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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SW China drought may prompt Tamiflu producer to replace major ingredient

Via Xinhua:

"The severe drought ravaging southwest China, home to an ingredient in the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, may prompt Roche, Tamiflu's biggest producer, to use substitute ingredients.

Southwest China produces 85 percent of the world's Star Anise, an ingredient of Tamiflu, and the region's production may be "substantially reduced" as a result of the drought, said Li Changxin of zyctd.com, China's biggest traditional medicine trading website.

Two thirds of the Star Anise used by Tamiflu's biggest producer, F.Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., comes from China, said Lu Shunzhong from the Forestry Research Institute of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region."

Swine flu still a significant risk, warn doctors

Via Brisbane Times, another clear indication that H1N1 is still posing dangerous illness in mankind.

" Last May some experts predicted there would be up to 25,000 deaths from swine flu in Australia. The figure was closer to 200. Only 7.9 million out of 21 million doses of the swine flu vaccine have so far been ordered by GPs. Now that the seasonal flu vaccine, which includes swine flu, has become available many doses may be wasted.

Dr Hampson said swine flu still posed a threat to high-risk groups including pregnant women, people over 65, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 15 and people with chronic medical conditions such as severe asthma or diabetes.

The federal government has committed to providing more than 5 million free seasonal flu vaccines, including about 2.2 million doses for people in high-risk groups who were otherwise not eligible for a free vaccine."

Swine flu fallout: many suffer from nagging symptoms long after H1N1 subsides

Via Yahoo Health, a more inside look on H1N1 and the pain, suffering it causes long after it infects someone. This is definetly a serious virus.

" Marga Cugnet thought she knew what she was in for when she came down with swine flu last October.

But the health administrator from Weyburn, Sask., said she was annoyed and somewhat dejected when the potent H1N1 virus left her with lingering symptoms that did not let up until earlier this month.

That's five months of suffering through a hacking, post-flu cough and bouts of fatigue.

"I never went anywhere without having a bag of cough drops with me because I would just get into a coughing spell that wouldn't stop," said Cugnet, the 56-year-old vice-president of primary health with the Sun Country Health Region.

"I knew it could take months to go away, but I didn't think it would last that long."
Even though the global pandemic ceased making headlines weeks ago, the impact of the virus remains fresh in the minds of many Canadians who are just getting over an ailment that delivered a lasting one-two punch. "

CDC: H1N1 still causing serious illness

Via CNN, looks like we Malaysians are not the only ones who are see a surge in H1N1 cases.

" Health officials are reminding Americans that the H1N1 flu is still around and causing serious illness, particularly in the Southeast.

Three states -- Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina -- are reporting "regional" flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Puerto Rico and eight other states -- Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Hawaii and New Mexico -- are reporting "local" flu activity.

CDC officials said one state in particular is seeing more activity than it had since October. "The situation in Georgia is critical," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, told reporters in a media briefing on Monday."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Australia - Experts warn of double-whammy flu season

Via News.com, the Australian are kicking into high gear with regards to preparation to tackle the flu season, let it be H1N1 or the seasonal strain.

" HEALTH authorities are warning of a double whammy flu threat this year, with both the swine flu and more conventional strains in wide circulation.

Dr Alan Hampson, chair of the Influenza Specialist Group and consultant to the World Health Organisation, said new cases of swine flu were now emerging in Australia after a lull over summer.

Over the second half of last year, the (H1N1) swine flu was most serious in those aged under 65, along with pregnant women and the chronically ill.

Dr Hampson said Australia was "highly unlikely" to avoid a return of widespread swine flu infection this winter."

Resistance can develop fast with swine flu: report

Via Reuters:

" The H1N1 swine flu virus can develop resistance quickly to antivirals used to treat it, U.S. doctors reported on Friday.

Government researchers reported on the cases of two people with compromised immune systems who developed drug-resistant strains of virus after less than two weeks on therapy.

Bacteria quickly develop resistance to antibiotics, which must be used carefully. Viruses can do the same and doctors worried about resistance had recommended against using antivirals for flu except in patients who really needed them."

WHO - Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 93

WHO's latest update. Please note that Malaysia made news in the update. If you have been following my blog, you would have noticed that I have been repeatedly saying that Malaysia has seen an increase in H1N1 cases and we are in the midst of a second wave but this statement was denied by many. Finally WHO itself notices the increase. I hope now we Malaysians will not be complacent with H1N1.

" 26 March 2010 -- As of 21 March 2010, worldwide more than 213 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 16,931 deaths.

WHO is actively monitoring the progress of the pandemic through frequent consultations with the WHO Regional Offices and member states and through monitoring of multiple sources of information.

