Flu Scan for Jun 20, 2014

Flu vaccine effectiveness
Ethics on preliminary research
H5N8 in South Korean poultry

European study finds 33% vaccine effectiveness against hospital flu

The flu vaccine in three European nations in 2012-13 provided 33% protection against hospitalization for influenza in adults, according to a study yesterday in PLoS One.

European investigators analyzed data collected from the Global Influenza Hospital Surveillance Network for 14 hospitals—5 in Spain, 5 in France, and 4 in Russia—during the 2012-13 influenza season. Influenza was confirmed by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.

They found vaccine effectiveness (VE) against hospitalization for lab-confirmed flu in adult patients targeted for vaccination to be 33% against all strains, with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 11% to 49%.

VE by strain was 23% (95% CI, −26% to 53%) against 2009 H1N1, 30% (95% CI, −37% to 64%) against H3N2, and 43% (95% CI, 17% to 60%) against the influenza B lineage (Yamagata) included in the vaccine, even though the Victoria B strain circulated more widely that year.
Jun 19 PLoS One study


Unexpected 2009 H1N1 findings raised thorny public health issues

Unexpected findings that first appeared in the media about a higher risk of 2009 H1N1 infections in people who had been vaccinated for seasonal flu complicated decision making for governments that were setting policies about the use of a 2009 H1N1 vaccine, according to Canadian experts in a perspective piece yesterday in Eurosurveillance.

The authors, from Public Health Toronto and the University of Toronto, said studies on the association between the seasonal flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 illnesses were reviewing the scientific evidence at the time, and the news accounts put the review outside of the traditional peer-review process. They said that complication raises compelling issue about how to handle new evidence that emerges in the middle of a public health emergency.

The experts noted that unexpected findings can be a rigorous test of a health system's capacity to evaluate scientific findings, handle uncertainty, and rapidly translate them into practical public health steps.

When the situation arose during the pandemic months, public health policymakers seemed to dismiss the unexpected findings, researchers were reluctant to release their findings, and almost all journals were reluctant to publish the findings, which the authors said resulted in a confusing media message.

The experts wrote that although similar issues haven't cropped up during the H7N9 or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks, a critical review needs to take place about public health officials and how the scientific community handles unexpected research findings during a public health event and how information can be communicated transparently to the public.
Jun 19 Eurosurveill perspective


H5N8 confirmed on South Korea farm

H5N8 avian flu—which led to millions of poultry being culled in the spring—has returned to South Korea, killing 100 chickens and 94 geese at a poultry farm near Daegu, a city in the southeastern part of the country, the Korea Times reported this week.

Officials from the Daegu Metropolitan Government confirmed the presence of the highly pathogenic strain in three of the dead chickens, the story said. The surviving 388 chickens and 13 geese were culled to prevent disease spread, and authorities are increasing efforts to contain the disease through checkpoints, disinfection, and other measures.

The city had not had an avian flu outbreak since 2008, according to the report.

The story also mentions two outbreaks in Hoengseong in Gangwon province and in Muan in South Jeolla province in the past week but did not provide details. The Daegu outreak farm had bought 107 goslings from a farm in Hoengseong on Jun 14, the article said.
Jun 18 Korea Times story

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