NEWS SCAN: Flu severity in Taiwan, Salmonella in tuna samples, dengue mosquitoes in Europe

Apr 25, 2012

Taiwan harder hit by flu in 2010-11 than during 2009 pandemic
Taiwan experienced a higher rate of flu-related deaths and hospitalizations in the flu season after the 2009-10 pandemic than during the pandemic itself, according to a study in PLoS One yesterday. Using data from 12 labs that make up Taiwan's Influenza Laboratory Surveillance Network, Taiwanese researchers noted that 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu (pH1N1) caused 44 deaths, but in the next season (through the 13th week of 2011), 93 pH1N1 deaths were confirmed, as well as 30 H3N2 fatalities and 128 total flu deaths. In 2010-11, H3N2 dominated until December, when pH1N1 resurged. During 2009-10, 22 (50%) of the 44 pH1N1 deaths were in the 20-to-49 age-group, compared with 24 (26%) of the 93 pH1N1 deaths in 2010-11. In comparison, pH1N1 deaths in the 50-to-64 age-group rose from 9 (21%) in 2009-10 to 49 (53%) in 2010-11. During 2009-10, 1,297 hospitalized flu cases with severe complications were reported, of which 937 (72%) were caused by pH1N1 and 161 (12%) by H3N2. Those numbers rose to 1,751, 1,040 (59%), and 606 (35%) in 2010-11. The authors conclude that reemergence of pH1N1 in 2010-11 "had an intense activity with age distribution shift."
Apr 24 PLoS One study

Sushi Salmonella outbreak strain confirmed in tuna samples
A state lab in Wisconsin has confirmed Salmonella matching the outbreak strain in samples from recalled yellowfin tuna and a spicy tuna roll, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene at the University of Wisconsin-Madison confirmed that the Salmonella Bareilly in the samples matches the DNA fingerprint of the strain that has sickened at least 160 people in 20 states, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a press release yesterday confirming the lab findings, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) said that 3 of the 15 Wisconsinites infected with the outbreak strain have been hospitalized. Moon Marine USA Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., has recalled frozen raw yellowfin tuna because of the outbreak, the CDC said. The tuna is not sold to individuals but may have been used to make sushi, sashimi, and similar dishes for restaurants and stores, the AP said.
Apr 25 AP story
Apr 20 CDC update
Apr 24 WDHS news release

Study sees improving climate for dengue mosquitoes in northwestern Europe
In the past 20 years the climate of northwestern Europe has become more favorable for Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger) mosquitoes, which can carry the dengue and chikungunya viruses, according to a modeling study published online today by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. A chikungunya outbreak in Italy in 2007 was attributed to A albopictus, and two cases each of dengue and chikungunya fever were traced to the species in France in 2010, the report notes. In the study, British and Belgian investigators modeled and mapped the distribution of the species in Europe on the basis of climatic features, using three different distribution models and multiple climate models along with data on the existing distribution. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the authors found, conditions were suitable for A albopictus in southern France, northern Italy, the northern coast of Spain, the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, and western Turkey. "Over the last two decades, climate conditions have become more suitable for the mosquito over central northwestern Europe (Benelux, Germany) and the Balkans, while they have become less suitable over southern Spain," because warmer and wetter conditions favor the overwintering of the mosquito in the north, while drier, warmer summers may limit its southward spread, the report says. It adds that this trend is likely to continue, with an expected increased risk in northern Europe and slightly decreased risk in southern Europe.
Apr 25 J R Soc Interface abstract

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