Tamiflu-resistant swine flu cluster in U.S

IS IT ENOUGH: A file picture of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu. A cluster of patients has already developed resistance to the drug in the US

 Four North Carolina patients at a single hospital tested positive for a type of swine flu that is resistant to the medication Tamiflu, said health officials on Friday.

The cases reported at the Duke University Medical Center over six weeks make up the biggest cluster seen so far in the U.S.

Tamiflu – made by Switzerland’s Roche Group – is one of two flu medicines that help against swine flu, and health officials have been closely watching for signs that the virus is mutating, making the drugs ineffective.

More than 50 resistant cases have been reported in the world since April, including 21 in the U.S.

Almost all in the United States were isolated, said officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Swine flu shot not causing deaths: WHO

A health worker prepares a swine flu shot at a clinic in Barcelona on November 16, 2009. The World Health Organisation on Thursday ruled out swine flu vaccine as the cause of death in 41 people who had received the flu shot.

 

AP A health worker prepares a swine flu shot at a clinic in Barcelona on November 16, 2009. The World Health Organisation on Thursday ruled out swine flu vaccine as the cause of death in 41 people who had received the flu shot.
The World Health Organisation on Thursday ruled out swine flu vaccine as the cause of death in 41 people who had received the flu shot.

 

WHO vaccines chief Marie-Paule Kieny said deaths investigated by health authorities so far weren’t caused by the vaccine. Further deaths were still being investigated, she added.

WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander said the 41 deaths examined in connection with the vaccine occurred in six countries. She was unable to say how many deaths were still being examined.

Health experts have been closely monitoring the safety of the new pandemic vaccine that is being given to millions of people worldwide.

Decades of safe influenza inoculations mean specialists aren’t expecting problems with the swine flu shot, because it’s made the same way as the regular winter flu vaccine.

In some European countries, including Germany and Switzerland, there has been public concern whether the use of adjuvants in vaccines is safe. These additives are intended to boost the body’s immune response and stretch the vaccine’s active ingredient so more doses can be made.

No flu vaccines with adjuvants are licensed so far in the United States, though they are commonly used in Europe.

“The pandemic flu vaccine is as safe as seasonal flu vaccines,” said Ms. Kieny, adding that vaccines against the pandemic flu strain, known as H1N1, have no more side effects than previous flu vaccines.

Out of every 10,000 doses of vaccines administered only one person develops reaction to the vaccine. Five out of 100 reactions are serious, she said.

Indoor plants at workplace could save employee’s life: Study

INDOOR_PLANTS

Researchers have identified five “super ornamental plants” which every workplace should have to clean up indoor air

 Not only do they brighten up the office, indoor plants could save an employee’s life too, say researchers.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, harmful indoor pollutants represent a serious health problem that is responsible for more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year.

Now, a new study has revealed that ornamental plants could drastically reduce levels of stress and ill health, and boost performance levels at work because they soak up harmful indoor air pollution.

Lead researcher Stanley Kays of University of Georgia said some indoor plants have the ability to effectively remove harmful volatile organic compounds from the air and not only improve physical health, but also someone’s wellbeing.

In fact, the researchers have identified five “super ornamental plants” which every workplace should have to clean up indoor air — English ivy, waxy leaved plants and ferns.

And, according to them, adding these plants to indoor spaces can reduce stress, increase performance at work and reduce symptoms of ill health, leading British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported.

The research team tested 28 common indoor ornamental plants for their ability to remove five volatile indoor pollutants. Of the species tested, purple waffle plant, English ivy, waxy leaved plant and Asparagus fern were rated best for removing air pollutants.

The purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida) was rated superior for its ability to remove four of the VOCs.

“The volatile compounds tested in this study can adversely affect indoor air quality and have a potential to seriously compromise the health of exposed individuals,” Prof. Kays was quoted as saying.

The study concluded that simply introducing common ornamental plants into indoor spaces has the potential to significantly improve the quality of indoor air.

“As well as the obvious health benefits, the increased use of indoor plants in both ‘green’ and traditional buildings could have a tremendous positive impact on the ornamental plant industry by increasing customer demand and sales,” Prof Kays said.

The findings have been published in the latest edition of the ‘HortScience’ journal.

Swine flu vaccines will not be foolproof: WHO

An Israeli medical worker displays ampoules with swine flu vaccine at the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. Israel has already ordered enough swine flu vaccine for 30 percent of its population even though it is still in development, according to the Health Ministry. Photo: Heidi Levine

AP An Israeli medical worker displays ampoules with swine flu vaccine at the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. Israel has already ordered enough swine flu vaccine for 30 percent of its population even though it is still in development, according to the Health Ministry. Photo: Heidi Levine

The much-awaited swine flu vaccine, currently being developed, will not provide 100 per cent protection against the disease, the World Health Organisation said.

