H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Vaccine order for CSL, global count tops 15,000, unknown exposure source, students quarantined in China, novel virus name

May 29, 2009

US orders novel H1N1 vaccine from CSL Biotherapies
CSL Biotherapies, part of Australia-based CSL Limited, said today it has signed a contract to sell at least $180 million worth of novel H1N1 influenza vaccine in bulk form to the US government. The company said it "anticipates initial delivery of the antigen by September, subject to regulatory approval." The firm has an option to finish processing the bulk vaccine at its plants in Illinois and Germany. The US also has ordered H1N1 vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline recently.
[CSL news release]

WHO tally of novel H1N1 cases reaches 15,510
Fifty-three countries have reported a total of 15,510 cases of novel H1N1 influenza with 99 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. Countries added to the list since the WHO's last update on May 27 are the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Uruguay. The United States, Mexico, and Canada continue to lead the list. Other countries with more than 100 cases are Japan (364), Britain (203), Chile (165), Australia (147), Spain (143), and Panama (107).
[WHO update 41]

US case count approaches 9,000
The US count for novel H1N1 flu rose to 8,975 cases in 48 states today, with 15 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. Alaska and West Virginia are the only states reporting no cases. Wisconsin led the list with 1,430 cases, followed by Texas with 1,403, Illinois, 1,002, and Washington, 575. New York has had 4 fatal cases, while Arizona and Texas have had 3 each, and Illinois 2. Single deaths have been reported in Missouri, Utah, and Washington.
[Current CDC numbers]

CDC: Exposure source unknown in 45% of US cases
The source of exposure is unknown in about 45% of US H1N1 flu cases so far, according to findings presented yesterday by Michael W. Shaw, PhD, of the CDC's Influenza Division. Speaking at a webinar sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), Shaw said that 25% of patients contracted the virus from a family member, 12% had traveled to Mexico, 12% had contact with a known or suspected case, and 5% were healthcare workers who were exposed on the job.
[NYAS H1N1 webinar information]

Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia report first novel flu cases
Venezuela, Paraguay, and Bolivia are the latest South American countries to report their first novel flu cases, according to media reports. The first case from Venezuela is in a man who had traveled to Panama, and five infected patients in Paraguay had contact with a traveler who had returned from New York, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. Bolivia's health ministry said today that its first two case-patients had traveled to New York before they got sick.
[May 29 AFP story]

USDA study suggests swine lack immunity to novel virus
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers have found that previous vaccination or infection with classical swine flu viruses does not appear to protect American swine from the novel H1N1 virus, according to a May 26 report from the USDA. In serologic studies the group found little cross-reactivity against the new virus. They said the next step is to challenge vaccinated pigs with the novel H1N1 virus to learn whether antibody titers in the pigs correlate with protection from the virus.
[May 26 USDA report]

US students quarantined in China
Chinese officials have kept 21 US high school students and their three teachers in quarantine at a hotel in Guizhou province since May 25, after a passenger on a flight they took got sick with a suspected novel H1N1 infection. Although the airline passenger has tested negative for the virus, officials said the US group would be kept until today, CNN reported yesterday. The students are scheduled to return to the US on May 31.
[May 28 CNN story]

Eurosurveillance says novel H1N1 virus needs better name
For manifold reasons, the novel H1N1 virus and its disease need a better name, says an editorial in Eurosurveillance. Calling the virus "swine flu" worries the pork industry, while "novel influenza A(H1N1)" is a term that can't last, and mere "influenza A(H1N1)" fails to distinguish the virus from seasonal H1N1. One option the authors like is "influenza A(H1N1)swl," with "swl" meaning "swine-like." As for the illness, "2009 pandemic influenza" won't do, because no pandemic has been declared.
[Eurosurveillance editorial]

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