Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WHO declaration of pandemic

Today's WSJ Swine Flu live blog

Index to all WSJ Swine Flu live blogs

Here's a live blog post from the WHO meeting where a pandemic was declared. Remember, a pandemic just means a disease spreads person-to-person and it is circulating in more than one country.

The primary way to avoid any person-to-person disease is 'social distancing', and folks in the US and Canada are better at social distancing than any other country in the world.

Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano said, dealing with the swine flu virus will be "a marathon, not a sprint" which is the best metaphor I've heard. We'll have it around for a while, just like we've had AIDS around for decades, and have adapted our behavior accordingly. Who's smarter; us, or this virus?

She added individual citizens have a responsibility to help; well, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after you applied liquid or foam soap.

Thorough hand washing includes getting under the nails, and at the seams of your fingernails. If you don't want to get a nail brush, then change your toothbrush to the new one the dentist gave you; soak the old one in peroxide or bleach for a few minutes to clean it, and then the toothbrush can become your nail brush.

Monday, April 27, 2009

CDC twitter feed for porcine influenza

Threat of Pandemic Influenza free download

Microbial Threats to Health: The Threat of Pandemic Influenza is a free download from the National Institutes press. Dense and technical, but gives a good overview; not as fun a read as John Ringo's THE LAST CENTURION on the same subject can be... and the latter is only $6.

Still, it's hard to argue with the medical experts when they unequivocally state "A CASE IN POINT: INFLUENZA—WE ARE UNPREPARED" unless you're really good at buryin your head in the sand.

WSJ Swine Flu Blog Today shows today's Wall Street Journal swine flu blog posts; pithy, to the point, with links to more. Recommended.

Also, here's their Q and A page from which I excerpt:

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are similar to those of regular flu: fever, along with problems such as cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. Some cases have also included reports of vomiting or diarrhea.

What should I do if I feel sick?

People with ordinary flu symptoms do not need to seek emergency care, New York City officials said. But people with certain warning signs in addition to basic symptoms should seek urgent attention. In children, those signs include difficulty breathing; bluish skin color; flu symptoms that begin to improve, then return with fever and worse cough; and fever with a rash. In adults, warning signs include difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, and severe or persistent vomiting.

Can the swine flu be treated with drugs?

Two drugs, sold under the brand names Tamiflu and Relenza, may reduce the severity and the duration of the disease. But most of the patients who contracted swine flu in the U.S. have recovered without taking the drugs. Both drugs have also been approved to reduce the risk of contracting the seasonal flu. But, unlike a vaccine, they do not provide long-lasting protection. So their preventive use is typically for short-term situations, such as for people who are at high risk of complications from the flu and who have a family member who has the flu. The drugs, which are included in the federal government’s pandemic stockpile, are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu Maps and Data

HOWTO, thorough hand washing:
1 Wet hands
2 Apply liquid or foam (preferred) soap
4 Rinse thoroughly
5 Dry with paper towels
6 Pull one more paper towel from the dispenser, use that to open bathroom door. Since flu viruses can survive several days on dry surfaces, and be passed hand-to-hand-to-hand even if the person in the middle does not catch the flu, this step is also important. No dot = fatal case.

WHO: Influenza-like illness in the United States and Mexico

24 April 2009 -- The United States Government has reported seven confirmed human cases of Swine Influenza A/H1N1 in the USA (five in California and two in Texas) and nine suspect cases. All seven confirmed cases had mild Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), with only one requiring brief hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

The Government of Mexico has reported three separate events. In the Federal District of Mexico, surveillance began picking up cases of ILI starting 18 March. The number of cases has risen steadily through April and as of 23 April there are now more than 854 cases of pneumonia from the capital. Of those, 59 have died. In San Luis Potosi, in central Mexico, 24 cases of ILI, with three deaths, have been reported. And from Mexicali, near the border with the United States, four cases of ILI, with no deaths, have been reported.

Of the Mexican cases, 18 have been laboratory confirmed in Canada as Swine Influenza A/H1N1, while 12 of those are genetically identical to the Swine Influenza A/H1N1 viruses from California.

The majority of these cases have occurred in otherwise healthy young adults. Influenza normally affects the very young and the very old, but these age groups have not been heavily affected in Mexico.

Because there are human cases associated with an animal influenza virus, and because of the geographical spread of multiple community outbreaks, plus the somewhat unusual age groups affected, these events are of high concern.

CDC web page contains a timeline.