RANDOM NOTES AND NEWS REPORTS ON THE SWINE FLU PANDEMIC...

Bloomberg: Swine flu may infect half the U.S. population this year, hospitalize 1.8 million patients and lead to as many as 90,000 deaths, more than twice the number killed in a typical seasonal flu, White House advisers said. In a report by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, President Barack Obama today was urged to speed vaccine production and name a senior member of the White House staff, preferably the homeland security adviser, to take responsibility for decision-making on the pandemic. Initial doses should be accelerated to mid-September to vaccinate as many as 40 million people, the advisory group said.   AUGUST 24, 2001

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Swine Flu Surge Closes Schools, Tests Hospitals

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 27, 2009 

In Austin, so many parents are rushing their children to the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas with swine flu symptoms that the hospital had to set up tents in the parking lot to cope with the onslaught.

In Memphis, the Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center emergency room got so crowded with feverish, miserable youngsters that it had to do the same thing.

And in Manning, S.C., a private school where an 11-year-old girl died shut down after the number of students who were out sick with similar symptoms reached nearly a third of the student body.

"It just kind of snowballed," said Kim Jordan, a teacher at the Laurence Manning Academy, which closed Wednesday after Ashlie Pipkin died, and the number of ill students hit 287. "We had several teachers out also. That was the reason to close the school -- so everyone could just be away from one another for a few days."                     MORE

 

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More than half of children taking the swine flu drug Tamiflu experience side-effects such as nausea and nightmares, research suggests. An estimated 150,000 people with flu symptoms were prescribed the drug through a new hotline and website last week, according to figures revealed yesterday.

Studies of children attending three schools in London and one in the South West showed that 51-53 per cent had one or more side-effects from the medication, which is offered to everyone in England with swine flu symptoms.

Releasing the latest figures, Sir Liam said that an estimated 110,000 new cases of the H1N1 virus were diagnosed by doctors in the week to Sunday. That did not include those using the new National Pandemic Flu Service for England to obtain antiviral drugs without seeing their GP. Sir Liam said that the deaths of 27 people in England were confirmed to have been linked to swine flu, compared with 26 last week. As of Wednesday morning 793 people were in hospital in England with the virus, and 81 were in intensive care.

Scale of the outbreak

— 110,000 new swine flu cases in England last week, based on data from GPs

— 150,000 people obtaining Tamiflu without seeing a GP since last Thursday

— 51% to 53% proportion of children reporting side-effects from taking Tamiflu

— 1 in 158 people in England have contacted their GP with flu-like symptoms since outbreaks began. The rate is 1 in 77 for children aged 1 to 4

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The H1N1 flu virus is starting to infect older people, and pregnant women and the obese are at highest risk, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

In a statement, the United Nations agency said school-age children remain most affected by the newly discovered virus that has been spreading fast in schools and is gaining momentum in broad communities alongside seasonal flu.

"It remains a top priority to determine which groups of people are at highest risk of serious disease so steps to best protect them can be taken," it said, estimating that vaccine manufacturers should have H1N1 shots ready soon.

"Manufacturers are expected to have vaccines for use around September. A number of companies are working on the pandemic vaccine production and have different timelines," the statement on the WHO website read.

About 800 people have died from the new virus whose fast international transmission caused the WHO to declare in June that a flu pandemic is under way. But for most patients, H1N1 is causing mild and manageable symptoms.

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Britain warned it could face more than 100,000 daily cases of swine flu and the United States called a meeting of top officials as governments grappled on Friday with a resurgent swine flu pandemic.

The warning from British Health Secretary Andy Burnham came as the Japanese health ministry said doctors had detected the second case worldwide of a patient resistant to the anti-viral Tamiflu, widely used to treat the illness.

Burnham told parliament that 100,000 cases a day could occur in Britain by the end of August if the current infection rate is maintained. The country already has Europe's highest number of reported cases.

Health officials say they are abandoning trying to stop the flu spreading, instead focusing on people who are most susceptible, such as the obese or those with asthma or breathing problems.

"Cases are doubling every week, and on this trend we could see over 100,000 cases a day by the end of August, but I stress this is only a projection," Burnham told the House of Commons on Thursday.        JULY O9

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GENEVA – Canada became the third country to confirm human cases of swine flu Sunday as global health officials considered whether to raise the global pandemic alert level.

Nations from New Zealand to Spain also reported suspected cases and some warned citizens against travel to North America while others planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers.

Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said the east coast Canadian province had confirmed four "very mild" cases of swine flu in students ranging in age from 12 to 17 or 18. All are recovering, he said.

"It was acquired in Mexico, brought home and spread," Strang said.

The western province of British Columbia confirmed two further cases.

The news follows the World Health Organization's decision Saturday to declare the outbreak first detected in Mexico and the United States a "public health emergency of international concern."

