Britain has first human-to-human swine flu transfer case

England has its first case of swine flu where the source was not in Mexico. An NHS worker has become infected with the flu. Graeme Pacitti, 24, caught the flu from his friend Iain Askham.
Askham had been honeymooning with his wife in Mexico when he picked up the virus.

One London student is in hospital. According to Professor Sir Roy Anderson, rector of Imperial College, London the pandemic is begun and the focus has to become on drug distribution.

The Daily Mail reports:

Sir Roy said the disease was being transmitted in a sustained way in the US, and this would happen in other countries.

He said: ‘The definition of phases five and six [of the WHO’s pandemic alert scale] is somewhat irrelevant. A pandemic has started.’

At this time bundles of antiviral drugs have been sent to hospitals and clinics in the nation.

A public leaflet will be posted on Tuesday to advise people on the virus and how to take precautions.

If the phase level goes to Phase 6 then schools in the UK may be closed.

The Guardian reports:

The Cabinet Office’s document said: “As children will have no residual immunity, they could be amongst the groups worst affected and can be ‘super spreaders’. In the 1957 pandemic, up to 50% of schoolchildren developed influenza and, in some residential schools, attack rates reached up to 90%, often affecting the whole school within a fortnight.

“Closing schools to pupils as an adjunct to the antiviral treatment planned for a pandemic might reduce its peak impact by an additional 10%, and the total number of clinical cases by 10%, compared with antiviral treatment alone.

“Advising all schools in an affected area to close may offer the most practical option … While this would disrupt education and have a significant negative effect on services and businesses, particularly those highly dependent on working parents, these disadvantages would be outweighed by the children’s lives saved.”

What frightful aspect being discussed in the UK is who will get ICU treatment in the nation if hospital beds run out. One option is a lottery system.

The Daily Mail reports:

The Department of Health dossier, called ‘Pandemic Influenza: Surge Capacity and Prioritisation in Health Services’, details how intensive care patients would be ranked according to their risk of death and the benefit of treatment on a ventilator.

It says: ‘Ranking according to benefit will determine access for many patients. However, in the face of high demand there may be patients between whom the clinicians cannot differentiate on the basis of benefit.

‘At this stage, allocation of Intensive Care Unit treatment may require a random selection (lottery) process.’

Of course the disease outbreak is not near that level at this time.

Vaccine manufacturers do not have the capacity to produce enough vaccine in time for the fall for everyone. It is being discussed if pensioners may be put at risk form the seasonal flu because of vaccine shortfalls.

Professor John Oxford, virologist at Barts hospital in London, said: ‘Even if swine flu gets going, there’s still seasonal flu to contend with.

We don’t want a sizable population of over-seventies going down with seasonal flu.

‘I think that could be a crisis. If the supply of seasonal flu vaccine falls, it will put the elderly at risk of normal seasonal flu.

‘This winter we saw high rates of flu and that could easily happen again next year. We could see excess deaths.’

Another possible problem is that stocks of drugs like Tamiflu could be depleted because of the focus of the swine flu. That would leave seasonal flu victims without. At this stage of the outbreak it is still a wait and see game.

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