NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Vietnam, Hong Kong H5N1 vaccine, Hong Kong pan flu plan, new immune-deficiency syndrome

Aug 23, 2012

Vietnam reports three new H5N1 outbreaks
Three new outbreaks of H5N1 avian flu in Vietnam have sickened 366 poultry and led to the culling of 1,867 birds to prevent disease spread, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) today. The outbreaks, in Bac Kan province in the northernmost part of the country, affected village flocks ranging from 97 to 1,227 birds, with case counts ranging from 16 to 300 poultry. Officials did not report a source of the outbreak but are initiating disease control efforts, such as disinfection and poultry vaccination.
Aug 23 OIE report

Hong Kong to switch H5N1 poultry vaccine
Hong Kong plans to switch to an H5N1 vaccine for poultry developed on the Chinese mainland to protect farm chickens from the strain of avian flu that has surfaced periodically in the region, The Standard, a Hong Kong newspaper, said today. Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said that 10 million doses of the new Re-6 vaccine will be available in October. The vaccine, produced by Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, targets the H5N1 clade avian flu virus most commonly found in Hong Kong. It will replace the older Re-5 H5N1 vaccine.
Aug 23 The Standard story

Hong Kong updates its pandemic flu plan
Hong Kong has released a revised influenza pandemic preparedness plan that incorporates transmissibility, geographic spread, and clinical severity in its response, according to a government press release yesterday. "With the new approach in defining the response level, the responsiveness of the plan is expected to bring about improvements, especially in terms of a broader range of scenarios in relation to not only avian influenza but also other forms of novel influenza," a spokesperson from Hong Kong's Department of Health said in the release. The new plan, which is an update of earlier versions, details Hong Kong's three response levels—Alert, Serious, and Emergency—and the appropriate steps to take for each. In addition to addressing transmissibility, spread, and severity, the plan also factors in pre-existing immunity, availability of preventive measures, and recommendations of international health authorities. The updated plan also includes comprehensive pandemic response measures, command structures, and mechanisms for activating and deactivating response levels.
Aug 22 Hong Kong press release
Hong Kong preparedness plan

Researchers identify immune deficiency syndrome in older Asians
Scientists have identified an immunodeficiency syndrome in older Asians that resembles AIDS but does not appear to be infectious, according to their report in the New England Journal of Medicine today. US, Thai, and Chinese researchers analyzed data from 203 Thai and Taiwanese patients, of whom 49 had pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), 9 had disseminated TB, 52 had non-TB mycobacteriosis, and 45 had another opportunistic infection. The investigators compared the patients with 48 healthy controls. The patients also had an immune-system antibody that blocks a molecule called interferon-gamma that is critical to fighting infections and autoimmune diseases. The antibody works against the molecule to trigger immunodeficiency in some adults, the authors said. "The problem could be related to something genetic in people of Asian descent or it could be tied to environmental factors, but it's too early to know," lead author Sarah K. Browne, MD, of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told US News & World Report.
Aug 23 N Engl J Med study
Aug 22 US News World Rep article

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