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Seasonal flu rears it head early!!

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  • Seasonal flu rears it head early!!

    This was in my e-mail from the Texas Department of State Health Services regional Epidemiologist:


    Southeast Alabama is experiencing outbreaks of influenza caused by two different influenza viruses.

    In southeast Alabama, 13 cultures from Dale County have tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) and three from Houston County have tested positive for influenza B Shanghai.

    Starting in late August, 2006, Dale County reported patients with classical influenza symptoms, starting first among middle school children but later spreading to other age groups. Over 30 influenza quick tests were positive. Eventually 13 cultures were positive for influenza type A (H1N1).

    Following publicity of the above outbreak, patients with influenza symptoms were reported from Houston County (in the southeastern corner of Alabama). As of September 25, three patients have cultures positive for influenza type B Shanghai.

    At the same time as the first outbreak a culture from Mobile County (southwest Alabama) was positive for influenza type B Hong Kong.

    Culture isolates are being forwarded to CDC.


    I find this info noteworthy in that three strains of influenza have appeared in Alabama VERY EARLY for the 2006-2007 flu season. This is not good news. This is EXTREMELY early in the season to be seeing this kind of flu activity in the first place and second, this outbreak started among middle school kids almost from the minute they returned to school and rapidly moved to the general population.

    Just a reminder that H5N1 is not the only variant of influenza virus out there recombining!!!
    "If you're not living on the edge, you're wasting space."

  • #2
    Re: Seasonal flu rears it's head early!!

    A quick link to an article detailing this year's (2006-2007) trivalent flu vaccine...note that the FDA dropped the Influenza B varient "Shanghai" from this year's vaccine... and guess what appeared in Alabama??

    FDA flu vaccine recommendations for 2006-2007
    "If you're not living on the edge, you're wasting space."


    • #3
      Re: Seasonal flu rears it head early!!

      comment - I admit a selfish interest. We have the Alabama - Florida game this weekend. I find this may be a good exercise for tracking. I post a few stories....

      Alabama Department of Public Health to provide influenza immunizations in Dale and Houston counties
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (9/28/2006)
      CONTACT: Peggy Searcy
      (334) 886-2390
      The Alabama Department of Public Health has received its first 2,000 doses of influenza vaccine. The vaccine will be delivered to the Dale and Houston county health departments since those counties already have been experiencing influenza disease activity. Immunizations will be offered to adults and children ages 4 and older on a first come, first served basis.
      Immunization clinics are scheduled as follows......[delted for brevity]
      Fourteen cases of early-season influenza A/H1N1 have been confirmed in Dale County. In addition, three laboratory-confirmed positive influenza B/Shanghai cases from Houston County are under further investigation. In August, one case of influenza B/Hong Kong was confirmed in Mobile County. Specimens were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?s laboratories for further analysis.
      Additional doses of influenza vaccine will be received by the Alabama Department of Public Health later in the season. Outbreaks of influenza occasionally occur outside the typical influenza season that extends from November to March in Alabama. The public also is reminded to follow basic infection control measures. These include covering the mouth when coughing and frequent hand washing.9/28/06 ADPH

      Earlier Web Release
      Thought has a dual purpose in ethics: to affirm life, and to lead from ethical impulses to a rational course of action - Teaching Reverence for Life -Albert Schweitzer. JT


      • #4
        Re: Seasonal flu rears it head early!!

        Flu outbreaks in south Alabama towns unrelated

        By M.J. Ellington
        DAILY Staff Writer ? (334) 262-1104
        MONTGOMERY ? Two southeast Alabama towns less than 25 miles apart have flu outbreaks, but state health officials say the outbreaks are from different strains of the disease and unrelated.
        That means that people with influenza A H1N1 in Ozark did not pass on the bug to their neighbors in Dothan, less than 25 miles to the south. The three confirmed Dothan cases of influenza B Shanghai type turned up in the last week.
        State health officials do not really know if such an early outbreak is unusual. This is the first year since the state began tracking influenza cases year around. There are no reports of flu north of Dale County where Ozark is located.
        "We still do not know if this has any significance for the rest of the state," said Alabama Department of Public Health Epidemiology Division Director Fred Grady. "But this means two flu outbreaks. It's got our antenna up."
        Grady recommended that Alabamians check with their doctor to see if they should get a flu shot. Some private doctors in the state have flu vaccine already, but Grady said the state is weeks away from flu shot clinics usually done in late October or November. He said people who have respiratory illness should cover their mouths when they cough, ideally by coughing into their elbow instead of their hands, and wash their hands often. The number of official cases in Ozark continues to rise slightly with about 14 reported confirmed cases Tuesday compared to 11 cases last week. But Grady said once the state knows the disease is in an area, doctors there often treat the symptoms and do not report to the state.
        The Ozark strain of the flu first appeared in three children at an Ozark pediatrician's office in August. Other cases developed initially in family members of the children. Grady said his office has no reports of more school absences or more hospitalizations related to the flu in the area.
        Ozark City Schools Superintendent Dan Payant said Tuesday that the school system is not recording an unusual number of absences. At most, Payant estimates a 5 percent increase in absences at the peak of the outbreak and he believes absences are back at or below normal levels this week.
        "What sparked the interest was a cautionary note we sent home to parents so they would know flu arrived early this year," Payant said. "It is a note we send home every year, just earlier this time."
        But Grady said the state will look for links that might explain the outbreak. Ozark is home to Fort Rucker, a U.S. Army base with frequent flights to and from other parts of the world. Grady wants doctors in other parts of the state to culture their patients suspected of having the flu and send the cultures to public health in Montgomery for analysis.
        Mobile reported one case of influenza B, Hong Kong strain in August, but Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer, said the single case was not a cause for concern. No other cases turned up in Mobile.
        Thought has a dual purpose in ethics: to affirm life, and to lead from ethical impulses to a rational course of action - Teaching Reverence for Life -Albert Schweitzer. JT


        • #5
          Re: Seasonal flu rears it head early!!

          comment -
          I went to the Ft. Rucker site for a possible report
          Their last update was 9/21. On the Aeospace Medicine site the last update was 8/31/2006. The base would probably know if they have cases, but generally they are not expected to report to local authorities.
          I think it is worth watching. If Ft. Rucker has seasonal influenza cases, other bases could expect seasonal influnenza cases. Et tu Ft. Hood? Central Texas for sara.smiles.
          Tracking and preventing seasonal flu is a good exercise in preparedness for pandemic flu.
          Thought has a dual purpose in ethics: to affirm life, and to lead from ethical impulses to a rational course of action - Teaching Reverence for Life -Albert Schweitzer. JT