U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Wizard CaT » Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:36 am

HENRY PULIZZI wrote:WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration declared a "public health emergency," as U.S. health officials warned that further cases of swine flu are likely to emerge in the U.S.

"As we look for more cases of swine flu, we are seeing more cases of swine flu. We expect to see more cases of swine flu," Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at a White House briefing. "We're responding aggressively to try and learn more about this outbreak and implement measures to control this outbreak."

The World Health Organization has stepped up operations after eight school kids in New York and two other people in Kansas tested positive for a strain of the swine flu.

Mr. Besser, who was addressing reporters along with other Obama administration officials, said officials so far have confirmed 20 cases in five affected states -- New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. Only one individual has had to be hospitalized, he said. "But I expect as we continue to look for cases, we are going to see a broader spectrum of disease," he added. "I would expect over time we're going to see more severe disease in this country."

More than 80 people have died in Mexico from the flu-like disease, which now appears to have spread to a host of other countries. Earlier Saturday, CDC confirmed that eight high school students in New York have been infected with swine flu. The World Health Organization declared the strain a "public health emergency of international concern."

John Brennan, Assistant to President Barack Obama for Homeland Security, said the president is monitoring the situation "very closely" and receiving regular updates and briefings.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the declaration of a public health emergency "standard operating procedure," saying it would help the government better marshal its resources against the disease. She said it the move could be described as a declaration of emergency "preparedness." She said the U.S. is conducting "passive" surveillance on people who travel from Mexico to the U.S., but could move to more aggressive monitoring as the situation evolves. She said the public health emergency declaration doesn't convey quarantine authority, which is held at the state and local level.

"It's all hands on deck and we're doing fine," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Ms. Napolitano said the government would release 25% of its strategic national stockpile anti-viral drugs, which now totals 50 million courses. She also said "everything looks fine" with the U.S. food supply and underscored that people can't get swine flu from eating pork.

CDC's Mr. Besser characterized what has been seen so far in the U.S. as "mild" and said the cases would not have been detected without heightened surveillance.

Messrs. Besser and Brennan said no there is no evidence that the outbreak is related to bioterrorism. And Mr. Gibbs gave assurances that Mr. Obama, who recently returned from a trip to Mexico, hasn't been affected by the disease. "There's no reason to believe that his -- or anyone who traveled with him -- health was ever in jeopardy," Mr. Gibbs said.

"Both the US and Mexican governments are taking steps to reduce the potential further transmission," Mr. Brennan said. "At this point, the top priority is to ensure that communication is robust and that medical surveillance efforts are fully activated." He said officials believe new cases have been identified in the last 24 hours.

The officials said people should practice common sense, such as frequent hand washing. "If you feel sick, it makes sense to stay home," Mr. Brennan said.

A quarantine officer monitored travelers with a thermographic device at an arrival gate at Narita International Airport in Japan.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan warned that the virus had the potential to cause a pandemic, but cautioned that it was too early to tell whether it would erupt into a global outbreak.

On Sunday, Ms. Chan held teleconferences with staff and flu experts around the world but stopped short of recommending specific measures to halt the disease beyond urging governments to step up their surveillance of suspicious outbreaks.

Following an emergency meeting Saturday, a WHO panel declared the developments thus far a public health emergency and urged governments around the world to intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of flu-like illness and severe pneumonia. But the panel held off on raising a global pandemic alert, saying it needed more information before making a decision.

Governments world-wide stepped up surveillance for the deadly virus.

Nova Scotia public health official confirmed four cases of swine flu in the Canadian province Sunday. New Zealand said that 10 students "likely" had been infected with swine flu after a school trip to Mexico. The Israeli Health Ministry said there is one suspected case in the country.

French Health Ministry officials said four possible cases of swine flu were under investigation. Spain's Health Ministry said three people who just returned from Mexico were under observation.

