H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Flu increasing in some areas, flu immunity, vaccine updates, outbreaks in China's army

Dec 4, 2009

WHO: Flu increasing in some regions
In its global pandemic update, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that flu activity has peaked in the United States, Canada, and some parts of Europe, but is increasing in central Europe, Russia, and some parts of western and central Asia. Respiratory illness activity is also intensifying in southern parts of China and Japan, as well as northwestern parts of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. In Africa the pandemic virus is cocirculating with the seasonal H3N2 strain.
Dec 4 WHO pandemic update

Official says many Californians now immune
California's state epidemiologist has estimated that 11 million people, or close to 30% of the state's population, have acquired immunity to the H1N1 virus through infection or vaccination, according to a report by the Riverside (Calif.) <i>Press Enterprise</i>. Dr. Gil Chavez estimated that about 3 million Californians have had the flu already. The story said close to 800 people in California were hospitalized because of H1N1 in the past week, and 12 died.
Dec 3 <i>Press Enterprise</i> story

Education secretary urges college students to get vaccinated
In recent comments to college journalists, Arne Duncan, US Department of Education secretary, urged students to get their pandemic H1N1 vaccine before going home for or during Christmas break, CNN reported today. He also urged college instructors to be flexible with students who are out sick with the flu. Yesterday the American College Health Association said preholiday vaccination could help prevent flu spread and protect students in the event of a third wave.
Dec 4 CNN story

Study finds low reproductive number for H1N1
Using lab-confirmed cases in the first 2 months of the H1N1 pandemic in Ontario, researchers estimated the basic reproductive number for the illness at a relatively low 1.31, according to the <i>Canadian Medical Association Journal</i>. The authors say public concern about the pandemic may have changed public behavior and medical practices, thereby lowering the observed number. The risk of hospital admission was estimated at 4.5% and the case-fatality rate at 0.3%.
<i>CMAJ</i> article

Report explores early pneumonia cluster in Mexico
A review of severe pneumonia cases in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, a high-profile locale early in the pandemic H1N1 outbreak, reveals many cases occurred in young adults, particularly those who were obese. The findings, published in <i>Emerging Infectious Diseases</i>, also reveal that bacterial coinfections played a minor role in the 50 hospitalized pneumonia cases in April and May. Flu was confirmed in 15 patients, novel H1N1 in 10.
Dec 4 <i>Emerg Infect Dis</i> report

Kenya, Togo to get Africa's first stockpile vaccine
A WHO official said Kenya and Togo will be the first African countries to receive donations of pandemic H1N1 vaccine, Capital News, based in Nairobi, reported today. He said the first shipments, expected in January, will target high-risk groups such as healthcare workers. The countries will receive enough to vaccinate about 10% of their populations by March.
Dec 4 Capital News story

Flu outbreaks hit China's army
China's defense ministry said it has totaled 51 large pandemic H1N1 outbreaks among army soldiers, <i>China Daily</i> reported today. The report didn't list the number of cases. A health official with the Chinese Army said outbreaks involving hundreds of soldiers are difficult to manage. On Dec 2 the Army held a flu drill in Beijing.
Dec 4 <i>China Daily</i> story

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