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Swine Flu.

Posts (261)

  • Lein

    Lein

    #12503283 - 10 years ago

    This seems to be quite the current event, and if for some reason it doesn't belong here, feel free too thoroughly swat me.

    Between March and April 2009, over 1000 cases of Swine flu had been reported in humans in Mexico. Of these suspected 1000 cases, over eighty appeared to have died ( more deaths since then, more than likely). The death-rate sitting at roughly eight percent.

    As of April 25th, 2009, 11 cases have been confirmed in Kansas and the southwestern United States and several suspected cases in the New York city area.

    April 26th, the New Zealand Minister of health reported that 22 students returning from Mexico had flu like symptoms. 13 of the students were tested for Influenza A, which is strongly suggested to be the swine flu strain, and ten tested positive. However it is possible that the returning students are simply just sick with some other strain of flu.

    5 possible cases have been detected in Canada, two being in British Columbia, and three being in Nova Scotia.

    As of this point (April 26th, 2009) the only fatalities caused by this new strain of swine flu have been in Mexico.

    ____

    I apologize for my ramblings up above, and if it's a little incoherent, I'm in a bit of a rush. I've just kind of compiled and compressed data about this recent outbreak from what I could find on BBC, Wikipedia, and heard on the CDC's press conference. I'm somewhat of a viral enthusiast.

    What does everyone think about these turn of events?

    Post edited 4/26/09 5:47PM

  • DoNothing69

    DoNothing69

    #12503305 - 10 years ago

    I am reminded of Bird flu, sars and every other health scare in it's early stages.

  • pal_sch

    pal_sch

    #12503365 - 10 years ago

    Links that may be useful;

    Aetiology and Effect Measure.
    Two public health orientated sites on the ScienceBlogs network that have been covering this pretty well and in a level headed manner. Also good places to go for links to other sites.

    Crawford.
    Set up for the bird flu scares, it keeps up with lots of news a lot faster and better than most news sites. It also has some very good advice for Americans.

    A Google map tracking the outbreak.
    Note that pink entries are unconfirmed, and there appears to be a lot of over reporting based on the way it reads stories.

    Practical advice from Wired.
    I'm as shocked as you are. Most of it is adding flavour to the CDC recommendations. The CDC is also on twitter for the truely health paranoid.

    Some old advice on being prepared for an outbreak and, more importantly, minimising the most common vector for the flu. Also how to know if you have it.

    Because news services love screeching numbers, but rarely explain what they mean, the WHO pandemic phases index. This is a pretty good way to tell what the risk of major disruption is, but only if you understand what the phases actually say about the disease.

  • Longstrider

    Longstrider FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #12503491 - 10 years ago

    In reply to DoNothing69, #2:

    So am I, but nevertheless it's still a scare. Bird Flu seemed to be on a different level, especially because almost all of the casualties (correct me if I'm wrong) were far away from North America and therefore not as big a concern as a virus starting out right close to home.

    It seems as though some of the victims are recovering from swine flu, and that's a really good sign, but I think that if the virus moves to underdeveloped countries in the third world where medical treatment is not readily available, it could wreak absolute havoc. If you take a look at that Google Map so nicely provided by pal_such, so far the virus has only hit developed countries (with the semi-exception of Mexico). Most if not all of these countries have fairly well-equipped health care systems, whether they be private or public (but that's for a different thread), that are decently prepared to handle an epidemic. Sudan, Congo or Zimbabwe? Not so much. Now I know those countries are probably the worst prepared, but hopefully my point gets across.

    In reply to pal_sch, #3:

    Thanks for the links. They're very interesting, and helpful.

  • pal_sch

    pal_sch

    #12503614 - 10 years ago

    In reply to Longstrider, #4:

    A few problems there.

    For one thing, developed countries have the best healthcare systems and reporting. The numbers coming out of Mexico are pretty confused at the moment, and their healthcare setup is still pretty good compared to most the world. With H5N1 (bird flu) getting a solid read on the numbers was nearly impossible because the countries it was happening in often had poor healthcare in rural areas, minimal reporting and often refused to cooperate with international bodies.

    Also the main vector for spread for H1N1 (swine flu) seems to be tourists. With H5N1 it started in more rural areas - this time it's hit cities and population centres that see a lot of tourist traffic. That means rapid spread into the areas that tourists come from. Mostly developed and richer countries.

