News from the flu front, December 29



Researchers find human protein that prevents H1N1 influenza infection
A light at the end of the flu tunnel? Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute may just have found a way to prevent H1N1 flu infection. They identified a naturally occurring human protein that blocks the replication of the H1N1 flu virus. But it doesn’t even stop there. The same protein also blocks other disease-causing viruses, including the deadly West Nile virus and the dengue fever virus. The protein is a member of the Inducible Transmembrane (IFITM) protein family.

The unexpected discovery could lead to the development of more effective antiviral drugs, including prophylactic drugs that could be used to slow influenza transmission.

1 dose of H1N1 vaccine may provide sufficient protection for infants and children
Here’s another piece of good news. One dose of the vaccine may actually be enough for protecting infants and very young children from the H1N1 flu, according to a recent study by Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne. The current guidelines of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices require two doses of the vaccine for children under 9 years old.

The authors state:

“Our findings suggest that a single dose 15-microgram dose vaccine regimen may be effective and well tolerated in children, and may have positive implications for disease protection and reduced transmission of pandemic H1N1 in the wider population.”

2/3 of Australians unlikely to get vaccinated against swine flu
However, it’s not all good news from down under. Skepticism about the H1N1 flu vaccine has spread to the southern hemisphere. According to Research Australia, a survey revealed that about 65% of the population are unlikely to get vaccinated against the swine flu in the coming year. This unwillingness to get vaccinated among Australians is causing concerns among health officials who are bracing for a major outbreak in the coming winter months. Even among people with high risk profile, the rate of vaccination is rather low.

The poll found that, in terms of people at higher risk, only 33 per cent with asthma or lung disease, 45 per cent with diabetes, 28 per cent with reduced immunity, and 40 per cent with heart disease had been vaccinated.

FDA Approves High Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for People Ages 65 and Older
It’s not only the H1N1 flu that’s causing frenzy in the pharma industry. The US FDA approved last week the high dose seasonal flu vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose. The shot is an inactivated influenza virus vaccine indicated for people ages 65 years and older to prevent disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and B.

It’s been a while since I brought you some news updates from the flu front. Here’s one just before the end of the year.

Voluntary Non-Safety-Related Recall of Specific Lots of Nasal Spray Vaccine for 2009 H1N1 Influenza
There has been a voluntary recall of specific lots of the nasal spray vaccine for H1N1. However, the CDC emphasizes that teh recall has nothing to do with unwanted side effect but is part of a routine quality assurance checks, especially for stability and shelf-life.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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