News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Influenza and norovirus forecasts - expert responds

Influenza and norovirus forecasts - expert responds

16 January 2013
Not one, but two infectious diseases have been raising concerns among New Zealand experts as they prepare for the 2013 winter season.

A strain of H3N2 influenza virus is currently causing high levels of hospitalisations in the northern hemisphere, reaching epidemic proportions in the US and linked to over 20 child deaths there so far this season.

Researchers have separately expressed concern about a global outbreak of norovirus, linked to a new variant of the Sydney 2012 strain, that is already causing problems in New Zealand and expected to continue.

Additional resources:
Behind the Headlines fact sheet on the current norovirus outbreak
MPI's Food Smart norovirus resource page

World Health Organisation (WHO)'s latest influenza update
US Center for Disease Control (CDC) press briefing on current flu season's vaccine effectiveness

The Science Media Centre gathered the following comments from expert virologist Dr Sue Huang, Director of the WHO National Influenza Centre at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR).

Dr Huang's responses to the SMC's questions are listed below:

What are the concerns about H3N2 strain and how likely is the virus to cause problems in NZ this winter?
"A(H3N2) is a concern, in particular for very old and very young populations. We need to monitor the situation closely. The H3N2 strain* causing high level of hospitalisations in USA, especially in New York, may potentially cause problems for NZ's coming winter."

*known more formally as the A/Victoria/361/2011-like strain

Vaccine coverage is reputed to be imperfect in the US even though this was an identified strain and included in the season's influenza vaccine. Will NZ potentially face the same issue?

"The latest information I have received from the WHO indicates that A(H3N2) viruses circulating since September 2012 produce antigens similar to the Victoria strain seen last winter in NZ. The majority of the most recently analysed viruses also belong to the same genetic group as the A(H3N2) viruses we experienced in NZ's past winter.

"My personal view about the situation in northern hemisphere countries is that it is not arising because the vaccine is not well matched with the current circulating viruses. It is about vaccine uptake, which is not optimal, and the fact that there are more susceptible populations to H3N2 infections, due to two years dominated by the H1N1 strain of influenza globally."

Putting the norovirus and influenza outbreaks in context -- which is more worrying to health officials in terms of likely burden on the health system, potential fatalities and other factors?

"Both viruses can add substantial burden to our health systems. However, in general, influenza-associated complications can cause much higher hospitalisations and mortality each winter, particularly for very young and very old people, and people with underlying medical conditions."

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

August 4: Centenary Of New Zealand Entering The First World War

PM John Key: I move, that this House recognise that on the 4th of August 2014, we will mark the centenary of New Zealand entering the First World War... More>>

ALSO:

Cyclists Net First NZ Gold

New Zealand won a gold meal and two bronzes on the first day of the Commonwealth Games. There was joy and heartbreak in an incredibly full day of sport. Here's how the New Zealanders fared. More>>

Cap Bocage: Anti-Mining Campaign Doco Debuts At NZ Film Festival

Playing at this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival, Cap Bocage is a close-up exploration of the forces that came into play when environmental issues and indigenous rights became intertwined in New Caledonia ... More>>

Film Fest:

More Film:

Sharon Ellis Review: A View From The Bridge

Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge is Circa’s latest big production, it opened on Saturday 19 July and it is a stunning triumph. More>>

Māori Language Week: He Karanga Kia Kaha Ake Te Tīhau Ki Te Reo Māori

The Māori Language Commission wishes to see social media swamped with Māori language tweets and messages for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori using the hashtag #tekupu. More>>

ALSO:

Book Vote: Kiwis Prefer Young Adult & Classics

To compile their Top 100 List for 2014, Whitcoulls again asked New Zealanders to vote for their favourite books and authors. And while classic novels continue to appeal to Kiwi readers, 2014 marks a significant new trend – the increasing popularity of novels for young adults. More>>

ALSO:

Five NZ Cities: Bill Bailey Back To The Southern Hemisphere

The gap between how we imagine our lives to be and how they really are is the subject of Bill’s new show Limboland. With his trademark intelligence and sharp wit, he tells tales of finding himself in this halfway place. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Book Television Is Coming

Carole Beu of The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland, Graham Beattie of The Book Blog and producer Deb Faith of FaceTV have raised enough money via crowd funding at Boosted – just under $7,000 so far – for 12 episodes, which begin production in September, and will be on screen later that month. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news