FLU NEWS SCAN: H5N1 confirmation, flu season recedes, pandemic flu definition

May 13, 2011

WHO confirms Indonesian girl's H5N1 death
The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed the illness and death of an 8-year-old Indonesian girl from H5N1 avian influenza. The initial details were first reported yesterday by Indonesia's health ministry. The girl, from West Jakarta, got sick Apr 1 and was admitted to a healthcare facility Apr 4. On Apr 8 she was transferred to a hospital, where she died 3 days later. An investigation into the source of her infection found that she had been exposed to wild bird feces near her home and that her mother had bought chickens from a local market the week before the girl became ill. The WHO confirmation pushes Indonesia's H5N1 total to 177 cases, including 146 deaths. It also raises the global H5N1 tally to 553, of which 323 have been fatal.
May 13 WHO statement
In other H5N1 developments, livestock officials in Bangladesh yesterday reported three more outbreaks at commercial poultry farms, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreaks started between Apr 23 and May 8, and all occurred in Dhaka division. The virus killed 3,184 birds, and 8,086 more were culled to control disease spread.
May 12 OIE report

US flu indictors continue to slide
The nation's flu season continued to ebb last week, with all indicators declining from the previous week except for deaths from flu and pneumonia, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. That level increased back to the 7.5% epidemic threshold, which the CDC said is within the normal range for this time of year. Visits to the doctor for flu-like illness decreased for the 11th week in a row and is now at summertime levels. No states reported widespread geographic activity, and only one—New Hampshire—is reporting regional spread. Two pediatric deaths were reported, raising the total for the season to 102. One was linked to the 2009 H1N1 virus and the other was from an influenza A strain that wasn't subtyped. Routine surveillance for oseltamivir-resistant 2009 H1N1 isolates turned up 7 more, pushing the season's total to 39.
May 13 CDC flu surveillance update
May 13 CDC flu situation update

Study suggests standardized pandemic criteria
English researchers who studied major flu outbreaks since the late 1800s challenged whether two of nine that they say have been described by some as pandemics—those that occurred in 1900 and 1933—fit the more precise, modern definition of pandemic. Writing in the Journal of Infection, they proposed defining an influenza pandemic based on three features: (1) an influenza A outbreak that starts in one geographic area and rapidly spreads to others, (2) the virus has a hemagglutinin protein that does not cross-react with those of closely preceding strains, and (3) antibodies to the virus are not present in a large part of the population. They emphasized that although the criteria can be determined early in an outbreak to alert responders, they can't predict other factors such as geographic reach and mortality.
May 12 Journal of Infection abstract

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