tagged w/ influenza
Immunologists expressed concern Friday about the “dangerous” work of scientists in China who created a hybrid bird flu virus that can spread in the air between guinea pigs, and now lives in a lab freezer.Immunologists expressed concern Friday about the “dangerous” work of... more
CHINESE officials have revealed they are struggling to source the cause of the deadly H7N9 virus, as two more people have died from the new strain of avian influenza – bringing the total number of deaths to 16.
The latest victims were from the commercial capital of Shanghai, where the majority of the 77 cases have been found, according to local reports.
Because the source of the infection has not been effectively controlled, it is possible that the number of cases of infections could continue to rise, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission warned.
Zeng Guang, the chief scientist in charge of epidemiology at the China Disease Prevention and Control Centre (CDPCC), has said about 40 percent of the victims have no clear history of poultry exposure.
"How did these people get infected? It's a mystery," Zeng said.
Human-to-human spread of the virus has not been confirmed, but samples have tested positive in some birds in poultry markets that remain the focus of investigations by China and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The exact source of infection remains unknown
How did these people get infected? It's a mystery
Zeng Guang, chief scientist
The panic over bird flu has caused many Chinese to shun eating chicken for fear of catching the virus.
China's poultry sector has recorded losses of more than 10 billion yuan (£1.0bn) since reports emerged of the new strain two weeks ago, an official at the country's National Poultry Industry Association said.
Authorities have slaughtered thousands of birds and closed live poultry markets in Shanghai and Beijing in an attempt to reduce the rate of human infection.
As fears have heightened over the possibility of a pandemic, an international team of flu experts will go to China this week to help with investigations into the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed.
China said on Sunday the virus had spread outside the Yangtze River delta region in eastern China, with cases reported in the capital Beijing and the central province of Henan.
Experts have said the deadly strain is still evolving, making it hard for scientists to predict how dangerous it might become.
Influenza experts say the H7N9 strain is probably still swapping genes with other strains, seeking to select ones that might make it fitter.
If it succeeds, the world could be facing the threat of a deadly flu pandemic, scientists fear.
Genetic analyses has also shown the virus – which before March had never been seen in humans – has already acquired some mutations that make it more likely be able to spread between mammals, and more able to spark a human pandemic, scientists revealed.
A study in the online journal Eurosurveillance by leading flu experts Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and Masato Tashiro at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, said the H7N9 sequences "possess several characteristic features of mammalian influenza viruses, which are likely to contribute to their ability to infect humans".
These features, the scientists wrote, "raise concerns regarding their pandemic potential".
The virus had previously only been found in people direcly exposed to poultry
Elsewhere, bird flu has been discovered at a poultry farm in Suffolk, according to environment agency Defra.
The outbreak was confirmed at the Bernard Matthews farm but Defra said initial tests were negative for the H5 and H7 strains which are potentially lethal for humans.
However, movement restrictions are in place at the farm and further tests are due to be carried out.
A company spokesman said: "Bernard Matthews can confirm that Defra have undertaken tests for avian influenza on one of its farms following notification by the company after some birds showed signs of ill health over the weekend."
A Defra spokesman said: "We are awaiting further laboratory test results from an on-going investigation into suspect avian disease at a premises in the South East.
"The premises remains under restriction pending further results.
"Public Health England are aware and are ready to take the necessary action pending further test results."CHINESE officials have revealed they are struggling to source the cause of the deadly... more
With the flu season ramping up, many are looking to vaccination as a "preventive" approach. Those who abstain are often accused of being uneducated, or worse, socially irresponsible. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As it presently stands, it is not sound medical science, but primarily economic and political motivation which generates the immense pressure behind mass participation in the annual ritual of flu vaccination.With the flu season ramping up, many are looking to vaccination as a... more
Getting a flu shot each year is the best way to protect you from the flu. The American Pharmacists Association wants you know that getting a vaccine is as easy as visiting your local pharmacist. Stop in or log on to Pharmacist.com/FluShot for information.Getting a flu shot each year is the best way to protect you from the flu. The American... more
Chickens genetically modified to prevent them spreading bird flu have been produced by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh.
link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110113141601.htmChickens genetically modified to prevent them spreading bird flu have been produced by... more
MicrobeWorld Video presents episode 33 of This Week in Virology. Hosts Vincent Racaniello, Alan Dove, Dick Despommier and guest Raul Andino recorded TWiV live at the ASM General Meeting in Philadelphia, where they discussed increased arterial blood pressure caused by cytomegalovirus infection, restriction of influenza replication at low temperature by the avian viral glycoproteins, first isolation of West Nile virus in Pennsylvania, and current status of influenza.
