FLU NEWS SCAN: Avian flu outbreaks, sharing flu immunization data, H1N1 vaccine in pregnancy

May 18, 2011

Avian flu hits South Korean chickens, South African ostriches
South Korea's agriculture ministry yesterday reported an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak at an egg farm in Gyeonggi province, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. The virus killed 600 chickens, and about 17,400 remaining birds on the farm were culled to stop the spread of the disease.
May 18 Xinhua story
In addition, South Africa's agriculture ministry yesterday reported that the highly pathogen H5N2 virus has hit eight more commercial ostrich farms, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). All of the outbreaks occurred at farms in Western Cape province, located at the southern tip of the country. They affected farms in two cities where outbreaks earlier this year were detected, Oudtshoorn and Uniondale. Routine surveillance showed the poultry were exposed to the disease, but no virus was found. Clinical signs were seen in three of the outbreaks. South Africa has now reported 17 H5N2 outbreaks in commercial ostrich farms this year. The outbreaks are the first to hit the flocks since 2006.
May 17 OIE report

Vaccine safety program had mixed success in getting data from state registries
Managed care organizations (MCOs) that participate in a program to monitor vaccine safety had mixed success in obtaining information from state and local immunization registries during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, according to a report yesterday in Vaccine. The report focuses on the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), a partnership of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and eight MCOs in seven states. The MCOs routinely record data on immunizations given by their own providers, but data on immunizations that MCO members receive from outside providers, such as pharmacies or public health agneices, may be unavailable, the report says. To monitor the safety of the H1N1 vaccine during the pandemic, the VSD MCOs assessed the feasibility of using data from state and local immunization registries on vaccinations given by other providers. Three of the eight VSD sites were able to gather data electronically from the registries, and another site managed to collect data on paper, but the other four sites encountered obstacles, the report says. Barriers included confidentiality laws, time constraints related to the pandemic, and data quality concerns.
May 17 Vaccine report

Adjuvanted novel H1N1 vaccine shown safe in pregnant women
An adjuvanted version of pandemic H1N1 flu vaccine was found to be safe in pregnant UK women, causing no increase in adverse events, according to a study published yesterday in Vaccine. Researchers studied the effects of GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK's) pandemic H1N1 vaccine that included AS03, GSK's proprietary oil-in-water adjuvant. They examined a cohort of women from a prospective, observational safety study. Of the 265 women studied, 261 had live births, and 4 had miscarriages. Six of the babies had congenital anomalies, one of which had been diagnosed before vaccination. Ninety-five percent delivered at term, and 21 infants (8%) had a low birth weight. "The prevalence of all outcomes was in line with the expected rates," the authors report. They state that the fully prospective nature of their study "offers an important degree of reassurance" for the adjuvanted vaccine. The study was sponsored by GSK.
May 17 Vaccine study

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