Swine flu raises fear of pandemic - Adults and Children - page 23
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May 4, '09Update from Dr. Margaret Chan of WHO
Quote from www.who.in
Large numbers of people falling ill can be highly disruptive to economies and to the functioning of routine medical services.
As of right now, WHO has received reports of 1003 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza from 20 countries on four continents.
We do not know how long we have until we move to phase 6, which indicates we are in a pandemic. We are not there yet. The criteria will be met when we see, in one region outside North America, clear evidence of community-level transmission.
Although we face many uncertainties, we do know some things, which I want to share with you now.
Some of this knowledge comes from the behaviour of past pandemics. Other knowledge is specific to the new H1N1 virus and comes from the cases we are seeing in different countries and a look at the virus in the laboratory.
This helps us understand the situation, right now. However, experience during past pandemics warns us that the initial situation can change in many ways, with many, many surprises.
Historically, influenza pandemics have encircled the globe in two, sometimes three, waves. During the previous century, the 1918 pandemic, the most deadly of them all, began in a mild wave and then returned in a far more deadly one. In fact, the first wave was so mild that its significance as a warning signal was missed.
At this point, we have no indication that we are facing a situation similar to that seen in 1918. As I must stress repeatedly, this situation can change, not because we are overestimating or underestimating the situation, but simply because influenza viruses are constantly changing in unpredictable ways.
The only thing that can be said with certainty about influenza viruses is that they are entirely unpredictable. No one can say, right now, how the pandemic will evolve.
This places health officials, at national and international levels, in the difficult position of needing to make far-reaching decisions urgently, yet without the kind of solid scientific back-up we normally like to have.
The greatest disruption of the economy will come from the uncoordinated efforts of the general public to avoid infection. Again, it is incumbent upon us to issue advice and try to calm anxiety in the midst of great scientific uncertainty.
this regard, let me make a strong plea to countries to refrain from introducing measures that are economically and socially disruptive, yet have no scientific justification and bring no clear public health benefit.
If this pandemic begins with a mild wave, this will give countries and industry an opportunity to build up stocks of vaccines, antiviral drugs, and other essential supplies.
But let me be frank. Global manufacturing capacity, though greatly increased, is still not sufficient to produce enough antiviral medication and pandemic vaccines to protect the entire world population in time.
This is the reality. But we can acquire the data that guides the wise and targeted use of these interventions, conserves supplies, and, in the case of antiviral medicines, reduces the risk of drug resistance.
May 4, '09CDC Briefing for 4 May 2009
FlaMedic has summarized the briefing for today.
Quote from afludiary.blogspot.com
The CDC expects to move away from using expensive (and scarce) laboratory resources to confirm cases, and will likely accept `probable' cases in the near future.
A `probable' case is one that has tested positive for Influenza A, but did not test positive for the H1 or H3 influenza virus. Although an H1N1 virus, the new virus isn't picked up by the H1 test and is considered `untyped'.
Thus far, 99% of `probable' cases that have gone on to be tested specifically for the virus, have turned out positive. There are at least 700 `probable' cases in 44 states, that have not been tested.
Even then, it is assumed that a great many people won't see their doctors, or be tested, for the virus. Unless someone is experiencing serious symptoms, they are not being encouraged to seek medical care.
So the actual number of cases around the country really isn't known, nor will it ever be.
The median age among confirmed cases is 16, with cases as young as 3 months and as old as 81 years. Most (62%) are under the age of 18.
Hospitalized cases (now totaling 35 out of the 286 confirmed cases) run roughly the same demographics.
Exactly why this virus appears to be targeting younger victims is unknown. It is possible that older people have been exposed to more H1N1 viruses over the years, and have picked up some level of immunity.
...the isolates being analyzed all seem to be very similar. That makes crafting a vaccine easier. There are also no signs of resistance developing to Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or Zanamivir (Relenza).
Looking forward, the CDC will watch with particular interest how this virus acts in the Southern Hemisphere during our summer months. Influenza generally dies down in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year, but flu season is just getting started in places like Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand.
That could give us an early preview of our 2009-2010 seasonal flu season, and hopefully early warning of any dangerous changes in the virus.
May 4, '09We need to plan ahead NOW!
Remember winter of 2000?
All the trepedation about Y2K?
The flu had our hospitals full, not enough ventilators, staff sick. Those who didn't get sick were pushed to work doubles and extra shifts.
Well we CAN avert the same or worse with planning.