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GENERATION OF SWINE: Flu Epidemic’s Global Creep

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[Photos via SACRAMENTO BEE]

university-of-delaware.thumbnail.jpgUPDATE:  Delaware health officials say four students at the University of Delaware have influenza that meets the probable definitions for swine flu. Jay Lynch, communications director for the Delaware Department of Public Health, said Tuesday night that cultures from the four students were sent to the Centers for the Disease Control. The students had flu tests Monday at the campus health center, and preliminary results showed they met the conditions for swine flu. Lynch says none of the students had traveled to Mexico, although one had recently been to New Jersey, where there is an outbreak. The students at recovering at their homes; none has been hospitalized. UD classes will continue, although a Web site notice says some large campus activities may be rescheduled. MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: As isolated outbreaks of swine flu continue to be confirmed around the world, with new cases reported today in Canada, Israel, France, New Zealand, Costa Rica and South Korea, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency and the White House asked Congress for an additional $1.5 billion to fight the outbreak. [...] The total number of cases in the United States has now reached 67 and worldwide has climbed to more than 100, not counting the still-unknown number of cases in Mexico. At least some of the new cases, moreover, appear to have risen from human-to-human transmission outside Mexico. Such community transmission is one of the early earmarks of a pandemic, and if it continues to be observed, experts predicted, the World Health Organization is likely to raise its alert to Level 5, from the currently elevated Level 4. Such an increase might involve more travel restrictions and stronger efforts to control the spread of the virus. MORE

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GUARDIAN: The World Health Organisation today called on all governments to prepare for a swine flu pandemic and warned that if the ­disease took hold across the globe it could prove a disaster for the world’s ­poorest countries. The call came as New York’s health commissioner said “many hundreds” of children were reported to have fallen sick with suspected swine flu. The possible infection of large numbers of children in the city could be evidence of human-to-human transmission of the disease outside the source of the ­epidemic, Mexico. A group of children from a New York school who visited the country recently may have spread the illness to other children since their return. Tonight Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, declared a state of emergency following the confirmation of 13 cases of the illness. It emerged tonight that the authorities in Los Angeles County were investigating the deaths of two men to establish whether they were as a result of swine flu. If confirmed they would be the first fatalities outside Mexico. after reports of a possible swine flu death. A further increase in the pandemic threat level appeared to be the likely response to the numbers of confirmed infections rising on three ­continents. The Mexican authorities said today that three more people died of swine flu on Monday, bringing the toll to 152. MORE

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CBS NEWS: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sent a memo to some health care providers noting procedures to be followed if the swine flu outbreak eventually makes quarantines necessary. DHS Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw circulated the swine flu memo, which was obtained by CBSNews.com, on Monday night. It says: “The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines.” McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans “reasonably believed to be infected” with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely. MORE

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PREVIOUSLY: This Is SO Not Good

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One Response to “GENERATION OF SWINE: Flu Epidemic’s Global Creep”

  1. Bo Thompson Says:

    In 1918:

    In large U.S cities, more than 10,000 deaths per week were attributed to the virus. It is estimated that as many as 50% of the population was infected, and ~1% died. To compare, in “normal” (interpandemic) years, it is estimated that between 10-20% of the population is infected, with a .008% mortality.

    The fact the current ‘swine flu’ has shown to be contagious is alarming. So far the virus has shown to have a 6% to 6.3% mortality rate. It may not seem like much, but please consider the following: The deadly influenza panic in 1918 had a mortality rate of under 1%.

    This virus went on to kill tens of thousands of healthy people a day in large cities and up to 100 million people world wide.

    Viruses, like this strain of swine flu, kill their host by over-stimulating active immune systems that are robust and healthy. That is why the victims in Mexico were between the ages of 20 and 45.

    Some have said that no one in the United States have died from the virus, so we need not worry. Experts say it is only a matter of time. The virus is not prevalent enough to reach statistical significance in the United States, with only a handful of confirmed cases. 93.7% of all Mexicans with the virus recovered.

    More cause for worry: The 1918 virus started off ‘mild’ before it mutated into a raging storm. It also does not mean we will see millions of deaths. It is too early to draw sweeping conclusions. Nevertheless, there is potential for a disastrous pandemic. If 50% of Americans catch this flu in the next two years, and the mortality rate stays at 6.3%, we would witness 20+ million deaths.

    This strain of virus is more potent and more deadly than the virus that hammered the world in 1918 and 1919. Viruses come in waves. There are striking similarities to this virus and the virus that killed up to 100 million people in 1918. The first wave is historically more mild than the later waves.

    In addition to this virus becoming more severe, it is mutating faster than previous virus that we have seen. In addition, this virus is nothing like we have ever seen before because it combines features from viruses natural in different parts of the globe. We are in uncharted territory.

    If it follows the same path as the 1918 flu, we will see very damaging results. However, we must remember we are a global society now and the virus can spread quicker than we have ever witnessed in history. This is very concerning especially since the drugs we have now seem resistant.

    While there have been no deaths in America, it is shadowed by the fact the common variable among the deaths seem to be age. While most American cases have involved the very young and very old (under 10 and over 50) the Mexican cases that ended fatally involved the robust and healthy (over 20 and under 45).

    This virus kills the host by over-stimulating the immune system. The term that is used when the immune system over reacts is called a Cytokine Storm. It is usually fatal. During this “Storm” over 150 inflammatory mediators are released. This would account for the high mortality rate in 1918-19.

    http://tinyurl.com/d2te2f

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