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Mutated strain of H7N9 flu virus developed drug resistance

on Wed, 12/11/2013 - 11:31

A strain of the emergent avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, which is now circulating in China, has developed some kind of resistance to antiviral drugs without losing its virulence. These are the conclusion exposed in an article just published on Nature Communications by a group of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

They found that some H7N9 clinical isolates had an amino acid substitution in the structure of the viral neuraminidase (NA), a membrane-expressed, glycosylated enzyme to which the haemagglutinin (HA) glycoprotein binds.

Bird flu vaccine with adjuvant approved by FDA

on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 20:57

An adjuvanted vaccine against influenza A (H5N1) virus has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccine, Influenza A (H5N1) Virus Monovalent Vaccine, Adjuvanted, also referred to as Q-Pan H5N1, has been tested for safety by comparing approximately 3,400 adults 18 years of age and older who received the vaccine to about 1,100 adults who received placebo. This product was produced by a Canadian subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and is intended for use in people 18 years of age and older who are at increased risk of exposure to the H5N1 influenza virus.

Today begins the final conference of the EpiSouth Network

on Tue, 11/19/2013 - 22:40

After seven years of activity, the EpiSouth Network presented the results it gathered in a final conference, organized by the Italian Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), that will start today in Rome. Several topics will be discussed during the conference: the project impact, its added value at a national and regional level, its sustainability and its possible future developments. The full programme of the conference may be found here.

The EpiSouth Network is an EU-funded project that – by building a network that includes the countries of South-East Europe, North Africa and Middle-East – is

Consequences of H1N1 pandemic on attitudes towards vaccination in France

on Thu, 11/14/2013 - 10:30

As recognized by many experts, the ongoing decline of public confidence in vaccines is one of the main challenges for public health management. A recent paper published on Eurosurveillance shows that unfavorable attitudes towards vaccination dramatically increased from 8.5% in 2000 to 38.2% in 2010 in France.

The study investigated the potential impact of the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic on attitudes towards vaccination among people living in metropolitan France.

Conflict of interest in H1N1 swine flu pandemic

on Tue, 11/12/2013 - 12:24

Scientists interviewed by the media are not necessarily independent. During 2009 swine flu pandemic, the responsibility for publicly inflating the risk fell less on authorities than on experts whose link with pharmaceutical industry were often undisclosed; it is thus necessary for all academics to declare any potential conflict of interests and for journalists to explore further and report such cases, since undisclosed conflict of interests degrades public confidence in medical research, to the detriment of the whole scientific community.

These are the striking conclusions of a group of

Why we have a problem with vaccination coverage

on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 10:57

With the winter at the door, influenza epidemics are a problem to deal with. Every year they cause significant morbidity and mortality throughout Europe, especially in high-risk groups such as older people, individuals with chronic diseases, pregnant women and small children. In most of EU/EEA countries, uptake of seasonal influenza vaccination for these more endangered groups fall below the coverage threshold that the European Council of Ministers set at 75%.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has conducted a systematic review to identify those elements that are

Coordination across the borders to respond to health crises

on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 13:56

Another step towards a better European coordination against health crises: the Decision on Serious Cross-border Threats to Health, approved in July by the European Parliament, has finally entered into force on November 6th. Driven by the motto “Hope for the best, and be prepared for the worst”, the Decision recognizes the need for a common approach on preparedness planning together with risk and crisis response, and will enforce coordination between all Member States.

Aim of the Decision is to cover all the aspects involved – namely: preparedness planning, risk assessment, risk management and

Harnessing social networks in public health communication

on Thu, 10/17/2013 - 15:37

An article recently published inSciencehas put forward a strong case for tapping into online sentiment and behaviour displayed on social networks to predict how the public respond during infectious disease outbreaks. 

The authors, Bauch and Galvani, claim that analysing comments on social networks about public health topics such as paediatric vaccine coverage, pandemic flu vaccination and acceptance of quarantine during the SARS outbreak, can help gain a greater insight into how ideas spread and influence behaviour.  

Using data from social networks, mathematical models can be used to map how an

When communication fails: the case of Indian dengue outbreak

on Wed, 10/09/2013 - 16:19

India is facing an aggressive outbreak of dengue fever – probably the worst in the last ten years – and risk communication from authorities proved to be very ineffective: the lack of proper strategies for both prevention and reaction to dengue outbreaks resulted in low levels of public awareness and poor coordination between different institutions. A series of mistakes for which India is now paying the price: so far, more than 38,000 cases have been reported by the Indian Ministry of Health across the country since January, with 109 deaths. Huge numbers, if compared with the over 50,000 of the

MERS in Europe: which risks?

on Thu, 10/03/2013 - 18:18

The Ecdc released the Rapid Risk Assessment on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers CoV), which reported that Europe is still at risk of an importation of MERS-CoV. Such a risk may also increase due to the increasing number of visitors that will move to the EU to Saudi Arabia in October, to join the Hajj pilgrimage.

So far, twelve cases have been reported outside of the Middle East: United Kingdom (4), Italy (1), France (2), Germany (2) and Tunisia (3), while the number of new cases per month in Saudi Arabia has increased tenfold since April 2013.

New studies on the potential