H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Global tally nears 40K, 7% prevalence in some US areas, South African case, no First Nations field clinic, Egyptian pig cull

Jun 18, 2009

Global novel flu tally closes in on 40,000
The world's number of novel H1N1 cases climbed to 39,620, including 167 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday. The total is a 3,692 increase from the number reported Jun 15. Yesterday's list includes the first cases reported by 12 jurisdictions, most of them European overseas territories in the Caribbean. Other areas reporting their first cases include UK crown dependencies Isle of Man and Jersey and the countries of Jordan, Qatar, Samoa, Sri Lanka, and Yemen.
[WHO update 50]

CDC says flu prevalence may have hit 7% in some areas
In some US areas hit hardest by the novel flu virus, up to 7% of the population may have been infected, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official said at a news briefing today. "In some areas where there's been a lot of transmission, such as New York City, they're finding that maybe around 7% of the community was infected or had influenza-like illness," said Dr. Daniel Jernigan of the CDC's flu division. But he said that percentage does not apply nationwide.
[Transcripts of CDC H1N1 briefings]

South Africa, Macau confirm first novel H1N1 cases
South Africa's health ministry confirmed in a statement today the nation's first novel flu case, a 12-year-old boy from the United States who arrived in South Africa on Jun 14 and had flu-like symptoms. The patient was isolated in a hospital the next day and discharged a few days later. Elsewhere, the Chinese administrative region Macau reported its first case, a man who had arrived from the Philippines with a fever, Agence France-Presse reported today.

EU researchers test novel flu transmission in pigs
Investigators from the European Union recently reported in the Jun 13 issue of Veterinary Record preliminary results of a study of novel H1N1 infection and spread in pigs. Lab testing confirmed that pigs are susceptible to the new virus and that sick ones can transmit the virus successively to uninfected animals. Disease severity varied, but none of the pigs died. Researchers said the virus can become established in pig populations, but illness patterns could vary in the field.
[Jun 13 Veterinary Record issue]

Japan to shutter special flu clinics
Japan's health ministry will close special clinics for people with influenza infections in an effort to prevent people from overwhelming them in the fall if a more severe wave of the novel H1N1 virus strikes, the Asahi Shimbun reported today. Officials fear overcrowded clinics could delay treatment for those with severe illnesses. Sick patients will be treated at any medical clinic. The ministry also said it would scale back quarantine measures at entry ports to prepandemic levels.

Canadian health minister nixes First Nations field hospital
Leaders from three of Manitoba's First Nations communities met with Canada's health minister yesterday and said their demand for a field hospital in the area was turned down, Canwest News reported today. They said federal officials say that a field hospital could slow novel flu outbreak response efforts. The chiefs said they raised concerns about the 20 hours it takes to transport severely ill patients to Winnipeg for treatment, but said they believe federal officials heard their issues.
[Jun 18 Canwest News Service story]

Egypt shifts rationale for pig cull
Egypt's pig cull was billed as a way to reduce novel H1N1 risks, but now officials have shifted their rationale to improving public health, according to Egypt Today magazine. Many of the country's large pig farms are in "garbage cities" that segregate recyclable materials from organic matter, 30% of which is fed to the pigs. In a ProMed post on the article, a moderator asked why officials have not used a more defensible rationale: preventing reassortment between H5N1 and novel H1N1 viruses.
[Jun 17 ProMed-mail post]

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