FLU NEWS SCAN: Household preparedness, H7N3 culling in Mexico, H1N1 co-circulation, swine flu reassortment

Sep 13, 2012

US households report varying degrees of emergency preparedness
Both a 14-state survey and in-person interviews in two Tennessee counties showed household emergency preparedness high in some regards but lacking in others, according to two reports published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). In the first report, which analyzed response data gathered from the 2006 through 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone surveys, researchers measured a range of preparedness variables. The authors found that 94.8% of households had a battery-operated flashlight, 89.7% had a 3-day supply of necessary medications, 82.9% had a 3-day supply of food, 77.7% had a battery-operated radio, 53.6% had a 3-day supply of water, and 21.1% had a written evacuation plan. They also found that non–English-speaking and minority respondents, particularly Latinos, were less likely to be prepared.
Sep 14 MMWR report on BRFSS survey
In door-to-door surveys conducted in Knox County (home of Knoxville) and Davidson County (home of Nashville), 23% and 31% of households, respectively, reported being "well prepared," 43% and 44% reported being "somewhat prepared," and 25% and 20% reported being "not at all prepared." Workers conducted interviews with adults in 197 Knox County households and 184 Davidson County households; response rates were 78% and 58%, respectively. Regarding household supplies, Knox and Davidson County residents reported, respectively, that 78% and 87% had a flashlight, 60% and 55% had a battery-operated radio, 84% and 82% had a 3-day supply of food, 39% and 54% had a 3-day store of water, and 74% and 91% had 3-day supplies of prescription drugs. In Knox County, 11% of respondents reported having a written emergency plan, while in Davidson County 40% had either a written or spoken plan. Eighty-three percent of Knox County residents and 90% in Davidson County said cell phones were their primary mode of communicating during disasters.
Sep 14 MMWR report on Tennessee counties

Mexican avian flu culling complete after 22 million birds destroyed
After culling more than 22.3 million birds this summer, Mexican officials have completed slaughtering operations to help contain an outbreak of highly pathogenic H7N3 avian flu, Spanish-language news service EFE reported yesterday. Officials also immunized 140 million poultry and have begun restocking farm flocks, the National Food Health, Safety and Quality Service, or Senasica, said. The outbreak sickened and killed hundreds of thousands of poultry in the western state of Jalisco, and culling efforts lasted from Jun 19 through Aug 31, EFE said. Affected farms are being restocked with 4.5 million to 5 million poultry each month, Senasica Director Enrique Sanchez Cruz said. Bird populations should reach pre-outbreak levels by November,  he added.
Sep 12 EFE story

Reunion Island study indicates non-flu-virus competition with 2009 H1N1
A study of influenza-like illness (ILI) on Reunion Island suggests interference may have occurred between non-influenza respiratory viruses (NIRVs) and pandemic 2009 H1N1 (pH1N1) during the pandemic, because a second wave of ILI was almost exclusively caused by NIRVs, according to a study yesterday in PLoS One. French researchers analyzed data from 125 households with at least one case of ILI on the island territory of about 800,000 people, which lies in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. They collected nasal swabs on days 0, 3, and 8 of ILI and analyzed them using polymerase chain reaction. The team identified two successive waves of illness during the Southern Hemisphere winter of the 2009 pandemic. The first lasted about 5 weeks and was dominated by pH1N1, with co-circulating NIRVs. The second immediately followed, lasted about 7 weeks, and was "almost exclusively composed of NIRVs," mainly rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. The investigators also found that co-infection with pH1N1 and one or more NIRVs shortened viral shedding significantly compared with infection with only one virus, whether pH1N1 or NIRV. The authors conclude that intense co-circulation of NIRVs "likely brought pH1N1 under the detection threshold."
Sep 12 PLoS One study

Study finds high reassortment rate in Eurasian swine flu strains
Reassortment between H1N2 and H1N1 Eurasian swine flu lineages occurs about every 2 to 3 years, UK researchers reported yesterday in the Journal of General Virology. The scientists analyzed 69 whole-genome sequences of H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2 Eurasian swine flu viruses collected from 1982 through 2008 and published data on those strains. Using a recently developed evolutionary analysis method, they determined that reassortment between H1N2 and H1N1 occurs quite frequently, with an average of one reassortment every 2 to 3 years. The authors conclude, "This rapid reassortment results from co-circulating lineages in swine, and in consequence we should expect further reassortments between currently circulating swine strains and the recent swine-origin H1N1v pandemic strain."
Sep 12 J Gen Virol abstract

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