Influenza

The CDC Must Do Better

The USPTF got schooled in 2009 when they released their guidelines for breast cancer screening.  They did not prepare for the backlash nor did they have media personnel or training to deal with the public’s ire.  The task force learned a lesson, and guideline release and dissemination has changed as a result.  The USPTF has become less forthcoming with information related to pending reviews--mostly due to politics. Last year, the CDC had its own imbroglio over Ebola: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been widely criticized for projecting overconfidence in U.S. hospitals' capacity to manage Ebola. When two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas became infected after caring for Thomas Duncan, critics cited the CDC's assurance that “U.S. hospitals can safely manage patients with Ebola disease.”2 When the CDC said the nurses probably became infected because of a protocol breach and it turned out there was no protocol, things got…

H7N9 cases in China

China has now reported 126 human cases of H7N9 influenza, including 24 deaths. Almost all cases had severe respiratory illnesses requiring hospitalization. No cases have been seen in the US, and the CDC is actively working on a vaccine (CDC update).

Influenza spreads wide and small

This study found that hospitalized influenza patients can transmit influenza particles up to 6 feet away, and the particle sizes were smaller than what could be controlled with standard surgical masks. This study calls into question the efficacy of standard droplet precautions to limit the spread of influenza (abstract).

New influenza in China (H7N9)

The CDC has released an advisory concerning a novel Influenza virus circulating in China, H7N9. So far, the CDC has reported 14 cases and 6 deaths. The transmission is believed to be from poultry and not person-to-person (although the poultry do not appear to be ill from the virus) (CDC site).
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