Cases of H1N1 Have Dwindled, Seasonal Flu Has Been a No-Show and Doctors Wonder Why

.By BETSY MCKAY
.This has been a flu season like few others.

Normally at this time of year, influenza is rampant in the U.S., prompting hundreds of thousands of people to stay home in the dead of winter with fever, aches and pains.

Now, after raging through college campuses and communities last summer and fall, cases of the new H1N1 swine flu virus have dwindled to a trickle, and run-of-the-mill seasonal flu has barely made an appearance. Not one state reported widespread flu illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the week ended Feb. 20, the latest data available. The percentage of all doctors’ visits by patients with influenza-like symptoms has dropped from a high of 7.8% in late October-the largest peak since the agency began surveillance in 1997-to 1.8% in late February, well below the norm for flu season.

Doctors and flu experts say the lull is unusual. “This is typically the peak of flu,” said James Turner, executive director of the University of Virginia’s department of student health. He said the Charlottesville, Va., student health center usually sees as many as 130 students a week complaining of flu symptoms this time of year. Recently, no more than three to five students a week have been coming in with fever, cough or other signs of flu, he said.

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Brazil
•  Brazil to vaccinate 90 million against A/H1N1 flu (Link)

China
•  Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak in China (Link)

Egypt
•  68 H5N1 outbreaks in birds (Link)

Malaysia
•  Malaysia records first swine flu death for the year (Link)

Nepal
•  Govt keeping public in dark on outbreaks of H5N1 (Link)

Swaziland
•  Mystery chicken disease outbreak (Link)

Vietnam
•  H5N1 epidemic returns (Link)
•  Third case of bird flu infects northern woman (Link)

Research
•  Social Stress May Enhance The Immune Response To Influenza Virus (Link)
•  Influenza Virus-Specific Immunological Memory Is Enhanced by Repeated Social Defeat (Abstract) (Link)
•  H5N1 Avian Influenza DNA Vaccine Receives Korean Approval to Begin Clinical Trials (Link)

Commentary
•  Recombinomics: H1N1 Vaccine Failure In Europe  (Link)
•  Dr. Donohue: Pneumonia death in healthy young people is rare (Link)

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