Flu Scan for Jun 07, 2017

Avian flu in Russia, Taiwan
Flu vaccine and obesity

Russia, Taiwan report more highly pathogenic H5 outbreaks

Two countries reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks: H5N8 in Russia and H5N2 in South Korea, according to notifications today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Russia's outbreak began on May 4 in backyard birds in the Republic of Tatarstan in the west. The virus killed 13 of 51 birds, and authorities culled the remaining ones as part of the response measures.

In Taiwan, officials reported three more outbreaks, all on commercial farms housing native chickens in Yunlin County. The outbreaks began from May 20 to May 25, killing 5,885 of 28,392 susceptible birds in all. Authorities destroyed the surviving birds and placed a 3-kilometer surveillance zone around the infected farms.
Jun 7 OIE report on H5N8 in Russia
Jun 7 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan


Study finds flu vaccine protection gap in obese people

People who are obese and are vaccinated against flu are almost twice as likely as their healthy-weight vaccinated peers to get sick with influenza-like illness (ILI), researchers based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported yesterday in the International Journal of Obesity.

The team evaluated 1,022 adults in North Carolina, including those who were normal weight, overweight, and obese. All had received the seasonal trivalent inactivated flu vaccine during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 flu seasons.

Lab tests and symptom scores were used to confirm flu or ILI and to gauge the level of flu antibodies after vaccination. Though a small percentage of the study participants got sick, 9.8% of the people who were obese had confirmed flu or ILI, compared with 5.1% of the healthy-weight group.

Melinda Beck, PhD, study coauthor professor in UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a press release from the journal's publisher that a possible reason for the protection gap might be that obese people have impaired T-cell responses. However, standard blood tests used to assess protection against influenza didn't find any antibody count differences between healthy and sick participants or between obese and healthy-weight participants.

The researchers said the test wasn't able to reliably predict if a vaccinated obese person would have adequate protection against flu, and may provide misleading information about that group. They added that the effectiveness of flu vaccines and other high-dose vaccines should be reassessed for use in obese adults to ensure that accurate measurements are used.

Scott Neidich, PhD, first author of the study who is with the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University, said  in the press release, "Impaired cell functioning, despite the robust production of antibodies, may make vaccinated obese adults more susceptible to influenza infection." He added that new approaches might be needed to protect obese adults from seasonal and pandemic flu.
Jun 6 Int J Obes abstract
Jun 6 Springer press release

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