Flu News Day, 10/27/2022
Articles featured in October 27th’s Flu News Day discuss the toll of this year’s bird flu outbreak on poultry flocks in the U.S., estimations of seasonal influenza burden across the disease severity pyramid and more. Read here to catch up on the latest in influenza news and funding.
Estimating seasonal influenza burden across the disease severity pyramid
October marks the start of the northern hemisphere influenza season. As cases continue to rise, data estimating hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza can be critical for researchers, hospitals, and other stakeholders. Quantifying the burden of influenza could help stakeholders to analyze and communicate the full impact of seasonal influenza on health systems and societies. The co-circulation of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 also increases the possibility of a more severe winter respiratory virus season. WHO, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, developed an influenza burden monitoring webtool that estimates influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths. The tool categorizes hospitalizations across a severity pyramid, from moderate disease to death. The tool also allows users to generate estimates of seasonal influenza burden using existing data on influenza-associated hospitalizations or deaths. While most low- and middle-income countries report surveillance data on hospitalizations and deaths, few distinguish between mild, moderate and non-hospitalized deaths. The tool is aimed to help public health practitioners and policy makers to communicate disease burden and severity of influenza. You can learn more about the tool and a link to the tool here.
Vietnam Reports Its First Human H5 Bird Flu Case Since 2014
Vietnam reported its first human case of influenza A(H5) in Vietnam since February 2014. The patient is a 5-year-old female from Phu Tho. Since 2003 to 2014, Vietnam recorded a total of 128 cases and 64 deaths from influenza A(H5) infection. During the 2003-2004 outbreak, Vietnam recorded its first human case of H5N1 Influenza. This was followed by outbreaks in 2004-2005, late 2005, 2006-2007, and mid-2007. By the end of 2005, Vietnam introduced a mass vaccination program for poultry that considerably reduced human transmission. Studies have revealed that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 viruses are endemic in Vietnam. You can read more about the outbreak and recommendations from the Department of Preventive Health here.
Image caption: Spatial distribution of the live bird markets involved in the avian influenza surveillance activities in Vietnam between November 2014 and December 2015.
Influenza Hospitalizations and Vaccination Coverage by Race and Ethnicity—United States, 2009–10 Through 2021–22 Influenza Seasons
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report that examines influenza hospitalization and vaccination rates by race and ethnicity during a 12–13-year period. Historically, influenza burden has been higher among persons from some racial and ethnic minority groups. The report found racial and ethnic disparities in influenza-associated hospitalizations, with rates averaging 1.2 to 1.8 times higher in Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic adults compared to White adults across 13 influenza seasons. Previous reports investigating the reasons behind the high burden in racial and ethnic minorities found low influenza vaccination coverage due to distrust of the medical system, misperceptions about vaccine safety, and higher levels of concern regarding adverse effects. Additionally, racial and ethnic minority groups regularly face barriers to affordable, quality health care, including access to insurance, childcare, and transportation to health providers. The US CDC used data from the Influenza-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET), which collects population-based surveillance data for laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations representing 8%–9% of the U.S. population. You can read more about the findings from the report here.
Bird flu kills close to a record number of poultry in the U.S.
The US reported a near-record number of chickens and turkeys that died in this year’s outbreak of avian flu. 47 million birds died due to infection and culling this year. Officials reported a different virus subtype than previously reported as the cause for the increase in number of deaths. The goose/Guangdong lineage is also reported to be spreading through Europe. The outbreak in the US has been reported in 42 states, twice as many with reported cases in 2015. This has also led to a record low number of inventories of turkey breasts in cold storage facilities. The news has also resulted in major buyers, including China, to restrict on US poultry imports. You can read more about the impact of the outbreak here.