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Related terms: Bird flu, H5N1

Online Program Boosts Hand Washing, Cuts Infections

Posted 6 Aug 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2015 – An online program that encourages people to wash their hands reduced the spread of cold and flu viruses within families, a new study says. The program also led to fewer gastrointestinal illnesses, doctor appointments and antibiotic prescriptions, according to the findings published online Aug. 6 in The Lancet. "A simple, cheap internet program to encourage hand washing can reduce the risk of infection by around 14 percent," study author Dr. Paul Little, a professor at the University of Southampton in the U.K., said in a journal news release. "Because most of the population catches coughs, colds, sore throats and other respiratory infections, this could have an important impact on reducing the spread of these viruses in the general population, and also help reduce the pressure on [health] services during the winter months," he added. The free, interactive ... Read more

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Scientists Test Universal Flu Vaccine in Mice

Posted 21 Jul 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, July 21, 2015 – Scientists report that a universal flu vaccine in mice protected the animals against eight different flu strains. If the vaccine works in humans, scientists might not have to develop new flu vaccines every year, the researchers said. The findings were reported July 21 in the journal mBio. Currently, a vaccine is created each year to protect against the handful of flu strains that are predicted to be the most common during that flu season. And the vaccine makeup is determined months in advance so that manufacturers have time to make the millions of doses needed. "The reason researchers change the vaccine every year is that they want to specifically match the vaccine to the particular viruses that are circulating, such as H1N1. If the vaccine is just a little bit different to the target virus, it is not expected to offer much protection," explained lead ... Read more

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Doctors May Play Big Role in Antibiotic Overuse: Study

Posted 20 Jul 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, July 20, 2015 – Doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care workers who prescribe drugs may be helping to drive the overuse of antibiotics in the United States, new research suggests. Experts have long warned that using antibiotics for illnesses for which they are useless – viral infections, for example – helps foster resistance by germs to these potentially lifesaving drugs. In the new study, a team led by Dr. Barbara Jones, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Utah, looked at data on more than 1 million patient visits for acute respiratory infections at 130 VA medical centers across the United States between 2005 and 2012. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, acute respiratory infections include the common cold, bronchitis and ear infections – many of which are caused by viruses. However, Jones' team found that antibiotics ... Read more

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Antibiotics Myths Still Common Among Parents

Posted 20 Jul 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, July 20, 2015 – Many American parents still have misconceptions about when their children should receive antibiotics and what the medications do, a new study finds. Looking at data results spanning more than a decade, researchers saw that parents with Medicaid insurance were more likely to misunderstand appropriate antibiotic use than parents with private commercial insurance. Medicaid is the government-run insurance program for lower-income Americans. "While not confirmed, it is possible that the combination of health literacy and underlying socioeconomic factors could contribute to both the misconceptions and expectations for antibiotics," said Dr. Louise Vaz. She is assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases and medical director of the Outpatient Antibiotic Therapy Program at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. "We do need to better tailor our ... Read more

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Bird Flu Poses Little Threat to People: CDC

Posted 22 Apr 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2015 – The bird flu outbreak that has resulted in the slaughter of millions of chickens and turkeys in the United States has little chance of sickening humans, federal health officials said Wednesday. The reason: the genetic makeup of the virus behind the outbreak is different from other bird flu viruses that have sickened more than 600 people in 15 countries, according to Dr. Alicia Fry, an epidemiologist and medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "The CDC considers the risk to humans to be low," Fry said during a morning media briefing. But it's possible there could be some human infections, particularly among farm workers handling infected poultry, she said. Bird flu is spread by wild birds, particularly waterfowl. The outbreaks outside the United States have occurred ... Read more

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5.3 Million Chickens To Be Killed After Bird Flu Outbreak at Iowa Farm

Posted 21 Apr 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, April 21, 2015 – Bird flu has been detected on an Iowa farm with a flock of about 5 million chickens, bringing the total number of chickens and turkeys affected by the virus to nearly 8 million nationwide. All of the birds on farm will be killed, the Wall Street Journal reported. Experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture stressed that no human cases of bird flu have occurred in the United States and the virus poses a low risk to people. Another expert agreed. "Although the bird flu can be quite virulent, the main virus in question – H5N2 – does not constitute an immediate threat to the safety of the public or the food supply in general," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The Iowa farm newly hit by bird flu is in Osceola County, but wasn't named by officials. The Iowa Poultry Association said the farm supplies eggs ... Read more

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Bird Flu Spreads Across China, Posing Threat to People: Report

Posted 11 Mar 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, March 11, 2015 – Avian flu, commonly called "bird flu," is gaining strength in China and has the potential to emerge as a life-threatening virus for humans across the globe, a new report suggests. In the year since avian flu first surfaced in China, it has expanded throughout that country and become a persistent infection in chickens there, the new report states. The virus also has begun to mutate in chickens, raising concerns that it could gain the ability to more easily infect humans and spread beyond China, the study authors warned. "Therefore, H7N9 viruses should be considered as a major candidate to emerge as a pandemic strain in humans," Yi Guan, from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues concluded in the March 11 issue of the journal Nature. Avian flu, also known as H7N9 influenza, first appeared in eastern China in March 2013 when the virus spread to humans ... Read more

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Seasonal Flu Vaccine May Protect Against Deadly Bird Flu

Posted 17 Feb 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Feb. 17, 2015 – Seasonal flu vaccines trigger immune system protection against the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus, a new study reveals. This strain of bird flu, which emerged in China in 2013, kills nearly one-third of people infected with it, the researchers noted. "We have clear evidence that a normal immune response to flu vaccination offers protection against dangerous and highly unique strains of influenza such as H7N9," study co-senior author Patrick Wilson, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said in a university news release. "We now need to develop ways of amplifying this response," he added. The researchers tested 83 immune system antibodies from 28 people who received a seasonal flu vaccine. Of those antibodies, 7 percent reacted against rare H7 virus strains, even though those strains were not specifically targeted by the seasonal flu ... Read more

