Flu activity up in North America and Europe, with H3N2 predominating
The Northern Hemisphere continues to see high levels of influenza A (H3N2), especially in North America and northwestern Europe, according to a Jan 26 World Health Organization (WHO) report.
Global data from 88 countries as of Jan 11 showed that 32,903 of 133,812 specimens tested positive for influenza, with 94% typed as influenza A and 6% as influenza B. Of the flu A specimens, 97% were subtyped as H3N2, and 3.4% were 2009 H1N1. Subtyping of flu B specimens showed that 98% were of the Yamagata lineage, and 2% were of the Victoria lineage.
The US flu season appears to have peaked, the WHO said, with flu-related mortality above the epidemic threshold of 6.9%. The WHO said that 68.4% of US H3N2 cases were not an antigenic match for the H3N2 virus used in this year's flu vaccine.
North America and Europe are seeing high rates of flu activity, with H3N2 being most common. The majority of flu outbreaks in Canada have occurred in long-term-care facilities, the WHO said.
Northwestern Africa appears to have reached the peak of its flu season, with flu B predominating. Elsewhere on the continent, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Madagascar are reporting increasing flu cases, with both flu B and H3N2 circulating in Madagascar.
Flu levels remain low in Asia, with slight increases in flu B in the tropical and southeastern parts of the continent. In western Asia, Bahrain, and Iran, 2009 H1N1 is the predominant circulating strain.
The Caribbean, Central America, and tropical South America continue to see low rates of influenza. Several Pacific islands, including American Samoa, are reporting high numbers of influenza-like illness cases.
Jan 26 WHO report
Egypt confirms 2 new H5N1 cases and 1 death; China reports 1 case
Egypt's health ministry reported that a 31-year-old woman from Giza governorate has died of H5N1 avian flu, according to Daily News Egypt today.
Of the 31 cases of H5N1 avian flu reported in Egypt this year, 10 people have now died, the story said.
The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population also announced that two more people have been hospitalized with H5N1. The new cases occurred in a 4-year-old girl from Cairo and a 34-year-old woman from Al-Sharqia governorate, which is north of Cairo near the Nile Delta.
Egypt also reported that two people with H5N1 avian flu have recovered. One recovery occurred in a 6-year-old girl from Cairo whose case had not been reported previously. The second patient who recovered is a 20-year-old woman from Cairo whose case was reported by Egypt's health ministry on Jan 2.
Jan 28 Daily News Egypt story
Jan 12 CIDRAP News Scan on previously reported case
Meanwhile, a woman from China's Jiangsu province has been reported to have H5N1 avian flu, according to a press release today from the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP). The 37-year-old woman, who is in critical condition, is from Suzhou in southeast Jiangsu province. The release says she had a history of poultry exposure.
"Locally, we will remain vigilant and work closely with the World Health Organization and relevant health authorities to monitor the latest developments," the release quotes a spokesman for China's department of health as saying.
Jan 28 CHP press release
Elderly man, young boy have newest H7N9 cases in Guangdong
Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has been notified of two more cases of H7N9 avian influenza in China's Guangdong province, continuing the spate of cases reported from there recently.
The case-patients are an 83-year-old man from Meizhou and a 4-year-old boy from Heyuan, according to a press release from the CHP. The elderly man is in critical condition and the boy in stable condition.
The two new cases bring the H7N9 total to 535, according to a case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board. The CHP gives the total as 499.
The CHP release notes that a number of surveillance measures have been implemented in response to the continuing cases, such as temperature checks for inbound travelers, and the public has been warned to avoid visiting poultry markets and farms, avoid crowds, wear a mask if respiratory symptoms develop, and practice careful hand washing.
Meanwhile, a statement yesterday from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed an H7N9 case that was reported earlier by the CHP and involved a 79-year-old man from Hong Kong. He had traveled to the mainland before his illness, visiting a poultry market but having no direct contact with birds.
Jan 28 CHP press release
Jan 28 FluTrackers case list
Jan 27 WHO story