Stories in this episode:
Cytomegalovirus infection causes an increase of arterial blood pressure
Avian influenza virus glycoproteins restrict virus replication at low temperature
First West Nile virus isolation of the year in PA
CDC press release of 18 May 2009
Glaxo’s influenza vaccine with adjuvant
NY Times article on Guillain-Barré and a more scientific view
Weekly Science Picks
Dick - National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine, Leiden
Alan - Beginning Mac OS X Programming
Vincent - Vaccinated by Paul Offit
Raul - HubbleSiteMicrobeWorld Video presents episode 33 of This Week in Virology. Hosts Vincent... more
You're sneezing. You're sniffling. You're miserable with the cold that won't go away. Here is our selection of home natural remedies that will effectively help you fight common cold.
http://www.4us2be.com/health-fitness/natural-common-cold-remedies/You're sneezing. You're sniffling. You're miserable with the cold that... more
Pandemic H1N1 virus may be or may soon become endemic in large modern swine confinement facilities. Despite this, there is a paucity of influenza surveillance that is currently being conducted among swine populations.
Watch Dr. Jeff Fox, Features Editor for Microbe Magazine interview Dr. Gregory Gray, University of Florida, Gainesville, about the importance of conducting influenza surveillance among pigs and workers in these facilities in hopes that we might quickly detect the emergence of novel influenza viruses.
This video was recorded live on May 25, 2010, at the American Society for Microbiology's 110th General Meeting in San Diego, Ca.Pandemic H1N1 virus may be or may soon become endemic in large modern swine... more
GPs have been told not to use a particular flu jab on 110,000 children under five after it was linked with a tenfold increase in fits, it can be revealed.
Children under five are only routinely vaccinated against seasonal flu if they are in designated 'risk groups' because they have chronic asthma Photo: ALAMY
Doctors should stock alternative vaccines for under fives who are due to have the seasonal flu vaccine this winter, a letter from the head of immunisation at the Department of Health has said.
The action is being taken as rate of convulsions caused by high fever among children in Australia given the jab was ten times higher than normal.
p to one in 100 children given the jab, made in Australia by CSL and marketed in the UK by Pfizer, suffered febrile convulsions in the following hours and days.
It is not known what is causing the problem and no other flu vaccines have been linked to an increased risk of fits. Adults given the vaccine do not appear to have been affected.
Children under five are only routinely vaccinated against seasonal flu if they are in designated 'risk groups' because they have chronic asthma, have been admitted to hospital with a respiratory infection previously or have other long-term conditions which means they would be particularly badly affected if they caught flu.
Seasonal flu vaccines contain three strains which have been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most common in circulation that year. This year the vaccines contain the pandemic strain H1N1.
The letter to all GPs from Prof David Salisbury, said: "Epidemiological information from Australia indicates that there has been a higher than expected increase in febrile convulsions in children related to the use of Fluvax (manufactured by CSL).
"This is the same product that will be marketed in the UK by Pfizer as Enzira and generic influenza vaccine for the 2010/11 influenza vaccination season.
"Evidence from Australia suggests a rate of febrile convulsions of about one per 100 for children who were vaccinated with Fluvax. This increased risk appears to be a product specific reaction and evidence from Australia of vaccination with other products has so far not indicated a similar level of risk.
"It is important that children over six months of age who are in clinical risk groups receive influenza vaccination. Given the availability of other influenza vaccine products, you should avoid offering Enzira or CSL Biotherapies generic influenza vaccine marketed by Pfizer to children aged under five years."
He added that the medicines regulator will be monitoring the situation.
Febrile convulsions affect around one in 20 children and are normally caused by an infection. The body reacts to the high fever with the child losing consciousness and their legs and arms jerk. They may go pale or turn blue briefly and after a few minutes the shaking normally stops.
The attacks can be very frightening for parents and children are usually admitted to hospital after the first convulsion to establish the cause. Some children are particularly prone to them but they are not normally dangerous.
In Australia, which is in its winter, stopped vaccinating all children under five when the increased rate of convulsions was found. It has since restarted vaccinating with other products.
A spokesman for Pfizer said: "The cause of the unexpected increased frequency of febrile convulsions remains unknown and investigations continue. Pfizer and CSL are working closely with regulatory authorities, health agencies and distribution partners to determine the most appropriate way to provide influenza vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere 2010/2011 influenza season.
