Mexico swine flu deaths spur global epidemic fears

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Delirious

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I'm surprised a thread has not been created yet so...

By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer Mark Stevenson, Associated Press Writer – Fri Apr 24, 7:39 pm ET
MEXICO CITY – A unique strain of swine flu is the suspected killer of dozens of people in Mexico, where authorities closed schools, museums, libraries and theaters in the capital on Friday to try to contain an outbreak that has spurred concerns of a global flu epidemic.
The worrisome new virus — which combines genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way researchers have not seen before — also sickened at least eight people in Texas and California, though there have been no deaths in the U.S.
"We are very, very concerned," World Health Organization spokesman Thomas Abraham said. "We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human ... It's all hands on deck at the moment."
The outbreak caused alarm in Mexico, where more than 1,000 people have been sickened. Residents of the capital donned surgical masks and authorities ordered the most sweeping shutdown of public gathering places in a quarter century. President Felipe Calderon met with his Cabinet Friday to coordinate Mexico's response.
The WHO was convening an expert panel to consider whether to raise the pandemic alert level or issue travel advisories.
It might already be too late to contain the outbreak, a prominent U.S. pandemic flu expert said late Friday.
Given how quickly flu can spread around the globe, if these are the first signs of a pandemic, then there are probably cases incubating around the world already, said Dr. Michael Osterholm at the University of Minnesota.
In Mexico City, "literally hundreds and thousands of travelers come in and out every day," Osterholm said. "You'd have to believe there's been more unrecognized transmission that's occurred."
There is no vaccine that specifically protects against swine flu, and it was unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer. A "seed stock" genetically matched to the new swine flu virus has been created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said Dr. Richard Besser, the agency's acting director. If the government decides vaccine production is necessary, manufacturers would need that stock to get started.
Authorities in Mexico urged people to avoid hospitals unless they had a medical emergency, since hospitals are centers of infection. They also said Mexicans should refrain from customary greetings such as shaking hands or kissing cheeks. At Mexico City's international airport, passengers were questioned to try to prevent anyone with flu symptoms from boarding airplanes and spreading the disease.
Epidemiologists are particularly concerned because the only fatalities so far were in young people and adults.
The eight U.S. victims recovered from symptoms that were like those of the regular flu, mostly fever, cough and sore throat, though some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea.
U.S. health officials announced an outbreak notice to travelers, urging caution and frequent handwashing, but stopping short of telling Americans to avoid Mexico.
Mexico's Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordoba said 68 people have died of flu and the new swine flu strain had been confirmed in 20 of those deaths. At least 1,004 people nationwide were sick from the suspected flu, he said.
The geographical spread of the outbreaks also concerned the WHO — while 13 of the 20 deaths were in Mexico City, the rest were spread across Mexico — four in central San Luis Potosi, two up near the U.S. border in Baja California, and one in southern Oaxaca state.
Scientists have long been concerned that a new flu virus could launch a worldwide pandemic of a killer disease. A new virus could evolve when different flu viruses infect a pig, a person or a bird, mingling their genetic material. The resulting hybrid could spread quickly because people would have no natural defenses against it.
Still, flu experts were concerned but not alarmed about the latest outbreak.
"We've seen swine influenza in humans over the past several years, and in most cases, it's come from direct pig contact. This seems to be different," said Dr. Arnold Monto, a flu expert with the University of Michigan.
"I think we need to be careful and not apprehensive, but certainly paying attention to new developments as they proceed."
The CDC says two flu drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem effective against the new strain. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the company is prepared to immediately deploy a stockpile of the drug if requested.
Both drugs must be taken early, within a few days of the onset of symptoms, to be most effective.
Cordoba said Mexico has enough Tamiflu to treat 1 million people, but the medicine will be strictly controlled and handed out only by doctors.
Mexico's government had maintained until late Thursday that there was nothing unusual about the flu cases, although this year's flu season had been worse and longer than past years.
The sudden turnaround by public health officials angered many Mexicans.
"They could have stopped it in time," said Araceli Cruz, 24, a university student who emerged from the subway wearing a surgical mask. "Now they've let it spread to other people."
The city was handing out free surgical masks to passengers on buses and the subway system, which carries 5 million people each day. Government workers were ordered to wear the masks, and authorities urged residents to stay home from work if they felt ill.
Closing schools across Mexico's capital of 20 million kept 6.1 million students home, as well as thousands of university students. All state and city-run cultural activities were suspended, including libraries, state-run theaters, and at least 14 museums. Private athletic clubs closed down and soccer leagues were considering canceling weekend games.
The closures were the first citywide shutdown of public gathering places since millions died in the devastating 1985 earthquake.
Mexico's response brought to mind other major outbreaks, such as when SARS hit Asia. At its peak in 2003, Beijing shuttered schools, cinemas and restaurants, and thousands of people were quarantined at home.
In March 2008, Hong Kong ordered more than a half-million students to stay home for two weeks because of a flu outbreak. It was the first such closure in Hong Kong since the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
"It's great they are taking precautions," said Lillian Molina, a teacher at the Montessori's World preschool in Mexico City, who scrubbed down empty classrooms with Clorox, soap and Lysol between fielding calls from worried parents.
U.S. health officials said the outbreak is not yet a reason for alarm in the United States. The five people sickened in California and three in Texas have all recovered.
It's unclear how the eight, who became ill between late March and mid-April, contracted the virus because none were in contact with pigs, which is how people usually catch swine flu. And only a few were in contact with each other.
CDC officials described the virus as having a unique combination of gene segments not seen before in people or pigs. The bug contains human virus, avian virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia. It may be completely new, or it may have been around for a while and was only detected now through improved testing and surveillance, CDC officials said.
The most notorious flu pandemic is thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19. Two other, less deadly flu pandemics struck in 1957 and 1968.
____
Associated Press Writers Maria Cheng in London; Traci Carl in Mexico City; Mike Stobbe in Atlanta, Georgia; and Malcolm Ritter in New York contributed to this report.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090424/ap_on_he_me/med_swine_flu