Situation update:

The most active areas of pandemic influenza virus transmission currently are in parts of Southeast Asia, West Africa, and in the tropical zone of the Americas. After a period of sustained pandemic influenza transmission in Thailand over the past two months, overall activity now appears to be decreasing. In West Africa, limited data suggests that active transmission of pandemic influenza virus persists without clear evidence of a peak in activity. In Central America and in the tropical zone of South America, an increasing trend of respiratory disease activity associated with circulation of pandemic influenza virus has been reported since early March 2010 in an increasing number of countries. Although pandemic influenza virus continues to be the predominant influenza virus circulating worldwide, seasonal influenza B viruses are predominate in East Asia, and have been increasingly detected at low levels across southeast and western Asia, eastern Africa, and in parts of Europe.

In Southeast Asia, pandemic influenza virus transmission has remained active and geographically widespread in Thailand since mid February 2010 and has been increasing since early March in Malaysia. In Thailand, the overall intensity of respiratory disease activity was reported to be low to moderate, and activity now appears to decreasing since mid March 2009; 10-22% of sentinel respiratory samples from patients with ILI tested positive for pandemic influenza during the most recent reporting week. In Malaysia, limited data suggests increasing detections of pandemic H1N1 cases over the past two weeks, although the extent and severity of illness is not currently known. Low numbers of seasonal influenza B viruses continue to be isolated in Thailand and in other parts of Southeast Asia.

Pandemic H1N1 situation in Malaysia for Week 11/2010 (14 March – 20 March 2010)

The latest from Malaysia's Ministry of Health:

" Overall, within the last week (14 March to 20 March 2010) there is a decrease in the number of new cases with symptoms of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) being treated in the hospital. A total of 350 patients compared to 363 cases in the previous week (3.6% decrease).

The remaining number of ILI cases that are still being treated across the country on the last day of Week 11/2010 (March 20, 2010) are 385 cases (a decrease of 4.7% compared to previous week) in 43 government hospitals and 7 private hospitals.

Of these, 30 patients or 7.8% are cases of Influenza A (H1N1) which was confirmed through laboratory tests. The total number of cases accumulated up to March 20, 2010, is 12,594.

The number of cases current being treated in the ICU are 8 persons compared to 9 cases in the previous week. Six patients treated in the ICU have risk factors. No new cases of H1N1 deaths were reported and the total remains at 77."

If you going to read the actual report please use Google Translate, since the update is in Malay language.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

US - New flu cases revive concern

Via The Augusta Chronicle, another wave in the US???

" A small flurry of flu cases in Augusta and the continued increased activity in Georgia and the Southeast has some calling for more vaccination and raising concern about the spread of pandemic influenza A H1N1 during the Masters Tournament and spring break.

This month alone, University Hospital has had nine patients in the intensive care unit with flu-like symptoms at a time when flu season is normally winding down, said Rebecca Walker, infection prevention coordinator for University. The hospital had seen its cases peak in the fall and then a lull in November and December, she said.

"February, we started to see an increase but nothing too alarming," Walker said. "And then in the last week we've seen several cases of people who have been fairly ill."

Brunei In Grip Of Second H1N1 Wave

Via BruDirect, even our neighbours Brunei has admitted that their are in their second wave of H1N1 infections and their numbers have increased dramatically in March 2010. I wonder when we will hear something like this in Malaysia or are we still being denied the truth.

" Brunei Darussalam reported a second wave of the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic (the highest figure) last month (February) with 775 cases as the first wave in July last year saw 758 cases.

From March 1 to 23, the country has reported 473 cases and 133 classes in schools have been closed since January this year. In comparison, 234 classes were closed for the 4 whole of last year. Also, in January this year, the country saw only 120 cases of H1N1.

Until March 15 this year, 42,249 people have been vaccinated against H1N1 in Brunei.

Director of Health Services Dr Hjh Maslina bte Hj Mohsin disclosed these details in her talk at the national seminar for religious scholars and experts on influenza A (H1N1)."

Bird flu remains a threat: WHO

Via Yahoo Health, a gentle reminder that H5N1 is still a force to be reckoned with.

" Bird flu outbreaks that have killed seven people in several countries so far this year show the virus remains a threat to humans, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Wednesday.

"The newly confirmed human and poultry cases of avian influenza this year are a reminder that the virus poses a real and continuous threat to human health," the WHO said in a statement.

One danger is that bird flu, also known as H5N1, may mutate, warned Takeshia Sakai, the WHO's regional adviser for communicable diseases."

