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China 2014 bird flu toll rises to nearly 100

Almost 100 people in China died from the H7N9 bird flu strain in the first three months of the year, but the number of both fatalities and infections declined in March, government figures showed. A total of 24 people died from the disease in March, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in monthly figures for infectious disease, down from 41 in February and 31 in January. The total number of deaths for the period is 96.

Two-year-old Cambodian girl dies of bird flu

A two-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, becoming the country's fourth confirmed fatality -- all children -- from the deadly virus this year, health authorities said Monday. The girl from the southern province of Kampot died on Friday a day after she was admitted to hospital, the health ministry said in a joint statement with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Tests confirmed she had contracted the H5N1 virus, it said, adding the girl had direct contact with dead chickens in a village where most of the poultry had perished over the last few weeks.

Cambodian boy dies of bird flu in second death for 2014

A three-year-old Cambodian boy has died of bird flu, the health ministry said Friday, in the country's second fatality this year. The boy, from a village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, died in hospital on Sunday. Tests confirmed he had contracted the H5N1 virus, the ministry said in a joint statement with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Many of the chickens and ducks in the boy's village died mid-February and he may have come into contact with the dead birds, the statement said, without specifying if the poultry had been tested for H5N1.

Flu shot for next winter should contain same strains as this year's: WHO

Next winter's flu vaccine should be a rare repeat of this year's formula, influenza experts advising the World Health Organization have determined. Flu viruses mutate often and it is common to have to change at least one of the components of the vaccine from one year to the next in order to maximize the protection the vaccine can offer. But detailed analysis of viruses collected from around the world suggest there haven't been any major changes that require an adjustment to the vaccine at this point, the experts concluded.

Flu hits young, middle aged people hard this year

The flu is hitting young and middle aged people in the United States particularly hard this season, as a tough flu strain re-emerged and too few people were vaccinated, health authorities said Thursday. More than 60 percent of all severe flu cases this season in the United States were in people 18-64 years old -- or about double the usual rate, they said. Typically, people at risk for flu complications include pregnant women, the elderly, children and people with compromised immune systems.

Kids can pick up colds and flu in doctors' waiting rooms, study suggests

TORONTO - They are called "well-child visits" — the checkups and appointments for vaccinations that are scheduled at regular intervals throughout the first years of a young life. But a new study suggests there's a risk healthy children or their parents will go home brewing a cold or the flu, having picked up a bug while sharing a doctor's waiting room with others who are there because they are sick.

Boy becomes Cambodia's first bird flu death of year

An eight-year-old boy has died from bird flu in Cambodia, the country's first confirmed fatality from the deadly virus this year, a health official said Wednesday. The boy's two-year-old sister also died on the same day after showing symptoms of H5N1 but officials could not carry out tests before her death to confirm if she had the virus, said Sok Touch of the Ministry of Health. He said the siblings, who died hours apart at the same hospital on Friday, had come into contact with poultry before they fell sick in their village in eastern Kratie province.

Canadian who died from H5N1 flu may have caught it in illegal bird market

TORONTO - Canada's first H5N1 flu patient may have contracted the bird flu virus passing through or near an illegal live bird market in Beijing, Chinese scientists have suggested. And Canadian researchers have published a report on the full genetic sequence of virus taken from the Alberta woman, who died in early January after returning from a three-week trip to her native China.

January worst month in China's human H7N9 outbreak

A total of 31 people died from H7N9 bird flu in mainland China in January, the government announced Monday, making it by far the worst month in the outbreak. There were a total of 127 confirmed human H7N9 cases in January, according to a statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC). The number is almost as high as for the whole of last year, when China had 144 confirmed cases including 46 deaths. Flu viruses are seasonal and the first human cases emerged in February 2013, so that the outbreak did not encompass all of last winter.

This year's flu shot offered good protection against becoming seriously ill: study

TORONTO - This year's flu shot offered substantial protection to people who received it, new Canadian data suggest. The vaccine appeared to be about 71 per cent effective against all flu strains, and 74 per cent effective against H1N1, the strain responsible for more than nine in 10 of all confirmed flu infections this year in Canada, the study says. The research measured how effective the vaccine was at preventing what's called medically attended influenza — infections where the person was sick enough to seek care from a doctor or a clinic.
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