A senior World Health Organization official said the agency's emergency committee will meet for a second time Tuesday to examine the extent to which the virus has spread before deciding whether to increase the alert for a possible pandemic — an epidemic that spreads in humans around the world.

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The swine flu virus that has killed more than 80 people in Mexico may mutate into a "more dangerous" strain, the World Health Organisation has warned. Skip related content

"It's quite possible for this virus to evolve... when viruses evolve, clearly they can become more dangerous to people," said Keiji Fukuda, of the global health watchdog.

Mr Fukuda also called for international vigilance as health experts wait to see whether the virus will turn into a worldwide pandemic.

Over 1,300 people are now thought to have contracted the virulent H1N1 swine influenza after it mutated into a form that spreads from human to human.

The Mayor of New York has confirmed that eight school children are suffering mild symptoms after becoming infected.

And there have been at least 12 other confirmed cases in Texas, Ohio, California and Kansas.

The White House has declared a public health emergency but told the public "not to panic".

Sky US correspondent Greg Milam said: "It's important to realise that those affected have only had mild symptoms, and all have recovered or are recovering.

"But the authorities do believe that this outbreak will get worse."                 http://wcbstv.com/health/swine.flu.nyc.2.994071.html

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Swine flu 'could kill millions

UN report says pandemic may result in anarchy unless western world pays for antiviral drugs and vaccine

 

The swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in the world's poorest nations unless £900m can be raised from rich countries to pay for vaccines and antiviral medicines, says a UN report leaked to the Observer.

The disclosure will provoke concerns that health officials will not be able to stem the growth of the worldwide H1N1 pandemic in developing countries. If the virus takes hold in the poorest nations, millions could die and the economies of fragile countries could be destroyed.

Health ministers around the globe were sent the warning on Thursday in a report on the costs of averting a humanitarian disaster in the next few months. It comes as officials inside the World Health Organisation, the UN's public health body, said they feared they would not be able to raise half that amount because of the global downturn.

Gregory Hartl of WHO said the report required an urgent response from rich nations. "There needs to be recognition that the whole world is affected by this pandemic and the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We have seen how H1N1 has taken hold in richer nations and in the southern hemisphere. We have been given fair warning and must act soon," he said.

The report was drawn up by UN officials over the last two months. It was commissioned in July after Ban ki-moon, the UN's secretary general, expressed concern that the H1NI virus could have a severe impact on the world's poorest countries.

It paints a disastrous picture for the world's most vulnerable people unless there is immediate action. "There is a window in which it will be possible to help poor countries get as ready as they can for H1N1 and that window is closing rapidly," it says.

"Countries where health services are overburdened by diseases, such as HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, will have great difficulty managing the surge of cases. And if the electricity and water sectors are not able to maintain services, this will have serious implications for the ability of the health sector to function.

"If suppliers of fuel, food, telecommunications, finance or transport services have not developed plans as to how they would continue to deliver their services, the consequences could be significantly intensified," it adds.

The 47-page report provides a detailed breakdown of the basic needs of 75 vulnerable countries with the weakest capacity to withstand an escalation of the virus. Six countries from Latin America, including Cuba and Bolivia, 21 countries from Asia and the Pacific such as North Korea and Bangladesh, and 40 countries from Africa such as Congo and Eritrea are included in the survey.

UN officials say in the report that £700m should be spent on antiviral drugs and vaccines to protect health care workers and other essential personnel as well as cover those suffering from severe illness. They have identified 85 countries that do not have the ability to access vaccines from any other source and intend to cover 5-10% of each population.

A further £147m should be put aside to organise vaccine campaigns, improve communications, monitor levels of illness and improve laboratory capacity in 61 countries, the report claims. The remainder should be used to pay for the WHO and other UN-related organisations to help in these countries as well as an emergency fund for additional antiviral medicines, it argues.

The UN's efforts were boosted last week when nine countries, including Britain and the US, pledged to give the equivalent of a 10% share of their swine flu vaccine supply to help fight the deadly virus's global spread. In Britain, Douglas Alexander, the development secretary, pledged to give £23m.

Some officials within WHO believe, however, that this will not be enough. One said that richer countries were reluctant to pay out all of the money that was needed. "The downturn means that governments countries are reluctant to give," he said.

Another said: "The money is a trickle, not a flood. It is going to be a struggle. If we are not careful, the virus could destroy a burgeoning economy or democracy."

The UN's request for the money comes as the virus begins to establish itself in some of the world's most vulnerable countries. On Wednesday, health officials told one website that the African continent had recorded 8,187 confirmed cases of swine flu and 41 deaths.

Swine flu was declared a pandemic in June and has since been identified in 180 countries. Pandemic experts believe that the western world, including Britain, is facing a second wave of the virus.

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