Bird flu detected in mid-western Nepal

Via Xinhua, H1N1 not so distant cousin H5N1 is still wrecking havoc. As many scientist fear, the combination of both this virused will create a superbug.

" Bird flu, the Avian Influenza H5N1 virus, has been detected in four places of Banke district in mid-western Nepal.

According to Wednesday's nepalnews.com report, district livestock services office of Banke, some 365 km west of Kathmandu, confirmed the prevalence of bird flu in the district on Tuesday, after it received a report from the central laboratory in Kathmandu.

It had sent samples of poultry products to the laboratory after over 150 chickens and ducks died in a short span in Binauna, Kohalpur, Phattepur and Nepalgunj."

H1N1 Virus Yields Up More Secrets

Via HealthDay, as the title suggests, the deeper with get into this pandemic, the more we are learning about it. So one cannot be complacent about H1N1 because it may just surprise anyone at anytime.

" The 2009 H1N1 "swine flu" virus shares remarkable similarities with strains that were rampant early in the 20th century, two teams of scientists report.

These structural similarities help explain why older people seemed to be less affected by H1N1 during the latest pandemic, researchers say, and they also point the way to better vaccines against the strain.

In one report, published in the March 25 online edition of Science, a team at The Scripps Research Institute and elsewhere say that the structure of the hemagglutinin (the influenza virus envelope protein) found on H1N1 is very similar to that of strains seen almost 100 years ago."

No fever, yet one can be ill

Via NST Online in Malaysia, an article which sheds more light into the symptoms of H1N1 and as you can see it also shows that the numbers are indeed increasing in Malaysia. Most of the confirmed cases of H1N1 in Malaysia are children, the elderly and those having hypertension and diabetes.

" A person with influenza A (H1N1) need not necessarily have a fever.

Sungai Buloh Hospital's consultant infectious diseases physician Dr Suresh Kumar said yesterday there were people who came to the hospital with symptoms related to H1N1, such as sore throat, cough, body aches, runny or stuffy nose and breathing difficulties, but did not have a fever.Yet throat swabs showed that many of them had the flu.

"We had lots of patients confirmed for H1N1, either as a outpatient or inpatient, but who had no fever." This came as a surprise as the the Ministry of Health had all along emphasised that the symptoms for H1N1 were fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometime diarrhoea and vomiting."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

India - DRDO kit detects H1N1 virus in an hour

Via The Hindu, I'm happy to see and know and we have efficient and cost effective ways to detect H1N1 viruses. This would be very helpful expecially for countries who having a tough time fighting this disease.

" The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a diagnostic kit that can detect H1N1 virus in an hour. The kit does not need sophisticated instruments and can be used in villages where electricity is not available. It just costs Rs.1,500.

It uses a simple technique called real-time loop amplification methodology (RT LAMP) to detect the H1N1 virus, said W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller (Life Sciences and Human Resources), DRDO. The kit has been developed by a DRDO laboratory called the Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), situated at Gwalior.

When 400 blood samples were tested by the WHO (Communicable Diseases Centre)-approved kit and the DRDO-developed kit, positive results from both kits tallied. “There was 100 per cent agreement. The DRDO kit also diagnosed some cases missed out by the WHO (CDC)-approved kit. So our kit is more specific and sensitive. That is its strength,” Dr. Selvamurthy said."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Australia - Perth woman triggers swine flu fears

Via WA Today in Australia, swine flu/H1N1 is back in Perth.

" Australia has recorded its first serious case of swine flu infection for the year, with a young woman struck down with the pandemic virus in WA.

The woman was admitted to a Perth hospital earlier this month, when her deteriorating condition was notified to the surveillance program set up to monitor the spread of the A(H1N1) virus.

The woman, described as of "child-bearing years but not pregnant", was the first Australian to trigger the monitoring system since December 11 last year.

She also has an underlying illness which placed her in a leading risk group for a serious swine flu infection, said Associate Professor Paul Kelly."

US helps prevent and fight bird flu in Vietnam

Via VOW News, a generous help from the US. Hats off to the US Government.

" The US government will provide Vietnam with more than 11,000 sets of personal protective equipment and four sets of laboratory tools to help Vietnamese medical staff handle possible outbreaks of avian flu.

The aid package for fighting A/H5N1 and A/H1N1, worth more than US$100,000 in total, will be conducted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) at the request of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, with assistance from the World Health Organization."

Thailand's death toll from A/H1N1 flu rises to 219: minister

A report which is a real concern to us in Malaysia because Thailand is just across the border. They are indeed going through their H1N1 wave now with cases increasing in just a week and also another death has been recorded.

