FLU NEWS SCAN: Dutch meeting on mutant H5N1, avian flu in Bangladesh, flu vaccine text messages

Apr 24, 2012

Dutch H5N1 meeting inconclusive, but Fouchier will seek permit to publish
A meeting yesterday of Dutch government officials adjourned without making any decisions on a study of mutated H5N1 flu viruses by Dutch researcher Ron Fouchier, PhD, but Fouchier said he will apply for an export permit to possibly open the door to publication of the study, Nature News reported today. Last week Fouchier told Nature News that his group would not seek an export permit, but in today's story he said, "We have decided to apply for an export permit, but will do so while disputing the obligation to comply with it." He added, however, "The government should not consider that this request for a permit sets a precedent for future manuscripts." Fouchier contends that his paper, which is expected to appear in Science, does not fall under the purview of Dutch export laws, but government officials disagree. The Dutch government may reach a decision soon on Fouchier's export license, ScienceInsider reported today. Some observers had hoped yesterday's meeting in The Hague would lead to lifting of export restrictions, according to Nature News. But the meeting was intended only to help "inform the Netherlands government position and policy stance" and not to reach any formal conclusions, a government spokesperson said. Publication of Fouchier's study and a similar one by University of Wisconsin scientists was originally stalled by a negative recommendation by a US biosecurity board, but that board reversed its recommendation on Mar 30.
Apr 24 Nature News story
Apr 24 ScienceInsider article

H5N1 outbreaks affect 25,000 poultry in Bangladesh
Nine Bangladeshi H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in March and early April affected more than 25,000 farm poultry, according to a report filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreaks, in Dhaka, Khulna, and Rajshahi divisions, killed from 37 to 3,350 chickens on each farm, for a total of 6,914. In addition, from 248 to 4,559 birds were culled to stop the outbreak on each farm, or 18,488 total, for a grand total of 25,402 poultry deaths. Dates of outbreak onset ranged from Mar 16 to Apr 4, and two thirds of the outbreaks were in Dhaka division. Officials have disinfected the affected properties and conducted other control measures.
Apr 22 OIE report

Study: Text messages may slightly boost flu vaccine uptake in minority kids
Educational text messages appeared to increase flu vaccination rates slightly in a hard-to-reach, mostly minority population of children and adolescents, a study today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found. Melissa S. Stockwell, MD, MPH, of Columbia University in New York and colleagues evaluated the effect of targeted text messages for low-income urban parents to promote flu vaccination in those under 18 for the 2010-11 season. The randomized, controlled trial included 7,574 children and teens at four US clinics who had not yet received the vaccine. Parents of children assigned to the intervention received up to five weekly educational text messages, and the control group did not. The population in the study was primarily minority, 88% were publicly insured, and 58% were from Spanish-speaking families. As of Mar 31, 2011, 43.6% in the intervention group and 39.9% in the control group had received the vaccine (P = .001). An accompanying editorial in the same issue said the finding "is a modest step forward in an important area of public health."
Apr 24 JAMA abstract
Apr 24 JAMA editorial

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