If you just want to see what professionals are starting to think without reading a bunch...there was a reported case up here in Ohio too in Lorain County


Dr. Steve Englender, of the Health Department, said experts think the world is “overdue” for a pandemic -- an illness that quickly spreads and causes large numbers of infections and large numbers of deaths.
Rest of the story from that quote
http://www.wlwt.com/health/19294743/detail.html

Also saw this just now on CNN
U.S. declares public health emergency as swine flu spreads
http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/26/swine.flu/index.html

So are we finally seeing soon an epidemic or even quite possibly a pandemic? What are some things we all can do to get ready for a possible outbreak...or should we even be worried at all?
 
19,311
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Ah, a friendly gift from our insanitary neighbors to the South. Thanks, fellas! ;) 👍

Whatever happened to 'Monkey Pox' or the 'Bird Flu?' Weren't they supposed to be pandemics? :confused:
 

Delirious

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That's what I'm starting to think now...another media hype like the Monkey Pox and Bird Flu were suppose to be...right?
 

mafia_boy

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It's worse because it's already killed 80+ in such a short time...the bird flu medicine Tamiflu doesn't kill it off, and people from the UK to NZ are being isolated from people because they have it.

It can be really bad for people in developing countries and 3rd world countries because they won't have the resources to fight it, just like what's happening with HIV/AIDS in Africa. And it all stems from people being ignorant to what they actually have and passing it on to others. And by that I mean the original carriers of the disease, not the tourists who have contracted it and are now quarantined.
 

Stevisiov

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Ah, a friendly gift from our insanitary neighbors to the South. Thanks, fellas! ;) 👍

Whatever happened to 'Monkey Pox' or the 'Bird Flu?' Weren't they supposed to be pandemics? :confused:

I think we were told that it would take 2 years for bird flu to mutate into a virus that could go from human to human. That said this one is a bit more serious as it it is currently killing people. SARS would be a better comparison, that didn't make it worldwide though.

It's worse because it's already killed 80+ in such a short time...the bird flu medicine Tamiflu doesn't kill it off, and people from the UK to NZ are being isolated from people because they have it.

I don't think there are any confirmed cases in the UK, just precautionary isolation.

And it all stems from people being ignorant to what they actually have and passing it on to others. And by that I mean the original carriers of the disease, not the tourists who have contracted it and are now quarantined.

To be fair, how would you differentiate this new influenza that you haven't heard about previously, from the stuff you normally get bianually or so. Most people probably didn't realise they were dying from a serious strain until it was too late.
 

NocturnalPS

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Yeah here in Texas in the same county that the 2 cases where found, the whole school district is to be closed for 10 days. The city has even closed the parks here. But the 2 students who had it reports say they have recovered. I think they might be go a little overboard with this.
 

Northstar

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I hate how they act like we have gone forever since there has been a pandemic. AIDS has killed millions but since it's mostly in 3rd world countries nobody gives a damn.

Anyways, I don't think this will be to much of a deal since they are already working on getting a vaccine out.
 

mafia_boy

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I think we were told that it would take 2 years for bird flu to mutate into a virus that could go from human to human. That said this one is a bit more serious as it it is currently killing people. SARS would be a better comparison, that didn't make it worldwide though.
That, and it was mainly contained in the birds. You didn't see big clusters of infections with SARS like you have this time.

