Egyptian H5N1 cases prompt speculation about silent infections

first_imgApr 8, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The recent series of H5N1 avian influenza cases in Egyptian children yet very few in adults has raised concern that some Egyptians may be getting infected without getting sick, according to a Reuters news report published today.John Jabbour, a World Health Organization (WHO) emerging diseases specialist based in Cairo, said the Egyptian government and the WHO are planning a study to find out if subclinical or asymptomatic cases have been occurring, according to the story.Jabbour said the occurrence of asymptomatic cases would be worrisome because it could give the undetected virus more time to mutate in human hosts, Reuters reported.”If there is any subclinical case in Egypt, the aim is to treat immediately to stop the reproduction of the virus,” he told Reuters. “Because whether [through] mutation or reassortment, this will lead to the pandemic strain.”The story said that all but two of the 11 Egyptians infected with H5N1 this year have been children under age 3 (the official WHO count for Egypt reached 12 today). In the same period last year, most of the seven Egyptian case-patients were adults and older children, the report said.Jabbour said the string of cases in children without similar cases in adults had prompted the questions whether adults were being infected without falling ill.He said the Egyptian study would involve testing the blood of people who were potentially exposed to infected birds but had not gotten sick.Tim Uyeki, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CIDRAP News that limited studies in several countries over the past few years have found relatively little serologic evidence of asymptomatic or unrecognized cases of H5N1 virus infection.When the H5N1 virus first infected humans in Hong Kong in 1997, there were two studies in which investigators looked for H5N1 antibodies in people who had potentially been exposed to the virus, Uyeki said. One study focused on 293 poultry cullers, of whom only nine (3%) were found to have H5N1 antibodies, indicating past infection. In the other study, involving 1,525 poultry workers, an estimated 10% had antibodies.More recent studies “have either found no evidence of H5N1 virus infection or very low seroprevalence of H5N1 antibodies, around 1% or less, among different exposed populations,” Uyeki said. “Since H5N1 virus strains continue to evolve, there’s a continued need for these studies in people who have contact with poultry in countries where H5N1 virus strains are circulating in birds, since the risk of transmission to exposed persons could change.”Uyeki also noted that subclinical infection with seasonal influenza virus is known to occur. “But how that relates to H5N1 is unclear,” he said.See also: Jan 25 2008 CIDRAP News story “Cambodian study hints at subclinical H5N1 cases”last_img read more

Medical cannabis businesses in Council Bluffs, Davenport close

first_imgCOUNCIL BLUFFS — Two of the state’s five medical cannabis dispensaries have abruptly closed.The “Have a Heart Compassionate Care” dispensaries in Council Bluffs and Davenport are permanently closed. A news release issued Monday from the Iowa Department of Public Health says state officials were “made aware today” of the decision to close the two outlets.There are three other state-licensed facilities that sell medical cannabis products in Sioux City, Waterloo and Windsor Heights, which is a Des Moines suburb. In a written statement, officials in the Department of Public Health said the agency will work to license two new dispensaries in western and eastern Iowa as soon as possible.The medical cannabis industry has been lobbying legislators to expand the state law that set up the system for growing, producing and selling cannabis products in Iowa, arguing current restrictions mean they are not able to make a go of their businesses.Last year, Governor Kim Reynolds vetoed a bill that would have let the businesses sell more potent medical marijuana products. This year, lawmakers have been crafting a bill that would meet the governor’s objections, but medical marijuana advocates say it’s still too restrictive.last_img read more