Officials at Tokyo's Narita airport installed a device at the arrival gate for flights from Mexico to measure the temperatures of passengers. Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors to infected areas who have fevers will be quarantined -- a precaution the Philippines is also considering. The Chinese territory also joined South Korea in warning against travel to Mexico. Indonesia has increased surveillance at all entry points for travelers with flu-like symptoms -- using devices at airports that were put in place years ago to monitor for severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and bird flu. It said it was ready to quarantine suspected victims if necessary.

New York city health officials say that despite students testing positive for the swine flu virus at a Queens preparatory school, there appears to be no citywide spread of the illness, nor additional clusters.

CDC tests conducted confirmed cases of human swine flu among students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens. The school is suspending classes on Monday, the city reported. The affected students have experienced only mild symptoms and many are already improving, but a similar virus has recently caused deaths in Mexico, city health officials said.

The city's health department's surveillance system has not shown a citywide increase in flu-like illness. An investigation of a cluster of children with illness in a Bronx daycare facility has so far not identified any confirmed or probable cases, according to the health department.

The health department said the Queens investigation began last week, when more than 100 students at the St. Francis developed flu-like symptoms, including fever and sore throat. The Health Department's Public Health Laboratory tested nine nose and throat swabs. Eight of them tested positive for Influenza A but did not match any of the known human variants of that virus (the H1 and H3 human subtypes) by available testing methods. On Saturday, the Health Department considered them "probable" cases of human swine influenza and sent the samples to the CDC in Atlanta for confirmatory testing. Those tests confirmed the presence of swine influenza viruses.

The CDC has sent teams to California, Texas, and Mexico to assist with investigations. Confirmed cases include six children and adults in San Diego and Imperial Counties in Southern California. Two 16 year-old boys in Guadalupe County near San Antonio, Texas, were also found to have had the disease. Only one of the cases, a 41-year-old woman, was hospitalized, and the others had only mild disease, the CDC said.

It's unclear so far why U.S. cases identified so far are mostly mild, while Mexico has experienced severe disease, Dr. Schuchat said, though expanded surveillance is likely to yield more clues.

Mexican health authorities are continuing to investigate whether more than 1,300 people were infected with the mysterious bug, which attacked in three geographically diverse areas of the country and is taking its heaviest toll in young adults.

President Felipe Calderon urged Mexicans to remain calm and reassured them that government has plenty of antiviral medicines to treat the outbreaks. Two antiviral medications, marketed as tamiflu and relenza, both work against the bug, according to the CDC.

In Mexico City, blue surgical masks proliferated and entrepreneurs were selling them on the streets. And throngs of Mexicans -- some with just a fever -- rushed to hospitals.

Mexican soldiers and health workers patrolled airports and bus stations, looking for people showing symptoms. Hundreds of public events were called off to keep people from congregating and spreading the virus in large crowds. Markets and restaurants were nearly empty. Two soccer games scheduled for Sunday were expected to be played in front of empty stadiums but broadcast on TV.

Roman Catholic officials planned to hold mass later inside an empty Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe for broadcast over the airwaves.

The first death in Mexico occurred in southern Oaxaca state on April 13, but the government didn't send the first of 14 mucous samples to the Centers for Disease Control until April 18, around the same time it dispatched health teams to hospitals looking for patients with severe flu or pneumonia-like symptoms.

Those teams noticed something strange: The flu was killing people aged 20 to 40. Flu victims are usually either infants or the elderly. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults.

Even though U.S. labs detected the swine flu in California and Texas before last weekend, Mexican authorities as recently as Wednesday were referring to it as a late-season flu.

But mid-afternoon Thursday, Mexico City Health Secretary Dr. Armando Ahued said, officials got a call "from the United States and Canada, the most important laboratories in the field, telling us this was a new virus."
—Betsy McKay, David Luhnow, Jacob Goldstein, Suzanne Sataline and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Write to Henry Pulizzi at henry.pulizzi@dowjones.com


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1240744 ... outset-box

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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Monthenor » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:06 pm

Wizard CaT wrote:
HENRY PULIZZI wrote:"As we look for more cases of swine flu, we are seeing more cases of swine flu."


