Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GlaxoSmithKline Begins Testing H1N1 Vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline has started testing its pandemic H1N1 swine flu vaccine in humans, and expects to start giving the results to government agencies next month, the drugmaker said on Friday,' Reuters reports. The company 'plans to conduct 16 different trials of the vaccine and to test 9,000 people in total across Europe, Canada and the United States,' according to the news service.

GlaxoSmithKline Begins Testing H1N1 Vaccine

Dutch advice on Mexican flu: 'Just sit it out'

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) announced Friday that it has stopped recording new Mexican flu patients in the Netherlands. Doctors and hospitals no longer have to report new cases to the health authorities.

From the available data it looks like the Mexican flu is after all relatively mild. Only one to three percent of all patients develop complications, mostly pneumonia.

Two thirds of all patients with complications so far belong to the traditional groups at risk. These include people over 60, children under two, people with diabetes, heart or lung diseases, pregnant women in their third trimester, and people with diminished resistance, for instance as a result of chemotherapy. These people already qualify for the regular winter flu shot.

In other words, the Dutch health authorities are now treating the Mexican flu as a common winter flu. - International - Dutch advice on Mexican flu: 'Just sit it out'

Dutch researchers create swine flu video game

Since swine flu first emerged in April, it has sparked panic, vaccine production and now, a video game. In an effort to raise awareness, Dutch researchers have created a game that challenges players to control a new pandemic.

'It is actually what is happening now, what is happening in the real world,' said Ab Osterhaus, head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Centre, who designed 'The Great Flu' game with colleagues. The game can only be playedonline at and it is free.

The game begins with images of bedridden patients and graveyards from the 1918 Spanish flu. As the head of the fictitious "World Pandemic Control," players pick a flu strain, and then monitor thatstrain's spread around the world.

To fight the emerging outbreak, players use measures including setting up surveillance systems, stockpiling antivirals and vaccines, and closing schools and airports. Players also have a limited budget and are warned that "your actions to control the virus cost money, so keep an eye on it." - International - Dutch researchers create swine flu video game

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NYTimes: Europe Offers Vaccinations to Contain Swine Flu

Anxiety over the new swine flu strain may have eased over the summer, but millions of Europeans will soon receive a sharp reminder of its virulence as governments prepare for a large-scale vaccination effort aimed at keeping a second, and possibly deadlier, wave of infections at bay.

With another surge in cases of the H1N1 flu expected as soon as September, medical experts say the battle to tame the first pandemic flu in four decades is just getting under way in Europe.

European Union health officials emphasize that most human cases of the flu have been mild and that patients have recovered without special treatment.

In another sign of normalcy, a committee of European Union health officials recommended last week that schools reopen as usual after the summer break.

But with limited amounts of vaccines expected to become available this year, health authorities are girding for many more cases over the autumn and winter flu season, when viruses spread more easily.

“If we get a lot more infections, then there will be a lot more complications in people’s medical conditions and that means a lot more deaths,” said Nigel Dimmock, an emeritus professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of Warwick in England nd a flu expert.

The global pattern of the virus’s spread indicated that “the pandemic is just beginning” in Europe, said Nikki Shindo, a spokeswoman on influenza for the W.H.O.

NYTimes: Europe Offers Vaccinations to Contain Swine Flu

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AP: 51 US soldiers in Iraq diagnosed with swine flu

Fifty-one American troops in Iraq have been diagnosed with and treated for swine flu, while another 71 soldiers remain in isolation suspected of contracting the potentially deadly virus, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The figures were released as Iraqi health officials confirmed Sunday the country's first swine flu death.

A woman in the southern holy Shiite city of Najaf died of the disease, raising fears about a possible outbreak among worshippers making pilgrimages to the revered sites.

All the 51 U.S. troops diagnosed with the flu have fully recovered, while the 71 suspect cases are in isolation, said Col. Michael D. Eisenhauer, the chief of clinical operations in Iraq.

'All personnel are screened for signs and symptoms of influenza prior to entering Iraq, in an effort to limit the spread of the H1N1 virus to this region,' Eisenhauer told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

He said those who later develop a fever, sore throat or cough are tested, and put into isolation if suspected of swine flu.

The Associated Press: 51 US soldiers in Iraq diagnosed with swine flu

Thursday, August 6, 2009

AP: Calif. nurses protest lack of swine flu equipment

A union says some California hospitals aren't adequately protecting nurses from swine flu.

The California Nurses Association plans to protest Wednesday in San Francisco in the wake of a Sacramento nurse's swine flu death last month.

The union wants hospitals to provide better masks, equipment and protocol to protect nurses from further sickness.

The union says nurses across the state are reporting difficulties getting the masks recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and having them properly fitted to be airtight.

The protest comes less than three weeks after Sacramento nurse Karen Ann Hays died after contracting swine flu. The 51-year-old marathoner's death is the first among California health care workers related to sickness.

AP: Calif. nurses protest lack of swine flu equipment | U.K. lab may have found fix for low flu vaccine yield

A British laboratory may have found a fix for the low yield problem that has been plaguing companies making swine flu vaccine.

The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control says it is ready to ship new versions of its vaccine seed strain to manufacturers as of today.

The lab's principal scientist, John Wood, says early work with the new version of the seed strain shows it generates a virus yield that's on par with what manufacturers get in seasonal flu vaccine production. | U.K. lab may have found fix for low flu vaccine yield