H1N1 BREAKING NEWS: Pregnant women, parents polled, Chinese officials discuss quarantine, WHO to probe antiviral use

Pregnant women bear disproportionate share of flu deaths
About 6% of pandemic H1N1 deaths in the United States have occurred in pregnant women, though they make up just 1% of the population, the Associated Press reported today. The numbers are based on 266 detailed death reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received. Fifteen deaths occurred in pregnant women. The CDC's vaccine advisory committee meets tomorrow and is expected to list pregnant women among the high-priority groups to receive the pandemic H1N1 vaccine.

Poll shows parents likely to seek H1N1 flu shots for kids
An Associated Press/GfK Roper poll suggests that about 63% of American parents are likely to allow their children to receive the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, but only 51% of adults would probably receive the immunization themselves. Only 43% said they were concerned that they or a family member might contract the new flu virus. The telephone poll, conducted in mid July and released yesterday, included 1,006 adults, of whom 296 were parents.

[AP-GfK flu poll report]

Chinese officials say their policy of quarantining foreigners is working
Chinese authorities assert that their aggressive quarantine policy to prevent foreign visitors from spreading H1N1 flu has worked well, according to a <i>New York Times</i> report. Officials say China has had few cases and proudly note that no deaths have been reported. But the newspaper tells the story of an American woman who said her surgery for appendicitis was delayed because of the quarantine policy. More than 1,800 Americans have been quarantined in China since the start of the pandemic.

[Jul 28 New York Times story]

El Salvador extends school vacation to battle pandemic
El Salvador announced it will extend a scheduled school vacation to 2 weeks to fight the spread of the H1N1 flu, the Associated Press reported yesterday. School vacations that began yesterday and last from 2 days to a week, depending on the region, will be extended until Aug 10. The action will affect nearly 2 million students. The country has had 545 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu, including seven fatal ones, the story said.

Canadian cities group says national pandemic plan is lacking
The head of the Federation of Canadian Cities has charged that Canada has no national plan for protecting critical frontline workers such as police, firefighters, and transit workers, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported. In an open letter sent yesterday to federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Basil Stewart said Canada's pandemic plan does not say who will have priority access to vaccines and antivirals. A spokesman for Aglukkaq said ongoing epidemiologic studies will guide vaccine allocation.

WHO to probe antiviral use patterns
A World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman said today that the agency will host a technical teleconference soon to discuss antiviral use during the H1N1 pandemic and the risks of antiviral resistance, Agence France-Presse reported. Countries vary in their use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Some use it widely for prevention and treatment of mild cases, while others are reserving it for infections in high-risk groups and for severe cases. So far, five antiviral-resistant cases have been identified.

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