25 August, 2009

H1N1 (swine flu) weekly highlights: August 21-24, 2009

Schedule change! The weekly updates will now be posted on Wednesdays. This issue includes includes highlights since the previous post on August 21st.

  • Chilean authorities announced that they have detected the H1N1 flu virus in turkeys, marking the first time the virus has been found outside of humans and pigs.
  • In a new set of guidelines, the WHO stated otherwise healthy people infected with H1N1 do not need antivirals like Tamiflu. This decision should increase availability of the drugs to those who may need them most, as the Northern Hemisphere prepares for a second wave of H1N1 infections.
  • As SINOVAC Biotech Company reported a successful preliminary clinical trial for its A/H1N1 influenza vaccine, the WHO urged China to share its vaccine with needy countries.
  • While many countries hurried to make mass vaccination plans (particularly in the Northern Hemisphere), New Zealand has taken a "wait and see" approach.
  • In the US, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology urged the government to help drug companies expedite the supply of swine flu drugs and vaccines. They also warned that 30,00 to 90,000 Americans could die, almost 2 million be hospitalized, and 30% to 50% of the country could be infected.
  • French researchers reported that H1N1 was 100 times more likely to directly cause death than seasonal influenza in a study performed in Mauritius and New Caledonia.
  • In an effort to avoid a rapid increase in cases, the Sultanate of Oman is waiting until December to resume classes.
Image taken from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/22/AR2009082202337.html?hpid=topnews

20 August, 2009

H1N1 (swine flu) weekly highlights: August 14-20, 2009

  • This week, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 1799 people have died from H1N1 worldwide.
  • In the United States, federal officials urged businesses to prepare for a resurgence in swine flu. Recommendations included flexible sick leave, cross-training individuals with mission critical tasks, limiting face-to-face meetings and travel, and encouraging hand-washing.
  • The Health Protection Agency in the UK sent a letter to neurologists requesting they be alert for any increase in diagnoses of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). GBS, a sometimes fatal nerve disease, has been linked to the swine flu vaccine administed in the United States in 1976.
  • WHO reports that over 1 billion doses of vaccine have been ordered. As many companies report lower than expected yields, many countries, including the US, are warning their citizens of delays to planned vaccination timetables.
  • A second piggery in Australia has been quarantined due to swine flu.
Image taken from http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0820/swineflu.html

13 August, 2009

Novel Influenza A (H1N1) weekly highlights (7-13 August, 2009)

For the upcoming influenza season, we are introducing a weekly summary of Influenza A (H1N1), swine flu, news highlights. These will be posted on Fridays and will cover the preceding 7 days.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reported the global confirmed swine flu case count was rapidly approaching 200,000.
  • India reported its first H1N1 death late last week, but the number of deaths has rapidly increased to its current total of 21 (as of August 13, 2009). Pune, in the state of Maharashtra, has been the worst hit, recording the highest number (13) of H1N1 deaths in the country thus far. To control the spread of H1N1, starting on August 13, 2009, Mumbai, India's financial capital, will be shut down. All educational institutions and public places will be shut for one week, while malls, theatres and multiplexes will close for three days.
  • Seven members of the Matsigenka tribe who live along the Urubamba river in the Peruvian Amazon have tested positive for H1N1, raising fears that the deadly H1N1 influenza virus could have a devastating impact on remote indigenous tribes, who have limited immunity to infectious diseases that circulate in the outside world.
  • Swine flu was a hot topic at the North American summit attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
  • The US issued new guidelines for schools which urged them to stay open but separate sick and healthy students and staff. School boards across the country have begun preparations for the new academic year.