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Vaccine Opponents Often Cluster in Communities

Posted 19 Jan 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Jan. 19, 2015 – Parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated appear to be clustered in certain areas, a new study suggests. Among more than 150,000 children in 13 counties in Northern California, the researchers found five clusters where kids had missed one or more vaccinations by the time they were 3 years old. "It's known from other studies that areas where there are clusters of vaccine refusal are at higher risk of epidemics, such as whooping cough epidemics," said lead investigator Dr. Tracy Lieu, a pediatrician and director of the division of research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, in Oakland. "Clusters may deserve special outreach efforts to make sure parents have all the information they need to make informed decisions about vaccination," she said. Specifically, the researchers found the rate of missed vaccinations within these clusters ranged from 18 ... Read more

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Scientists Aim to Improve Vaccines Against 'Bird Flu'

Posted 7 Oct 2014 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Oct. 7, 2014 – Two groups of researchers report they are refining the vaccine strategies that will be needed if the world ever has to face a "bird flu" pandemic. Scientists suspect that avian influenza could change and easily spread to people with no immunity to it, potentially causing a global pandemic. By experimenting with ways to improve vaccines and boost the human immune response, these researchers hope to mute that threat. In one study, researchers found that a vaccine for the H7N9 strain of avian flu worked much better when mixed with an adjuvant – a substance that boosts the body's response to inoculation. The other study reports that people vaccinated for an older strain of bird flu became "primed" for vaccines aimed at newer strains, with their immune systems displaying a heightened response to the new vaccine. Both studies appear in the Oct. 8 issue of the Journal ... Read more

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Avian Flu In Harbor Seals Could Infect People

Posted 19 Sep 2014 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Sept. 19, 2014 – The avian flu that killed 160 harbor seals in New England in 2011 could be spread through respiratory drops and therefore poses a potential threat to humans, according to a new study. Although no human illnesses have been linked to the harbor seal virus, researchers at St. Jude Children's Research hospital have discovered natural mutations to the avian H3N8 seal virus that might allow it to travel through the air in droplets. Current seasonal flu vaccines wouldn't help in such a scenario, the study's authors added. What's more, the researchers found that humans don't have an evidence of protection against this virus. "The transmissibility of the seal H3N8 virus coupled with the apparent lack of immunity makes this strain a concern," the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in a recent issue of Nature Communications. Deadly cases of avian H5N1 and ... Read more

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Current Bird Flu Has Pandemic Potential

Posted 11 Jun 2014 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, June 11, 2014 – Flu viruses currently circulating in birds closely resemble the one that caused the 1918 pandemic that killed about 50 million people worldwide, researchers say. Only a few differences separate proteins in current flu viruses found in birds and proteins in the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the investigators found. This suggests that a similar deadly virus could emerge in the near future, according to the authors of the study published June 11 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. "Because avian [bird] influenza viruses in nature require only a few changes to adapt to humans and cause a pandemic, it is important to understand the mechanisms involved in adaptation and identify the key mutations so we can be better prepared," senior author Yoshihiro Kawaoka, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a journal news release. "Research ... Read more

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Vaccine Against Bird Flu Readied, Just in Case

Posted 30 Apr 2014 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, April 30, 2014 – A vaccine to protect people against a potential outbreak of H7N9 bird flu has shown promising results, according to a new report. This flu, first seen in humans in China last year, is common among birds and chickens, but so far isn't known to spread from person-to-person. However, people who have come into contact with infected birds have been sickened. "An effective H7N9 vaccine is achievable," said researcher Dr. Niranjan Kanesa-thasan, from Novartis Vaccines in Cambridge, Mass. If H7N9 flu were to become a pandemic, this preliminary work would make it simple to ramp up vaccine production and do larger trials, he said. This flu most commonly infects older people. As of late April, the World Health Organization said 139 cases of H7N9 flu were reported in China. More than 20 percent of those patients have died. Robin Robinson, deputy assistant secretary for ... Read more

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China's New Bird Flu Might Put People at Risk, Report Says

Posted 5 Feb 2014 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 5, 2014 – Chinese scientists reporting on the first confirmed human death from a new bird flu virus say the strain has gene mutations that could increase its ability to infect people. An elderly woman living in Nanchang City, China, recently died from infection with a new strain of H10N8 bird flu virus. Testing revealed the virus contained genes from H9N2 viruses circulating in poultry in China, according to the report published Feb. 4 in the journal The Lancet. "A genetic analysis of the H10N8 virus shows a virus that is distinct from previously reported H10N8 viruses having evolved some genetic characteristics that may allow it to replicate efficiently in humans," study author Dr. Yuelong Shu, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a journal news release. "Notably, H9N2 virus provided the internal genes not only for the H10N8 virus, but ... Read more

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Bird Flu Virus Doesn't Spread Easily to Humans, Scientists Say

Posted 5 Dec 2013 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2013 – The H7N9 bird flu virus does not yet have the ability to easily infect people, a new study indicates. The findings contradict some previous research suggesting that H7N9 poses an imminent threat of causing a global pandemic. The H7N9 virus killed several dozen people in China earlier this year. Analyses of virus samples from that outbreak suggest that H7N9 is still mainly adapted for infecting birds, not people, according to scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. The study is published in the Dec. 6 issue of the journal Science. "Luckily, H7N9 viruses just don't yet seem well adapted for binding to human receptors," Ian Wilson, a professor of structural biology and chair of the department of integrative structural and computational biology, said in a Scripps news release. "Because publications to date have implied that H7N9 has adapted ... Read more

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