I don't think there are any confirmed cases in the UK, just precautionary isolation.
Ahh, I see. I thought they were confirmed, I know the NZ schoolkids are confirmed.

To be fair, how would you differentiate this new influenza that you haven't heard about previously, from the stuff you normally get bianually or so. Most people probably didn't realise they were dying from a serious strain until it was too late.
True, but at the same time lots of people cough on eachother and think nothing of it. That's where I was meaning ignorance.
 

Sureboss

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I hate how they act like we have gone forever since there has been a pandemic. AIDS has killed millions but since it's mostly in 3rd world countries nobody gives a damn.

Anyways, I don't think this will be to much of a deal since they are already working on getting a vaccine out.

There is a huge difference between an (or the) AIDs pandemic and a flu pandemic.
 

Sureboss

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There is no cure for swine flu. There was one for the bird flu pandemic we never had, begins with a T iirc, can't think of it's name.
 
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There is a huge difference between an (or the) AIDs pandemic and a flu pandemic.
+1. Aids you can prevent it, you don’t catch AIDS from common contact with an infected person, while you can catch flu that way. That is why everyone so worried.

AIDS has killed millions but since it's mostly in 3rd world countries nobody gives a damn.
Also, AIDS doesn’t kill. What kills you, in the case you have AIDS, are other disease like another virus infection (flu) or even cancer. AIDS only destroys your immune system, making you more vulnerable to other diseases (that can kill you).

i am glad my country bought a cure fore half the people in the country..
i live in norway

There is no cure for this disease
 

YSSMAN

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Obama says not to worry...

He is right. Worrying, panicking, and all that jazz does little to help us prevent this problem. It is concerning to see what is happening, but assuming that Americans act properly (washing hands, staying home if sick, remaining vigilant in their own health) and our healthcare system properly addresses the problem if it grows, we will be fine. We've yet to see anyone die here in the US, nor have we seen swaths of the young/healthy become ill, and until that happens, it won't be a big problem. There is a lot of talk of this being 1918 all over again, but at this point in time, I'm severely doubting it.
 

mafia_boy

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Screw 1918, I'm just going from Nostradamus. ;) I'll try and find the verse it's in but it's about a single natural disaster that would create 1000 years of peace.
 

FoolKiller

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It's worse because it's already killed 80+ in such a short time...the bird flu medicine Tamiflu doesn't kill it off, and people from the UK to NZ are being isolated from people because they have it.
Before people start freaking out over the number of dead people I would like to point out two things.

1) People dying in semi-developed countries of any disease is not a big deal. As many US patients have recovered at home I doubt it is a matter of any major concern. Follow normal prevention methods and you will be fine.

2) 80+ (over 100 now) deaths isn't that big really, especially if you consider only 20-something have been confirmed at this point. Over 60,000 people a year die from the flu or pneumonia every year in the US. That is 160+ a day. So, today more people in a developed country will die from a "common" illness than this is assumed to have killed in the entirety of this current outbreak.

The time for worry is far in the future, assuming it ever gets here.

From the LA Times:
Twenty new cases of swine flu were confirmed overnight in the United States, bringing the U.S. total to 40, Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said today.

All of the cases were mild, and there has still been only one hospitalization, that of an Imperial County woman, he noted. No other details were available yet.

Hartl also said one case had been confirmed in Spain, marking the first time the swine flu had been seen in Europe. That case was also mild and was observed in a traveler returning from Mexico, he said.

He also noted there have been "rumors of cases in other countries," but none of those have been confirmed to be swine flu.

Mexico has said it has so far suffered 103 deaths from influenza, but Hartl noted that only 26 of those have been confirmed as swine flu -- "far, far under the numbers that have been bandied about."



i am glad my country bought a cure fore half the people in the country..
i live in norway
There is no cure for swine flu. There was one for the bird flu pandemic we never had, begins with a T iirc, can't think of it's name.
LdS
There is no cure for this disease
Just to sum this all up: What was developed for the bird flu was Tamiflu. It is being used for the swine flu, but many patients are recovering without it.

Also, Tamiflu is not, has never been, and never will be a cure for any form of flu. It is a treatment which only helps prevent the flu virus from spreading further throughout your body. Flu of any kind is a virus. You cannot kill a virus with any known medicine that wouldn't also kill the patient. There is no cure for any kind of flu.
 
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Just to sum this all up: What was developed for the bird flu was Tamiflu. It is being used for the swine flu, but many patients are recovering without it.