    It also looks like this has a far larger human pool than H5N1 did. If you look at my last link (the WHO one), bird flu never made it beyond phase 2. It spread between birds, with a few isolated bird-human transitions, but for the most part wasn't infecting humans all that much. This is definitely already a phase 3 - lots of humans getting infected - and reports suggest it may be a phase 4. There are no definite cases of it being passed from human to human, but with so many cases and such large clusters in Mexico, I wouldn't bet against it.

    As for people recovering, very few people die from the flu. Even in a major pandemic you are going to see relatively few deaths compared to the numbers of infections - the death toll for flu is going to be well under 1 in 10 of those infected and what numbers have come out of Mexico are in line with that. The problem is that each infection can take someone out for a couple of weeks. That can decimate a workforce. Or worse. Worst case scenarios for the H5N1 pandemic suggested something like 20-30% of the population infected in the UK. In the middle of a recession that could be a major problem.

  • BigBen

    BigBen

    #12504357 - 10 years ago

    It seems as though some of the victims are recovering from swine flu, and that's a really good sign


    Pal already addressed this, but Some is more than likely a huge understatement. The Flu, even in its most serious strains is not something like Cholera or the Plague.

    The typical flu pandemic has mortality rates somewhere in the vicinity of .1%, Even some of the worst pandemics in history like 1918 Spanish Flu (which was also an H1N1 strain incidentally), and there mortality rates were high but very variable. In some areas they were 2% in others, some pacific islands for example, they were as high as 20%.

    The huge death tolls from the Spanish Flu (100 million world wide in a year) stemmed from the fact that in many areas infection rates were 50% or higher.

    From even just a cursory description, the flu symptoms people are seeing today seem nowhere as serious as the Spanish Flu, that hit people so hard doctors at the time thought it was Typhoid or Cholera or some sort of Hemorragic fever. The symptoms of those hit hard included hehmorraging from mucous membrages (mouth, nose, ears, intestines) and even petechial hemorrhaging. If you go into a hospital today with petechial hemorrhaging and flu symptoms the CDC will know about it in 2 minutes flat, that's straight up "No I won't hold, I need to tell them about this right fucking now" stuff.

    But on the more worrying side with the current flu that it does share with the Spanish flu is the people that it's killing. Typical flu pandemics kill the young and the old and those with weak immune systems.

    This (like the spanish flu did) is taking people in their 20's down, which is probably the number one thing that's got experts worried apart from the fact it's cropping up everywhere, which means it's probably pretty virulent.





    Post edited 4/26/09 9:02PM

  • pal_sch

    pal_sch

    #12504452 - 10 years ago

    In reply to BigBen, #6:

    Tara covered some of this. The takeaway message;

    Right now, we simply don't know. As I mentioned yesterday, the data from Mexico (from media reports, at least) are sparse, and only a handful of cases have been confirmed to be caused by the novel swine flu virus. This makes attempts to extrapolate to any larger trends a risky and imprecise endeavor, and the old adage certainly applies: garbage in, garbage out. So right now (again, from media-reported data), we don't know for sure that there really is a higher number of "young and healthy" dying from this virus than we would expect to see--so whether this trend even exists is a big question mark.

    However, even if we do see an excess of deaths in that middle age group, there could be other reasons besides the "cytokine storm." Perhaps this group has exposures that have made them more likely to contract the virus than other age groups, so the greater number of deaths is simply a result of a greater number of exposed individuals. Perhaps they were less likely to have been vaccinated in recent years, meaning they had no cross-protective immunity. (This also is a big question mark, as we don't know, even in vaccinated individuals, that any immunity to human H1N1 viruses would confer any protection). Perhaps they've simply been more likely to be noticed in this outbreak, and thus their cases have received more attention and were more likely to have been worked up (as far as obtaining a culture, etc.) than those in the typical influenza risk groups. There are just too many unknowns right now to address these questions, but certainly they will be investigated as more surveillance data is collected.

    She also makes the point that we want to see this virus sequenced to see if there are any clues in the genome to it being a particular killer.

    Post edited 4/26/09 9:13PM

  • daddie566

    daddie566

    #12504556 - 10 years ago

    I live in Texas and it scares me to think that it could reach me. But there is a cure I believe. Either way if there is or is not we must contain the outbreak or we could have serious casualties. We simply cannot underestimate the crisis.

  • Batmantis25

    Batmantis25

    #12504575 - 10 years ago

    In reply to daddie566, #8:

    But there is a cure I believe.

    Are you selling it? Because I think a lot of people would be interested right now.

