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CDC: Additional cases of flu strain infection reported

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported 12 additional human infections with influenza A (H3N2) variant virus in three states, comprising of one case in Hawaii, 10 cases in Ohio and one case in Indiana. The H3N2v virus contains the M gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus, as have the previous 17 cases detected since July 2011.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, swine influenza surveillance, this swine H3N2 virus with the pandemic M gene has been detected in swine in a number of U.S. states. This virus may be circulating widely in U.S. swine at this time. It should be noted, however, that influenza viruses have not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs.

All of this week’s reported cases occurred in people who had direct or indirect contact with swine prior to their illness. The 10 cases in Ohio were associated with attendance at a fair where reportedly ill swine were present. The H3N2v case reported by Indiana also occurred in a person who attended a fair where swine were present. The CDC continues to recommend preventive actions people can take to make their fair experience a safe and healthy one.

The number of cases of infection with H3N2v viruses with the M gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus detected in the United States since July 2011 now totals 29: Hawaii (1); Indiana (7); Iowa (3); Ohio (10); Maine (2); Pennsylvania (3); Utah (1) and West Virginia (2). According to the CDC, 23 of these cases reported swine contact prior to illness onset. Among those 29 cases, 19 cases were associated with fairs where swine were present. Most human illness with H3N2v virus infection has resulted in signs and symptoms of influenza (i.e., fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches) and three hospitalizations have occurred. All of the people hospitalized had high risk conditions, defined as children younger than 5 years old, seniors older than 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (i.e., asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc.). The CDC advised that people in these high-risk groups should avoid exposure to pigs and swine barns this summer. All H3N2v virus cases have recovered fully.

It is possible that acquisition of the M gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus may allow H3N2v viruses to be more transmissible from pigs to people and from person-to-person, the CDC cautioned. Late summer is typically fair season across the United States and fairs are a setting that can provide many opportunities for exposures to occur between pigs and people. The CDC continues to advise people to take recommended precautions when interacting with pigs or their environments, including frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with pigs that appear ill.

Studies conducted by the CDC have indicated that children younger than 10 years old would have little to no immunity against H3N2v virus, whereas adults may have some cross-protective immunity. Most cases of H3N2v have occurred in children at this time.


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Drug for overactive bladder effective in patients who haven’t responded well to earlier therapy, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A drug made by Pfizer and used to treat overactive bladder was effective in reducing leakage of urine in patients with the disorder, according to the results of a post-approval clinical study.

Pfizer announced Friday results of a phase-4 study of Toviaz (fesoterodine fumarate) in the reduction of urge urinary incontinence in patients with OAB who had a less than 50% reduction in UUI when taking Detrol LA (tolterodine tartrate), a commonly prescribed treatment for the condition also made by Pfizer.

"This study adds to the body of evidence supporting Toviaz as an effective treatment of patients with overactive bladder, including patients who may not have responded to Detrol LA," Weill Cornell Medical College urology professor and principal study investigator Steven Kaplan said.

The 14-week study included 642 patients who were divided roughly in half into two groups, one of which received Toviaz and the other of which received placebo.


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Study: No battle of the sexes when it comes to successfully quitting smoking

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — There is little difference between success in quitting smoking between men and women, according a recent study published in the journal Tobacco Control, the Society for Women’s Health Research announced Thursday. The theory had been that women were less successful than men, the researchers noted.

They did, however, find a pattern of sex differences in smoking cessation which was consistent. According to the study, “below age 50, women were more likely to have given up smoking completely compared to men, while among older age groups, men were more likely to have quit than women.” Different age groups had sex differences in smoking cessation but the authors are not sure what accounted for the finding.

Despite the findings of this new study, authors cautioned, the difficulty of smoking cessation based on sex should not be discounted. According to several studies, women experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than men when quitting smoking, which can make the act of quitting much harder and more uncomfortable for women. In addition, women are less likely than men to benefit from nicotine replacement therapy, according to the researchers, which also contributes to the difficulty some women experience when trying to quit.

It also is important to note that women who quit smoking relapse for different reasons than men. Weight control, stress and negative emotions are all reasons cited by women who have relapsed.


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