Flu season reports begin in US, Europe and note low activity
Weekly flu season reports resumed today in the United States and Europe, with low flu activity reported in both parts of the world, according to updates today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a collaboration between the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.
In the United States, all flu markers were below their thresholds, and, of specimens tested, only 2.7% were positive for flu, of which 86.1% was influenza A in tests at public health labs. Of subtyped influenza A, 79% were H3 viruses.
Genetic characterization by the CDC reveals that multiple H3 clades and subclades are circulating, with clade 3C.2a predominant, the same clade as the vaccine virus. Health officials are closely watching H3N2 viruses, especially since WHO vaccine advisors recently recommended a different H3N2 component for the Southern Hemisphere to better match circulating seasonal flu viruses.
In terms of geographic spread, activity was reported as widespread only in Guam. Colorado and South Carolina reported local flu activity.
Oct 13 CDC FluView report
In Europe, low flu activity was reported by all 36 reporting countries. Among sporadic detections, both influenza A and B were identified. At sentinel sites, 60% of viruses were influenza B. Of subtyped influenza A viruses, half were H3N2.
Oct 13 Flu News Europe report
More avian flu outbreaks reported in Italy, Taiwan
In the latest avian flu developments, Italy reported more highly pathogenic H5N8 events, and Taiwan reported more H5N2 and H5N8 detections, according to recent reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
In Italy, seven more outbreaks were reported, six at commercial farms and one in backyard poultry. The farm outbreaks affected layer hens, ducks, broilers, and turkeys. The event start dates range from Oct 5 to Oct 11, and three regions were affected: Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, and Lombardy, all in the northern half of the country.
The virus killed 1,719 of 776,186 susceptible birds, and culling was planned for the surviving poultry.
In other European avian flu developments, the Netherlands is investigating an H5 outbreak that appears to be low pathogenic at a layer farm in Zeeland province in the southwest, according to a government report today translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog.
Oct 12 OIE report on H5N8 in Italy
Oct 13 AFD post
Earlier this week, Taiwan in separate OIE notifications reported more outbreaks involving highly pathogenic H5N2 and H5N8.
Four more H5N2 outbraks were reported from Jan 9 to Sep 14, two at commercial ducks farms and two involving ducks and native chickens with the facility type not specified. Three of the detections were in Yunlin County, and the other was in neighboring Changhua County. Taken together, the virus killed 6 of 7,339 birds, and the remaining ones were culled to control the spread of the virus.
Taiwan also reported two more H5N8 outbreaks, both of which involved a single duck at an unspecified type of facility, one in Yunlin County and the other in Pingtung County. Both events occurred earlier this year, one in January and the other in March.
In other Asian developments, South Korea's agriculture ministry today said tests have detected more H5 avian flu virus in wild bird droppings, this time near Seosan in South Chungcheong province in the west, according to a media report flagged by AFD. In September, the country reported H7N7 in wild bird droppings near a city in North Gyeongsang province in the east.
Oct 11 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan
Oct 11 OIE report on H5N8 in Taiwan
Oct 13 AFD post