I think it's about time our own Health officials acknowledge the fact that, we are probably in our second wave right now and we really need to get our guards up to prevent anymore deaths and reduce the infection rates. Every death is a tragedy which must be mourned.

Via Xinhua:

" Thailand had one more death case due to the A/H1N1 influenza, bringing the country's death toll from the new flu to 219, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit disclosed Monday.

The latest victim was an 58-year-old man in a southernmost province of Pattani, Thai News Agency quoted Jurin as saying."

Via Bangkok Post:

" A 58-year-old man from Pattani was the last person to die from the flu.

He suffered from asthma and diabetes and died at Sai Buri district hospital between March 15 and 21 due to severe flu symptoms.

The total number of H1N1 flu deaths country-wide stands at 219. The number of infections has jumped to 35,971, health officials said."

Please read both the articles to get a clear picture of what is going in Thailand right now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thailand - Flu case causes rally concerns

More concerns about H1N1 spreading widely in South East Asia. This is from Thailand, via The Nation:

" A TV reporter covering the red-shirt rally in Bangkok has come down with type-A(H1N1) influenza but is in safe condition.

"We are now checking where she caught the disease," Deputy Governor Malinee Sukvejvorakij said yesterday.

"She had moved to various areas, so she might have caught the virus from the rally or elsewhere. We cannot be sure at this point," Dr Malinee said.

Her case has raised concerns for the health of red-shirt demonstrators who have camped out on Bangkok streets for more than a week now."

Australia - Roxon warns swine flu still dangerous

Via ABC News, a clear indication and warning that H1N1 is still dangerous in this part of the world including Malaysia.

" Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says she expects the swine flu to be as severe this year as it was last year.

There have already been 50 confirmed cases of the virus this year and the Government has started a new advertising campaign to warn the community of the risks.

Ms Roxon says it is important people get vaccinated against the virus.

"We expect it to be of the same level of severity as last year," she said."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

H1N1 Pandemic Situation in Malaysia - Week 10/2010 (7 March - 13 March 2010)

The latest from MOH Malaysia with regards to H1N1. Please read the whole article and I will comment later.

" Overall, within the last week (March 7 to March 13 2010) there is an increase in the number of new cases with symptom of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) being treated in the hospital. A total of 363 patients compared with 297 new cases in the previous week (22.2% increase). The remaining cases that are still being treated across the country on the last day of week 10/2010 (March 13, 2010) is 404 cases in 38 government hospitals and 8 private hospitals with an increase of 12.8% compared to the previous week. Of these, 18 patients or 6.9% is a case of Influenza A (H1N1) is confirmed through laboratory tests. Until March 13, 2010, the number of cases positive influenza A (H1N1) is 12.535. Number of cases treated in the ICU is a total of nine (9) who compared four (4) cases in the previous week. Six (6) patients treated in the ICU have risk factors. No new cases of H1N1 deaths and mortality remain outstanding until 77 now."

If you read the whole article (please use Google Translate), you would notice that all cases have increased drastically from last week (see my previous post) but still it is denied that we are in the second wave......I wonder why.

http://h1n1.moh.gov.my/KenyataanAkhbarTerkini.php

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Zealand - Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 (Swine Flu) - Update 175

Via Voxy in New Zealand, their latest update on the H1N1 situation:

" Overall influenza activity in New Zealand continues to be low with some small fluctuations, and this is not unexpected at this time of year.


The seasonal influenza vaccination programme was launched this week and is being rolled out through GP practices over the coming weeks. This year's seasonal influenza vaccine contains three strains of influenza, including the current H1N1 strain, and will help protect New Zealanders against the flu, including the pandemic (swine) flu."

H1N1 Flu Spreads Slower Than Seasonal Flu: Study

Via Healthday:

" The H1N1 swine flu appears to spread more slowly than "regular" seasonal flu in a household setting, but when it does spread it's more likely to affect children, a new study suggests.

"We found that about 9 percent of people who lived with a household member with [H1N1] flu also got flu," said lead researcher Oliver Morgan, an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We found that 18 percent of children under 5, and 11 percent of children 5 to 18, got flu in the household," Morgan said, adding that children were more likely to introduce flu into the household. "

H1N1 Pandemic Situation In Malaysia Week 09/2010 (28 February - 6 March 2010)

Now I'm going give you 2 reports on the latest H1N1 situation in Malaysia, the first is from the MOH Malaysia and the second is a news article from Bernama. You be the judge of the two reports and see the vast contrast in reporting. I'm very curious in why the MOH is in denial about us in Malaysia being in the second wave. We should inform the public accordingly.

