FLU NEWS SCAN: Global flu update, H5N1 outbreaks, 4-strain flu vaccine in kids

Sep 9, 2011

WHO: Flu activity rising in Cuba, Honduras, Cameroon
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that influenza activity is low in most parts of the world, except for a few countries that are seeing rising numbers of illnesses. Cuba and the Honduras are reporting a steady rise in infections over the past 4 weeks, mostly due to influenza A (H3N2). In Asia, flu transmission has been mostly low, except for countries in South Asia, such as India and Bangladesh, which are reporting moderate activity, mainly from H3N2, with smaller numbers of influenza B cases. The only African country reporting a rise in flu is Cameroon, where the 2009 H1N1 and influenza B viruses are co-circulating. In Australia, flu activity may have peaked, though some parts of the country are still reporting rising numbers of cases. The WHO made note of Australia's recent report of an oseltamivir-resistant cluster of 2009 H1N1 cases, which it says were identified over a 3-month period and appear to be contained to a specific region of New South Wales. It also highlighted recent reports from the United States of human cases of swine influenza H3N2 that contain a novel reassortment with the M gene of the 2009 H1N1 virus. The WHO added that the strain does not appear to have spread widely in humans, but investigations are ongoing.
Sep 9 WHO global flu update
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today that flu activity is still very low, with indicators well below seasonal baselines. It received a report of one pediatric death, which was linked to influenza B and pushed the seasonal total to 115.
Sep 9 CDC weekly flu update

H5N1 outbreaks hit birds in India, Bangladesh
India and Bangladesh yesterday reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu that killed more than a thousand birds in each country, according to reports filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). In India, the virus killed 1,436 backyard poultry in a village in Assam province. The report said that epidemiologic investigation and infection-control efforts—including culling of birds in a 3-kilometer radius—are under way.
Sep 8 India OIE report
Meanwhile, Bangladesh reported separate H5N1 outbreaks that left 2,026 poultry dead on four commercial farms. On the first farm, near Rajshahi, 500 birds died and 1,300 more were culled to prevent disease spread. In addition, two farms near Khulna had 20 and 1,500 birds die, respectively, and workers culled the remaining poultry on both farms, which totaled 455 birds on the smaller farm and 21,590 on the larger. On the fourth farm, housing 550 poultry near Dhaka, 6 birds succumbed to avian flu, and the remainder were destroyed to control infection.
Sep 8 Bangladesh OIE report

Study finds adjuvanted 4-strain flu vaccine safe, immunogenic in toddlers
A European clinical trial showed that an adjuvanted quadrivalent (four-strain) inactivated influenza vaccine (QIV)—with an added B strain—was immunogenic and safe in children 3 years old and younger. Researchers at clinics in Finland and Denmark randomized 410 children aged 6 to 36 months to one of 17 study groups that received the QID vaccine or trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV) at 7-microgram (mcg) or 15-mcg doses, as well as with 0%, 12.5%, 25%, 50%, or 100% of the MF59 adjuvant dose approved in Europe for elderly adults. They found that "A second influenza B strain combined with the traditional TIV vaccine is immunogenic and does not affect immunogenicity of the other three influenza strains." Also, they conclude that the unadjuvanted vaccines produced "suboptimal" immune response and write, "Addition of MF59 adjuvant increased antibody responses to levels associated with protection in adults to an extent not achieved by nonadjuvanted vaccines and with no impact on reactogenicity and safety in these young children."
Sep 8 Vaccine abstract

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