Flu Scan for Feb 19, 2019

News brief

WHO: Brisk flu activity reported in several countries

Flu is rising in several parts of the world, with 2009 H1N1 dominant, but many locations experiencing H3N2 circulation, as well, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in a global flu update, covering activity through Feb 3.

In Europe, most countries have passed their epidemic thresholds, with high-intensity activity reported in the southwestern regions and hospitalization rates high in France and the United Kingdom. Levels of severe acute respiratory infections are on the rise in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Flu detections are rising in North Africa, and in the Mediterranean region, flu levels are increasing in Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. In East Asia, flu levels are still high in China and Hong Kong, but activity is declining in Japan and South Korea. In South Asia, flu activity remained elevated, with levels increasing in India, mainly from 2009 H1N1, and flu activity continues but is mixed in Southeast Asia, with virus levels on the rise in the Philippines.

Flu levels were low in most tropical Americas and African locations, as well as in most of the Southern Hemisphere, except for parts of Australia, where flu activity is above inter-seasonal levels.

At the global level, 98.2% of specimens positive for flu in the latter half of January and into the first few days of February were influenza A. Of subtyped influenza A strains, 72% were 2009 H1N1 and 28% were H3N2.
Feb 18 WHO global flu update


More high-path H5 avian flu outbreaks noted in India, Nigeria, South Africa

India has reported another highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu outbreak, and two African countries reported more H5N8 outbreaks, according to the latest notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In India, the outbreak involves backyard poultry in Jharkhand state in the far eastern part of the country. The outbreak began on Jan 25, killing 26 of 6,000 susceptible birds. Authorities culled 4,439 birds as part of response efforts.

India has recently reported a few other outbreaks in wild birds and poultry in Orissa and Bihar states in eastern India, as well as in peacocks at a zoo in Bihar.

Elsewhere, Nigeria's agriculture ministry reported two outbreaks involving highly pathogenic H5N8 on commercial poultry farms in Plateau state in the central part of the country. The outbreaks began on Feb 7 and Feb 11, and taken together, the virus killed 71 of 3,940 birds at the locations, one of which housed 52-week-old layers and the other having 10-week-old pullets and 6-week-old broilers.

The remaining birds were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus. Nigeria's last H5N8 outbreak occurred in early January on a poultry farm in Bauchi state.

In another H5N8 development, South Africa reported two more outbreaks at commercial ostrich farms, both in Western Cape province in the south of the country. The events began on Dec 7 and Jan 8, and between the pair of outbreaks, the virus killed 174 of 6,059 ostriches. Stamping out and destroying the animal products were to be applied as part of control measures. The latest detections are part of ongoing sporadic H5N8 activity at South African ostrich farms.
Feb 16 OIE report on H5N1 in India
Feb 15 OIE report on
H5N8 in Nigeria
Feb 18 OIE report on H5N8 in South Africa

News Scan for Feb 19, 2019

News brief

Four new MERS cases recorded in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) today recorded four more MERS-CoV cases for epidemiologic week 8, including three in Wadi ad-Dawasir.

The latest cases raise Saudi Arabia's MERS-CoV  (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) total since the first of the year to 69, with 44 of those cases recorded in Wadi ad-Dawasir.

The patients from Wadi ad-Dawasir include an 82-year-old woman and a 56-year-old man who are both hospitalized. The MOH said the cause of their infections is still under investigation, but neither reported recent camel contact, a known risk factor.

A 35-year-old woman from Wadi ad-Dawasir is also hospitalized. She contracted the virus in a healthcare setting.

Also recorded today is a case involving a 45-year-old man from Afif. His case is classified as primary, meaning it is unlikely he contracted the virus from another person, and he had contact with camels.
Feb 19 MOH report


Philippines bans Dengvaxia after Sanofi fails to meet directives

The Philippines has stopped all sales, distribution, and marketing of Sanofi Pasteur's Dengvaxia, a dengue vaccine that was widely used in the Philippines in 2016 and 2017, Reuters reported today.

Director General Nela Charade Puno, RPh, of the country's Food and Drug Administration, said Sanofi had failed to follow the agency's directives, and had not complied with post-marketing authorization requirements by December 2018.

The Philippines suspended the use of Dengvaxia in December 2017, after Sanofi said the vaccine could worsen dengue infections in some recipients, most notably dengue-naive children. At that time, the country had already vaccinated 800,000 schoolchildren in an effort to reduce the 200,000 dengue cases reported annually.

The Philippines spent $67 million on its Dengvaxia campaign, Reuters reported, and conducted two congressional inquiries and a criminal investigation into the vaccine.
Feb 19 Reuters story

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