MOH Update:

" Overall within the last week (28 February - 6 March 2010) there is a slight increase in the number of new cases with symptoms of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) being treated in the hospital.

A total of 297 patients compared with 263 new cases in the previous week (increase 12.9 %). The remaining number of cases that are still being treated across the country on the last day of the week 09/2010 (6 March 2010) are 358 cases in 40 different government hospitals and 4 private hospitals which is an increase of 6.9% compared to the previous week.

Of these, 18 patients or 5.0% are positive cases of Influenza A (H1N1) confirmed through laboratory tests. Until March 6, 2010, the total number of positive influenza A (H1N1) cases is 12,488.

Number of cases currently being treated in the ICU is four (4) who compared to eight (8) cases in the previous week. Three (3) patients treated in ICU have risk factors. No new cases of H1N1 deaths and mortality remains at 77 now."

- Please read the whole report to get the big picture. Use Google Translate.

Bernama news article:

" There is no indication yet of a second wave of the Influenza A (H1N1) occurring, said the Director-General of Health Services, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican.

He said this was based on the monitoring of H1N1 clinical cases as well as the clusters of influenze-like ilnesses (ILI)."

- See the difference?? Please comment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WHO Releases New Malaria Treatment Guidelines

Via Bernama:

"The World Health Organisation released new malaria treatment and procurement guidelines on Tuesday, recommending the use of diagnostic tests and a new artemisinin-based combination therapy as new treatments, reports China's Xinhua news agency.

"It is time to move away from the idea that everyone with a fever is suspected to have malaria," said Robert Newman, director of the WHO global malaria programme."

Korea - Firm develops flu antibody therapy

More ammo for mankind to fight off flu pandemics, viruses.

Via Joong Aing Daily:

" Korean biotechnology firm Celltrion announced yesterday that it has developed antibody therapy for numerous flu viruses.

Celltrion said during a news conference in Seoul that its researchers have succeeded in finding an antibody for treating flu viruses like A(H1N1), previously called “swine flu,” as well as the avian influenza that spread across the region in the past.

The new treatments are based on antibodies found in the bodily fluids of humans. This differs from existing antiviral drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza, which are manufactured through chemical synthesis"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thailand - More Info - Six die from H1N1 flu

Via The Nation, more information on the recent fatalities in Thailand from H1N1.

" Six people, including a baby died last week from the influenza type-A (H1N1) in different parts of the Kingdom. Most already suffered from chronic illnesses.

Two of the six flu victims died after receiving the drug oseltamivir, but doctors said the vaccine was given too late to be of help.

"Provincial governors in their areas have now been assigned to look into these cases," Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said yesterday. "

H1N1 seen lying low, then rising again in Europe

Via Reuters, a clear explaination on the H1N1 situation in Europe. Looks like H1N1 is coming back and will stay for some time. Let's not be complacent.

" Europe is unlikely to see another wave of pandemic H1N1 flu soon but local epidemics are likely as winter returns to the Northern hemisphere, health officials said on Monday.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the H1N1 swine flu virus would probably spread at low levels during 2010's spring and summer, and be the dominant and threatening strain in the winter flu season."

Please read the whole informative article.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brunei - Resumption of H1N1 Jabs Starts from Tomorrow

Via Bru Direct.com, the latest from Brunei. Their numbers of confirmed H1N1 cases is also rising. On the positive side, they have resumed their vaccination campaign after a brief halt:

" Bandar Seri Begawan - The Ministry of Health (MoH) will resume the mass influenza A (HMI) vaccination programme tomorrow, three weeks after it was suspended.

The ministry yesterday also reported that for the week since March 1 until March 5, 114 H1N1 cases were recorded in the country.

"We regret the suspension of the programme as we needed to ensure that the new batch of Influenza A (HINT) vaccines in the country meet the ministry's quality and safety standards," said Minister of Health Pehin Orang Kaya Indere Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman at a press conference yesterday.

"We have now received confirmation from the manufacturer and laboratory reports from Belgium and USA on the safety of the vaccine," he added. According to the minister, the vaccines have continuously been used in many countries globally. To date, 75 million doses have been administered worldwide and the minister assures that "we are fully satisfied that the vaccine is safe to be used"."

Thailand - H1N1 death toll rises to 218

Via Bangkok Post, not much details on the fatalities given but it's clearly evident that number's are rising in Thailand. From the last update which I have posted about Thailand and H1N1, the fatalities rose by 6 to give a total of 218 lives lost:

"Six more people died last week of H1N1 flu, bringing the death toll since the outbreak of the disease on April 28 last year to 218, the Public Health Ministry announced on Monday.

