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FLU CONFERENCE COVERAGE New disease-control rules follow reminders of risks

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first_imgJun 18, 2007 – TORONTO (CIDRAP News) – Ten years after H5N1 avian influenza first began to raise fears of a potential pandemic, the world has a stronger set of tools to contain that virus and similar threats, but also a fresh awareness of humanity’s vulnerability to fast-spreading diseases, experts said yesterday at an international conference on flu. Heymann said the old rules “were actually a very passive system” and “a system which countries did not adhere to. Very few countries would report diseases under the International Health Regulations because when they reported those [three] diseases, or any other diseases for that matter, they were penalized with decreased trade and decreased tourism.” “We really are not much further ahead today than we were in 1918,” Dr. David Heymann, the WHO’s assistant director-general for communicable diseases, said in the conference’s keynote address. “We don’t have the vaccines we need. . . . We have some antivirals. But we do have one thing that we did not have in 1918, and that is the International Health Regulations, that now provide for proactive collective action for the H5N1 threat to global public health security.” The Options for the Control of Influenza Conference takes place in Toronto this week on the 10th anniversary of the first human cases of H5N1 flu, which were discovered in Hong Kong between May and December 1997, and one month after the multi-country odyssey of an Atlanta lawyer infected with an almost untreatable form of tuberculosis. The new rules also encourage countries to enforce disease control at their borders while respecting the rights of international travelers. And they reinforce countries’ responsibility to report and contain disease by allowing states to look over each other’s fences: For the first time, the WHO will accept reports of outbreaks not only from national governments but also from third parties ranging from Internet search engines to other states. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, for instance, Southeast Asia lost an estimated $18 billion in gross domestic product and possibly $60 billion in revenues and demand, Heymann said. The new rules, which were enacted in 2005 and became effective Jun 15, update an earlier and much weaker set of regulations that have been in force since 1969. In a change from the earlier rules—which emphasized control of only cholera, plague, and yellow fever—they commit WHO members to monitoring all potential public health threats, and particularly emphasize smallpox, polio, SARS, and novel flu strains, including H5N1. “It is important to maintain vigilance and not get so focused on one threat, like H5N1, that we don’t miscue on the emergence and virulence of another,” Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at the conference opener. He called the XDR TB patient’s four-country odyssey “a stark reminder of our collective vulnerability to communicable diseases. . . . The world seems to continue to be smaller, with diseases having no respect for borders, cultures or politics.” See also: Conference attendees said the porousness of borders to disease has been sharply underlined by two recent events: the emergence on the Wales-England border of an H7N2 strain of avian flu that infected at least four humans and killed a number of poultry despite being judged “low pathogenic,” and the saga of Andrew Speaker, who detoured through several countries so that he could obtain treatment in the United States for his newly diagnosed case of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB). The new regulations improve on the old not only by emphasizing more diseases but also by committing states to building up their public health infrastructure so they can detect and respond to outbreaks, and to maintaining real-time surveillance of health information so that it can be transmitted to the WHO within 24 hours. But the conference’s opening ceremonies yesterday evening also came 2 days after the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) new International Health Regulations took effect. The voluntary contract marks the first time that the WHO’s 193 member states have agreed to immediately acknowledge and attempt to control any public health emergencies—in their own country or any other territory—that could provoke international concern. Jun 15 CIDRAP News story “New global disease-control rules take effect”last_img read more

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H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Global tally tops 50K, novel H1N1 preponderance, quarantine risk in China, young as vaccine priority, grant to develop flu drug

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first_imgJun 22, 2009Global tally of novel H1N1 cases exceeds 50,000The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) count of novel H1N1 influenza cases today reached 52,160, nearly 8,000 more than the last count on Jun 19. The WHO listed the death toll as 231, up from 180 as of 3 days ago. Five countries are new to the list today: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, and Slovenia. Media reports said that Ethiopia and Iran also have reported their first cases, all in people who were recently in the United States.[WHO update 52]Nearly all influenza A viruses in US are novel H1N1The novel H1N1 influenza virus accounted for 98% of all influenza A viruses that were subtyped in the United States in the week of Jun 6-13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Jun 19. Only 0.2% of isolates were influenza B. The CDC said overall flu activity declined but remained above normal for this time of year, with 11 states reporting widespread activity. The death of one child was linked to the novel virus.[CDC flu surveillance report]US warns travelers of risk of quarantine in ChinaThe US State Department warned on Jun 19 that travelers to China may be quarantined for 7 days if they arrive with a fever or flu-like symptoms. Chinese authorities target travelers with even slightly elevated temperatures if they come from areas with novel H1N1 cases, plus people sitting near them, the statement said. It also said the US has received reports of children being separated from parents and travelers being held in unsuitable quarantine conditions with poor drinking water and food.Flu cases shutter muscular dystrophy group’s summer campsThe Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has canceled its remaining summer camps after 11 children at camps in two states got sick with novel H1N1 infections, the group said in a Jun 19 statement. The MDA said children who attend the camps have weakened respiratory muscles, which puts them in a high-risk flu group. The CDC consulted on and agreed with the cancellation of the MDA’s remaining 47 camps, which were set to host 2,500 children.[Jun 19 MDA press release]Canada sets vaccine priority sights on younger peopleAs the Public Health Agency of Canada works on its priority list for the novel H1N1 vaccine, people aged 5 to 40 and those living in aboriginal communities may be at the top of the list, Canwest News Service (CNS) reported today. Officials said the pandemic strain, unlike seasonal flu, is striking mainly children and young adults. Though older people appear to have some immunity to the virus, immunizing their grandchildren may provide an extra measure of protection, an expert said.[Jun 22 CNS story]Company wins grant to develop RNA-based novel flu treatmentAVI Biopharma, based in Portland, Ore., announced yesterday that it has received a contract of up to $5.1 million from the US Department of Defense to develop one or more RNA-based drugs to treat novel H1N1 flu. In addition to identifying potential drug targets and lead and backup drug candidates, the contract supports the production of testing material for animal studies. The company said its RNA-based drugs use proprietary technology that targets messenger and premessenger RNA.last_img read more

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