News Scan for Nov 18, 2013

Indonesian H5N1 death
Mild flu season in New Zealand
Princeton meningitis response

Indonesian woman dies of H5N1 avian flu

A 31-year-old Indonesian woman from near Jakarta has died of H5N1 avian flu, the country's health ministry said today, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Her case is Indonesia's third this year, all fatal.

The woman, from Bekasi in West Java province, developed a fever last week but died before health workers could get her to a hospital for specialized treatment, the story said. The health ministry suspects the woman contracted H5N1 from either a pet bird in her house or neighborhood poultry.

If confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the case would bring Indonesia's total since 2005 to 195 H5N1 cases, including 163 fatalities. Last year the archipelago nation confirmed nine cases, all fatal.
Oct 8 WHO H5N1 global case count (most recent available)


New Zealand's flu season was among mildest in 20 years

New Zealand's 2013 influenza season was one of the mildest in 20 years, with hospitalization rates well below last year's, the New Zealand government's Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd. (ESR) reported today.

ESR said the flu hospitalization rate for Apr 29 to Sep 29 this year was 22.6 per 100,000 people, compared with 34.4 per 100,000 last year, as determined by the Southern Hemisphere Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness and Surveillance (SHIVERS) Project.

Project researchers also found that the proportion of all hospital deaths caused by severe acute respiratory infections fell from 27.3 per 1,000 last year to 13 per 1,000 this year, ESR said.

Despite the mild season, SHIVERS Principal Investigator Sue Huang, PhD, of ESR said the flu still poses a real health risk, especially to those from Pacific and low-socioeconomic groups and those under 4 or over 65 years old.
Nov 18 ESR press release


Feds to import meningococcal vaccine after Princeton outbreak

Federal officials will make a meningococcal vaccine approved in Europe and Australia but not the United States available to Princeton University after an outbreak there of meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis type B, a strain not covered in the US-approved meningococcal vaccine, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The US Food and Drug Administration last week approved importing Bexsero for possible use on Princeton's campus in Princeton, N.J., after campus officials confirmed the university's seventh meningitis case, the story said.

Receiving the vaccine would be optional if authorities from Princeton and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decide to offer it, according to CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds, PhD.

The two FDA-approved meningococcal vaccines cover the A, C, Y, and W-135 types of N meningitidis. Meningitis can readily spread in crowded conditions such as dorm rooms.
Nov 16 AP article

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