limiting access to healthcare and waste management. It said some hospitals had been evacuated and that some nongovernmental organizations had evacuated their staff from Artibonite department, the hardest-hit area in the cholera outbreak.
Nov 8 CNN story
Nov 5 PAHO update

Farm Salmonella finding prompts egg recall
A Mississippi egg producer and distributor on Nov 5 voluntarily recalled 24,000 eggs that it had purchased from an Ohio supplier after environmental tests conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., based in Jackson, Miss., said in a statement that it reprocessed and repackaged the eggs it received from Ohio Fresh Eggs, Croton, Ohio, between Oct 9 and Oct 12, which were distributed to retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cal-Maine said no confirmed SE illnesses have been linked to the recalled eggs. Recalled brands include Sunny Meadow, Springfield Grocer, Sun Valley, and James Farm with the 1457 plant number printed on cartons with Julian dates 282, 284, and 285. The Associated Press (AP) today reported that Jack DeCoster, owner of two Iowa farms that were linked to a national SE outbreak earlier this year, has been a financial backer of Ohio Fresh Eggs. As part of the FDA's new egg safety rules, its inspectors are in the process of inspecting 600 of the nation's largest egg farms, starting with facilities it believes may be at greatest risk. It's not clear if the FDA's SE findings at Ohio Fresh Eggs are the result of the new rule's farm inspection provision.
Nov 5 FDA recall notice
Sep 1 CIDRAP News story

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