News Scan for Mar 14, 2017

MERS hospital case
H5 avian flu outbreaks
Pandemic 2009 flu vaccine

Another MERS case related to hospital outbreak in Wadi Al-Dawasir

Yesterday Saudi Arabia announced one new MERS-CoV case in a healthcare worker from Wadi Al-Dawasir. This is the tenth case in what appears to be a hospital-based outbreak in that city.

The patient is a 36-year-old expatriate man who presented with no symptoms of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus). His infection is listed as secondary and acquired in a healthcare setting.

Late last week, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported six new cases of MERS in Wadi Al-Dawasir, including another healthcare worker who was asymptomatic. MERS-CoV is known to spread rapidly in healthcare settings, and was already implicated in a small outbreak in Buraydah earlier this year.

The MOH also reported the death of a previously listed patient, a 71-year-old man from Al Bahah. That case is not related to the current Wadi Al-Dawasir outbreak.

So far Saudi Arabia has reported 1,578 MERS-CoV cases, 654 of them fatal, since the virus was first detected in humans in 2012. Fifteen people are still being treated for their infections.
Mar 13 MOH report


Avian flu strains strike more birds in Egypt, Europe, Africa

Egypt and Sweden reported more highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu detections, and Nigeria reported more H5N1 outbreaks on poultry farms, according to the latest reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Egypt confirmed its first H5N8 outbreaks in late 2016 and continues to report sporadic events in poultry. The latest ones struck three backyard poultry holdings from Feb 2 to Feb 21, affecting three governorates: Suez and Damietta in the northeast and Minya in upper Egypt. The outbreaks led to the culling of 75 birds.

Sweden reported seven more H5N8 detections in seven species of wild birds found dead between Dec 1 and Feb 28 from Skane County in the far south and in Stockholm, the country's capital.

In sub-Saharan African developments, two countries reported more outbreaks involving different strains. Nigeria reported three more H5N1 outbreaks involving commercial layer farms in three central states, Plateau, Katsina, and Bauchi. The outbreaks began in early March, and among the three locations the virus killed 5,182 of 18,504 birds.

Meanwhile, South Africa reported two more low-pathogenic H5N2 outbreaks on commercial ostrich farms in Western Cape province. The virus sickened 79 of 906 susceptible birds.
Mar 14 OIE report on H5N8 in Egypt
Mar 13 OIE report on H5N8 in Sweden
Mar 13 OIE report on H5N1 in Nigeria
Mar 14 OIE report on H5N2 in South Africa


Meta-analysis: 2009 pandemic flu vaccine 73% effective

A meta-analysis published yesterday in Vaccine from the University of Nottingham said that the vaccine used during the 2009 swine flu pandemic was 73% effective in preventing illness. The finding confirms previous studies, and also shows that vaccine effectiveness depended on the recipient's age.

In early 2009, a novel H1N1 influenza swept the globe, and 6 months after it appeared, in September of 2009, an inactivated H1N1vaccine was made available. To determine how effective the vaccine was at preventing illness and H1N1-related hospitalizations, the research team conducted a meta-analysis of 23 studies on the vaccine published between 2011 and 2016.

Overall, the vaccine was 73% effective in preventing laboratory confirmed H1N1 and 61% effective in preventing hospitalization from the flu. But the vaccine was much more effective in younger people than those over the age of 50. The adjuvanted vaccine was 88% effective in children versus 40% in adults age 50 and older. Reduction in hospitalization rates followed a similar pattern (86% in children versus 48% in adults).

"We found that the vaccines produced against the swine flu pandemic in 2009 were very effective in both preventing influenza infection and reducing the chances of hospital admission due to flu. This is all very encouraging in case we encounter a future pandemic, perhaps one that is more severe," said Jonathan Van Tam, MD, PhD, the lead study author in a press release from the university.
Mar 13 Vaccine study
Mar 13 University of Nottingham press release

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