Against the target of 2 million, only 404,983 people in risk groups have been vaccinated against the type A (H1N1) influenza.

The ministry has campaigned for people in five risk groups, including medical staff and those sufferring from chronic diseases, to get vaccinated."

It should be clear to all of us in South East Asia right now that we are indeed in the mist of the second wave and all precautions must be taken to ensure the fatalities don't rise.

The latest from ECDC week 08/2010

Click on the PDF link below for the latest from Europe (ECDC) with regards to H1N1 pandemic situation:

http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/activities/surveillance/EISN/Newsletter/100305_EISN_Weekly_Influenza_Surveillance_Overview.pdf

Cambodia drug-resistant malaria stirs health fears

Via Reuters, a new strain of drug-resistant malaria has been found:

" His province of Pailin is the epicenter of strains of malaria that have baffled healthcare experts worldwide, raising fears a dangerous new form of malaria could already be spreading across the globe.

"The fear is what we're observing right now could be the starting point for something worse regionally and globally," said Dr. Charles Delacollette, Mekong Malaria Program Coordinator at the World Health Organization.

A New England Journal of Medicine study last year showed that conventional malaria-fighting treatments derived from artemisinin took almost twice as long to clear the parasites that cause the disease in patients in Pailin and others in northwestern Thailand, suggesting the drugs were losing potency in the area."

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 90 (WHO)

The latest update from the World Health Organization - update 90:-

" 5 March 2010 -- As of 28 February 2010, worldwide more than 213 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 16455 deaths.

WHO is actively monitoring the progress of the pandemic through frequent consultations with the WHO Regional Offices and member states and through monitoring of multiple sources of information.

Situation update:

Summary: In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, transmission of virus persists in some areas of Europe and Asia but influenza activity is declining and at low level in the most areas. The most active areas of transmission are currently observed in parts of Southeast Asia and East and South-eastern Europe. Recently, influenza type B is increasingly reported in Asia.
Pandemic influenza virus continues to circulate in South and Southeast Asian countries.

In Thailand, activity has increased and Myanmar continues to report regionally circulating pandemic virus. However, the overall intensity of activity nationally is still low in both countries. Respiratory disease activity is declining in all other countries of the area.

In East Asia, transmission of pandemic influenza virus persists at low levels in most countries including Hong Kong SAR (China) and Chinese Taipei or has returned to baseline levels (Japan and the Republic of Korea). Of note, seasonal influenza B virus activity has been increasing in the area and is now the predominant influenza virus in Mongolia, China, and parts of South East Asia. Japan has also reported clusters of influenza B related cases."

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Swine Flu Warning - England

Via Staff Nurse in England, a new warning has been issued about H1N1 and it is still causing a high rate of fatalities.

" Some 11 deaths have been reported in the last fortnight, according to Professor Sir Liam Donaldson.

Sir Liam urged vulnerable people to continue to get vaccination - and said the swine flu vaccine programme would not cease.

He said the NHS had been told to complete the programme."

H1N1 claimed 3 lives every day in January - India

Via Times of India, the sad truth of what's happening in Gujarat, India due to the H1N1 pandemic:

" More than three people died of swine flu in Gujarat every single day of January this year, according to a revelation made in the Gujarat Assembly on Thursday. And this, after the state government invoked the Epidemic Control Act for the first time on August 18 last year.

State Assembly records tabled against questions asked by MLAs revealed that 119 deaths occurred in January this year which is higher than the total number of people who died of H1N1 last year."

Over 114,300 inoculated against A/H1N1 flu in Macao

Via Xinhua, vaccination is going well in Macao...

" A total of 114,355 people in Macao have been inoculated with the A/H1N1 vaccines so far, according to the figures released on Thursday by Macao's Health Bureau.

Some 171 people were inoculated with the vaccines on Thursday alone, which was initiated by the Bureau in late November last year, according to the Health Bureau.

The Bureau also said that there was no newly confirmed case of A/H1N1 flu reported on Thursday, and the total number of such case has reached 3,594 since June 18 last year, of which two patients died."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Indian flu kit better than WHO unit

Maybe Malaysia should import some?? From the Times of India, an interesting article:

" The Indian kit can analyze a sample within one hour and without Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, a laboratory technique. Interestingly, while the WHO kit cost Rs 8,000, the Indian one costs only Rs 1,000.

At the 14th convocation ceremony of Nimhans here on Wednesday, Dr W Selvamurthy, chief controller, DRDO Research & Development, said: "The Indian flu kit will compete with the WHO kit as it is more efficient. Currently, technology is being transferred to Bigtech, a Bangalore-based pharma company. With the increase in demand, the technology will be shared with more companies."

