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Concept: Influenza pandemic


Current influenza vaccines provide limited protection against circulating influenza A viruses. A universal influenza vaccine will eliminate the intrinsic limitations of the seasonal flu vaccines. Here we report methodology to generate double-layered protein nanoparticles as a universal influenza vaccine. Layered nanoparticles are fabricated by desolvating tetrameric M2e into protein nanoparticle cores and coating these cores by crosslinking headless HAs. Representative headless HAs of two HA phylogenetic groups are constructed and purified. Vaccinations with the resulting protein nanoparticles in mice induces robust long-lasting immunity, fully protecting the mice against challenges by divergent influenza A viruses of the same group or both groups. The results demonstrate the importance of incorporating both structure-stabilized HA stalk domains and M2e into a universal influenza vaccine to improve its protective potency and breadth. These potent disassemblable protein nanoparticles indicate a wide application in protein drug delivery and controlled release.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza vaccine, Influenza A virus


Vaccine development for influenza A/H5N1 is an important public health priority, but H5N1 vaccines are less immunogenic than seasonal influenza vaccines. Adjuvant System 03 (AS03) markedly enhances immune responses to H5N1 vaccine antigens, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are incompletely understood.

Concepts: Immune system, Epidemiology, Vaccine, Vaccination, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza vaccine


Background The first identified cases of avian influenza A (H7N9) virus infection in humans occurred in China during February and March 2013. We analyzed data obtained from field investigations to characterize the epidemiologic characteristics of H7N9 cases in China as of April 17, 2013. Methods Field investigations were conducted for each confirmed case of H7N9 virus infection. A patient was considered to have a confirmed case if the presence of the H7N9 virus was verified by means of real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR), viral isolation, or serologic testing. Information on demographic characteristics, exposure history, and illness timelines was obtained from patients with confirmed cases. Close contacts were monitored for 7 days for symptoms of illness. Throat swabs were obtained from contacts in whom symptoms developed and were tested for the presence of the H7N9 virus testing by means of real-time RT-PCR. Results Among 82 persons with confirmed H7N9 virus infection, the median age was 63 years (range, 2 to 89), 73% were male, and 84% were urban residents. Confirmed cases occurred in six areas of China. Of 77 persons with available data, 4 were poultry workers, and 77% had a history of exposure to live animals, including chickens (76%). A total of 17 persons (21%) died after a median duration of illness of 11 days, 60 remain critically ill, and 4 with clinically mild cases were discharged from the hospital; 1 pediatric patient was not admitted to the hospital. In two family clusters, human-to-human transmission of H7N9 virus could not be ruled out. A total of 1251 of the 1689 close contacts of case patients completed the monitoring period; respiratory symptoms developed in 19 of them (1.5%), all of whom tested negative for the H7N9 virus. Conclusions Most persons with confirmed H7N9 virus infection were critically ill and epidemiologically unrelated. Laboratory-confirmed human-to-human H7N9 virus transmission was not documented among close contacts, but such transmission could not be ruled out in two families.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Patient, Virus, Illness, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza vaccine


Influenza activity in the United States was low during October 2017, but has been increasing since the beginning of November. Influenza A viruses have been most commonly identified, with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating. Several influenza activity indicators were higher than is typically seen for this time of year. The majority of influenza viruses characterized during this period were genetically or antigenically similar to the 2017-18 Northern Hemisphere cell-grown vaccine reference viruses. These data indicate that currently circulating viruses have not undergone significant antigenic drift; however, circulating A(H3N2) viruses are antigenically less similar to egg-grown A(H3N2) viruses used for producing the majority of influenza vaccines in the United States. It is difficult to predict which influenza viruses will predominate in the 2017-18 influenza season; however, in recent past seasons in which A(H3N2) viruses predominated, hospitalizations and deaths were more common, and the effectiveness of the vaccine was lower. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months who do not have contraindications. Multiple influenza vaccines are approved and recommended for use during the 2017-18 season, and vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating and unexpired vaccine is available. This report summarizes U.S. influenza activity* during October 1-November 25, 2017 (surveillance weeks 40-47).†.