Also, Tamiflu is not, has never been, and never will be a cure for any form of flu. It is a treatment which only helps prevent the flu virus from spreading further throughout your body. Flu of any kind is a virus. You cannot kill a virus with any known medicine that wouldn't also kill the patient. There is no cure for any kind of flu.

Agree, there are though, medicine that can inhibit the actions of the virus, or in other words, they trigger a series of immune responses that fortify the immune system against the virus inhibiting him from injecting his DNA into any cell of the human body.
 

PeterJB

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When people say 'mild' symptoms, what do they mean? Is it just being stuck in the house with a headache and fever or does it mean being hospitalised?
 

FoolKiller

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When people say 'mild' symptoms, what do they mean? Is it just being stuck in the house with a headache and fever or does it mean being hospitalised?
Only one person in the US (as of my last post) has been hospitalized while everyone else is being quarantined inside their homes, often without any treatment other than what you normally do for the flu.
 

PeterJB

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Only one person in the US (as of my last post) has been hospitalized while everyone else is being quarantined inside their homes, often without any treatment other than what you normally do for the flu.

Ah, so it's certainly no Spanish Flu...Yet. Thats good.
 

FoolKiller

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Ah, so it's certainly no Spanish Flu...Yet. Thats good.
Well, that was nearly 100 years ago. Even if it were the exact same virus it would be a completely different scenario. Medical advances over the last 100 years may make it so that flu-based outbreaks never get like that in developed countries again.

Now weaponized stuff that kills in hours, is a totally different story. But I have a lot of doubt that any of the current flu stuff we keep getting worried over will ever become like that again. It will take a major mutation, to the point that I am unsure we can even call it flu, for me to see that kind of scenario.
 
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Probably from a untrusted site known as Wiki:
Where/Confirmed Cases/ possible Cases/ Attributed Deaths
Mexico 26 /1,995 /149 (20)
United States 42 /212+/0
Canada 6 /20+ /0
United Kingdom 2 /21 /0
Spain 1 /35 /0
New Zealand 0 /111 /0
Colombia 0 /12 /0
Australia 0 /7 /0
Switzerland 0 /5 /0
Denmark 0 /4 /0
Ireland 0 /4 /0
Czech Republic 0 /3 /0
Poland 0 /3 /0
France 0 /3 / 0
Guatemala 0 /3 / 0
Israel 0 /2/ 0
Argentina 0 /1/ 0
Costa Rica 0 /1/ 0
Norway 0 /1/ 0
Peru 0/ 1 /0
Russia 0 /1 /0
Totals 77 /2,443+/ 149 (20)
* Not all cases have been confirmed as being due to this strain. Possible cases are cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) that have not been confirmed through testing to be due to this strain.
‡ Deaths with confirmed presence of virus in parentheses.
I am editing it so it can be read right.
Does Phase 4 mean
The WHO raised the alert level to Phase 4, meaning there is sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus causing outbreaks in at least one country.
574px-FedFluPandemicResponse.png
 
Last edited:
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At least they can't fly.


Seriously though, how can it become this serious in a matter of hours? Unless I've been misinformed here, I understand it that pigs are fairly easy to keep track of. Generally, you stick them in a pen and they stay there - they're not known to tunnel out, grab a rental car and run for the border. So how has this managed to become more of a threat than the (seemingly) incontrollable bird flu that we've all forgotten about?

Actually I don't think I even care... Ignore me.
 

FoolKiller

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Looks like the US is responding as if the Swine Flu WILL become a pandemic...we're at level 4 for crying out loud! (Whatever that means exactly...)
http://www.wlwt.com/health/19299209/detail.html
WHO = World Health Organization. The WORLD is at Phase 4. The US has 48 cases of non-lethal swine flu. Having had pneumonia once this year and currently suffering from a sun burn I am more worried about those things.

Seriously though, how can it become this serious in a matter of hours? Unless I've been misinformed here, I understand it that pigs are fairly easy to keep track of. Generally, you stick them in a pen and they stay there - they're not known to tunnel out, grab a rental car and run for the border. So how has this managed to become more of a threat than the (seemingly) incontrollable bird flu that we've all forgotten about?
This is able to transmit from human to human, so it has nothing to do with pigs at this point. It was already spreading fairly wide throughout Mexico, but tourists have been bringing it home with them over the weekend. By the time they are catching on it has already spread to a handful of people. It hasn't become serious in a few hours, we just figured out who might have it in the past few hours.

Then throw in that most symptoms are the same as your average flu/cold and everyone with the sniffles is clogging up ERs.