Thailand - 3 more die of flu, 937 infected in one week

More from Thailand, via Bangkok Post:

" Type-A (H1N1) influenza has caused three more deaths and infected 937 more people over a week-long period, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit says.

The infections, between Feb 21 and 27, raised the death toll to 212 and the number of people infected to 34,273."

Mexico detects first mutation of swine flu

Via Yahoo Health Canada, more bad news:

" Mexican officials said Wednesday they have confirmed the first mutation of the A(H1N1) flu virus in a girl who survived the infection.

Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told Mexican journalists that the case was the first confirmed mutation of the swine flu virus, though there were 423 other suspected cases.

He said the girl was treated two months ago at a hospital in Mexico City for a respiratory illness and then returned with a case of severe pneumonia, from which she recovered."

Please read the whole article.

The latest update from MOH Malaysia - H1N1 (263 ILI Cases Last Week)

Via Bernama the whole report:

" KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Bernama) -- A total of 263 new patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms were admitted for treatment at hospitals nationwide last week (Feb 21-27), while 272 patients with similar symptoms were discharged within the same period.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, in a statement here today, said the total number of ILI patients being treated as of Feb 27 stood at 355 cases, involving 40 government hospitals and four private ones.

"Of the total, 17 patients or 5.1 per cent are confirmed Influenza A(H1N1) cases. Till Feb 27, cumulative A(H1N1) cases stood 12,456," he said.

He said eight of the 17 patients were being treated at Intensive Care Units with five of them having risk factors.

Dr Ismail said five ILI cluster cases were reported last week, one each at two National Service training camps -- the Benom Hill camp in Raub involving 18 trainees and the Etnobotani camp in Gua Musang where 39 trainees were affected.

The other cluster cases involved the HLM Autopart KIP factory in Kepong here (11 workers), Kolej CIAST in Section 19, Shah Alam (19 students) and Kampung Sawah Batu in Pekan, Pahang (eight Orang Asli (indigenous people)).

He added that vaccine injections for those at high risk of infection had commenced since last week and that people who had been categorised as at high risk could get the injections at 104 government facilities designated for the purpose."

- As you can from the report, it is obvious that the number of cases are indeed increasing. Anyone who says otherwise, I guess he got his maths wrong. Even the number of cases admitted to the ICU has increased.

Malaysia's MOH official press release in Bahasa Malaysia (you can use Google translate):

http://h1n1.moh.gov.my/KenyataanAkhbarTerkini.php

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Swine flu surfaces again in Himachal - India

From the Times of India, H1N1 is resurfacing again.

"SHIMLA: A new swine flu case has been reported in Himachal Pradesh after a gap of over a month, a health department official said on Wednesday.

With this, the number of Influenza A (H1N1) cases in the state has risen to 45.

"A 54-year-old man was admitted to Shimla's Indira Gandhi Medical College and hospital yesterday (Tuesday). His samples tested positive for swine flu," Swine Flu Nodal Officer Vinod Mehta said."

Flu death toll now 212 - Thailand

It's disturbing to know that the number of fatalities is rising in South East Asia including Malaysia. It's a clear sign indicating that H1N1 is back in our region. I'm waiting for the latest update from Malaysia's MOH with current situation here.

In the mean time via Bangkok Post (full article):

"Three more people died of the A(H1N1) flu virus last week, raising the number of flu fatalities to 212 since the first outbreak last April, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said on Wednesday.

The latest victims were a 28 year-old man in Chiang Mai, a 28 year-old woman and a 55 year-old man in Chon Buri.

The minister said 937 more people were confirmed to have been infected by the H1N1 flu virus last week."

A/H1N1 passes peak in China's flu season: health ministry

From Xinhua, the latest in China on it's H1N1 situation:

" The A/H1N1 influenza outbreak, which has killed nearly 800 people on the Chinese mainland, has passed its peak in the autumn-winter flu season, the Ministry of Health said Tuesday.

The mainland saw a sharp drop in the proportion of A/H1N1 in all flu cases, down from 36.6 percent in January to 11.1 percent last month, the ministry said in a report posted on its website.

The disease had killed 793 people by Feb. 28, including 18 last month, according to the report."

