News Scan for Sep 03, 2013

News brief

Saudi Arabia reports recovery of four MERS patients

In a pair of puzzling statements, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sep 1 reported the recovery of four patients from Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections, though two of them had previously been described as asymptomatic.

One statement announced the recovery of a 7-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy in Hafr Al-Batin. They apparently are the two patients whose asymptomatic cases were announced by the MOH on Aug 29; they are family members of a 38-year-old man who died of MERS on Aug 17.

Without giving any other details, the MOH said the two children "left the hospital fully cured."

The other two patients who recovered are a 26-year-old from Hafr Al-Batin and a 19-year-old from Riyadh, according to the other MOH statement. It gave no details on their illnesses. No recent reports from Saudi Arabia have mentioned MERS patients of those ages.

The MOH's posted MERS-CoV count has remained at 84 cases and 42 deaths since Aug 28.
Sep 1 MOH statement about 7-year-old and 16-year-old
Sep 1 MOH statement on 19-year-old and 26-year-old


Italian man contracts H7N7 avian flu

A poultry worker in the northern Emilia Romagna region of Italy, which has seen several recent H7N7 avian flu outbreaks in poultry, has contracted the disease, according to media sources.

The man, who was exposed to sick poultry during his work in contaminated areas, has contracted conjunctivitis due to his infection, Reuters reported yesterday. The country's National Institute of Health confirmed that it was H7N7, according to a post yesterday on ProMED, the reporting service of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

H7N7 typically results in mild cases, the agency said in a post in Italian on its Web site, according to ProMED. Another case is suspected in the region, the ProMED posting said.

Outbreaks of H7N7 in poultry have been confirmed at four locations, Reuters reported, including two egg-producing farms, and have affected about 700,000 laying hens.
Sep 2 Reuters story
Sep 2 ProMED post


AAP cites no preference for 4-strain vs 3-strain flu vaccines

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its annual recommendations for influenza vaccine for children yesterday, indicating no preference for newly approved quadrivalent (four-strain) vaccines over trivalent (three-strain) formulations. The four-strain vaccines target two influenza B strains as well as A/H1N1 and A/H3N2.

The dosing algorithm for children 6 months to 8 years of age is unchanged from last year, when the AAP advised that kids in that age-group who receive flu vaccine for the first time should receive a second dose 4 weeks after the first dose.

The AAP statement was published in the journal Pediatrics.

"As always," the statement said, "pediatricians, nurses, and all health care personnel should promote influenza vaccine use and infection control measures. In addition, pediatricians should promptly identify influenza infections to enable rapid antiviral treatment, when indicated, to reduce morbidity and mortality."

The AAP continues to recommend prescribing the antiviral drugs oseltamivir or zanamivir for children hospitalized for flu or with severe flu symptoms, as well as for kids with influenza who have underlying chronic conditions, the academy said in a press release.
Sep 2 Pediatrics abstract
Sep 2 AAP news release


Flu activity up slightly Down Under, WHO says

Influenza activity in most parts of the world is at low levels but is picking up in Australia and New Zealand, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update late last week.

Flu activity remains at inter-seasonal levels in temperate Northern Hemisphere regions and has declined in temperate South American and in South Africa, as well as in tropical Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean, the agency reported on Aug 30.

Peru saw a "significant" increase in 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) in mid July, the WHO added. In Australia and New Zealand, the number of flu viruses detected was lower than in recent years but showed an increasing trend. H3N2 and type B were much more common than pH1N1 in those two countries, the WHO reported.
Aug 30 WHO update

This week's top reads