  • daddie566

    daddie566

    #12504666 - 10 years ago

    In reply to Batmantis25, #9:

    I talked with many of my friends and a subject came up on drugs used in the New York out break. One of them said that no one had died there because of a drug they are using. But Batmantis I'm as curious as you are, but this is serious. The threat is very real and your anger or sarcasm isn't making progress on this forum. Please, only helpful comments are appreciated.

  • pal_sch

    pal_sch

    #12504705 - 10 years ago

    In reply to Batmantis25, #9:

    Supposedly it is sensitive to both Tamiflu and Relenza. Having said that it isn't worth trying to stockpile them. Way too many people having the same idea, and the government stockpiles are likely to be deployed pretty effectively to those who need it (primary healthcare workers mostly). The plans on this kind of thing are pretty tight after the SARS and H5N1 scares.

    In reply to daddie566, #8:

    Containment is mostly bullshit. Sensible living would be the best bet for avoiding a full on pandemic, other than pure luck.

    And for everyone, some bonus perspective.

    The flu isn't magic. It's a virus we see every winter. It passes through respiratory droplets, so if it hits hard, masks and frequent hand washing will go a long way. Drugs exist to treat these infections, and the U.S. has an additional emergency stockpile. Also, hospitals and local public health departments have emergency pandemic plans (which we will hopefully not need).

    The masks part is slightly questionable (both the quality of available ones and how well people can use them), but probably a good idea if you have to come into contact with someone infected, or are infected yourself and want to avoid spreading the disease when you have to go somewhere there are other people.

  • daddie566

    daddie566

    #12504750 - 10 years ago

    In reply to pal_sch, #11:

    Containment is bullshit but if done effectively it can greatly reduce the speed it spreds by. Tamiflu has had an effect on the patients, however it isn't curing it. Experimental drugs was most likely what my friend was talking about and fortunetly will be the key, but I don't like to see people dying due to a miscalculation in the treatment. I hope this ends soon.

  • Batmantis25

    Batmantis25

    #12504839 - 10 years ago

    In reply to daddie566, #10:

    Bahahah.

    Ok. So you just make a completely unsubstantiated claim that you "believe" there is a cure and when I call you out on it you get pissy because "the threat is very real."

    The threat of what is very real? I thought there was a cure? If there is a cure, what is the threat?
    If there isn't a cure, what is the threat? Dozens of people might die? The Flu kills people every year, and just because this one is the "swine flu" doesn't mean it's suddenly this terrible pandemic which is going to wash over the Earth like a plague.

    But hey, in your world, if you believe something it is therefore true, so who knows what's possible!

  • BigBen

    BigBen

    #12504857 - 10 years ago

    In reply to daddie566, #12:

    In reply to pal_sch, #11:

    Containment is bullshit but if done effectively it can greatly reduce the speed it spreds by. Tamiflu has had an effect on the patients, however it isn't curing it. Experimental drugs was most likely what my friend was talking about and fortunetly will be the key, but I don't like to see people dying due to a miscalculation in the treatment. I hope this ends soon.


    There is no "Cure" for a virus, it's the goddamn flu. Tamiflu and the handful of other anti-viral drugs knock it back, but there's no "cure" except a preventative one that is a vaccine, and that doesn't do you any good unless you've got samples of the particular virus and lead time.

    And containment really is pretty much BS. The fact that we've got cases in Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New York, Kansas, New Zealand, Spain and Israel show how the stuff spreads. Heck, a round of the 'Office bug" or the "dorm bug" ought to be enough to show anyone that. Ever wonder how one person gets sick and then half the office ends up out sick? the flu spreads like that.


    It's physically impossible to shut down domestic travel within the US, and international travel isn't much easier, and you even think about airplanes? Pal's link had a great little tidbit in it from a study on a flu outbreak in 1979.

    A jet airliner with 54 persons aboard was delayed on the ground for three hours because of engine failure during a takeoff attempt. Most passengers stayed on the airplane during the delay. Within 72 hours, 72 per cent of the passengers became ill with symptoms of cough, fever, fatigue, headache, sore throat and myalgia.


    There's no place on the planet that's you can't fly to and still be contagious, and essentially no way to catch cases of traveling passenger short of an all out quarantine which simply isn't going to happen unless this thing reaches massive proportions, and then it would be too late anyway.

    Now for the zombie idea (promoted to some extent by WHO) that we could ever bottle up an incipient flu pandemic by containing it at the source. As we have pointed out here too many times to count, that never was in the cards for a disease that hides itself in the background noise of prevalent respiratory disease, is difficult to diagnose, and for which there is little good surveillance in most countries. But because it was held out as a possibility, there is a faint whiff of recrimination in current news accounts. First, the premise as seen in a piece from Bloomberg:

    The idea that flu could be contained at the source was always a WHO pipe dream. Their flu people knew it couldn't be done but WHO suggested it might just be possible anyway. Now they see the bitter fruit of this.



