Flu and respiratory illnesses are costing South African companies R2,7-billion a year, said the absenteeism statistics company CAM Solutions on Tuesday. Spokesperson Johnny Johnson said absenteeism due to flu and respiratory illnesses was having a considerable impact at the workplace. He said the direct cost was considerable, bearing in mind that employers would still have additional costs such as paying for replacement workers.
GENEVA, Nov. 8 -- Data presented on Tuesday at an international conference on bird flu indicate that drug manufacturers could produce enough influenza vaccine starting sometime in 2008 to protect between a quarter and half the world's population over the course of a year, should a new and dangerous strain of flu virus emerge.
This flu season there's additional reason to make your little ones wash their hands and keep their noses off their sleeves. A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that 3- and 4-year-olds drive flu epidemics -- and that flu symptoms in kids under 5, more than any other age group, are correlated with flu-related deaths in the general population.
Don't worry, it's not too late to get vaccinated against the flu virus.
Dan Wilson remembers being a frightened 5-year-old, hearing grown-ups talking about tests as he lay on a daybed in the screened porch of his central Wisconsin home in 1955.
Experts fear human-to-human mutation could cause pandemic
The success of HAART at reducing illness and death causes by AIDS-defining opportunistic infections is well documented. Now, a study conducted in the USA suggests that effective anti-HIV therapy has also reduced the number of hospitalisations and deaths in HIV-positive people caused by annual influenza epidemics. Writing in the November 1st edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes American investigators describe a retrospective study which looked at rates of hospitalisation and death caused by pneumonia, influenza, respiratory problems and heart failure amongst HIV-positive individuals aged 15 - 50 receiving Medicaid during the influenza season (November - January) between 1995 and 1999. The patients included in the study contributed 7,368 person-years of follow-up. As expected, the proportion of individuals receiving HAART increased significantly from 0.1% in 1995- 96, to 52% in 1998-99. This was accompanied by a significant overall drop in hospitalisations from 45% in 1995-96 to 26% in 1998-99. When the investigators looked specifically at cardiopulmonary hospitalisations and deaths they found 313 instances of hospitalisation per 1,000 patient years and 220 deaths per 1,000 patient years pre-HAART in 1995. Hospitalisation rates fell by 48% the year after with the introduction of HAART falling by a further 5% per year with hospitalisation rates in 1998-99 135 per 1000 patient years with an all cause mortality rate of 50 per 1000 patient years. Before the availability of HAART, the investigators estimated that 48 hospitalisations per 1,000 were due to influenza. This fell to five per 1,000 after the introduction of HAART, similar to that seen in other high-risk populations, and the investigators could find no deaths in the HAART era where influenza was the probable cause. However, the investigators caution that HIV-positive patients, even if they are receiving successful treatment with HAART, should be considered for annual influenza vaccinations. They highlighted studies showing that the use of influenza vaccine does not have a sustained adverse effect on viral load or disease progression, and that the use of influenza vaccine was able to reduce by 65% the incidence of influenza amongst HIV-positive individuals in a residential facility. (Source:aidsmap 10 November 2003). http://www.aidsmap.com/news/newsdisplay2.asp?newsId=2406 Link: http://www.aidsmap.com/publications/factsheets/fs01.htm
South Africa's first human vaccine safety trials have entered a critical stage of development, which, if all goes according to plan, will see participants receiving the initial dose before June. Dr Tim Tucker, director of the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative, has confirmed that the final stages of implementation are under way, with top-level discussions in progress. According to human rights lawyer Anne Strode of the University of Natal's department of law in Pietermaritzburg, one of the main areas of concern being discussed this week by the country's top scientists and the Department of Health was the question of treatment for participants if they become HIV-positive during the trial period. She outlined some of the ethics that needed to be fully understood by participants and researchers. There was also a need for external structures where participants could discuss problems and concerns arising from the trials, she added. Among the major aims of the ethics process was to ensure that participants knew the methods used for the research, how many blood tests or clinic visits might be required, potential risks, expected benefits, the right to withdraw, and confidentiality. One of the thorny ethical issues facing researchers was the gaining of informed consent from people in rural areas where cultural dynamics came into play. Often in these cases, individual consent does not exist, Strode added. A wife cannot consent to participate in a trial without the approval of her husband or community leaders. These are ethical considerations that still need work. (Source: Liz Clarke: The Star, 26 February 2003)
The Ministry of Health has announced that the Institut Pasteur, Madagascar has isolated influenza A (H3N2) viruses from 2 out of 39 samples taken from cases in Fianarantso a province, an area where outbreaks of an influenza-like illness have been reported. A total of 5 117 cases including 374 deaths (case-fatality rate of 7.3%) in 5 out of 13 districts in the country. (WHO: Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response, 7-13 August 2002)