Weekly Flu Update

20 09 2012

In case you couldn’t make the call, here are some notes from the 20 September National Influenza Vaccine Summit call, hosted by Litjen Tan of the AMA:

Scott Epperson from CDC offered this influenza surveillance update

It’s been pretty quiet for seasonal flu, so not much to report. The vaccines we have in the Northern Hemisphere will cover most strains that are circulating, including 2009 H1N1, H3N2, and influenza B.

As for the H3N2v, there have been 305 reported cases so far. The numbers of new cases have dropped dramatically, probably due to the fairs wrapping up around the country, although the strain is still out there, so stay away from the pigs!

New numbers of H3N2v cases are on the CDC website every Friday.

General information on H3N2v can also be found on the CDC website

The Southern Hemisphere is experiencing a more severe flu season than it’s had in several years. The question is, will that hold true for us in the Northern Hemisphere? It’s difficult to say, as H3N2 is circulating more in the South, and they did not have the particular strain in their vaccine this year, although the Northern Hemisphere does have the strain in its current vaccine.

Douglas Shenson reported on his program: Vote & Vax

It’s a fun and impactful program that was initially supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is growing each year. It’s easiest to go to the website to get educated about this effort and to find out how you can set up a flu vaccination clinic at or near a polling place.

NFID News Conference

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is sponsoring a news conference on 27 September at 10am eastern that will serve as the kickoff for the autumn immunization season. The news conference will be live from the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and Dr. Len Novick is the event coordinator.

Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, will announce new data of vaccine coverage from the 2011/2012 season.

Manufacturers’ projections for the coming season and the strains for next season will also be discussed.

Dr. Bill Schaffner, immediate past president of NFID, will moderate the conference, and on the panel will be several physicians representing various professional healthcare associations. Anyone may join the conference on the live feed, although pre-registration is a must. The teleconference number is T: 800-755-1805

Remember to visit the Summit website for the latest on influenza immunization resources! You can find it at: www.preventinfluenza.org.





H3N2v – Another Swine Flu

9 08 2012

Last summer, there were a dozen reported cases of an influenza A variant virus called H3N2v. This strain comes from pigs. As of today, the official CDC count is 145 cases reported, with a big surge seen in July 2012.

The CDC will report the number of confirmed cases every Friday and that number of 145 is expected to increase tomorrow, 10 August, as the CDC gets more reports from the states.

Because the states are now able to confirm cases without waiting for CDC’s confirmation, the states will always have the most current numbers.

This surge is thought primarily to be connected to agricultural fairs being held around the country.

Before 2007, there were one or two cases reported each year. After that time, and until 2010, there were maybe half a dozen cases reported each year due to improved diagnostics provided to the states.

CDC’s Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Influenza Division says that most of those infected have had direct or indirect exposure to infected pigs, although there have been limited numbers of human-to-human transmission.

Over 90 percent of the infected have been children. Children tend to be the ones that care for the pigs at the fairs, and it may be that while adults have had exposure to H3 viruses and that has given them some antibody protection, the children have no such antibodies.

The symptoms are typical of seasonal influenza and the cases so far have been mild, with a total of five individuals hospitalized since July 2011.

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone has a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

There have been no deaths, and those hospitalized have been released and are well. More hospitalizations are expected for those with high risk conditions.

There is no evidence that there is sustained efficient human-to-human transmission, and it’s not a pandemic situation, but the CDC is monitoring the situation.

Large numbers of agricultural fairs are ongoing in the US, and pigs are the primary source of infection, so it’s recommend that those attending such fairs:

  • Wash hand frequently before and after exposure to animals
  • Don’t eat or drink around animals
  • Keep away from sick pigs
  • If one is at high risk of seasonal flu, avoid exposure to swine completely when going to fairs

If you have flu symptoms following direct exposure to swine, tell your doctor about that exposure so that antivirals may be considered.

The H3N2v strain is not in the seasonal flu vaccine, but get vaccinated to protect yourself against the other strains of influenza.

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of The Portland Press Herald