Category Archives: swine flu

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.

Advertisements

CDC Confirms 109 Swine Flu Cases in U.S., 1 Death

Confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States is at 109 with 1 death. At this time six of those cases are in hospital with more serious symptoms, a CDC media conference explained.

Richard Besser, M.D., Acting Director, CDC gave today’s briefing to reporters at the CDC on the latest swine flu information.

On thoughts about closing borders it was noted that once the disease has crossed the border there is not an added value. There will continue to be surveillance at all borders for the disease.

In past modeling cases of flu outbreaks, mild cases protect future infections. It is not known if this will be the case though in the fall when it is suspected that there will be a larger outbreak.

Earlier today on TV Vice President Joe Biden said that he nor his family will be flying. Doctor Besser assured the reporters that public transport is safe at this time. Besser also noted that if you are ill do not use public transportation.

There have been some slight changes to the way the outbreak is behaving. A few more serious cases are beginning to be reported. Six patients are now in hospital. Besser had no other details on those cases. Besser also did not have the numbers of people going to the emergency rooms across the nation with suspected cases of swine flu.

We do know that the flu virus spreads easily in community settings. This virus is being investigated as to how easily it spreads but if it is like other flu viruses it does not require close personal contact.

“We don’t know yet how easily it is transmitted.”

If the need for a vaccine, which will [-b]not be ready until the fall arises it will then be decided who will get the shot. It will be impossible to produce enough vaccine for everyone in the US. The final decisions will be a matter of public discussion and knowing who the risk groups are at that time.

According to the latest numbers at WHO there are 236 confirmed cases worldwide.

As for suspected cases Veratect has non going non-stop in the past 24 hours that I have been monitoring them on twitter. The service is available for anyone who wishes to monitor them for free.

Last night President Obama spoke to the press about the swine flu.

Well, first of all, as I said, this is a cause for deep concern, but not panic. And I think that we have to make sure that we recognize that how we respond — intelligently, systematically, based on science and what public health officials have to say — will determine in large part what happens.

I’ve consulted with our public health officials extensively on a day-to-day basis, in some cases, an hour-to-hour basis. At this point they have not recommended a border closing. From their perspective it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out, because we already have cases here in the United States. We have ramped up screening efforts, as well as made sure that additional supplies are there on the border so that we can prepare in the eventuality that we have to do more than we’re doing currently.

But the most important thing right now that public health officials have indicated is that we treat this the same way that we would treat other flu outbreaks, just understanding that because this is a new strain we don’t yet know how it will respond. So we have to take additional precautions — essentially, take out some additional insurance. That’s why I asked for an additional $1.5 million, so that we can make sure that everything is in place should a worst-case scenario play out.


WHO media briefing on swine flu, April 29

The latest news from the World Health Organization is much the same as in past days. WHO meet with reporters online at 5 pm Geneva time April 29 with Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General ai, Health Security and Environment answering questions.
What is known at this point:

The virus spreads person to person
The virus started as a swine flu and has been able to adapt to acting like a human flu virus.
The cases are mostly mild except for in Mexico at this point.
Studies are underway to study the transmission methods of the virus.
Eating cooked pork will not cause the swine flu.
That all of the test samples look very much the same globally.
Right now there is no evidence that other bacterial infections are involved with serious cases. This could change with further studies.

The numbers as of 5 PM at WHO Headquarters are:

Canada- 13 cases
United States- 64/ 1 death
Mexico-26/7 deaths
Israel- 2
Spain-4
United Kingdom-2
New Zealand-3

Where We Are Now

The transmission rate does not slow signs of slowing.
We are not yet at a Phase 5 level, although that could change quickly. While there is evidence that the swine flu does spread well in a school situation the Phase 5 status will come if it starts to spread in neighbourhoods of two or more countries.
While the swine flu is very much like seasonal flu there is a higher rate of diarrhea and vomiting associated with it.
There are now cases that have been reported where Mexico may not have been a factor. WHO is investigating to see if there is a link.

WHO is not sure yet of the ratio of mild/serious/fatal cases as of yet.
WHO is not sure yet if there are risk factors for those with serious disease.

“One of the features of this type of outbreak is that the initial numbers are confusing. WHO can’t address why the numbers are conflicting. I can’t address the specifics.”

Where We Are Going

Because the evidence is that the transmission of the swine flu virus is not likely to stop spreading we must be prepared. The WHO has mentioned a number of times the similarities between this outbreak and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. During the 1918 pandemic the initial start was a mild period of outbreak with a very quiet summer period and then a very deadly fall pandemic.

“It’s premature to think of the swine flu as mild. We just don’t know yet. In the 1918 Spanish Flu the patterns were similar. This is the time to prepare and figure out how to proceed.”

When asked why some of the new global cases cite Cancun as a location where the virus was imported and yet Cancun is not listed as an outbreak area Dr Keiji Fukuda said it was quite possible that the test results have just not gotten in right in that location.

For the near future WHO and other health agencies will be focusing on how the overall picture of the disease is going and how best to protect people. In the future they will turn back and look for the origin of the outbreak.


All pigs in Egypt going to slaughter

The government in Egypt is set to slaughter all pigs in the nation. They are doing this as a precautionary measure against the swine flu.
The Star Online reports:

“It is decided to slaughter all swine herds present in Egypt, starting from today,” Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali said in a statement published by state news agency MENA.

The Health Ministry says that about 300,000 pigs will begin to be slaughtered immediately.

At this time Egypt says that there are no cases of swine flu in their nation.