The same happens to me when I look for consonants. >_<
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby arex » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:53 pm

Nothing to worry about...just Mother Nature thinning the herd.



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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:40 pm

Eldenath is far from home, visiting a friend in Colorado. She flew to get there, and must ride another winged petri dish to get back.

Thus I am especially concerned about this potential pandemic.

This issue is serious to me, because this flu is following the very same pattern as the terrible Spanish flu of 1918, occurring relatively lightly -just scattered deaths- near summer... and (if it continues to match the 1918 strain) perhaps killing millions only in the fall.

I exist because of the 1918 pandemic.

My maternal grandfather lost his entire family in that flu. Five children, his wife, his parents and her parents, and both of his grandparents. He lost all of them in a single 48 hour period.

He never got over mourning his original family, even after he married my grandmother, who had also been left without family - her own husband, children, and relatives had also been wiped out. They had much in common, in that regard.

The children they had included my mother, which permitted me to be here with you. Pandemics change history; pandemics change people's lives drastically.

I grew up hearing stories about that time from my mother. I was most impressed at just how much suffering it caused, and above all, how quickly it killed people. The average time from beginning of severe symptoms to death was just 24 hours.

And like the current day swine flu, it kills the young and strong preferentially; what you die from is your own youthfully healthy and mature immune system overreacting to the disease. 18-30 year-olds take dire note.

I hope this ends up being small, and going away.

I fear, however, that this could be the big one, a true pandemic, a killer. This pattern is too familiar. This is just how it happened last time - although not in Mexico, of course. The 1918 flu started on an army base in the United States (despite the name). Rather, it is the pattern of early morbidity and spread that is similar.

Scary.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby strange_person » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:44 am

What are your recommendations, O Creatrix, for those of us who fall within the target demographic but lack the competent government and/or personal wealth necessary to secure modern medical care?

If 'strong immune system' is a primary risk factor, would immunosuppressants (such as stress, malnutrition, and transplant anti-rejection drugs) be helpful?
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:46 am

strange_person wrote:What are your recommendations, O Creatrix, for those of us who fall within the target demographic but lack the competent government and/or personal wealth necessary to secure modern medical care?

If 'strong immune system' is a primary risk factor, would immunosuppressants (such as stress, malnutrition, and transplant anti-rejection drugs) be helpful?


I would not recommend running yourself down; flu can also kill by damaging a person so much that even if they survive, they become susceptible to other infections. Suppressing your immune system is not the answer to this, rather it would hasten your doom.

There is no vaccine, and there will not be for at least three months, minimum, and even then it would be in short supply, even if it actually works. Antivirals will do little. Basically, there is no magic bullet, no cure. You survive, or not.

>> Take vitamin D. Studies with soldiers, and others, have demonstrated that a higher level of vitamin D greatly reduces vulnerability to all flu. The effect appears quite robust, actually. Google it. Here's one result right off the top:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/51913.php

>> Wash your hands frequently.

>> Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or face.

>> Do not shake hands, or touch strangers.

>> the flu incubates for days, and can remain infective for a week even when someone is getting better. Stay. Away.

>> Avoid people as much as possible when things get bad.

>> if the shit hits the fan, consider using gloves and masks when leaving the house. If it gets that bad, most folks will be doing that anyway; my suggestion is to consider stocking up beforehand.

>> Avoid anyone who seems ill: remember that a cough spreads a cloud of active particles 9 feet away, in general.

>> Flu virus can survive hours on surfaces; that is why you avoid touching your face and wash your hands all the time. You don't know who has been doing what to that surface you just touched.

