NEWS SCAN: Swine-origin H3N2 transmission; H5N1 cases in Indonesia, Egypt; avian flu in Vietnam; India H5N1 analysis; Indiana measles

Feb 21, 2012

Study: Swine-origin H3N2 viruses transmit well in ferrets
Swine-origin H3N2 variant viruses (H3N2v) that caused several human cases in the United States late last year spread readily in ferrets and may have pandemic potential, according to a study today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Harvard studied four H3N2v viruses from 2009, 2010, and 2011 and found that all caused disease that spread via respiratory droplets to other ferrets but was not lethal. (Unlike in two recent controversial unpublished H5N1 studies in ferrets, the scientists did not induce mutations in the H3N2v viruses first.) "Overall, for the more recent ones, the 2010 and 2011 viruses, we are seeing very efficient transmission events, similar to what we see with seasonal H3N2 viruses," senior author Terrence Tumpey told the Canadian Press (CP) yesterday. The researchers also found that the viruses attached to receptor sites like those preferred by human influenza A viruses and that they replicated well in human bronchial cells. "These viruses have the pandemic potential, but we also need more data to really understand the cross-reactive immunity in the general population to the H3N2 [variant] viruses," Tumpey told the CP.
Feb 21 Proc Natl Acad Sci study
Human H5N1 cases reported in Indonesia and Egypt
A 19-year-old Indonesian woman died of H5N1 avian influenza last week, marking the country's third fatal case this year, while another new human H5N1 case surfaced in Egypt, according to separate reports. The Indonesian woman from Banten province, first had symptoms Feb 8, was hospitalized Feb 12, and died Feb 13, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) today. She was hospitalized in Tangerang district on the outskirts of Jakarta, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report. Postmortem tests on the woman showed she was infected with H5N1, but a health ministry team that checked her house and neighborhood was unable to identify the source of the virus, the story said. The WHO has confirmed one other Indonesian H5N1 case this year, also fatal. The WHO's current overall human H5N1 count for Indonesia is 184 cases with 152 deaths. Meanwhile, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) says that Egypt reported a new human H5N1 case in Menoufia governorate on Feb 19. But the FAO listing gave no further details on the case. The report came from EMPRES, the FAO's Global Animal Disease Information System.
Feb 21 WHO report
Feb 18 FAO notice on Egyptian case

Vietnam reports two new H5N1 poultry outbreaks
Vietnam has confirmed two additional outbreaks of H5N1 avian flu in village flocks in Bac Ninh province that killed 150 poultry and led to the culling of 342 more to prevent disease spread, according to a report today to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The first outbreak, in Yen Phong district, killed 100 birds beginning on Feb 12, with 200 additional birds culled. The second outbreak began Feb 17 and led to 50 bird deaths, with 142 culled. The country has reported numerous H5N1 outbreaks this year.
Feb 21 OIE report

Researchers identify new H5N1 subclade in India
A genetic analysis of H5N1 avian influenza isolates from February 2011 poultry outbreaks in India's Tripura state shows the introduction of a new clade to the area, researchers reported in Public Library of Science (PLoS) One. Until 2009, outbreaks in India and Pakistan were linked to 2.2 clade viruses. The first clade virus was detected in South Asia in 2010 in Nepal; however, investigators found that clade viruses responsible for the Tripura outbreaks are distinct from the ones found earlier in Nepal. When they compared their findings with phylogenetic data from the WHO, they concluded that the new clade circulated in Myanmar, then spread to Bangladesh and India through land-based poultry or migratory birds. The group said it's important to monitor whether the new clade is replacing the previous 2.2 clade in South Asia or is cocirculating with it. They warned that cocirculation of H5N1 subclades in a highly populated area such as South Asia increases the risk of evolving H5N1 strains.
Feb 20 PLoS One abstract

Indiana measles outbreak grows to 14
Indiana health officials confirmed one more measles case, pushing the number of patients sickened in a recent outbreak to 14. On Feb 3, two of the patients had attended activities at the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis, and since then authorities have issued a host of exposure warnings. The outbreak also triggered actions at two schools to prevent the spread of the disease. In a press release yesterday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) said the latest case-patient lives and works in Noblesville. It listed three more sites of possible exposure, including two stores and a city office. The ISDH also said it learned that one of the earlier confirmed cases had visited a Home School Basketball League tournament on Jan 6 in Whitestown. People exposed at that event would be expected to show symptoms by Jan 27 if they were infected, the department said.
Feb 20 ISDH press release

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