H1N2v flu infects 2 more people in Pennsylvania

News brief

The Pennsylvania Department of Health two more variant H1N2 (H1N2v) infections, both of them adults who had attended a livestock auction that had pigs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly influenza update.

livestock market pig
Jerry Keane/Flickr cc

The state reported a similar H1N2v case in March, so the two new cases lift the nation's total for the year to three.

The newly confirmed patients are close contacts who sought medical care the week ending June 22. One patient was hospitalized. No other illnesses were found among other contacts of the two people, and the investigation is still under way.

Seasonal flu markers remain low, with 3 more pediatric deaths

In other flu updates, the CDC said seasonal flu activity remains low nationally. Three more pediatric flu deaths were reported, which occurred in December, April, and May, raising the season's total to 181, approaching the 2022-23 total of 185.

The CDC has ramped up surveillance over the summer due to continuing H5N1 avian flu circulation in dairy herds, which was linked to three earlier human infections. 

CDC advisers make recommendations for COVID, flu, pneumococcal vaccines

News brief

In deliberations yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine advisory group recommended updated COVID-19 and flu vaccines for the upcoming respiratory virus season, with people ages 6 months and older advised to receive the vaccine in most circumstances.

doctor holding vaccines
Andrey Zhuralev / iStock

The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) made one tweak to the flu vaccine recommendation, which is that solid-organ transplant recipients who are ages 18 to 64 years old may receive an adjuvanted or high-dose flu vaccine as an off-label option.

In a CDC statement accepting the group's recommendation, CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, said the top recommendation for protecting people and their loved ones from respiratory illness is to get vaccinated. "Make a plan now for you and your family to get both updated flu and COVID vaccines this fall, ahead of the respiratory virus season."

21-strain pneumococcal vaccine recommended

ACIP also unanimously voted to recommend Merck's new 21-valent (21-strain) pneumococcal vaccine as an option for adults ages 65 and older who have not received one or whose vaccination status isn't known. The advisers also said the vaccine could be used in the age-group with shared clinical decision-making on a supplemental basis in those who have completed their vaccine series with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13 (PCV13, which includes 13 strains) or pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine 23 (PPSV23, the 23-strain version). 

Make a plan now for you and your family to get both updated flu and COVID vaccines this fall.

The group also recommended a single dose of the vaccine in patients ages 19 to 64 who have certain underlying health conditions, both those who haven't received a dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and those who started their series with PCV13 but have not received all recommended PPSV23 doses.

UK Shiga toxin-producing E coli outbreak rises to 275 cases

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The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said yesterday that an additional 19 people have been sickened in an outbreak of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) that began in May, bringing the total to 275 cases.

Of the confirmed STEC cases, 182 are in England, 58 in Scotland, 31 in Wales, and 4 in Northern Ireland. Information from 249 case-patients shows that 49% have been hospitalized, and 2 people with underlying medical conditions have died.

Lettuce likely culprit

The outbreak was first identified on May 22 through UKHSA's routine surveillance. UKHSA says investigators believe a type of lettuce in pre-packaged sandwiches containing is the likely source of the outbreak. 

"This remains a complex investigation and we continue to work with the relevant businesses and the local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers," Darren Whitby, Head of Incidents at the UK Food Standards Agency, said in a UKHSA press release. "Although we are confident in the likely source of the outbreak being linked to lettuce, work continues to confirm this and identify the root cause of the outbreak with the growers, suppliers and manufacturers so that actions can be taken to prevent a re-occurrence."

STEC can cause severe and sometimes bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever.

Childhood obesity tied to double the risk of dengue hospitalization

News brief
USDA, Peggy Greb / Flickr cc

Obesity in children is associated with double the risk of hospitalization for dengue virus infection, according to a study yesterday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 

The sero-surveillance study is based on a cohort of 4,782 school children from 10 to 18 years old in Sri Lanka from September 2022 to March 2023. Dengue is endemic in Sri Lanka. 

During the study period, 182 children (15.8%) were hospitalized for dengue. The authors found that, of the seropositive children with body mass indexes (BMIs) higher than the 97th percentile, 12 of 66 (18.2%) were hospitalized, compared to 103 of 1,086 children (9.5%) with a BMI in the 96th percentile or less. 

Girls also at higher risk

Children with the higher BMIs were twice as likely to be hospitalized for dengue than children with lower BMIs, with an odds ratio [OR] of 2.1 (95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 3.9). Girls were also at a greater risk of hospitalization than were boys. 

"Obesity is associated with an increase in risk of severe disease due to many other infections such as influenza and COVID-19," the authors wrote. "While public education programs have focused on the importance of reducing obesity to prevent occurrence of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, there has been limited focus on the impact of obesity on many infectious diseases."

There has been limited focus on the impact of obesity on many infectious diseases.

The authors said the findings confirm other studies on the links among obesity, diabetes, and severe dengue. As dengue cases rise across much of the globe and BMIs also increase, the authors said it would be crucial to further investigate the risk of hospitalization due to obesity.

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