H7N9 avian flu hospitalizes two in northwestern China
China reported two H7N9 avian flu infections this week, both of them involving men in Xinjiang autonomous region in the far northwest of the country, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today in an update.
Both men, ages 73 and 74, are from Urumqi, the region's capital city. They started having symptoms on Aug 7 and were hospitalized with severe pneumonia. Investigators found that the older one had been exposed to a live-poultry market.
The latest cases lift China's total in the unprecedented fifth wave of H7N9 activity to 754, based on the most recent total from China's mainland. At least 246 deaths have been reported. The fifth wave began in October 2016, and sporadic cases still continue to be reported.
Aug 25 CHP report
Philippines monitors 34 people in wake of poultry H5N6 detections
Health officials in the Philippines are monitoring 34 people with possible symptoms related to recently confirmed poultry outbreaks involving H5N6 avian flu, a type that has sickened people in China, the health department said yesterday in a statement.
The people are from two provinces where the outbreaks occurred, 30 from Pampanga and 4 from Nueva Ecija, the Department of Health (DOH) said today in a statement.
As a precaution, the people were placed in isolation and are receiving prophylactic oseltamivir treatment while testing is under way. So far all have been negative for H5N6.
Aug 24 Philippines DOH statement
In other avian flu developments, South Africa reported two more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks, according to a report today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Both occurred in Western Cape province, one that began Aug 21 at a commercial ostrich farm and one that began on Aug 23, apparently at a commercial poultry farm.
Taken together, the virus killed 10,000 of 141,069 birds, and the remaining ones were slated for culling.
Aug 25 OIE report on H5N8 in South Africa
Flu vaccination rates drop among children when nasal spray isn’t offered
A recent study in Vaccine reports that rates of influenza vaccination coverage drop among US children when the nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for children ages 2 to 17 years.
The retrospective cohort study was based on cross-sectional data from Penn State College of Medicine, which served approximately 12,500 children during the 2016 to 2017 flu season. That year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against using the live attenuated influenza vaccine known as FluMist because of effectiveness problems.
Overall, total influenza vaccination rates in children were 1.6% lower in the 2016-17 season compared to the previous season. The researchers looked at beginning and end-of-season rates of coverage and found that while early-season vaccination was higher in the 2016-17 flu season, end-of-season rates dropped for reasons that aren't clear.
Ben Fogel, MD, MPH, study coauthor, said in a Penn State press release, "We worried that there was going to be a huge drop off in vaccination rates without the nasal spray available. We saw a drop off but I would not call it huge, which is reassuring."
Still, any decline is notable. They added that a 1.6% reduction translates to 1.2 million additional unvaccinated children nationally, which means 4,385 additional outpatient visits and 30 additional hospitalizations.
Previous studies have described ease of administration as among the primary factors parents use to decide whether to vaccinate their children against influenza.
Jul 29 Vaccine study
Aug 24 Penn State press release