Latin America Accounts For Two-Thirds Of All Confirmed H1N1 Deaths
Health officials are growing increasingly concerned over the impact the H1N1 (swine) flu is having on populations living in Latin America, a region "which accounts for around two-thirds of the 816 confirmed deaths so far from the disease," the AFP/channelnewsasia.com reports. "The outlook is especially unsettling for the estimated 380 million people grappling with winter in South America, where the A(H1N1) virus is speedily propagating," the news service writes. The article examines the number of H1N1 cases and deaths across countries and how government officials are working to prevent the spread of the virus (7/29).
CDC Warns Pregnant Women At High-Risk For H1N1, Vaccine Advisory Committee To Meet
Pregnant women with the H1N1 flu are at a higher risk of severe illness and death, according to a Lancet study by CDC researchers, Reuters/Yahoo!News writes. "While pregnant woman have always had a higher risk of severe disease from influenza in general, the new H1N1 virus is taking an exceptionally heavy toll," leading to higher hospitalization rates and death compared to the general population (Steenhuysen, 7/29).
The study led the CDC on Wednesday to recommend that doctors treat pregnant women experiencing flu symptoms immediately with antivirals, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Some clinicians hesitate treating pregnant women with antiviral medications because of concerns for the developing fetus, but this is the wrong approach," Denise Jamieson, lead author of the study, said (Dorren, 7/29).
"Public health officials may put pregnant women at the front of the line" for vaccination, 11Alive.com reports. However, doctors have experienced challenges in the past vaccinating pregnant women, with "[o]nly about 14 percent of them get[ting] the seasonal flu vaccine every year" (Pickard, 7/28).
On Wednesday, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to discuss which groups should be vaccinated first, if the government chooses to move forward with an H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign, Reuters reports. Another topic of discussion will be ways to manage an H1N1 vaccine alongside the seasonal flu vaccine (Fox, 7/28).
Somali Health Minister Appeals For Support To Prepare For H1N1
Somali Health Minister Qamar Aden Ali on Wednesday appealed to the WHO and international community for support to help the nation prepare for the possible arrival of H1N1, Xinhua reports. Though there have been no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Somalia, neighboring Kenya confirmed cases last month. "We lack the technical capability to diagnose the disease and the necessary drugs to treat it. So we call upon the international community particularly the WHO to give us the necessary drugs and technical advice and training for our health staff," the minister said (7/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.