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Fourth H1N1 case in Japan; Okinawa still with no cases

Date Posted: 2009-05-14

A fourth flu case has been confirmed in mainland Japan, while Okinawa authorities report the H1N1 virus has not been discovered among the local population.

The latest case was a student who had been on a school trip to Canada. The 16-year-old high school student was one of 409 on a flight last week from Detroit to Tokyo. Two other students in the same group were confirmed earlier as having the H1N1 virus. All three teens attend the same high school in Chiba Prefecture. The three are reported in quarantine in good condition, and the Neyagawa students, officials say, are having their school homework sent to the students.

Okinawa authorities confirm there have still been no suspected or confirmed cases in Japan’s southernmost prefecture. Health officials continue monitoring passengers arriving in Okinawa, using sophisticated equipment to scan for high temperatures, a common symptom in flu cases.

A medical researcher at the Institute of Living Thing Resources in Nago City, meanwhile, has been granted a patent for a new influenza antiseptic he’s developed. Kuniaki Nerome has developed the vaccine from fluid extracted from the Sendan tree. He’s been working on the vaccine for years, applying for the patent from the Japan Patent Office in March 2006. He also has a second patent pending for another vaccine that protects against influenza.

He’s proven to authorities that his sendan and birch tree extracts can kill or damage influenza virus effectively. “Since vaccine development is so difficult to make against influenza infection,” he says, “it is very important to get it right. Right now the new H1N1 virus is new, and will probably be gone by the end of May, but it could be back in winter again in Japan.”

Nerome is the head of the Japanese government-owned Infection Laboratory Respiratory Organs Virus Laboratory, and also the World Health Organization Influenza Respiratory Organs Virus Laboratory Center Director. Many in the medical community describe Nerome as the foremost authority in the world on vaccine development. “I would like to make a vaccine for influenza protection by the end of Fall,” he says, “so it will not infect people.” His latest patented vaccines are being studied by health experts now. Nerome says the new antiseptic “is good to use as a sprayer at home, and in public areas such as schools, offices and buses.

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