>> If you do fall ill, Gatoraid. Use it. Gatoraid is EXACTLY the same stuff they will give you in hospital to keep your fluids up and your electrolytes balanced, only hospital-label costs hundreds of dollars, while original Gatoraid costs a couple of bucks. Seriously, it is the same medicine, and the team doctor behind Gatoraid invented it first. It saves lives. It definitely helps. How do you know you need it? It will actually taste good. If Gatoraid actually tastes good to you... you fucking need it.

>> Pay attention to the spread of the disease to see how dangerous things are getting. One tracking tool is on Google Maps:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=p&msa=0&msid=106484775090296685271.0004681a37b713f6b5950&ll=32.639375,-110.390625&spn=24.413424,39.4628 - it's kind of interesting, in a biowarfare kind of way, to watch how it burns the world.

Hope a lot that the whole thing fizzles out, and does not return with a vengeance in the fall.

There will be a world killer pandemic; that is universally understood to be inevitable, and hundreds of millions will die, again.

I dearly hope this is not that time.

You can't get sick, if you aren't exposed. That should be your goal.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Idiot Glee » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:32 am

Oh chill out, all of you!

West Nile was last year's plague, remember that? I actually tangentially knew someone who died of it. How many people died? A couple hundred a year.

The media hypes fear, fear makes you watch their crappy 'news'. Get your flu shot or don't, there's never any guarantee something won't kill you, but eventually something will.

Take a deep breath, the local industrial base is probably doing more harm.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Mitsukara » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:46 am

I take offense at the assumption that all humans are swine and thus vulnerable to this. I'm pretty sure only French people can be swine.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Skatche » Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:46 am

Unsurprisingly, I'm really not worried. Here, then, is a small selection of flippant and/or sarcastic remarks:


(A) Oh, Mexico, thank god. America will be a better place without all those damn immigrants.
(B) Yesterday, the Toronto Star reported about how masks are all the rage in Japan, but that they're not actually great at blocking viruses. Today, they reported about how masks were being handed out en masse in Mexico by the cops.
(C)"Bad flu epidemics can hit young adults hardest because they provoke their powerful immune systems into overreaction, so to stay healthy spend the next few weeks drunk and sleep-deprived to keep yours suppressed."
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:36 pm

It's level 4 now:

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en/index.html

Sustained human to human transmission.

Pandemic is inevitable now. It cannot be stopped, and it cannot be contained.

However, this does not mean that it must be deadly. All the deaths, so far, happened only in Mexico. Others just get sick, but live, in every other country. I don't know what that means, but it seems significant - perhaps there is some other co-factor to the morbidity that only applies to Mexico, such as extreme pollution mixed with desperate poverty, added to inferior medical facilities (they had to ship samples to Canada merely to identify the disease... they apparently don't have labs).

Then again, it could just be coincidence.

Yes, hold your breath. It's safer.

Until you pass out, of course.

The writing is on the wall, it's coming, and it can't be stopped.

Please let this pandemic be relatively non-fatal. If god existed, I would pray to her. Damn. Bad luck there.

Everyone - be careful, OK? Please?
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Idiot Glee » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:56 pm

Panic causes stress.
Stress weakens your immune system.
A weakened immune system can not fight a swine flu infection off as well as a normal immune system.

It is possible all this focus on, and panic over, a pandemic could cause a pandemic.

Chill out, or else!
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Tychomonger » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:01 pm

*panics over the possible consequences of panic*
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Idiot Glee » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:10 pm

Tychomonger wrote:*panics over the possible consequences of panic*


Recursive panic attacks.

Cute.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Skatche » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:46 pm

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:It's level 4 now:

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en/index.html

Sustained human to human transmission.

Pandemic is inevitable now. It cannot be stopped, and it cannot be contained.


The WHO (above) wrote:Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:13 am

Skatche wrote:

The WHO (above) wrote:Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.


Yes, they wrote that. But more than one of their members has stated publicly that 'pandemic is inevitable' and that the flu 'cannot be contained'.

