May 3, 2013
CDC: Flu season nears its end
The nation's flu markers continued their slow decline last week, according to an update today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The percentage of outpatients visits for flulike illnesses dropped to 1.0% last week, putting it well below the national baseline of 2.2%. The percentage of deaths from flu and pneumonia dropped to 6.6%, keeping it beneath the epidemic threshold and seasonal baseline. In a separate situation update the CDC said the 2012-13 flu season is largely over, but noted that flu viruses can continue circulating over the summer at low levels. Seven more pediatric flu deaths were reported, raising the season's total to 137. One of the recently reported deaths was from the 2010-11 season. Though the flu season was tough on seniors in terms of hospitalization rates, the season's total number of pediatric deaths is one of the highest since the CDC started tracking them in 2003-04. The numbers so far, though, are well below the 348 reported during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic months.
May 3 CDC influenza update
May 3 CDC flu situation update
CDC pediatric flu mortality data
Elsewhere, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said flu activity is declining or has already returned to baselines in all reporting countries after 3 months of active transmission, according to an Apr 30 statement. With the flu season drawing to an end, the ECDC said it would move to biweekly reporting.
Apr 30 ECDC statement
FAO paints bleak picture of H5N1 control efforts in Egypt
A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says Egypt's poultry production sector is riddled with gaps that hobble efforts to control H5N1 avian influenza, which has been endemic in the country since 2008. The problems include weak farm biosecurity measures, wide and unregulated use of variable vaccination protocols by commercial farms, co-circulation of H5N1 and H9N2, household producers' ignorance of the importance of quarantining newly bought birds, unregulated live-bird trading, and weak movement control. Further, "some specialized traders actually profit from the disease by purchasing birds known to be infected at very low prices and reselling them via door-to-door peddlers or to the slaughterhouse, which in turn sells frozen birds to the fast food outlets," the report says. It predicts that H5N1 will continue to circulate in Egypt as long as poor biosecurity conditions persist. To remedy the situation, the FAO calls for national poultry production standards and guidelines to support good management and the formation or strengthening of grassroots producers' associations. The report is based on a study in 2010 and 2011 of H5N1 transmission pathways and critical control points in Egypt's poultry sector. The country has had 173 human cases of H5N1 since 2006
April 2013 FAO report (65 pages)