Infectious Disease News lists top 10 influenza stories in 2017

Photo of Richard Webby
Richard Webby

Since 2005, the CDC has dedicated 1 week in December to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination.

According to data from past influenza seasons, few people are vaccinated after the end of November, even though influenza activity peaks between December and February and may persist as late as May. Last year, the CDC estimated that only 40% of the U.S. population was vaccinated before December.

“Although influenza vaccines are not the most effective vaccines that we have, there is evidence that suggests even vaccinating part of the population can reduce disease incidence,” Richard Webby, PhD, member of the infectious disease department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and one of a select group of researchers responsible for determining annual influenza vaccine recommendations, told Infectious Disease News. “In an ideal world, we would have a vaccine that induces a far more broadly reactive immune response and doesn’t have to be given as frequently.”

This year, National Influenza Vaccination Awareness Week is being held from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9. To mark the occasion, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top 10 stories about influenza over the past year:

Q&A: The importance of antiviral use for influenza in the ED

Frank LoVecchio, DO, MPH, FACEP, vice chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Maricopa Medical Center, discusses possible reasons for underuse of influenza antivirals, long-held misconceptions about these medications, and the potential benefits of antiviral use in the ED. Read more.

CAPSTONE-1: New antiviral superior to placebo at reducing influenza symptoms

Treatment with the cap-dependent endonuclease inhibitor S-033188 was superior to placebo in alleviating influenza symptoms, and the agent was superior to both placebo and the antiviral oseltamivir in virologic outcomes, according to data from the phase 3 CAPTSTONE-1 trial. Read more.

Veterinarian in NYC contracts avian influenza from cat

A veterinarian in New York City was the first person in the United States to contract an avian influenza A virus from a cat, according to researchers. The infection occurred late in 2016 during an outbreak of influenza A(H7N2) among cats at an animal shelter in Manhattan. Read more.

ACIP remains opposed to LAIV

In June, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decided to continue advising against the use of the live-attenuated influenza vaccine, which is offered as a nasal spray. Read more.

Many health care workers do not know correct influenza precautions

In a small survey conducted at a St. Louis hospital, many health care personnel could not describe the correct transmission-based precautions for patients with influenza, and some even said they had reservations about the safety and effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. Read more.

Researchers observe waning influenza vaccine effectiveness

During a recent 4-year period, researchers observed a monthly decrease in protection of the influenza vaccine, including up to 11% per month for one strain. The decline in vaccine effectiveness was more pronounced among people who had been vaccinated the previous season. Read more.

Genetic mutation in FluMist could be altered to restore effectiveness

Johns Hopkins University researchers said they discovered a genetic mutation in the nasal spray influenza vaccine that could be altered to restore its effectiveness. Read more.

Holidays reduce influenza transmission, delay trajectory of seasonal epidemics

The holiday season not only reduces influenza transmission in the United States, it delays the trajectory of seasonal influenza epidemics, according to researchers. These effects are related to school closings. Read more.

Surge in human H7N9 cases caused by poultry, not people

“Reassuring” study findings indicate that the recent surge in human influenza A(H7N9) cases in China is probably due to increased spread from poultry to people and not because of a swell in human-to-human transmission, researchers said.

With a case fatality rate of around 40%, experts consider H7N9 to be one of the most troubling infectious disease threats in the world because of its potential to cause a deadly pandemic. So far, most of the more than 1,500 human cases since 2013 have been transmitted from poultry, not people. Read more.

H3N2 mutation responsible for reducing vaccine efficacy

Researchers have linked reduced vaccine efficacy during the 2016-2017 influenza season with a mutation in egg-based A(H3N2) vaccine strains, according to a recent study.

Because the same H3N2 strain is being used in this season’s vaccine composition, researchers warned that patients who receive egg-based vaccines may have limited protection again the virus. Read more.

– by Stephanie Viguers

Disclosure: Webby reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Photo of Richard Webby
Richard Webby

Since 2005, the CDC has dedicated 1 week in December to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination.

According to data from past influenza seasons, few people are vaccinated after the end of November, even though influenza activity peaks between December and February and may persist as late as May. Last year, the CDC estimated that only 40% of the U.S. population was vaccinated before December.

“Although influenza vaccines are not the most effective vaccines that we have, there is evidence that suggests even vaccinating part of the population can reduce disease incidence,” Richard Webby, PhD, member of the infectious disease department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and one of a select group of researchers responsible for determining annual influenza vaccine recommendations, told Infectious Disease News. “In an ideal world, we would have a vaccine that induces a far more broadly reactive immune response and doesn’t have to be given as frequently.”

This year, National Influenza Vaccination Awareness Week is being held from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9. To mark the occasion, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top 10 stories about influenza over the past year:

Q&A: The importance of antiviral use for influenza in the ED

Frank LoVecchio, DO, MPH, FACEP, vice chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Maricopa Medical Center, discusses possible reasons for underuse of influenza antivirals, long-held misconceptions about these medications, and the potential benefits of antiviral use in the ED. Read more.

CAPSTONE-1: New antiviral superior to placebo at reducing influenza symptoms

Treatment with the cap-dependent endonuclease inhibitor S-033188 was superior to placebo in alleviating influenza symptoms, and the agent was superior to both placebo and the antiviral oseltamivir in virologic outcomes, according to data from the phase 3 CAPTSTONE-1 trial. Read more.

Veterinarian in NYC contracts avian influenza from cat

A veterinarian in New York City was the first person in the United States to contract an avian influenza A virus from a cat, according to researchers. The infection occurred late in 2016 during an outbreak of influenza A(H7N2) among cats at an animal shelter in Manhattan. Read more.

ACIP remains opposed to LAIV

In June, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decided to continue advising against the use of the live-attenuated influenza vaccine, which is offered as a nasal spray. Read more.

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Many health care workers do not know correct influenza precautions

In a small survey conducted at a St. Louis hospital, many health care personnel could not describe the correct transmission-based precautions for patients with influenza, and some even said they had reservations about the safety and effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. Read more.

Researchers observe waning influenza vaccine effectiveness

During a recent 4-year period, researchers observed a monthly decrease in protection of the influenza vaccine, including up to 11% per month for one strain. The decline in vaccine effectiveness was more pronounced among people who had been vaccinated the previous season. Read more.

Genetic mutation in FluMist could be altered to restore effectiveness

Johns Hopkins University researchers said they discovered a genetic mutation in the nasal spray influenza vaccine that could be altered to restore its effectiveness. Read more.

Holidays reduce influenza transmission, delay trajectory of seasonal epidemics

The holiday season not only reduces influenza transmission in the United States, it delays the trajectory of seasonal influenza epidemics, according to researchers. These effects are related to school closings. Read more.

Surge in human H7N9 cases caused by poultry, not people

“Reassuring” study findings indicate that the recent surge in human influenza A(H7N9) cases in China is probably due to increased spread from poultry to people and not because of a swell in human-to-human transmission, researchers said.

With a case fatality rate of around 40%, experts consider H7N9 to be one of the most troubling infectious disease threats in the world because of its potential to cause a deadly pandemic. So far, most of the more than 1,500 human cases since 2013 have been transmitted from poultry, not people. Read more.

H3N2 mutation responsible for reducing vaccine efficacy

Researchers have linked reduced vaccine efficacy during the 2016-2017 influenza season with a mutation in egg-based A(H3N2) vaccine strains, according to a recent study.

Because the same H3N2 strain is being used in this season’s vaccine composition, researchers warned that patients who receive egg-based vaccines may have limited protection again the virus. Read more.

– by Stephanie Viguers

Disclosure: Webby reports no relevant financial disclosures.