FLU NEWS SCAN: WHO global update, pandemic-related sick leave

Aug 17, 2012

Flu activity declining in temperate Southern Hemisphere
Influenza activity is declining in most temperate countries of the Southern Hemisphere, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its biweekly flu update today. Australia, Chile, Paraguay, and South Africa have reported continuing drops in flu indicators, and Argentina has had very low numbers of detections throughout the season, the WHO said. The exception to the pattern is New Zealand, which continues to report increase in some flu barometers. H3N2 viruses have been the most common subtype in Chile, South Africa, and Australia, while 2009 H1N1 is the most common in Paraguay and neighboring areas of southern Brazil and Bolivia. Meanwhile, some tropical countries are reporting notable flu activity. Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama have 2009 H1N1 and influenza B cases, while Ghana and Madagascar are reporting H3N2 and type B. The latter two subtypes are circulating in Bangladesh, southern China, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam in Asia. Of flu virus isolates that were subtyped, 81.2% were type A and 18.8% were type B. Of the type A viruses, 91.5% were H3N2 and 8.5% were 2009 H1N1. The WHO also noted the cases of swine-origin variant H3N2 (H3N2v) in the United States.
Aug 17 WHO flu activity update
Aug 17 WHO flu virology report

Norwegian study shows flu-related sick leave jumped during pandemic
Norwegian researchers say data from a national sick-leave registry suggest that work absences due to influenza were about 50% higher during the pandemic season of 2009-10 than during the previous four flu seasons. In an analysis of data from Norway's national registry of general practitioner–certified sick leave, the authors estimated that an annual average of 2.87% of the working population obtained sick leave for flu during the five seasons from 2005-06 to 2009-10, according to their report in the Aug 16 Eurosurveillance. In 2009-10 the absence rate increased 50%, mainly because of a 73% increase in flu-related sick leave. The researchers also determined that among the 14,000 employees of the Norwegian postal service, medically certified sick leave was 30% higher during the pandemic season than the previous seasons. In addition, they found that postal-worker absences to care for sick children increased fourfold during the pandemic compared with the season before (from 0.012% to 0.048% of total person-days of work).
Aug 16 Eurosurveillance report

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