Influenza-like illnesses, generally assumed to be pandemic H1N1 influenza, continued their slow growth on college campuses with a 2% increase last week, according to the American College Health Assn. A total of 5,959 new cases were reported among the 3.1 million students on 259 campuses. The new data bring the total for the seven-week period to nearly 40,000 cases.
Regional outbreaks of swine flu appear to have peaked already in the Southeast, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, but the Midwest, Rocky Mountain area and Southwest are experiencing increases. "Waves of influenza-like illness appear to occur in local and regional areas over a six- to seven-week time interval," said Dr. James C. Turner, president of the organization. "Many outbreaks will have waned significantly by the time H1N1 vaccine becomes widely available. Therefore, the next two to three months represent a critical period for achieving high rates of immunization among college students before the next wave starts this winter."
In other swine flu news, vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur released the first results from its clinical trial of the swine flu vaccine in children ages 6 months to 9 years. The study in 474 children confirmed what government researchers have been saying -- that two doses of vaccine will be required in children younger than 10 to produce full immunity. The results are not surprising because vaccination for seasonal flu also requires two doses the first time a child is vaccinated. The theory is that those who have received a flu vaccine in the past have a residual immunity that increases the response to a new vaccine. Young children do not have that residual immunity and thus require two doses.
No serious adverse events were reported -- only localized redness and swelling of the arm typical of all vaccinations.
-- Thomas H. Maugh II