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BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 21 March 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:948

The threat of a major European winter epidemic of influenza seems to be retreating. No evidence has been found to suggest that the new strain (H5N1) that emerged in Hong Kong last year might spread worldwide. A special issue of Eurosurveillance (1998;3:23-34) says that the World Health Organisation is not recommending the production of a vaccine against the new strain, but steps are being taken to prepare suitable strains that could be used for vaccine production. The report warns, however, that “preparation of a vaccine would take several months after selection of a suitable strain.”

People with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease may be unsafe drivers, though they believe that they can manage all right. This is the main conclusion of a study in Finland of 20 patients (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1998;64:325-30). It also showed that testing by a neurologist tended to overestimate patients' abilities: the gold standard test was 45 minutes' driving with an instructor.

Epidemiologists in Europe assess socioeconomic position by occupation, whereas in North America the usual measure is the educational level attained. A paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1998;52:153-60) has now shown that, as a single indicator, adult occupation is a better discriminator of socioeconomic differentials and smoking behaviour than is education. Deaths …

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