NEWS SCAN: Flu up Down Under, Tamiflu-resistant H1N1, H5N1 death in Egypt, recalled CSL H1N1 vaccine

Aug 26, 2010

New Zealand logs more H1N1 deaths as infections rise in Australia
In the past 3 days New Zealand has seen 5 new deaths, 82 hospitalizations, and 14 admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) linked to 2009 pandemic H1N1 flu, according to the country's Ministry of Health (MOH). This brings the 2010 totals to 583 hospitalizations, 91 ICU admissions, and 15 deaths, the MOH said, as it continues to urge vaccination. Meanwhile, neighboring Australia is reporting an increase in novel H1N1 cases, according to the country's Influenza Specialists Group (ISG). ISG Chairman Dr. Alan Hampson said that the increased cases plus New Zealand's flu experience "means that outbreaks are imminent," according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP). Hampson said Australia's flu season typically lags a bit behind New Zealand's. Lab-confirmed influenza cases have jumped in Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland.
Aug 26 New Zealand MOH news release
Aug 26 AAP story

Tamiflu-resistant pandemic H1N1 virus might not lose potency
Researchers studying the effect of oseltamivir (Tamiflu)–resistant 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses in guinea pigs and ferrets found the resistant strain did not lose its ability to replicate itself and transmit to other hosts. Using a novel H1N1 strain with mutation at position 275 (H275Y), which confers resistance to oseltamivir, the scientists found that in both animals the mutated virus transmitted just as well as the nonresistant strain without losing fitness (ie, ability to replicate). The authors conclude, "Our data suggest that the currently circulating pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus has a high potential to acquire drug-resistance without losing fitness."
Aug 25 J Virol abstract

Latest H5N1 patient in Egypt dies
The Egyptian woman confirmed by the country's health ministry as contracting H5N1 avian flu has died, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, an independent Egyptian news organization. The woman, from Qalyubiya governorate, was hospitalized in Cairo yesterday. Officials suspect she had contact with infected poultry. If her case is confirmed by the World Health Organization, she will be listed as Egypt's 112th case and 36th death. The country has the world's third highest number of confirmed H5N1 cases and deaths.

CSL recalls pediatric pandemic H1N1 vaccine
Australia-based CSL is recalling its Panvax Junior pediatric 2009 pandemic H1N1 vaccine because of declining potency as it has reached its 12-month shelf life, the company said yesterday. The company emphasized that the recall does not affect the company's trivalent influenza vaccine, which contains the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain. Other companies recalled their monovalent H1N1 vaccines late last year and earlier this year because of a similar loss in potency.
Aug 25 CSL press release


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