News Scan for Dec 01, 2014

News brief

H5N1 strikes 4, kills 3 in Egypt

Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has killed three people in Egypt, say media reports today. The three adult case-patients reportedly had contact with infected birds.

Xinhua, China's new agency, reporting on a statement from Egypt's ministry of health (MOH), says the patients who died were all women: a 29-year-old from Minya governorate and a 25-year-old and a 40-year-old, both from Asyut governorate. One of the latter women worked at a bird farm.

In addition, a fourth H5N1 case, that of a 2-year-old girl in Minya who has recovered, was reported in a machine translation of the MOH statement and in a BBC News story today. The translation was published on FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board. That report says the 40-year-old patient was a man from Minya.

The FluTrackers item says the health and veterinary communities are working together to encourage awareness among citizens, precautions such as hand washing after handling birds, and early detection of cases.

Egypt has reported 12 H5N1 cases in humans this year, 6 of them fatal, according to FluTrackers.
Dec 1 Xinhua story
Dec 1 FluTrackers thread
Dec 1 BBC News story


China reports two more H7N9 cases

Chinese authorities have reported two H7N9 avian flu vases in recent days, according to media reports.

A Nov 28 Reuters report said a 31-year-old woman from Guangdong province was diagnosed with the virus. She is from the city of Dongguan and is hospitalized in critical condition in the provincial capital of Guangzhou.

The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) confirmed the case in a Nov 28 statement and reiterated that boundary control points continue to use thermal imaging and other measures to prevent the spread of H7N9 from mainland China.

Yesterday, an H7N9 case in Zhejiang province was reported in a machine-translated Xinhua story posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious-disease blog. The patient is a woman over the age of 60, who contracted the virus from chickens she purchased at a live poultry market, according to the story.

The woman is from the city of Jiaxing and is hospitalized in critical condition. Xinhua reported that, following the patient's diagnosis, Jiaxing launched its emergency plan and is observing the woman's contacts for signs of infection.

China has had 462 H7N9 cases since the virus emerged in 2013, according to a case list maintained by FluTrackers. The Reuters report said there have been 175 deaths.
Nov 28 Reuters
Nov 28 CHP
Nov 30 Avian Flu Diary
FluTrackers case list


Dutch officials confirm 4th H5N8 outbreak, H5 in wild ducks

A fourth outbreak of H5N8 in poultry has been confirmed in the Netherlands, and the H5 strain has been found in wild-bird droppings, Reuters reported today.

To prevent disease spread, officials have culled 28,000 laying hens on the affected farm, which is near the western town of Zoeterwoude, in South Holland province, as well as about 50,000 poultry on a neighboring farm, Reuters and other media outlets reported. An Agence France-Presse (AFP) story said the farms were about 1 kilometer (km) apart and about 21 miles from the site of the country's first H5N8 outbreak in mid-November, in Hekendorp in Utrecht province.

A Xinhua story said that two farms within a 10-km radius of the latest affected farm have been declared H5N8-free, while a third farm is still being investigated.

The H5-positive samples from the droppings of two wild ducks were from Utrecht province, the deputy economic affairs minister wrote in a letter to parliament, according to Reuters.

In related news, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Nov 27 updated a question-and-answer document on H5N8.
Dec 1 Reuters story
Dec 1 AFP article
Dec 1 Xinhua report
Nov 24 CIDRAP News story on previous Dutch outbreak


H5N1 confirmed in poultry outbreaks in India

In other avian flu news, officials in India have confirmed the H5N1 avian flu strain in two outbreaks among domestic ducks in Kerala state, according to a Nov 27 OIE report.

The outbreaks involved 500 dead birds among 13,000 susceptible ducks on one farm, of which 1,800 were culled, and 15,000 deaths among 228,807 ducks on a second farm, of which 490 were destroyed, according to an earlier report filed with the OIE on Nov 25.

Three series of tests—two polymerase chain reaction and one virus isolation—confirmed the H5N1 strain, according to the more recent report.
Nov 27 OIE report
Nov 26 CIDRAP News scan on initial report


US flu activity rises a bit; four pediatric deaths reported

US influenza activity rose slightly in the third week of November but remained generally low, though four flu-related deaths in children were reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in its weekly update today.

The share of outpatient visits due to influenza-like illness (ILI) was estimated at 2.0%, which is the national baseline, the CDC said. Louisiana and Puerto Rico, however, reported high ILI activity, while Texas and Alabama reported moderate activity. The proportion of deaths attributed to flu and pneumonia remained below the epidemic threshold.

The four flu-related pediatric deaths raised the season's total to five. Three deaths occurred during the week that ended Nov 15; two of these involved A/H3N2 viruses and one a type B virus. The other death occurred in late October and was linked to a virus that was not subtyped.

The CDC said 12.6% of tested respiratory specimens were positive for flu, and 91.4% of these were type A viruses. Of 354 type A viruses that were subtyped, all but 1 were H3 strains.

The agency analyzed 85 H3N2 isolates and determined that 41 (48%) were similar to the H3N2 component of this year's flu vaccine, while 44 (52%) showed reduced reactivity to the vaccine strain or belonged to a genetic group that typically shows reduced reactivity to that strain.
Dec 1 CDC flu update

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