H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Global tally tops 50K, novel H1N1 preponderance, quarantine risk in China, young as vaccine priority, grant to develop flu drug

Jun 22, 2009

Global tally of novel H1N1 cases exceeds 50,000
The World Health Organization's (WHO's) count of novel H1N1 influenza cases today reached 52,160, nearly 8,000 more than the last count on Jun 19. The WHO listed the death toll as 231, up from 180 as of 3 days ago. Five countries are new to the list today: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, and Slovenia. Media reports said that Ethiopia and Iran also have reported their first cases, all in people who were recently in the United States.
[WHO update 52]

Nearly all influenza A viruses in US are novel H1N1
The novel H1N1 influenza virus accounted for 98% of all influenza A viruses that were subtyped in the United States in the week of Jun 6-13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Jun 19. Only 0.2% of isolates were influenza B. The CDC said overall flu activity declined but remained above normal for this time of year, with 11 states reporting widespread activity. The death of one child was linked to the novel virus.
[CDC flu surveillance report]

US warns travelers of risk of quarantine in China
The US State Department warned on Jun 19 that travelers to China may be quarantined for 7 days if they arrive with a fever or flu-like symptoms. Chinese authorities target travelers with even slightly elevated temperatures if they come from areas with novel H1N1 cases, plus people sitting near them, the statement said. It also said the US has received reports of children being separated from parents and travelers being held in unsuitable quarantine conditions with poor drinking water and food.

Flu cases shutter muscular dystrophy group's summer camps
The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has canceled its remaining summer camps after 11 children at camps in two states got sick with novel H1N1 infections, the group said in a Jun 19 statement. The MDA said children who attend the camps have weakened respiratory muscles, which puts them in a high-risk flu group. The CDC consulted on and agreed with the cancellation of the MDA's remaining 47 camps, which were set to host 2,500 children.
[Jun 19 MDA press release]

Canada sets vaccine priority sights on younger people
As the Public Health Agency of Canada works on its priority list for the novel H1N1 vaccine, people aged 5 to 40 and those living in aboriginal communities may be at the top of the list, Canwest News Service (CNS) reported today. Officials said the pandemic strain, unlike seasonal flu, is striking mainly children and young adults. Though older people appear to have some immunity to the virus, immunizing their grandchildren may provide an extra measure of protection, an expert said.
[Jun 22 CNS story]

Company wins grant to develop RNA-based novel flu treatment
AVI Biopharma, based in Portland, Ore., announced yesterday that it has received a contract of up to $5.1 million from the US Department of Defense to develop one or more RNA-based drugs to treat novel H1N1 flu. In addition to identifying potential drug targets and lead and backup drug candidates, the contract supports the production of testing material for animal studies. The company said its RNA-based drugs use proprietary technology that targets messenger and premessenger RNA.

This week's top reads