“No vaccines, including pandemic influenza vaccines, provide 100 per cent protection against the disease. But they do greatly reduce the risk of disease,” WHO said in a statement, replying questions related to the vaccine.

According to the WHO, the influenza vaccines will become effective only 14 days after vaccination. Those infected shortly before one to three days or shortly after immunisation can still get the disease.

Moreover, the pandemic influenza vaccines are not expected to provide protection against other influenza virus.

“Since current seasonal influenza vaccines do not contain the pandemic virus, people should be vaccinated against both pandemic influenza and seasonal influenza.”

There are two types of vaccines – one contains killed viruses, which is given by injection into the upper arm for most people. For infants and young children, thigh is the preferred site for the vaccine shot. Another type of vaccine is made with live viruses and it is administered by nasal spray.

Recommendations on number of dosages to be used, is yet to be finalised. While immunisation experts recommend a single dose of vaccine in adults and adolescents from 10 years of age and above, more study is advised on effective dosage regimens for immuno-suppressed persons for whom two doses of vaccine may be needed, the WHO said.

 

Global swine flu toll rises to over 5,700: WHO

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Thousands of people line up to get the H1N1 vaccine at Metro Hall in Toronto on Friday Oct. 30, 2009.

Canada has 50 million doses of the vaccine ordered for the population of 33 million More than 700 people have died of swine flu this week, raising the number of fatalities from the viral disease to 5,712 worldwide, Xinhua reported citing the UN health agency on Friday. Of all the deaths, 4,175 occurred in the Americas, 605 occurred in South-East Asia and 465 occurred in the West Pacific.

 Europe, East Mediterranean and Africa reported 281, 111 and 75 deaths respectively, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a latest update on Friday.

The WHO, which declared the swine flu as a pandemic in June, said the total number of lab confirmed cases worldwide is now over 441,661, but this case count is significantly lower than the actual number of cases that have occurred, because many countries have stopped testing and reporting individual cases. In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, influenza transmission continues to intensify marking an unusually early start to winter influenza season in some countries, the UN agency said.

Mobile phones may be linked to cancer

 

London: Heavy mobile phones users face a higher risk of developing cancers, according to a landmark international study overseen by the WHO.

According to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, the decade-long investigation overseen by the World Health Organisation will publish evidence that heavy users face a higher risk of developing brain tumours later in life.

Even though the conclusion of the research will be revealed only later this year, a preliminary breakdown of the results found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumours “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more” in some studies, the report in the British daily said.

The conclusion of the 20 million pounds study, while not definitive, will undermine assurances that the devices are safe. Several countries, notably France, have started strengthening warnings in this regard and American politicians are urgently investigating the risks. The Interphone inquiry has been probing the link between exposure to mobile phones and three types of brain tumour and a tumour of the salivary gland. Its head, Dr Elisabeth Cardis, backed new warnings.

“In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radiofrequency radiation, precautions are important,” she was quoted as saying by the London daily.

.WHO says H1N1 vaccine safe, urges mass take-up

 

 

who says h1n1 vaccine safe urges mass take up

A vial of Influenza A (H1N1) monovalent vaccine and a labelled packaging are pictured prior…

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) restated its confidence in the H1N1 flu vaccine on Tuesday, calling it the most important tool against the pandemic.

Mild adverse side effects such as muscle cramps or headache are to be expected in some cases, but everyone who has access to the vaccine should be inoculated, it said.

Mass vaccination campaigns against the swine flu virus are underway in China and Australia and will be starting soon in the United States and parts of Europe, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

“It is important to remember that the vaccines, which have already been approved, have been used for years and years and years in their seasonal vaccine formulation and have been shown to be among the safest vaccines that exist,” he told a news briefing.

Hartl, asked whether WHO was concerned by reports that some people were reluctant to be injected with the new vaccine, said:

“Certainly we have seen the reports. Again, we would restate that the most important tool that we have to fight this pandemic is the vaccine.”

It was doubly important that health care workers be vaccinated, as it protects them as well as patients, he added.

“We would hope that everyone who has a chance to get vaccinated does get vaccinated,” Hartl told Reuters.

The United Nations agency declared in June that the H1N1 virus was causing an influenza pandemic and its collaborating laboratories have provided seed virus to drug makers worldwide to develop vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline won a further 22 government orders for its H1N1 swine flu vaccine in the last two months, taking the total number of doses ordered to 440 million worth some $3.5 billion.

Rivals in flu vaccines include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Baxter, AstraZeneca and CSL.