    Post edited 4/26/09 10:18PM

  • pal_sch

    pal_sch

    #12504858 - 10 years ago

    In reply to daddie566, #12:

    It's the flu. You can treat the symptoms (which are what can kill you) with ibuprofen, water and bed rest. Odds are good it wouldn't kill you even if you just treated it with contempt. If you want to kill the virus itself you have the two drugs I named. There might be some additional anti-viral drugs that aren't on the mass market yet, but I haven't heard a damn thing about anything like that, and I've been keeping up with every medical source I can on this subject. You won't be seeing anything more targeted till the genome is properly analysed, and even then any targeted drug will be late to market compared to the speed of the spread.

    There were so few cases in New York, and all reportedly mild in low risk groups (teens with reasonable immune systems) had there been any deaths it would have been pretty shocking.

  • LordBraska

    LordBraska

    #12506456 - 10 years ago

    First of all, just to let everyone know Flu Pandemics occur about once in every 20 or so years, so we are about due for one. Second there are really only a couple different kinds of flu viruses and they really just mutate and reinfect. The worst ones such as the Spanish Flu, or Hong Kong Flu are mutates of the 3 major circulating types of flu viruses. The Swine Flu has been around for a while infact it is a mutate of the spanish flu from 1918. Either way a Pandemic is inevitable so there is really no reason for getting all worked up about it. Just do what everyone else has said and take care of yourself and if you happen to catch it, don't be a punk and go to work and pass it around.

  • LordBraska

    LordBraska

    #12506460 - 10 years ago

    Sorry for the double post but I just wanted to post this so people can read about what it is, [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza_A_virus_subtype_H1N1]

  • LordBraska

    LordBraska

    #12506464 - 10 years ago

    sorry my bad Swine Flu

  • pal_sch

    pal_sch

    #12506490 - 10 years ago

    swine_flu.png
    smiley12.gifsmiley12.gifsmiley12.gifsmiley12.gifsmiley12.gif

    Even better, one of those tweets is real. Guess which.

  • LordBraska

    LordBraska

    #12506605 - 10 years ago

    In reply to pal_sch, #19:

    I can't see twitter here but I'm going to say the "DIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR I ate pork, i'm I dead?" LOL epic!

  • LordBraska

    LordBraska

    #12506613 - 10 years ago

    Just one more good piece of info for the uninformed OINK OINK!!!!

  • Longstrider

    Longstrider FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

    #12506898 - 10 years ago

    In reply to LordBraska, #16:

    Either way a Pandemic is inevitable so there is really no reason for getting all worked up about it.


    So just because something is inevitable does that mean that we shouldn't try to do anything? People will get worked up because people are dying. And when people start to die from a flu that's been spread very quickly, there's going to be some very scared people. You're right, nobody should be panicking, but there is still a need to get people informed about the risks involved and the precautions they could take.

    It's like the feeling you might get (I know I do) when the flight attendant starts going over safety procedures on an airplane. Even though you've been on many flights before, there's still a small chance that something could go wrong, that little feeling in your gut telling you that something is going to happen. That's what the world is going through right now. A gut reaction to a scary new pandemic possibility.

  • KWierso

    KWierso AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    #12507005 - 10 years ago

    www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090426/NEWS/904260390/1001/NEWS

    One comment in particular amused me:

    Isn't it just like a government worker to encourage you to miss work. If it was up to them, they would get a three day weekend for Arbor Day and mandate sick days.

  • DoNothing69

    DoNothing69

    #12507008 - 10 years ago

    In reply to Longstrider, #22:

    People will get worked up because of the way it is reported, same thing happened in the UK when some idiot linked autism to the MMR vaccine based on a single research paper and caused a panic that lasted for several months but when the link was proved to be coincidental was the reporting of this as high-profile as the reporting of the dangers of it? No.


  • Dadgbe

    Dadgbe

    #12507368 - 10 years ago

    In reply to pal_sch, #19:

    How does the same person who wrote

    I got new shampoo that says it has "natural fragrances" but doesn't say what the fragrances ARE. Can you rent mass spectrometers?

    write that about the duct tape? It's mystifying.

    Speaking of uniformed opinions, I thought that flu outbreaks were more common in cold months. Do viruses have yearly breeding cycles? Or are human viruses more likely to spread when we're all inside, while animal viruses spread when the animals are more active?