"While, Pfizer supports the current precautionary approach to the use of our influenza vaccine in children under five years of age, it should be noted that the vast majority of patients in the UK receiving the influenza vaccine are adults, and febrile convulsions are not seen in the adult population.
"In addition, there is no evidence that the vaccine poses any increased risks to other groups, including pregnant women and those aged over 65.
"Pfizer and CSL are committed to ensuring the quality and safety our products. Pfizer is in ongoing dialogue with the Department of Health to help ensure the successful implementation of the 2010/11 Flu immunisation programme."
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "As part of the Australian flu vaccination programme, a number of children were given a brand of flu vaccine known as Enzira (Fluvax in Australia). A small proportion of these children, aged under 5, had fits after they had this vaccine.
"The vaccine is also marketed in the UK as CSL Biotherapies generic influenza vaccine. It contains three strains of the flu virus that experts predict are most likely to be around this winter including swine flu (H1N1).
"We are asking GPs in the UK to avoid offering this vaccine to the under 5s in the coming flu season, there are several other vaccines available that are suitable for this age group. There is currently no indication that the vaccine poses any increased risks to other groups.
"Having the flu jab remains the best protection against flu and we recommend that people get vaccinated when they’re offered it in the autumn."GPs have been told not to use a particular flu jab on 110,000 children under five... more
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic was officially over. The declaration came only about six months after virtually everybody else in the Western world realized that nothing like a pandemic, as we normally understand the term, had ever really begun.
Thirteen months ago, the WHO raised the swine flu threat to a Level 6 pandemic alert, the highest possible. “It is all of humanity that is under threat,” warned Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general. The organization projected millions of souls might be struck down by the virus; the WHO’s assistant director-general drew comparisons to the Spanish Flu, which had wiped out upwards of 20 million people by 1919.
It quickly became apparent that H1N1 would be nothing like that. And never will be. The WHO says this is now just another “seasonal influenza.” As those bugs go, it appears a milder strain. More common varieties kill 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide every year. The total confirmed death toll of the Great Swine Flu Pandemic: 18,000.
The world’s most authoritative body suddenly seems far less authoritative, particularly as it resists acknowledging unnecessarily triggering worldwide fear. “We have never had a moment’s doubt of whether this is a pandemic or not,” insisted one official recently.
But then, the agency looks at these things very differently than most people — many of whom surely have grave doubts about how the so-called Swine Flu pandemic was handled from the start.
The WHO, after all, considers all pandemics potential threats to humanity. Its scientists also have a distinct way of establishing a pandemic. Any virus that jumps from animals to human-to-human transmission “leading to community wide outbreaks” in two countries triggers warnings. In recent years, the organization stopped requiring “several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness”; now pandemics “can be either mild or severe.” To qualify, a virus, until 2008, needed to “shift,” and spawn subtypes. This criteria, too, was removed.
“Although this change seems subtle, it is a significant change, and is a potential problem with the new WHO pandemic definition,” cautioned an editorial in the British Medical Journal’s Clinical Evidence last year.
But the UN-run health body has hardly exercised caution in communicating such semantic technicalities. Instead, it has sounded the pandemic alarm loudly and dramatically. Dr. Chan says it was “pure good luck” H1N1 didn’t confound our vaccines and antiviral drugs and deliver widespread death. If that’s luck, then humanity is on some streak: in 2005, the WHO predicted 150 million dead from the H5N1 Avian Flu, though the confirmed toll never reached even 100; the Global Health Council anticipated the 2003 SARS outbreak wiping out 60 million lives, but the final tally ended up below 800.
In every case, people and economies have been more afflicted by contagious panic — closed borders, travel bans, shuttered schools and businesses, edgy consumers, mass livestock culls, and billions spent by taxpayers on protection programs — than by contagious disease.
This is not the concern of Dr. Chan, who has argued, anyway, that believing modern, liberalized trade improves living conditions and health worldwide is mistaken. Such systems “favour those who are already well off,” she told the Regional Committee for Europe, last September. Progress comes, rather, from redistribution: “Gaps in Health outcomes will be reduced, and health systems will strive for fairness only when equity is an explicit policy objective, also in sectors well beyond health,” she said. We need “changes in the functioning of the global economy.”
With that philosophy, it makes sense that Dr. Chan might mistake for “pure luck” what is more likely the fruit of progress, driven largely by liberalized commerce. WHO officials suggest devastating pandemics are inevitably cyclical: After the millions of deaths caused by the Spanish Flu, the Asian Flu (1957) and the Hong Kong Flu (1968), the next is due “any time now” they’ve promised. But in each subsequent pandemic, the world was a richer, better-fed, generally healthier place — and each time, mortality rates grew smaller.