Concepts: Immune system, Vaccine, Vaccination, United States, Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Influenza vaccine, Influenza A virus


In Egypt, avian influenza A subtype H5N1 and H9N2 viruses are enzootic in poultry. The control plan devised by veterinary authorities in Egypt to prevent infections in poultry focused mainly on vaccination and ultimately failed. Recently, widespread H5N1 infections in poultry and a substantial increase in the number of human cases of H5N1 infection were observed. We summarize surveillance data from 2009 through 2014 and show that avian influenza viruses are established in poultry in Egypt and are continuously evolving genetically and antigenically. We also discuss the epidemiology of human infection with avian influenza in Egypt and describe how the true burden of disease is underestimated. We discuss the failures of relying on vaccinating poultry as the sole intervention tool. We conclude by highlighting the key components that need to be included in a new strategy to control avian influenza infections in poultry and humans in Egypt.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Virus, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine


We assessed vaccine effectiveness (VE) against medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza in children 6 months to 15 years of age in 22 hospitals in Japan during the 2013-14 season. Our study was conducted according to a test-negative case-control design based on influenza rapid diagnostic test (IRDT) results. Outpatients who came to our clinics with a fever of 38°C or over and had undergone an IRDT were enrolled in this study. Patients with positive IRDT results were recorded as cases, and patients with negative results were recorded as controls. Between November 2013 and March 2014, a total of 4727 pediatric patients (6 months to 15 years of age) were enrolled: 876 were positive for influenza A, 66 for A(H1N1)pdm09 and in the other 810 the subtype was unknown; 1405 were positive for influenza B; and 2445 were negative for influenza. Overall VE was 46% (95% confidence interval [CI], 39-52). Adjusted VE against influenza A, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, and influenza B was 63% (95% CI, 56-69), 77% (95% CI, 59-87), and 26% (95% CI, 14-36), respectively. Influenza vaccine was not effective against either influenza A or influenza B in infants 6 to 11 months of age. Two doses of influenza vaccine provided better protection against influenza A infection than a single dose did. VE against hospitalization influenza A infection was 76%. Influenza vaccine was effective against influenza A, especially against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, but was much less effective against influenza B.

Concepts: Hospital, Vaccine, Physician, Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Fever, Influenza vaccine, Orthomyxoviridae


Although vaccines confer protection against influenza A viruses, antiviral treatment becomes the first line of defense during pandemics because there is insufficient time to produce vaccines. Current antiviral drugs are susceptible to drug resistance, and developing new antivirals is essential. We studied host defense peptides from the skin of the South Indian frog and demonstrated that one of these, which we named “urumin,” is virucidal for H1 hemagglutinin-bearing human influenza A viruses. This peptide specifically targeted the conserved stalk region of H1 hemagglutinin and was effective against drug-resistant H1 influenza viruses. Using electron microscopy, we showed that this peptide physically destroyed influenza virions. It also protected naive mice from lethal influenza infection. Urumin represents a unique class of anti-influenza virucide that specifically targets the hemagglutinin stalk region, similar to targeting of antibodies induced by universal influenza vaccines. Urumin therefore has the potential to contribute to first-line anti-viral treatments during influenza outbreaks.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Virus, Antiviral drug, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Antibiotic


Assessment of the effect of influenza on populations, including risk of infection, illness if infected, illness severity, and consultation rates, is essential to inform future control and prevention. We aimed to compare the community burden and severity of seasonal and pandemic influenza across different age groups and study years and gain insight into the extent to which traditional surveillance underestimates this burden.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine, World Health Organization


Asia is considered an important source of influenza A virus (IAV) pandemics, owing to large, diverse viral reservoirs in poultry and swine. However, the zoonotic origins of the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic virus (pdmH1N1) remain unclear, due to conflicting evidence from swine and humans. There is strong evidence that the first human outbreak of pdmH1N1 occurred in Mexico in early 2009. However, no related swine viruses have been detected in Mexico or any part of the Americas, and to date the most closely related ancestor viruses were identified in Asian swine. Here, we use 58 new whole-genome sequences from IAVs collected in Mexican swine to establish that the swine virus responsible for the 2009 pandemic evolved in central Mexico. This finding highlights how the 2009 pandemic arose from a region not considered a pandemic risk, owing to an expansion of IAV diversity in swine resulting from long-distance live swine trade.

Concepts: Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Swine influenza, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine, 2009 flu pandemic, Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, Pandemic H1N1/09 virus


This report summarizes U.S. influenza activity(*) during October 2-December 17, 2016.(†) Influenza activity in the United States remained low in October and has been slowly increasing since November. Influenza A viruses were identified most frequently, with influenza A (H3N2) viruses predominating. Most influenza viruses characterized during this period were genetically or antigenically similar to the reference viruses representing vaccine components recommended for production in the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.

Concepts: Vaccine, Vaccination, United States, Influenza, Influenza pandemic, Pacific Ocean, Influenza vaccine, Influenza A virus