NEWS SCAN: Pertussis in California, H1N1 vaccine uptake, workplace flu prevention, H1N1 in cats, antiviral debut

Oct 20, 2010

California reports 10th infant pertussis death
Another California child has died from a pertussis infection, raising the death toll in the state's outbreak to 10, the Los Angeles Times reported today. San Diego County health officials said the child was a 6-week-old baby who was born prematurely and died last week. According to California's pertussis update yesterday, 9 of the 10 deaths were in Hispanic infants, and 9 were younger than 2 months and had not yet received a dose of pertussis vaccine. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said that since Jan 1 it has received reports of 5,978 confirmed (67%), probable (16%), or suspected (17%) pertussis cases. Over the past week the CDPH received 320 new pertussis case reports, the highest level seen since 1950. State officials have said inadequate vaccine coverage has contributed to the surge in cases and recommend that anyone over age 7 who is not fully immunized receive an adolescent-adult tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster.
Oct 20 Los Angeles Times story
Oct 19 CDPH pertussis update

Distrust of pandemic flu vaccine led to low uptake in France
A telephone survey during the peak of pandemic flu activity in France last year found that only 27.4% had received or intended to receive the H1N1 vaccine, with distrust of the vaccine the most common reason for declining to be immunized. Of the 1,003 people interviewed last December, only 275 expressed acceptance of the vaccine, with rates significantly higher among men (33.4%), more educated respondents (31.0%), wealthier people (33.2%), and those who had received previous flu vaccination (41.7%). Among those working in health or child care, the rate was only 30.8%, and among those with risk factors for flu complications, it was only 36.8%. Even in the subgroup with the highest vaccine acceptance—those 65 and older—acceptance reached only 44.2%. Among those accepting the vaccine, the top reasons for doing so were self-protection (45.8%), protection of family and friends (28.0%), and protection of patients and colleagues. Top reasons for rejecting the vaccine were a belief the vaccine was dangerous or produced too many side effects (35.2%), that the pandemic was not a significant danger (27.9%), and that the vaccine was ineffective (11.8%).

Health group launches flu resource for businesses
A nonprofit health group, Community Health Charities of America, launched a video podcast today on seasonal flu guidance for employers and workers. As part of the "Health Matters at Work" series, participants in the podcast include Dr Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the US Department of Health and Human Services; Steven Miranda, chief human resources officer at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); Dr Jonathan McCullers, an infectious disease specialist at St Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Dr Christopher Collins, a rheumatologist at Washington Hospital Center and an advisor to the Lupus Foundation. Though the episode was taped last fall during a surge in 2009 H1N1 infections, it focuses specifically on preventing seasonal flu in the workplace, with an emphasis on vaccination. Miranda said encouraging employees to stay home when they have flu symptoms is one of the top workplace flu-prevention tactics. "This is not a time for the employee to play the part of a martyr," he said. "They might get the project done on time, but they could send 10 workers home with the flu." He suggested that employers explore whether flextime policies allow employees to leave work to receive a flu shot and to make sure health benefits packages cover flu immunization. "In the long run, this simple preventive measure up front can save tens or hundreds of thousands dollars in saved productivity," Miranda added. The experts noted that flu-prevention resources for employers are available online from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and SHRM.
Community Health Charities workplace flu prevention podcast
CDC seasonal flu information for businesses and employers

Unlike seasonal flu, pandemic H1N1 causes lung damage in cats
Cats experimentally infected with the pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus developed mild-to-moderate clinical signs and viral replication throughout the respiratory tract, in contrast to seasonal flu, which does not cause disease in cats. Clinical signs of novel H1N1 infection included diffuse alveolar damage, and the disease spread to uninfected cats as well. Researchers introduced the virus intratracheally to two sets of four cats, and three H1N1-free cats were introduced to their living quarters 2 days later. The researchers found that the pathogenesis of the disease in cats similar to that in humans, macaques, and ferrets. The histopathologic and immunohistochemical findings in the infected cats' lungs was similar to the pathogenetic process of highly pathogenic H5N1 (avian) flu in cats, but the pandemic H1N1 virus did not cause the extrapulmonary lesions found in H5N1-infected cats.
Oct 20 Emerg Infect Dis study

New flu drug goes on sale in Japan
The Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo launched its newly licensed, long-acting influenza drug, laninamivir (Inavir), in Japan yesterday, according to a Japan Today report. The company plans to produce enough of the drug to treat about 4 million people, the story said. The launch raises the number of flu drugs available in Japan to four, with the total supply expected to be enough for 23 million people. Japanese authorities approved laninamivir, a neuraminidase inhibitor, in September. Studies have indicated that one inhaled dose of the drug is about as effective as 5 days of treatment with oseltamivir, the most widely used flu drug, according to previous reports. Japan approved another new neuraminidase inhibitor, peramivir, which is given intravenously, in January. Peramivir is currently in phase 3 clinical trials in the United States and was used on an emergency basis during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
Sep 10 CIDRAP News story on approval of laninamivir

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