Category Archives: Influenza

Pandemic influenza | Avian flu | bird flu | Spanish flu | SARS
Include any kind of influenza where there may be a possibility of transmission to humans.

South Australians urged to get vaccinated after surge in flu cases reported

ABC News 21 April 2014

South Australia has reported a spike in influenza cases, prompting Health Minister Jack Snelling to urge people to get vaccinated.

The State Government says reported cases of the flu have jumped by more than 40 per cent from the same time last year, with 511 cases reported since January.

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Researchers find that influenza has an Achilles’ heel

(Cell Press 10 April 2014) Flu epidemics cause up to half a million deaths worldwide each year, and emerging strains continually threaten to spread to humans and cause even deadlier pandemics. A new study reveals that a drug that inhibits the molecule PGE2 increases survival rates in mice infected with a lethal dose of the H1N1 flu virus. The findings pave the way for a needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.

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Insights into how a bird flu virus spreads could prevent pandemics

(Cell Press 10 April 2014) The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed hundreds of people, despite the fact that the virus can’t spread easily between people. The death toll could become much worse if the virus became airborne. A study reveals a minimal set of mutations allowing H5N1 to be transmitted through the air from one ferret to another. The findings will be invaluable for future surveillance programs and may provide warning signals of the emergence of potential pandemic strains.

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‘Millions wasted’ on flu drug

BBC News James Gallagher 10 April 2014

Hundreds of millions of pounds have been wasted on Tamiflu, a drug for flu that may work no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis says.

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View Cochrane Library report

Japan orders chicken cull after bird flu outbreak in south

ABC News 13 April 2014

Japan has ordered the slaughter of some 112,000 chickens after officials confirmed bird flu infections at a poultry farm in the south.

DNA tests confirmed the H5 strain of the virus at a farm in Kumamoto prefecture that kept 56,000 birds, after its owner reported the sudden deaths of many poultry on Saturday, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

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Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report

BBC News 

Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.
The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics.
The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

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Cochrane Collaboration News release

The Guardian article

Tamiflu-resistant influenza: Parsing the genome for the culprits

(Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne 31 March 2014) It doesn’t take long for the flu virus to outsmart Tamiflu. EPFL scientists have developed a tool that reveals the mutations that make the virus resistant, and they have identified new mutations that may render ineffective one of the few treatments currently available on the market. Their research is published in PLOS Genetics.

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Mutations Explain Poor Showing of 2012 Flu Vaccine

Scientific American Declan Butler 29 March 2014

Vaccine effectiveness against H3N2, the main flu strain circulating that season, proved to be only 46% in adults aged 18–49, 50% in those aged 50–64, and a dismal 9% in people aged over 65, a vulnerable group. Flu hospitalizations and deaths were the highest in almost a decade. What went wrong?

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Click here to view full-text PLOS One article

Study fingers chickens, quail, in spread of H7N9 influenza virus

(American Society for Microbiology 18 March 2014) Among the copious species of poultry in China, quail and chickens are the likely sources of infection of H7N9 influenza virus to humans, according to a paper published ahead of print in the Journal of Virology.

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Google Flu Trends gets it wrong three years running

New Scientist No 2961, 13 March 2014

A study of Google’s much-hyped flu tracker has consistently overestimated flu cases in the US for years. It’s a failure that highlights the danger of relying on big data technologies.

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