Flu Scan for Feb 18, 2015

H7N9 strikes another in Guangdong
Avian flu in Taiwan, Nigeria
Seasonal flu vaccine & H7N9

Guangdong man with H7N9 brings global case total to nearly 600

An additional case of H7N9 avian flu in China's Guangdong province has been reported to Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), according to a machine-translated statement posted today by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.

The case-patient is a 65-year-old man from Dongguan City in Guangdong, site of numerous recent cases. He apparently had preexisting coronary heart disease and hypertension and is hospitalized in critical condition.

A CHP statement says the man is being closely monitored and that the public is again urged "to maintain strict personal, food, and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel."

The total number of H7N9 cases globally now stands 598, according to a case list maintained by FluTrackers. The CHP statement puts the total cases from mainland China at 575, with the largest number in Guangdong (164) and Zhejiang (156) provinces.
Feb 18 FluTrackers posting
Feb 18 CHP press release
FluTrackers H7N9 case list


More avian flu outbreaks reported in Taiwan, Nigeria

Agriculture officials in Taiwan yesterday said 29 poultry sites have been hit by H5N2 avian influenza, with H5N8 striking five more farms and H5N2 and H5N3 detected in wild birds, according to three reports to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In addition, Nigeria, in an OIE report today, confirmed an H5N1 outbreak in poultry.

The H5N2 outbreaks affected 29 farms in the Taiwanese counties of Taitung, Yunlin, Pingtung, Chiayi, and Changhua, as well as in the city of Tainan. A dead black-crowned night-heron in Taitung County also tested positive. Of 269,894 susceptible poultry (geese, chicken and ducks), 95,908 deaths were reported, and 168,686 birds were culled to prevent disease spread.

In the second report, Taiwanese authorities detailed five H5N8 outbreaks on poultry farms in Yunlin and Chiayi counties, as well as in Tainan. Of 24,790 susceptible turkeys and geese, 4,676 birds died and 20,114 were culled. Farms within the outbreak regions are under surveillance for 3 months.

Taiwanese officials also reported H5N3 avian flu findings in three wild birds. The dead light-vented bulbuls were found in Miaoli County, and surrounding poultry farms are under surveillance, according to the third OIE report.

In related news, Nigerian veterinary officials reported an outbreak of H5N1 avian flu on a farm in the state of Ogun's Ewekoro region. Of 9,000 susceptible birds, 110 birds died, and 8,890 were culled.
Feb 17 OIE H5N2 report
Feb 17 OIE H5N8
Feb 17 OIE H5N3
Feb 18 OIE H5N1 report


Study: Antibodies in flu-vaccinated people may protect against H7N9

Researchers found that antibodies in samples taken from people who had received seasonal flu vaccine protected against H7N9 avian flu in cell culture and mice, according to a study yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

US researchers selected 83 antibodies that were isolated from 28 vaccinated people and that reacted with H3N2, a common seasonal flu strain. When tested, at least 7% of the antibodies reacted against rare H7 strains, even though H7 strains are not included in seasonal flu vaccines.

Of these, three antibodies appeared to completely neutralize H7N9 in cell culture. The investigators then treated mice with each antibody before exposing them to a normally lethal H7N9 dose. All three antibodies prevented the mice from dying, whereas mice without the antibodies died from their infections. Mice were also protected when they received the antibodies 24 hours after they were infected.

The team found that the three antibodies could also neutralize H3 and other H7 strains in cell culture. This broad reactivity is probably due to the location on the influenza virus to which the antibodies bound: highly conserved regions that differ little among strains, according to a press release on the study from the University of Chicago.

"We have clear evidence that a normal immune response to flu vaccination offers protection against dangerous and highly unique strains of influenza such as H7N9," said coauthor Patrick Wilson, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, in the release. "We now need to develop ways of amplifying this response."

The authors called for studies to evaluate the protective efficacy and safety of these antibodies in people.
Feb 17 J Clin Invest study
Feb 17 University of Chicago press release

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