Flu Scan for Aug 19, 2013

New four-strain flu vaccine
H5N1 death in Cambodia
Global flu update
H7 avian flu in Italy

FDA approves GlaxoSmithKline's second four-strain flu vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has won US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of its second four-strain influenza vaccine, FluLaval Quadrivalent, making it the fourth such vaccine on the US market.

Quadrivalent flu vaccines contain two influenza B strains as well as two A strains (H1N1 and H3N2), with the aim of improving protection by targeting both of the common B lineages. In recent years it has been difficult to predict which lineage, Victoria or Yamagata, would predominate in any given season.

FluLaval Quadrivalent, which is made in Quebec, is approved for children ages 3 and older and for adults, GSK said in its Aug 16 announcement. The trivalent version of FluLaval was previously approved only for adults, and the FDA's action marks the first time that all GSK flu shots are approved for ages 3 and older.

The company said it anticipates making a "limited amount" of the new vaccine available this season and is now taking orders. Earlier this month GSK officials said they expected to provide up to 10 million doses of their other quadrivalent vaccine, Fluarix Quadrivalent, this season.

FluLaval Quadrivalent will be available in multidose vials, while Fluarix Quadrivalent is sold in prefilled syringes, GSK said. The newly approved vaccine is currently licensed only in the United States.

Other quadrivalent flu vaccines on the US market are made by MedImmune and Sanofi Pasteur.
Aug 16 GSK press release
Aug 5
CIDRAP News story on quadrivalent flu vaccines


Cambodian boy dies of H5N1

A 9-year-old boy in Cambodia died of H5N1 avian influenza yesterday, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported today. The boy's diagnosis was confirmed Aug 9 after his hospitalization for fever, cough, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dyspnea.

The boy's village, in the northwestern province of Battambang, had seen recent deaths of chickens and ducks, the story said. He reportedly had carried dead and sick birds to his sister for cooking before his illness began.

With the boy's death, Cambodia has had 16 H5N1 with 10 deaths this year, and since 2004 the country has seen 37 cases with 29 deaths, according to the story.
Aug 19 Xinhua report


WHO sees few flu hot spots; H1N1 is most common strain

Flu activity in much of the world is low, but it is increasing in a few areas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an Aug 16 epidemiologic update.

Areas reporting activity upticks include parts of the Southern Hemisphere—Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands—where overall flu activity has been lower than usual this year. The WHO said so far there is no clear sign that activity in those areas has peaked.

Peru reported a sharp rise in 2009 H1N1 virus activity in the middle of July, though flu activity is decreasing in other countries in the region, the WHO said. Argentina has had more flu-like illness cases this season than the average for the previous 5 years, but the number has started to decline.

Flu activity in most of the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States, Europe, and northern Asia, is at low interseasonal levels, the WHO said.

In a virologic update today, the agency said the most frequently detected seasonal flu virus at the global level is 2009 H1N1, followed closely by H3N2. Testing showed that 12% of flu viruses are influenza B. H1N1 has predominated in Central and South America, with some countries reporting H3N2 circulation. Australia and New Zealand reported increasing influenza B detections.
Aug 16 WHO flu epidemiologic update
Aug 19 WHO flu virologic update


H7 avian flu reported on Italian farm

An outbreak of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza has been reported on a commercial layer chicken farm in Italy, according to an Aug 15 notice from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The infection has affected 105,000 of 128,000 susceptible birds on the farm, for a morbidity rate of 82.03%. Four thousand birds are reported dead, for a mortality rate of 3.81%.

The farm is located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, about 50 kilometers northeast of Bologna. Further diagnostic testing to determine the virus's neuraminidase type is under way, as is an epidemiologic investigation.

Authorities have set up protection and surveillance zones around the farm and have begun destroying the remaining birds in the flock, says the report. Plans also call for disinfecting the premises.
OIE report

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