H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Case-fatality rate, school closings, mutation, antiviral resistance, vaccine surplus, ethnic differences

Nov 30, 2009

CDC estimates case-fatality rate at .018%
The estimated case-fatality rate (CFR) for pandemic H1N1 flu so far is .018%—about 100-fold lower than the 2% CRF in the pandemic of 1918-19, Dr. Martin Cetron of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. Cetron, director of the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, gave the estimate in a webcast, presented by Public Health Reports, on lessons of the 1918 pandemic.

Flu closed 1,897 schools this fall
US schools that have closed at some point this fall because of the flu pandemic number 1,897, out of about 132,000 schools nationwide, Dr. Martin Cetron of the CDC reported during today's webcast on the lessons of the 1918 flu pandemic. About 616,000 students were affected, he said. Closures so far this fall peaked at about 500 schools, well below the peak of 980 schools in the spring wave of the pandemic. Student-days missed were roughly twice as high in the spring as in the fall.

WHO addresses mutation, antiviral resistance issues
The World Health Organization (WHO) is awaiting more details on clusters of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic H1N1 cases in the United States and Wales, but doesn't think they signal a major shift in the virus, Keiji Fukuda, MD, pandemic adviser to the director-general, said at a Nov 26 briefing. He pointed out that the clusters involved severely immunocompromised patients. He added that it's not clear if recently reported mutations are linked to more severe disease.
Nov 26 WHO media briefing transcript

Canada weighs vaccine surplus options
Canada may have as many as 30 million doses of pandemic vaccine left after meeting domestic demand, and officials are discussing what to do with the surplus, the Canadian Press reported. Canada ordered enough to immunize 75% of its population with two doses if needed, but studies showed that one dose was enough. Experts predicted Canada may retain some for its own needs and donate the rest to developing countries or return it to the manufacturer to help fill other orders sooner.

Alaska finds ethnic differences in patients
A review by state officials of people hospitalized with pandemic flu in Anchorage, Alaska, between Sep 1 and Oct 21 found that rates were highest in Alaska Natives and American Indians, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Most hospitalized patients had underlying conditions. The state epidemiologist said past studies have shown Alaska Natives have the highest rates of respiratory illnesses.
Nov 28 Anchorage Daily News story

Few flu deaths, illnesses reported during hajj
Five people died of H1N1 flu during the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and 68 others were sickened, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million who made the trip, the government of Saudi Arabia said yesterday. Experts are concerned that flu cases may develop among returning pilgrims, because only 10% of the visitors were vaccinated against H1N1.
Nov 29 Associated Press report

China, Indonesia record H1N1 in animals
Two samples taken from sick dogs have tested positive for H1N1 flu, China's Ministry of Agriculture reported Nov 28, based on test results from China Agricultural University. Simultaneously, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed that a pig herd discovered ill in August on Bulan Island, Indonesia, harbored H1N1, showing positive in 33 out of 180 samples.
Nov 28 Xinhua report

Our underwriters

This week's top reads