Flu updates: pork, vaccination, and ethnic susceptibility

January 22, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

What’s new in the flu front? Here’s the latest updates.

USDA Confirms Pork From Pigs Exposed to H1N1 Virus is Safe to Eat
Are pigs exposed to teh H1N1 flu virus safe for human consumption? The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the results of a study in December that showed that meat coming from pigs which were exposed to 2 strains of the H1N1 virus did not contain any virus at all and is therefore safe for eating.

According to Edward B. Knipling, administrator at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS):

“This research provides additional reassurance for consumers about the safety of pork. The information contained in the study will also benefit customers of U.S. pork products, both here and abroad.”

Interim Results: Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccination Coverage — United States, October–December 2009
In July, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued recommendations for the prioritization of the influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine distribution. At that time, a shortage was expected. Currently, there is enough supply (even surplus?) of the vaccine. The CDC has conducted a survey to determine the exact coverage of the vaccine. Here are the figures:

  • As of January 2, about 20.3% of the U.S. population (61 million persons) had been vaccinated. This included 27.9% of persons in the initial target groups and 37.5% of those in the limited vaccine subset.
  • About  29.4% of U.S. children aged 6 months–18 years had been vaccinated.

The CDC continues:

Now that an ample supply of 2009 H1N1 vaccine is available, efforts should continue to increase vaccination coverage among persons in the initial target groups and to offer vaccination to the rest of the U.S. population, including those aged ≥65 years.

 H1N1, American Indians and Alaska Natives
Data from states in the US revealed that some ethnic groups are more susceptible to the H1N1 flu than others. The two groups identified as having higher risk compared to the rest of the population, are American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are four times more likely to die of H1N1 flu.
Says the director of the Indian Health Service, Dr. Yvette Roubideaux:

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community against the flu. Ask your health care provider for both the H1N1 and the seasonal flu vaccine.”

Adult Immunization Schedule for 2010 Issued
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the CDC has recently issued clinical guidelines for the adult immunization schedule for 2010. Among the major revisionss compared to the previous one concerned the following:

  • HPV vaccines – for women and for men
  • measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines
  • hepatitis A and B vaccines
  • meningococcal vaccine
  • flu vaccines

Flu updates, November 10

November 10, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

swine flu4Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Ukraine
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported more than 250,000 cases with flu-like symptoms this week. 235 patients have been admitted to intensive case and 70 deaths have been reported.

H1N1 infects pet cat, ferrets
Pets may also get the H1N1 flu. Unlike humans, they are not eligible for the vaccine as there isn’t enough to go around. A 13-year old cat was for H1N1 flu at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Ferrets were also reported to have caught the flu from their human families. Experts, however, believe that these cases are rare.

Venezuela: Indians Die From Swine Flu
At least five Yanonami Indians in the Amazon died from the H1N1 flu, the New York Times report. The flu has spread to the South American rain forests and is affecting the indigenous community.

H1N1 deaths highest in those 50 and older
The young are most like to get it but the old are most likely to die from it, at least in California. The analysis of California cases  revealed the following:

  • 1,088 hospitalized cases from April 23 to August 11, 2009.
  • 32% were younger than 18.
  • Median age was 27 years
  • 7% of children who died were under 18.
  • Highest rate of fatalities is 11%, among the 50 plus age group.

Most fatal cases had underlying medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and gastrointestinal disease. The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

FDA Warns of Unapproved and Illegal H1N1 Drug Products Purchased Over the Internet
Drugs and other remedies purported to be effective against the H1N1 flu are being sold over the Internet and the US FDA has issued a warning to consumers. The FDA itself is investigating the online vendor by placing orders. The products were then analysed by the FDA labs and most proved to be bogus or impure.
According to FDA Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

“Products that are offered for sale online with claims to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus must be carefully evaluated. Medicines purchased from Web sites operating outside the law put consumers at increased risk due to a higher potential that the products will be counterfeit, impure, contaminated, or have too little or too much of the active ingredient.”

Health Canada issued a similar warning this week.

Officials Defend Distribution of Flu Vaccine to Companies
Because of the shortage of H1N1 vaccines, US health officials have to prioritize who gets the shots. Which why people are wondering why Wall Street banks are getting some of those doses in New York City, according to this New York Times report. According to a NYC health department spokesperson, the priority is to get the vaccines to “pediatricians, obstetricians, gynecologists, community health centers and public and private hospitals.” However, private companies may also be able to get the vaccine as long as the shots are given to high risk employees, e.g. pregnant women and those with serious chronic conditions. The vaccine allocation in NYC is as follows:

  • 39% for school vaccination programs
  • 21% for paediatricians
  • 19% for hospitals
  • 6% for health services employees

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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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.