Four Cases Of Swine Flu Confirmed In Ontario

Ontario has reported that there are four cases of swine flu. Three of the cases are in Durham and one is in the York Region.
All four cases in the province of Ontario have a Mexico connection.

Dr. David Williams,
Ontario’s Associate chief medical officer of health says that all of the cases are mild.

The patients are all recovering at home.

In Canada there are 13 confirmed cases of the swine flu. On Tuesday Alberta and Ontario reported their first cases.

The Canadian Press
reports:

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said seven new cases were reported Tuesday: four in Ontario, two in Alberta, and one in B.C.

“I want to stress that all these cases have been mild … and they do not change our course of action,” she told a news conference.

“Decisions are being made based on the best available information coming to me from one of the best health systems in the world.”


Veracruz, Mexico is Suspected Ground Zero For Swine FluVeracruz, with its many pig farms, is suspected of being Ground Zero for the swine flu. The Gulf of Mexico coastal state had at least one confirmed case before the first death. Tests have confirmed that a 4-year-old boy contracted swine flu at least two weeks before the outbreak claimed its first life. The case was part of a normal strain of influenza outbreak that took place in early April. The boy recovered from the illness. It’s not clear if that one case spawned the epidemic. Granjas Carroll de Mexico, which is partly owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, is near the epicenter. The Toronto Star reports that farming company has released a statement that said: has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in the company’s swine herd or its employees at its joint ventures in Mexico.” La Gloria’s community of 3,000 believe that their town is ground zero. More than 450 residents say that they are suffering from respiratory problems from contamination spread by pig waste at nearby breeding farms co-owned by a U.S. company. AP reports: But Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, said he knew the minute he learned about the outbreak on the news and heard a description of the symptoms: fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. “When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, ‘This is what we had,'” he said Monday. “It all came from here. … The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here.”

Veracruz, with its many pig farms, is suspected of being Ground Zero for the swine flu. The Gulf of Mexico coastal state had at least one confirmed case before the first death.

Tests have confirmed that a 4-year-old boy contracted swine flu at least two weeks before the outbreak claimed its first life.

The case was part of a normal strain of influenza outbreak that took place in early April. The boy recovered from the illness. It’s not clear if that one case spawned the epidemic.

Granjas Carroll de Mexico, which is partly owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, is near the epicenter. The Toronto Star reports that farming company has released a statement that said: has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the presence of swine influenza in the company’s swine herd or its employees at its joint ventures in Mexico.”

La Gloria’s community of 3,000 believe that their town is ground zero. More than 450 residents say that they are suffering from respiratory problems from contamination spread by pig waste at nearby breeding farms co-owned by a U.S. company.


AP
reports:

But Jose Luis Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of La Gloria, said he knew the minute he learned about the outbreak on the news and heard a description of the symptoms: fever, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

“When we saw it on the television, we said to ourselves, ‘This is what we had,'” he said Monday. “It all came from here. … The symptoms they are suffering are the same that we had here.”

Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, believes that the Mexican government has shown a sound based surveillance system dealing with their swine. He noted that the system had previously eliminated an unrelated disease from the country’s commercial pig population, which he said is a good indication that they also are conducting adequate reviews of pigs for swine flu.

The LA Times reports:

“We never had this type of epidemic, this type of virus in the world,” Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said at a news conference Monday. “We don’t know how many days this will go on, because it’s the first time in the world this virus has appeared.”


WHO Upgrades Swine Flu To Phase Four Status

The World Health Organization has upgraded the swine flu outbreak to Phase Four. The Phase Four status means that there is sustained human to human transmission of disease.
It has now been determined by WHO that the swine flu has reached the level that human-to-human transmission is sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Phase Four is short of calling the outbreak a pandemic. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.

The new Phasing calls for the countries that have been affected to contain the outbreak. The core focus at this stage is to stop the mitigation as much as possible.

CTV reports:

Phase 4 normally calls on affected countries to contain the outbreak. But WHO spokesperson Dr. Keiji Fukuda said that “given the current situation,” the the focus should be on mitigation.

“This virus has already spread quite far, so at this time containment is not a feasible option,” he said.

The following countries have confirmed cases of swine flu A:

* United States: 40
* Mexico: 26
* Canada: 6
* Spain: 1
* Scotland: 2

Since the initial outbreak in Mexico 1,995 people have been hospitalized in that country. Of those, 1,070 have recovered and have been released from hospital.

It is not clear why the United States was not aware of the deadly potential just across their own border. Mexico was already enacting protective measures a week prior.

The United States learned about the deaths caused by a rare strain of the flu until after Canadian officials did.

South California was already investigating milder cases of illness that in hindsight were related to the major outbreak in Mexico.

When Mexico realized that they were dealing with a new strain of flu they contacted Canada. A week ago Mexico sent swabs to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for detailed testing. Why samples were not sent to the CDC is clear, the Mexican authorities were on a time crunch and Canada has a different paperwork system in these cases.

The samples hit the lab in Winnipeg on Wednesday. Six hours later the first news that a new swine flu has been confirmed by testing.

The Washington Post reports:

The CDC, in Atlanta, is one of WHO’s four “reference laboratories” for flu. It routinely gets samples from Mexico and many other countries, and processes them with great urgency, Nancy J. Cox, the head of the flu lab, said last night. It, too, eventually received the Mexican samples.

“The only reason the samples went first to Winnipeg is because the paperwork is easier. We were in a rush,” Hern├índez said.

Mexico and Canada has had in recent years a close relationship when it comes to preparing for an pandemic.