FLU NEWS SCAN: H5N1 death in Egypt, flu vaccine effectiveness in Europe

Apr 12, 2012

Egypt reports H5N1 death
A 36-year-old woman who succumbed to H5N1 avian flu has become Egypt's ninth H5N1 case-patient and fifth to die this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The woman, from Giza governorate, became sick Apr 1, was admitted to a hospital Apr 7, and died the same day, the WHO said. Her case was confirmed by a WHO-linked national laboratory. She had exposure to backyard poultry. Since 2006 Egypt has confirmed 167 H5N1 cases, 60 of which have been fatal. Egypt is second in the world in H5N1 cases, after Indonesia, and third in the world in H5N1 deaths, well behind Indonesia in that category but only one death behind Vietnam. Egypt's nine cases lead the world this year, with Indonesia second at five cases. Egypt has had the most H5N1 cases each year by a good margin since 2009.
Apr 12 WHO update
Apr 12 WHO global case count

Preliminary study: Flu vaccine was 43% effective against H3N2 in Europe
A preliminary study from eight European countries suggests that this year's flu vaccine was 43% effective against H3N2 viruses, with antigenic drift cited as a possible contributor to the limited vaccine effectiveness (VE). The study, reported today in Eurosurveillance, was conducted by the Influenza Monitoring Vaccine Effectiveness in Europe (I-MOVE) Network in France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. It focused on people in flu-vaccination target groups. Over the last 5 weeks of 2011 and the first 7 weeks of this year, providers recruited 2,090 patients with flu-like illness, 575 of whom were in the target groups. Of 935 confirmed flu cases, 867 were H3N2 viruses. Because of the small sample size, the study focused on this subtype only. Of 538 cases included in the analysis, there were 208 H3N2 infections and 330 negative controls. Among the 533 patients with known vaccination status, 179 (33.5%) had been vaccinated. The adjusted VE was found to be 43% (95% confidence interval, -0.4% to 67.7%). "The low to moderate VE we observed may be explained by a limited match identified between the circulating influenza A(H3) virus strains and the vaccine strain," the report says, noting that the WHO picked a different H3N2 strain for next year's vaccine in view of signs of increasing antigenic drift in the circulating strains. The report also says the median time between vaccination and illness was 105 days for cases and 74 for controls, which suggests that waning immunity might have contributed to the low VE, but the sample was too small to verify this.
Apr 12 Eurosurveillance report

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