Flu Scan for Jan 07, 2015

News brief

Avian flu strikes second backyard flock in Washington state

Avian flu has struck a second backyard poultry flock in Benton County, Washington, according to a story in the area's Tri-City Herald yesterday.

The flock of about 500 chickens, turkeys, ducks, and guinea fowl is in Richland, just a few miles from an outbreak reported last week in Benton City. About 100 ducks from the Richland flock had been in direct contact with the flock in Benton City, which was confirmed to be infected with H5N2 avian flu, the story said.

That strain was found in recent weeks in a wild pintail duck in Whatcom County in northwestern Washington and in farm outbreaks across the border in British Columbia.

More than 700 birds have died or been culled in the two outbreaks, the story said. Confirmatory tests on the exact strain in the recent outbreak are pending. The events are the first outbreaks of avian flu in domestic birds in Washington, and so far the virus has not been detected on any commercial farms in the state.
Jan 6 Tri-City Heraldstory
Jan 5 CIDRAP News scan on previous outbreak


H7N9 hospitalizes Guangdong province man

Marking the third H7N9 avian flu case reported this year in China's Guangdong province, officials today said a 56-year-old man from Zhaoquing is hospitalized in critical condition from the virus, according to a statement today from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

No other details were available about the man's illness, such as how he may have been exposed to the virus.

The city is located in the central part of the province. Since the first of the year Guangdong province has reported cases in Shenzhen, that of a 6-year-old girl, and Dongguan, involving a 36-year-old man.

China's latest case boosts the global H7N9 number to 478 cases, according to a case list kept by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.
Jan 7 CHP statement
FluTrackers H7N9 case list


FDA clears molecular flu test for wider use

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced that it has granted the first waiver to allow a nucleic acid–based test to be used in a broader selection of clinical settings. Before the FDA's waiver, the Alere i influenza A & B test was allowed only for use in certain laboratories.

FDA's waiver under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) means the test can be used in, for example, physicians' offices, emergency departments, and health department clinics. It added that the waiver was granted after the company submitted data showing the test's ease of use and low risk of false results when used by untrained operators.

Alberto Gutierrrez, PhD, with the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the statement that other simple and accurate diagnostics using nucleic acid–based tests are expected in the future, and the newer method allows healthcare workers to receive results more quickly to help guide diagnosis and treatment decisions. Alere's test uses a nasal swab sample and produces results in as little as 15 minutes, allowing the patient to remain present during testing.

In a statement today, Alere's global president of infectious disease, Avi Pelossof, said the FDA's action is a milestone that expands molecular testing availability to a wide range of health settings during this flu season. "By making lab-accurate, actionable results available at the point of care, Alere i empowers healthcare providers to quickly identify and treat people with influenza—improving patients' clinical outcomes, protecting their communities, and reducing healthcare costs."
Jan 6 FDA statement
Jan 7 Alere press release

News Scan for Jan 07, 2015

News brief

Saudi Arabia reports MERS death in Riyadh

A 53-year-old man in Riyadh has died of a Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported today. His case was not previously reported.

The man, an expatriate, had preexisting disease, was not a healthcare worker, and had no known recent contact with animals or other MERS patients. The agency did not specify when his symptoms began or when he died.

The country has now confirmed 830 MERS-CoV cases, including 358 fatalities, according to the MOH. It says 6 patients are still undergoing treatment.
Jan 7 MOH update


Lab analysis finds variety of contaminants in popular pet food brands

Laboratory testing found levels of harmful bacteria and mycotoxins in 11 of 12 cat and dog food brand samples, according to a Jan 5 study from the Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF).

Several labs contracted by INTI Service Corporation found pathogenic microorganisms, bacteria associated with spoiled or putrid meat, and "qualifying pathogens" considered by the Food and Drug Administration to pose a serious threat to human health, the ATPF said in a press release.

Bacteria found included Staphylococcus (10 brands), Acinetobacter (8), Bacillus (10), Pseudomonas (9), Lactobacillus (8), Streptococcus (7), Halomonas (8), and evidence of proteo- and cyanobacteria (9). Testing did not identify any bacterial species, but all species of Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas, several species of Streptococcus, and one species of Staphylococcus are "qualifying pathogens."

Testing also identified that 4 of the 8 brands tested for fungal toxins showed medium to high levels, with 2 brands (Meow Mix Tender Centers and Beneful Original dog kibble) considered as high risk for mycotoxins that can cause liver and kidney disease in pets.

Three of the 12 brands tested exceeded regulatory levels of nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus, that can cause nutritional imbalances and illness in pets.

Bacterial contamination of pet food can lead to foodborne illness in people, and mycotoxins, bacteria, and excess nutrients can cause gastrointestinal illness in cats and dogs, the ATPF said. The ATPF study demonstrated that many contaminants are not being processed out of pet food, the association said, and it urged greater federal and state enforcement of how pet food and its ingredients are managed.

The ATPF study was crowdfunded by 240 people who contributed more than $15,000 on the Indiegogo platform.
Jan 5 ATPF press release
Jan 5 ATPF


Study: RSV may raise risk of pneumococcal pneumonia in infants

Findings of a study published yesterday in PLoS Medicine provide evidence of an interaction between respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, the leading cause of viral pneumonia, and pneumococcal pneumonia, especially in young infants, and beg the question of whether treatment for bacterial infections should be considered in children with viral pneumonia.

The ecological study analyzed aggregated data from more than 700,000 childhood hospitalizations for RSV and more than 16,000 for pneumococcal pneumonia in 36 states from 1992 through 2009 to look for an association between the incidence of pneumococcal disease in children and RSV activity. The authors also estimated changes in the rate of hospitalizations for RSV after the introduction in 2000 of seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7).

They found that RSV was associated with a 20.3% increase in the incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia in children younger than 1 year (95% confidence interval [CI], 17.4% to 25.1%) and a 10.1% increase in children 1 to 2 years of age (95% CI, 7.6% to 13.9%). They also found an 18% decline in RSV hospitalizations in children younger than 1 in 2004-09 compared with 1997-2000, before PCV7 (CI, –22.6% to –13.1%).

The authors say their results need confirmation by analysis of individual-level, lab-confirmed data, adding, "Future work should evaluate whether treatment for secondary bacterial infections could be considered for pneumonia cases even if a child tests positive for RSV."
Jan 6 PLoS Med study

This week's top reads