Perhaps not everyone at the WHO has got the memo about what the website now says... since they revised it yesterday.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Skatche » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:48 am

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:Yes, they wrote that. But more than one of their members has stated publicly that 'pandemic is inevitable' and that the flu 'cannot be contained'.

Perhaps not everyone at the WHO has got the memo about what the website now says... since they revised it yesterday.


Source?

Not that I doubt it, I just want to see it.

(I mean the source about pandemic being inevitable; I'll have to take your word about the website being revised, or look it up on the Internet Archive, or something.)
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby draque » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:52 am

I cautiously skeptical. There's clearly human-human transimission of the disease, but given the low levels of infection, even in uncontrolled situations (Mexico, which seems to be the worst case example for the virus), things don't seem to be falling apart. As for the website revision, I chalk that up to the disease being better understood at this point, rather than some sort of cover up or conspiracy.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:39 pm

Skatche wrote:
Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:Yes, they wrote that. But more than one of their members has stated publicly that 'pandemic is inevitable' and that the flu 'cannot be contained'.

Perhaps not everyone at the WHO has got the memo about what the website now says... since they revised it yesterday.


Source?

Not that I doubt it, I just want to see it.

(I mean the source about pandemic being inevitable; I'll have to take your word about the website being revised, or look it up on the Internet Archive, or something.)


It should be noted that now, today, the WHO is saying the pandemic is NOT inevitable. This is different than what I read yesterday. However, the words of before still stand, out there somewhere.

I hate having sources demanded of me... it's really hard to remember them, so I have to search and look them up again, and often can't find the original page... it's not like I bookmark everything I find, but here you go, as best I can recreate:

The revising of the pandemic phase chart:
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en/index.html

Please note that I cannot find the original WHO official, a woman, but there is a consultant to WHO that has echoed the same statements:

http://reports.typepad.com/pandemic_plan/2006/08/osterholms_mess.html

And other WHO officials about the issue in general:

http://www.europaworld.org/week247/humanflu251105.htm

http://aapnews.aappublications.org/cgi/content/citation/17/3/110 (Bottomost article of WHO news)

And others, Not WHO, but respectable (in varying degrees):

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article1838562.ece


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/2437908/Disease-pandemic-inevitable-in-Britian-warns-House-of-Lords.html

http://a.abcnews.com/Health/Flu/story?id=1274419

http://www.sfcdcp.org/PandemicFacts.html

http://aapnews.aappublications.org/cgi/content/citation/17/3/110

http://www.vetscite.org/publish/items/002465/index.html

http://www.expressnews.ualberta.ca/article.cfm?id=7102

Perhaps one day I will stumble across the original thing I read. The internet is vast, and changes so quickly.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Shackler » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:02 pm

Do not be alarmed-- the spread is not yet severe, and most cases have thus far proven nonfatal. Stay outside if possible. Stay happy if possible. Sleep as much as you can. Step up showering/bathing. Wash your hands often. Touch your face as infrequently as possible. Avoid airports if at all possible. Bandage all open wounds. Do not under any circumstances visit Mexico.

Tamiflu is currently believed to be effective against swine flu, and mass production is now being put into effect.
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Re: U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbrea

Postby Wizard CaT » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:02 pm

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:And like the current day swine flu, it kills the young and strong preferentially; what you die from is your own youthfully healthy and mature immune system overreacting to the disease. 18-30 year-olds take dire note.

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:If the shit hits the fan, consider using gloves and masks when leaving the house. If it gets that bad, most folks will be doing that anyway; my suggestion is to consider stocking up beforehand


Actually the flu oddly does not hit children or the elderly, those most commonly affected by the flu. It is also only fatal in Mexico. Also as was stated by many medical people many times during many flu outbreaks, the masks do virtually nothing. Also population % wise, a fraction of a fraction has been infected. Finally the only deaths are in Mexico.
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