More on the latest H1N1 in Malaysia

Via News Straits Times more information with regards to the latest H1N1 fatality in Malaysia.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Malaysia - Woman Latest H1N1 Death

The death toll due to H1N1 in Malaysia increased today to 78. I'm posting several links to story:

Bernama:

"A 22-year-old woman died of H1N1-related illness at the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital (HUSM), Kubang Kerian, on Sunday.Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said today the woman was admitted to the hospital on Feb 15 after having fever and cough for eight days."

http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=478959

News Straits Times:

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100302130552/Article/index_html

MOH Malaysia (this is the official press release in Bahasa Melayu, use Google Translate):

http://h1n1.moh.gov.my/KenyataanAkhbarTerkini.php

The Star:

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/3/2/nation/20100302130939&sec=nation

After a long period of absence H1N1 is making its presence felt in Malaysia by causing the latest death. As someone quoted before - "Every death is a tragedy" and we must take it seriously to ensure that we don't let the death toll climb. Every one of us have our role to play in this society.

As a strong believer in God, I pray, God Bless the soul of this woman who passed away and may she rest in peace. My condolences to her family.

Monday, March 1, 2010

H1N1 and College Campuses: Students Across Nation Get Swine Flu Shot

" H1N1 and College Campuses: Students Across Nation Get Swine Flu Shot. Although we haven’t heard about the world wide catastrophe that the CDC believed that the H1N1 flu would bring, it’s still a concern in many health departments and at college campuses across the nation. In fact, students at many educational institutions are getting the swine flu shot.

There was initially a shortage of H1N1 vaccines, and only pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with serious health conditions had access during the earliest stages it was available. Now, the supply has seemed to grow and there are many people still receiving the vaccination."

http://cnmnewsnetwork.com/11265/h1n1-and-college-campuses-students-across-nation-get-swine-flu-shot/

It's good to know that some countries are still protecting themselves when the diseases is waning.

ECDC latest update

The latest situation on H1N1 in Europe:

http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/activities/surveillance/EISN/Newsletter/100226_EISN_Weekly_Influenza_Surveillance_Overview.pdf

Animal disease warning issued as bird flu kills Mekong resident

From Vietnam, more health problems namely the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus which took its first victim last week.

" The Vietnamese Ministry of Health reported the first human bird flu death this year on Friday, prompting an animal health official to warn that animal health diseases could sweep the country in 2010.

The 38-year-old victim from the Mekong Delta Tien Giang Province was killed February 23, soon before Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City confirmed she had tested positive with the H5N1 virus. The victim’s name has not been released. "

http://www.thanhniennews.com/healthy/?catid=8&newsid=55319

Hundreds get swine flu vaccination

Everyone is preparing for the second wave. We should get our acts together.

" Health authorities in north Queensland say a free swine flu vaccination program, which was launched over the weekend, is proving successful.

The shots are being given at selected state high schools each Saturday until the end of the month.

Regional coordinator Carmel Bannon says it is hoped the program will help to control the spread of a second wave of the illness."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/01/2832643.htm?site=news

Findings confirm H1N1 flu's toll on pregnant women

Via Reuters, more evidence appears on the risk factors for pregnant woman when it comes to H1N1.

" New research from Australia confirms that the HIN1 flu hits pregnant women particularly hard-especially if they have asthma, obesity or diabetes."

"This finding underscores the importance of education regarding recommendations for vaccination in pregnancy and the need for rapid testing and earlier use of antivirals in suspected influenza," Dr. Michelle L. Giles of Monash Medical Center in Clayton, Victoria, and her colleagues write.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61P5DE20100226

WHO - Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 89

WHO's latest update on the H1N1 situation worldwid. Excerpt from an informative update, the paragraph which is of the interest to all of us here in Malaysia and South East Asia.

" In Southeast Asia, pandemic influenza virus continued to circulate in areas, however, the overall intensity of respiratory diseases activity remained low and unchanged, except in a few countries. In Brunei Darussalam, during February 2009, influenza activity was reported to be geographically widespread and was associated with an increasing trend and high intensity of respiratory diseases. Both Myanmar and Thailand have reported an increasing trend of respiratory diseases associated with geographically regional spread of influenza for the first half of February 2009, however, overall intensity currently remains low in both countries. In Thailand, approximately one third of provinces reported that >5% of medical visits were due to ILI during the most recent reporting week. In East Asia, virologic surveillance data suggest that pandemic influenza and seasonal influenza type B viruses continue to co-circulate. A recent increase in ILI activity in Mongolia may be due to an increase in the circulation of seasonal influenza type B viruses. Overall influenza activity continues to decline and return to baseline levels in both Japan and the Republic of Korea (S. Korea). In Hong Kong SAR (China) and in Chinese Taipei, pandemic influenza virus continues to circulate at low levels and overall ILI activity is substantially lower than what was observed peaks of activity during the fall months. In South Asia, overall influenza activity remained low, however, pandemic influenza virus transmission persists in the western part of India. "

http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_02_26/en/index.html