FLU NEWS SCAN: H5N1 death in Egypt, avian flu measures in Hong Kong, novel H4N8 strain, healthcare flu vaccination

Dec 21, 2011

Egyptian man dies of H5N1 avian flu
A 29-year-old Egyptian man has died from H5N1 avian flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. The man, from Dakahlia governorate, developed symptoms Dec 8, was admitted to a hospital Dec 15, and died Dec 19 after being listed in critical condition, according to the country's health ministry. He received oseltamivir (Tamiflu) upon admission. He had exposure to backyard poultry, according to the WHO update. Egypt has now confirmed 156 H5N1 cases, 54 of them fatal. Local media reported that the man is the brother of the last confirmed Egyptian case-patient, a pregnant woman from Dakahlia governorate who died Dec 3, according to FluTrackers, an outbreak-monitoring Web site. The woman's child also contracted H5N1 flu but did not succumb, the WHO said in a Dec 15 update.
Dec 21 WHO update
Dec 20 FluTrackers thread
Dec 15 WHO update

Hong Kong bolsters avian flu surveillance
Hong Kong has increased its surveillance for avian flu in the wake of raising its response level to "serious" yesterday after a marketplace chicken tested positive for H5N1, its Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today. The agency is conducting medical surveillance of poultry wholesalers and workers in the Cheung Sha Wan Wholesale Poultry Market, where the fatally infected bird was found. It is also assessing the health of local farmers. The CHP has written to all medical practitioners to apprise them of the situation. Authorities are also considering using tracking devices on live chickens to be better able to track their origin and will reimburse wholesalers for the 17,000 chickens culled in the poultry market after H5N1 was confirmed, according to a separate Hong Kong government news release today.
Dec 21 CHP news release
Scientists find H4N8 avian flu strain to be deadly in mice
Japanese researchers have identified an H4N8 avian flu reassortant strain from shorebirds that proved deadly to mice, according to a study yesterday in Virology. They studied five isolates collected during surveillance in eastern Hokkaido, all of which had a genetically distinct PB1 gene, a subunit of the virus's RNA polymerase. Of nine mice intranasally inoculated with the unique strain, all suffered severe disease and two died within 3 days. The researchers isolated the virus from the mice's lungs and detected viral antigen in the lungs with pneumonia. Other H4 strains that they tested, however, did not cause symptoms even though they also isolated viruses from the lungs.
Dec 20 Virology abstract

Advisors issue draft guidance for flu vaccination in health workers
A vaccine advisory group to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued draft guidance on increasing flu vaccination in healthcare workers and is soliciting public comments, according to a Dec 19 Federal Register notice. The guidance is aimed at helping the nation achieve 90% flu vaccination coverage in healthcare workers, a Healthy People 2020 goal. The draft guidance was developed by a National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) healthcare personnel influenza vaccination subgroup. Comments are due by Jan 16, 2012. According to the latest estimate from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccination rate for the group so far this flu season is 63%. The NVAC recommendations include tiered strategies for achieving the 90% goal while acknowledging that no single strategy would apply to all. Recommendations urge facilities to establish flu prevention programs based on CDC guidance and integrate vaccination into existing infection-control programs. The draft also suggests that federal officials standardize ways to measure vaccination rates in this group. For facilities that can't achieve the 90% goal, the NVAC recommends that administrators strongly consider an employer requirement. The report also urges the HHS to foster new and better vaccines.
Dec 19 Federal Register notice
Dec 15 NVAC draft guidance
Dec 5 CIDRAP News story on flu vaccine uptake

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