Epidemiologists know influenza viruses prove deadliest in victims weakened by pre-existing complications. Since the Spanish Flu, public health is incalculably better: we’ve developed and commercialized sulfa drugs and penicillin; we’ve improved vaccines; malnutrition levels in the developing world are half what they were 40 years ago. The fact that H1N1 did not outfox human vaccines and anti-virals might seem lucky to those lacking faith that human enterprise and innovation can also prove ingeniously adaptable and potent.
It may be there will never be another decimating flu plague on the scale of past ones again.
Predictably, though, the WHO has only taken its massive Swine Flu misjudgment to warn against growing “complacent,” as another threat could one day come. But the false alarms have only bred doubt about the WHO’s own trustworthiness, popularizing theories that the agency colludes with Big Pharma while nourishing skeptics who convince the gullible that vaccinations are a dangerous scam. Even the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called this a “faked pandemic.”
If we do ever become complacent about genuine viral pandemic threats, it may be the unfortunate result of the World Health Organization’s emerging pattern of needless panics.
Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/08/11/kevin-libin-who-cancels-its-false-alarm/#ixzz0wIs2aVZRThe World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that the H1N1 “swine... more
Public health disasters were as numerous during the twentieth century as they were before French chemist Louis Pasteur discovered that bacteria caused illnesses in 1860. Here's a list of the top 10.
link :http://masterofpublichealth.org/2010/top-10-public-health-disasters-of-the-20th-century/Public health disasters were as numerous during the twentieth century as they were... more
Seth Berkley explains how smart advances in vaccine design, production and distribution are bringing us closer than ever to eliminating a host of global threats -- from AIDS to malaria to flu pandemics. Includes a very nicely done video that shows how viruses replicate.Seth Berkley explains how smart advances in vaccine design, production and... more
The following 50 authoritative public health experts tweet the news as fast as they receive it, often beating mainstream media to the punch.
Link: http://mphdegree.org/2010/50-authoritative-public-health-experts-worth-following-on-twitter/The following 50 authoritative public health experts tweet the news as fast as they... more
Yesterday morning, outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, I stood in a long line for two hours with thousands of other people. We were all braving a pretty cold morning for Southern California, but we weren’t lined up for tickets. The line was over half a mile long, and ended in a big circus-style tent. Inside, amidst many helium filled balloons, 50 nurses were dispensing H1N1 vaccines. Lots of little kids were crying. “It’s just like the county fair,” I observed to my son, “except with shots.”
We were all there because swine flu vaccine is scarce, and the Pasadena Health Department was making it available to people who are under 24, over 65, pregnant, or facing chronic health issues. Most of the people standing in the line were not eligible to get the shots themselves, they were parents. There were a lot of strollers. Other people brought little chairs for their toddlers, which they kept moving as the line moved, ala Woody Allen playing the cello in the marching band in “Take the Money and Run.” Kids left the line to play nearby when they couldn’t bear it any longer. My son got a bit restive also, but since he’s in high school, and has a driver’s license, I gave him the keys to my car and 20 bucks, and he left for an hour to get breakfast.
All in all, we were an orderly bunch, and everything went smoothly. And that’s what struck me. Among the many different subjects I’ve covered over the years are disease outbreaks. In April of 2003, I covered the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and China. And in November of 2005, Laura Ling and I covered Avian Flu in Vietnam—a flu that unlike H1N1, swine flu, never produced a serious outbreak in people.
Battle Against Bird Flu (Video)
But what struck me yesterday in Pasadena, and struck me on those previous stories, is that there are some situations which don’t seem like they’ll get better unless government is efficient, and everyone is willing to cooperate in an orderly fashion toward a common goal.
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An epidemic is in full swing in the Ukraine. Swine flu is a part of it - but so far only account for somewhere around 70 reported cases. Otherwise over a million people have been stricken with flu or respiratory symptoms. The death toll is 174 and at nearly 53,000 Ukrainians have been hospitalized.
Schools and universities closed, whole regions are quarantined and masks and medication are sold out in most cities and towns. Ukraine is also in the midst of a Presidential election which has politicized the outbreak.
Current user AlexBush clipped this video from Russia Today.
(Frankly - I'm just as confused about what's actually happening after watching that video.)
If you're in Ukraine - let us know. Are people panicking?
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