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December 29, 2010 | By Tami Dennis, Tribune Health
Flu may be making headlines in the United Kingdom, but folks in the U.S. -- almost hysterical at the specter of influenza a couple of seasons ago -- seem more concerned about anything and everything else. That's not the same thing, however, as saying there's no flu activity in this country. The UK's Health Protection Agency announced earlier this week that flu cases are on the upswing across that portion of Europe. And of course, as has been the case with the predominant H1N1 strain (formerly known as "swine flu" -- it seems so long ago now doesn't it?
December 9, 2010 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times
With all the hubbub over tax breaks and unemployment, it's interesting that flu shots turned up on the president's radar this week. President Obama signed a proclamation declaring this week as National Influenza Vaccination Week. As this proclamation says: "Last year, as the world prepared for a pandemic of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, we were reminded of the severity and unpredictability of this serious disease. Thousands of Americans suffered serious complications from the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, resulting in hospitalization or even death.
November 30, 2010 | Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times
That H1N1, it didn't lead to bodies piled high in the streets. But the point is, it could have -- pandemics sometimes do. And were we prepared? No, we were not. That's the bottom line of a perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine right before Thanksgiving when our thoughts of birds had all to do with feasts and not the influenza A viruses many wild ones naturally harbor.   The commentary, which you can read in full on the Web , was penned by three scientists at RAND in Santa Monica and its main theme was vaccine acceptance.
August 27, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Most reports about seasonal influenza cite an average of about 36,000 deaths in a typical season, but that number is too high and grossly misleading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The actual average is a little more than 23,000, the agency reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report . But even that figure is misleading, the report added, because the numbers have ranged from as low as 3,300 deaths to nearly 50,000 over the last 30 years.
August 20, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Dr. Robert M. Chanock, a virologist who made a remarkable series of discoveries about respiratory viruses in the 1960s and 1970s, including the isolation of the deadly respiratory syncytial virus and four para- influenza viruses, died Aug. 4 at a residential care center in Sykesville, Md. He was 86 and had Alzheimer's disease. Chanock also identified the cause of what was once called walking pneumonia, developed an adenovirus vaccine that is widely used by the military, laid the foundation for the discovery of hepatitis A and C and the development of vaccines against them, pioneered the development of the nasal spray influenza vaccine and played a key role in the discovery of the Norwalk virus, the first member of the family of viruses that cause what is generally known as intestinal flu. One of his biggest disappointments was his team's inability to develop a vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus, but they did develop antibodies that could be used to protect infants at high risk for the disease.
August 10, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic is officially over, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. "The new H1N1 influenza has largely run its course," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a telephone news conference from Hong Kong. "We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. " Some places may see localized outbreaks of the pandemic H1N1 virus, commonly called swine flu, she said, but overall activity is expected to be about normal for the season. In particular, she noted, out-of-season outbreaks are no longer being observed in either the Northern or Southern hemisphere.
July 30, 2010
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it has approved seasonal influenza vaccines produced by six manufacturers and at least two of the companies said they have already begun or will soon begin shipping the vaccines to U.S. customers. The vaccine protects against the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus that caused an uproar last winter, as well as two other strains of influenza that are not as widespread but that nonetheless can be a problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in February changed its recommendations for who should receive the shots.
April 3, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Vaccination rates for the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus have varied widely around the country, with New England having the highest rates and the South having the lowest, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week. Rhode Island had the highest rate of vaccination for swine flu, with about 39% of its population immunized, while Mississippi had the lowest rate, with 13% receiving the shot, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among children, Georgia had the lowest vaccination rate, at 21%. Georgia now has the highest level of ongoing swine flu activity of any state.
April 3, 2010 | By Amina Khan
Influenza has for years ravaged domesticated chickens. Now scientists suggest that a small piece of duck DNA might protect the farm birds against the virus -- saving commercial flocks and lessening the possibility that humans could be exposed to dangerous strains of the disease. In a study published online last month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said they had found that a key influenza-fighting gene in wild ducks is absent in chickens. Genetically modifying chickens with a copy of that gene might render them resistant to influenza A, the most common flu infecting humans, the authors said.
March 30, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Continuing activity of pandemic H1N1 influenza in the Southeast, particularly in Georgia, is raising fears of a third wave of swine flu cases, federal officials said Monday. They urged people to continue getting vaccinated as a preventive measure in case a new outbreak occurred. Although H1N1 flu activity is still low in most of the country, flu-related hospitalizations in Georgia have, since the beginning of February, been higher than they were in October at the height of the second wave of the flu, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
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