CDC urges providers to watch for variant flu infections
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday urged health providers to ask patients with suspected flu infections outside of the regular flu season to ask about any recent exposure to pigs.
So far, five variant cases have been reported over the summer from three states, all but one of which occurred in people who were exposed to pigs or attended an agricultural fair. Three West Virginia cases involved variant H3N2 (H3N2v), and single cases from Ohio and Oregon involved variant H1N2 (H1N2v). All patients recovered, and no human-to-human spread was detected.
The CDC said fair settings allow swine influenza viruses to spread among pigs and from pigs to people, and it said it expects more cases to be reported as the agricultural fair season continues.
It recommends that clinicians who suspect flu in people with recent swine exposure obtain a nasopharyngeal swab and request testing at a state public health lab. The CDC also recommended that people at high risk for flu complications avoid exposure to pigs and swine barns this year.
Aug 30 CDC Health Alert Network notice
H5N1 detected in Canadian bear, Swedish porpoise
Animal health officials in Canada and Sweden recently reported avian influenza in two more mammal species, including a bear in Canada that tested positive for H5N1 and a porpoise in Sweden that was positive for avian flu.
In Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) said that a black female bear was tested in June after visitors to a Quebec national park noticed unusual behavior, and the bear was later found sick and unresponsive. The bear was anesthetized, and brain tissue samples were positive for highly pathogenic H5N1.
The cooperative said while several other mammals have tested positive for H5N1, the case they described is the first known fatal case in a bear. It said the bear probably contracted the virus from eating the carcasses of dead seabirds at the park.
Meanwhile, Swedish officials reported avian flu in a porpoise found stranded on a beach in June, marking the first known detection in that species, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Over the past few months, the virus had been detected in seals, including some in Maine.
The young male porpoise was found stranded on a beach in western Sweden in late June. Despite efforts to return it to the water, it died. Testing revealed H5N1 in tissues from several of its organs.
Aug 30 CWHC blog post
Aug 31 AFP story
In other avian flu developments, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today reported three more outbreaks at commercial turkey farms in California. One occurred at a facility in Sacramento County that houses 97,000 birds, and two occurred in Tuolumne County, one of them on a farm that has 7,400 birds and another that has 91,000.
Since early February, the virus has led to the loss of 40.5 million birds across 39 states.
Also, APHIS reported 73 more H5N1 detections in wild birds, raising the total to 2,189. Most of the new detections occurred in waterfowl in western states, including Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, and Alaska. The virus has been found in wild birds in all but five states.
USDA APHIS poultry outbreak page
USDA APHIS wild bird avian flu page