FLU NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Nepal, H15N4 in Russia, CDC flu info for consumers

Jan 3, 2013

Nepal reports more H5N1 outbreaks
Animal health officials in Nepal are reporting two more H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, one not far from an earlier outbreak in Kathmandu and one in a more remote area north of the city, according to the Himalayan Times. The outbreak near the capital struck a commercial poultry farm in Sitapaila where authorities culled 2,460 chickens and destroyed 527 eggs, along with some feed, the Times reported yesterday. The area had been under strict surveillance after an earlier outbreak near Kathmandu was confirmed on Dec 24. The second recent outbreak was reported in Chaughada, several miles north of Kathmandu, the Times reported today. A district official told the times that the H5N1 virus was transmitted to local poultry from two broiler chickens that were brought to the village from Kathmandu.
Jan 2 Himalayan Times story
Jan 3 Himalayan Times story

H15N2 found in wild bird in Russia
In the first known identification of an H15 influenza A subtype outside of Australia, Russian and US researchers have confirmed H15N4 in a teal in Siberia, according to their report in the Journal of Virology yesterday. During routine surveillance from May through September 2008, investigators collected 1,445 cloacal swab samples from healthy wild birds, from which 25 avian flu viruses were isolated. One of these, from a common teal (Anas crecca), was subtyped as H15N4, the first time an H15 strain has been confirmed outside of Australia. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the virus's internal genes belong to the Eurasian clade, and that the H15 and N4 genes were introduced into circulating avian flu viruses through reassortment.
Jan 2 J Virol abstract

CDC update addresses flu after vaccination, pregnancy vaccine safety
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated two of its flu resources aimed at consumers, addressing questions about flu infections in vaccinated people and adding new information about vaccine safety in pregnant women. The CDC said it has received reports of people who got sick with confirmed flu infections despite vaccination, but so far it's not possible to say if the infections are occurring more often than in past flu seasons. It reviewed several reasons why immunized people could still get sick, including exposure before immunity from the vaccine builds up, differences in circulating strains, and efficacy that can vary. The CDC said it was watching the situation closely and will provide more information, including an interim vaccine effectiveness estimate, as the information becomes available.
Jan 3 CDC Q and A
Meanwhile, in an update yesterday the CDC added new information about the safety of flu vaccination during pregnancy, based on new findings in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The study explored the risk of spontaneous first-trimester abortion in pregnant women who did and didn’t receive the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine using data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink, one of two main federal databases. The study found no statistically significant increase in the risk of pregnancy loss during the 4 weeks after women received the flu vaccine. The CDC studies have found no evidence of harm to pregnant women or their unborn children. The agency said the new findings are reassuring.
Jan 2 CDC update
January Obstet Gynecol abstract

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