US flu vaccine coverage about 40% early in the flu season
About 40% of people in the United States had received a flu vaccine by early November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today, adding that it estimated the intervention prevented an estimated 5 million flu illnesses, 71,000 flu hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths.
The percentage of those receiving the vaccine is about the same as it was this time last year, the CDC said in the first of its two reports. By age-group, vaccine uptake by early November was 39.8% overall, 37.3% in children, and 40.6% in adults.
Vaccine use in two key age-groups is down, however. Kids' uptake fell 1.9 percentage points from last year, while coverage dropped 3.8 percentage points among those 65 and older.
"We are urging parents to make sure their children get a flu shot this season, as the nasal-spray vaccine is not recommended for the 2016-2017 flu season," said the CDC's Joe Bresee, MD, in an agency news release.
In good news, however, vaccine coverage in pregnant women rose 6 percentage points over this point last year, but is still low, at about 47%, the CDC said. (In a report yesterday, the CDC noted that uptake in pregnant women has steadily climbed in recent seasons but is still low.)
Dec 9 CDC report on vaccine coverage
To gauge the impact of last year's vaccine, the CDC each year uses a model that incorporates nationwide data on influenza-related illnesses, medical visits, and hospitalizations; estimated vaccine uptake; and vaccine effectiveness (VE). In addition to the estimate of hospitalization and deaths averted, the agency estimated that vaccination in 2015-16 averted 5.1 million influenza illnesses and 2.5 million related medical visits.
The estimates are based on a flu VE of 24% to 57%, depending on the age-group. In 2014-15, when VE was very low, the savings in illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths were calculated to be substantially lower. For example, the CDC estimated that the 2014-15 vaccine prevented only 1.6 million illnesses.
Dec 9 CDC estimates of vaccine impact
Three new cases of MERS confirmed in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) today confirmed three new cases of MERS-CoV, resulting in one death. The patient who died had direct contact with camels.
Two expatriate men, a 53-year-old from Riyadh and a 49-year-old from Jeddah, are in critical and stable condition after presenting with symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). The source of infection for both men is listed as primary, meaning they did not contract the respiratory virus from anyone else.
The Saudi man who died was 60 years old and from Mahayel Aseer.
The new cases raise Saudi Arabia's total from the disease to 1,505 since the first human infections were detected in 2012. So far 622 people have died from MERS. Eighteen people are still being treated for their recently announced illnesses.
Dec 9 MOH report
China reports H7N9 case in Guangdong province
Chinese health officials have reported another human H7N9 avian influenza case, this time in Guangdong province in southern China, according to a report today from Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP).
The patient is an 81-year-old man from Meizhou, and his illness marks the first H7N9 case of the season from Guangdong, one of China's main poultry-producing areas and a province that has reported many cases since the novel virus was first detected in humans in 2013.
Today's report didn't have any details about how the man was exposed or his condition. The CHP said avian flu viruses show a seasonal pattern and that it expects activity to increase in the winter.
In the middle of November China reported two H7N9 cases, marking the start of the fifth wave of infections. Those patients are from Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
The new case raises the global number of H7N9 illnesses to 810, according to a case list kept by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.
Dec 8 CHP statement
FluTrackers global H7N9 case list
Officials note more H5N8 outbreaks on poultry farms in southern France
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday reported more H5N8 avian flu activity on four farms near the town of Monesties, located in southern France. According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, 12 poultry farms have now reported the highly pathogenic strain.
Thousands of birds will be culled today and tomorrow to help prevent the spread of H5N8, including 12,400 chickens and 2,500 ducks. A 3-kilometer protections zone and a 10- kilometer surveillance zone have been implemented around the affected farms.
In other avian flu news, another H5N6-positive fecal sample was collected in the Mai Po nature reserve near Hong Kong yesterday, according to the OIE today. On Dec 5, the OIE said that three fecal samples obtained earlier as part of routine surveillance in the nature preserve were positive for H5N6.
Dec 9 OIE France report
Dec 9 OIE Hong Kong report
Cholera cases continue to climb in Yemen
The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday there are 1,245 more cholera cases in Yemen this week, bringing the total number of suspected cases to 8,975. There were also 7 more deaths, bringing that total to 89.
This week the governorate of Al Jawf reported its first cases. So far, the current outbreak is active in 125 of Yemen's districts in 14 governorates. The WHO said there are still 26 cholera treatment centers operating in the most-affected areas, while two national health emergency control rooms are conducing data collection and surveillance.
Acute, watery diarrhea is endemic to Yemen, but the recent spike of cases has strained the country's public health infrastructure. The WHO said it is supporting the country through health education campaigns and providing essential medical supplies, including intravenous fluids and water chlorination tablets.
Almost 8 million people in Yemen live in communities at risk for cholera, including 3 million internally displaced people.
Dec 8 WHO update