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West Nile Virus on the Rise

Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , | Comments Off on West Nile Virus on the Rise

West Nile virusis on the rise in the U.S.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the most cases since the virus was first detected in the country in 1999.

West Nile Virus Cases in the United States

West Nile Virus Cases in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A total of 1,118 cases and 41 deaths were reported to the CDC as of the third week in August. And 75% of the cases come from 5 states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota.  The numbers are trending upward.

Experts say they don’t know why the outbreak is worse this year than in years past, but hot weather does seem to promote the outbreak.

“Hot weather, we know, from experiments done in the laboratory, can increase the transmissibility of the virus through mosquitoes and that could be one contributing factor,” Lyle Petersen, director of the division of vector-borne infectious diseases at the CDC, said in a news briefing.

Texas has seen nearly half the cases of West Nile, a statistic that prompted the CDC to provide more than $2.5 million to support increased surveillance control including spraying. Two CDC teams went to the state to support local healthcare officials, too.

There’s no vaccine for the West Nile virus, but companies are working toward solutions.


CDC Prepares New Vaccine in Response to New Strain of Swine Flu

Posted: September 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on CDC Prepares New Vaccine in Response to New Strain of Swine Flu

The U.S.Centers for Disease Control isn’t taking any chances when it comes to swine flu. A new strain of the flu–H3N2–includes an element seen in the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009, so the CDC is preparing a candidate vaccine and clinical trials for later this year.

Doctors have identified 29 human cases of the new strain in the past two years, with all such cases containing the matrix (m) gene found in the H1N1 pandemic virus. “This ‘m’ gene may confer increased transmissibility to and among humans, compared with other variant influenzas viruses,” said Joseph Bresee, from the CDC’s influenza division, as quoted by HealthDay. Part of the concern comes from the rate of infection; of the 29 cases reported, 16 occurred in the past three weeks, Bresee said.

Person-to-person transmission of the disease has yet to take place, which should ease some concerns at this time. In the reported cases, the individuals had close contact with animals carrying the virus, including time spent at a fair. But the CDC takes comfort in preparation.

“Because influenza viruses are always evolving, we will watch closely for signs that the virus has gained capacity for efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission,” Bresee said. “Thus far, we have not seen this type of transmission and therefore are not seeing features consistent with an influenza pandemic.”