Quick takes: Avian flu in Argentina sea lions, H5N1 in Russian poultry, H1N2v flu case in Michigan

News brief
  • Sea lion on rocks
    Cristian Viarisio / Flickr cc
    Argentina's National Food Safety and Quality Service (Senasa) recently reported the country's first H5 avian flu detections in mammals, which involves sea lions found dead in Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago on the southern tip of South America, according to a government statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog. Chile, Argentina's western neighbor, has reported more than 16,000 sea lion deaths. Peru has also reported the virus in sea lions. Argentina is the sixth country in the Americas to report avian flu in mammals, according to a recent update from the Pan American Health Organization. Besides Chile and Peru, the others are the United States, Canada, and Uruguay.
  • Russia has reported an H5N1 avian flu outbreak at a poultry farm housing more than 3 million birds, World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) said in a notification today. The farm is located in Bashkirskaya, a rural village in Bashkortostan in southwestern Russia, about 860 miles east of Moscow. The outbreak began on August 9, killing 15 of 3,193,373 birds.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recently fleshed out more details about a recent variant H1N2 (H1N2v) flu case in Michigan, one of two recent variant flu cases in people exposed to pigs at agricultural fairs. The patient is younger than 18 years, with respiratory symptoms that began on July 29. The child was evaluated the following day at an emergency department, and a respiratory-tract specimen was collected. After influenza A was detected, the patient was treated with oseltamivir. State health officials found that the sample didn't react to tests for the 2009 H1N1 or H3N2 strain. Tests at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed H1N2v, and further sequencing us under way.  The patient wasn't hospitalized and is recovering. No other cases were reported in the child's contacts or in people with links to the fair.

GAO: Telework yielded pandemic economic boost, but future impact unclear

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Hands at laptop
Virginia Dept of Transportation, Tom Saunders / Flickr cc

Teleworking during COVID-19 generally had a positive impact on worker productivity and corporate bottom lines in some sectors, but challenges with analyzing data make it hard to gauge long-term effects, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a recent report. The GAO, in the first part of an investigation into telework issues, published its findings in response to a request from members of the US House of Representatives.

Based on government data sources, investigators estimated that the percentage of people who primarily telework rose sharply, from 5.7% in 2019 to 17.9% in 2021. People in information services, finance, insurance, real estate, and rental and leasing were more likely to telework during the pandemic, as were those who were in the higher-income and -education groups.

The authors also found gaps in telework that weren't there before the pandemic, with a greater percentage of women and people of certain ethnic groups teleworking.

The group also looked at 44 studies that examined telework, productivity, and company performance. Some studies found increases in productivity, including at a Chinese call center and computer engineers at a travel agency. Also, a study involving a large US government agency found that workers reported higher levels of job performance on their telework days. Also, some studies suggested that companies with a greater capacity to offer telework were more resilient during the pandemic.

However, the authors found that methodologic challenges make it hard to assess long-term impacts of telework. For example, it's difficult to measure outputs from different types of jobs and to tease out the impact of telework from other key factors, such as the economic recession. Other confounding issues were childcare, mental health, and work equipment. Future reports will explore public policies affecting telework and how the practice has affected various economic sectors.

Case report details 'blue legs' in long-COVID patient

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Acrocyanosis, venous pooling of blood in the legs that causes them to turn blue, may be yet another symptom of long COVID, according to a case report published in The Lancet.

The case report features a 33-year-old man who for 6 months experienced blue legs after 10 minutes of standing, accompanied by a heavy, itching sensation. The legs returned to a normal color after 2 minutes of lying down.

The man had never experienced blue legs until his long-COVID diagnosis and subsequent diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition that causes an abnormal increase in heart rate on standing. When lying down, the man's pulse was 68 beats per minute, but upon standing for 8 minutes, his pulse increased to a maximum of 127 beats per minute.

The authors of the report said there have been documented cases of acrocyanosis among children experiencing post-viral illness, but few cases have yet to be connected to long COVID.

"Patients experiencing this may not be aware that it can be a symptom of Long Covid and dysautonomia and may feel concerned about what they are seeing. Similarly, clinicians may not be aware of the link between acrocyanosis and Long Covid," senior author Manoj Sivan, MD, said in a University of Leeds press release.

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