FLU NEWS SCAN: H5N1 case in Egypt, flu vaccine and birth weight

Feb 22, 2012

Latest Egyptian H5N1 case involves 45-year-old woman
The latest H5N1 avian influenza infection is in a 45-year-old woman who is recovering, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced today, citing information from Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population. The woman, who lives in Menoufia governorate, got sick on Feb 10 and was started on oseltamivir treatment Feb 17. Her case was confirmed by the country's Central Public Health Laboratories a day later. Investigators determined that the woman had exposure to backyard poultry. The case, which is Egypt's second this year, was noted earlier by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, but no details were provided. Egypt's H5N1 case count since 2006 has reached 160, of which 55 were fatal, and the WHO's global H5N1 case count is now 586, with 346 deaths.
Feb 22 WHO statement
Feb 22 WHO global case count

Study: Flu vaccination in pregnant women may benefit fetal growth
A study conducted in Bangladesh and reported yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) suggests that vaccinating pregnant women has a significant positive effect on the birth weight of their children. The findings come from a secondary analysis of the Mother's Gift project, a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of inactivated flu and pneumococcal vaccines in the third trimester of pregnancy. In the study, 340 women received either the flu vaccine or a 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine. The researchers analyzed outcomes during periods when flu was not circulating (September 2004 through January 2005) and when it was (February through October 2005). During the period of no flu activity, the researchers found no significant differences between the groups in the incidence of febrile respiratory illness in mothers and infants, the proportion of infants who were small for gestational age, or the mean birth weight. In contrast, all of these variables differed significantly between the flu-vaccine and pneumococcal-vaccine groups during the active flu periods: incidence of respiratory illness, 3.7 versus 7.2 cases per 100 person-months (P = .0003); proportion of babies small for gestational age, 25.9% versus 44.8% (P = .03); and mean birth weight, 3,178 versus 2,978 grams (P = .02), a 7% difference. "These data need confirmation but suggest that prevention of influenza infection in pregnancy can influence intrauterine growth," write the authors, an American-Bangladeshi team.
Feb 21 CMAJ abstract
Feb 21 CMAJ press release

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