The Golden Thread

Swine Flu Cases
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Author:  Bluebonnet [ Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Swine Flu Cases

Four swine flu deaths take India’s toll to 431 (Lead)
October 22nd, 2009 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS -

New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) Four swine flu deaths were reported in India Thursday, taking the toll due to Influenza A (H1N1) virus to 431.

Also, 112 new cases were reported in the country, taking the total number of people affected with the flu to 13,142, health authorities said here.

While two deaths were reported from Maharashtra, which reports the maximum number of deaths and cases in the country, one death was recorded in Andhra Pradesh.

With the two deaths, the total toll in Maharashtra has gone up to 185 - the highest in the country. In Andhra Pradesh so far 45 people have succumbed to the contagious virus.

Officials said a swine flu patient who was shifted from Orissa to the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi earlier this week died Thursday.

A.K. Banwar was shifted to the Apollo Hospital Oct 18 after his condition deteriorated at Ispat General Hospital at Rourkela, some 515 km from here.

“Banwar died today (Thursday) in Delhi,” Orissa’s Joint Director of Department of Health Bikash Patnaik told IANS.

Of the new cases, 30 alone were reported from Kerala, followed closely by Delhi at 29. The Indian capital has recorded 16 deaths and over 3,300 positive cases.

Delhi records the second highest number of swine flu cases, while Maharashtra tops the list with 3,536 cases, officials said.

The new cases were also reported from Maharashtra (23), Tamil Nadu (14), Uttar Pradesh (four), Haryana (three), Andhra Pradesh (three).

Author:  Bluebonnet [ Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

Health ministry urges calm as mass flu vaccinations begin
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Friday, October 23, 2009

The Health Minstry on Friday said mass flu vaccinations are set to begin and urged calm in the face of the rapidly spreading disease.

Health experts, however, remain divided over the safety of the vaccine, even as the H1N1 influenza, commonly known as swine flu, leads to more school closures in more provinces, including Istanbul.

Swine flu continues to spread and the number of swine flu cases is increasing across the country. Istanbul Gov. Muammer Güler announced Friday that schools in Istanbul would be closed Oct. 30 to disinfect the buildings. The one-day holiday will provide a four-day disinfection period as it coincides with Oct. 29, which is already a national holiday, and the weekend, Güler said.

After the swine flu cases detected in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır last week, Güler announced Thursday that 28 students from 16 different schools were diagnosed with swine flu in Istanbul. In Ankara, students at 10 more schools were confirmed to have swine flu on Thursday. In the Central Anatolian province of Konya, two people tested positive Thursday.

The Health Ministry said swine flu cases would hit a peak in January and February in Turkey. Alarmed by the fast spreading and future threats of the disease, the ministry said vaccination is likely to start this month after approval of the first group of vaccines that were sent to the ministry’s Hıfzıssıha Center in Ankara for analysis.

Speaking after the press conference Friday, Health Minister Recep Akdağ said 40 percent of the imported vaccines would reach Turkey by the end of December and the rest would be delivered by the end of March. He said no region in the country could remain immune to the spread of the flu and that their aim was to prevent its spread.

Noting that it was possible to prevent its spread via vaccines and maintaining good hygiene, Akdağ said they were well prepared for even more grave scenarios regarding the flu and urged people not to panic. :huh

With the announcement of the launch of the vaccination process, however, the mass fear of the rapid spread of swine flu appears to have turned into a mass fear of the swine flu vaccination itself because of the ambiguity and concerns over the effectiveness, safety and reliability of the vaccines. The ministry assured the public about the safety of the swine flu vaccine and said vaccination is the most effective instrument to combat contagious diseases.

‘Vaccination not new and essential’

Meanwhile, health experts are divided over the safety of the vaccine. Some said the vaccine was hastily introduced to the market and is likely to impose side effects in the long run, while others said the vaccine is not newly developed and is safe.

Associate Professor Funda Timurkaynak of Başkent University Faculty of Medicine’s infectious disease department said the vaccination is not new and the vaccine production system has existed since the 1940s. It has only been upgraded as the virus has transformed.

“The vaccination has not been newly developed and contains familiar ingredients. In general, flu vaccines are upgraded as the virus changes, the same as with other vaccinations and just as is the case with seasonal flu vaccinations. It is just like the Peugeot automobile firm introducing its new and upgraded automobile models to the market every year,” Timurkaynak told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

She said there was no risk for the swine flu vaccination to be used on humans for the first time. “It has been prepared with familiar methods used already and most of the preservative components in it are likewise used in other widely applied and routine vaccinations such as the seasonal flu, Hepatitis B and tetanus,” she said.

Emphasizing the importance of undergoing vaccination, she said it was a misleading perception to think there is no need to be vaccinated as the virus progresses more mildly than the seasonal flu.

“Vaccination is the most influential, economic and preventive means to combat and prevent the further spread of the flu. The cost of the disease is greater than the cost of the vaccination,” she said. “It is particularly important for the at-risk and vulnerable groups such as children under 5, pregnant women, diabetics, those above 65 and those at any age with liver and kidney diseases.”

Echoing Timurkaynak’s remarks, Associate Professor Bilgin Arda from the infectious diseases department of Ege University’s Medicine Faculty, said the swine flu vaccine does not contain any different ingredients than what already exists in the currently applied seasonal influenza vaccines.

“The swine flu vaccine was developed with the vaccination technology used in influenza vaccines, which are familiar to us. So we don’t expect any unprecedented side effects other than those observed in the influenza vaccination such as slight pain, sensitivity and exhaustion,” Arda said.

‘Flu mild, no need for vaccination’

Professor Recep Akdur, an expert in public health at Ankara University’s Medicine Faculty, said so far the swine flu outbreak has been fairly mild both clinically and in terms of its mortality rate.

“Vaccination is not necessary for such a flu, which progresses very slightly. It kills 10 times less than the bird flu,” Akdur told the Daily News. “We likewise don’t exactly know about the vaccine’s side effects and or its preventive power. The information in this respect remains pretty unsatisfactory.”

Akdur also said the existing vaccination was solely effective against the existing swine flu virus. “But as the swine flu virus changes, the current vaccination will become inefficient and not be protective,” Akdur said.

Author:  rutsuyasun [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  H1N1 co-infections

El Salvador: Four H1N1 cases with dengue also

Via La Prensa Gráfica: Pacientes con dengue y H1N1. Excerpt, with my translation:

En la zona oriental del país se reportan casos de pacientes que padecen el virus de la gripe A (H1N1) y dengue clásico de manera simultánea, confirmó el viceministro de Salud, Eduardo Espinoza.

Health Vice-Minister Eduardo Espinoza has confirmed cases in which patients have suffered simultaneously from H1N1 and classic dengue in the eastern zone of the country

En total, cuatro casos son los que reportan los dos padecimientos a escala nacional. De ellos, dos corresponden a la zona oriental y los otros dos son de menores de edad que fueron atendidos en el Hospital de Niños Benjamín Bloom meses atrás, aseguró el funcionario de Salud.

Altogether, four cases with both illnesses have been reported. Two are in the eastern zone and the other two are children who were cared for in the Benjamin Bloom Children's Hospital some months ago, the Health official said. ... -also.html

Author:  Bluebonnet [ Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

Northern flu season threat to New Zealand
By KERRY WILLIAMSON - The Dominion Post

Health officials are bracing for a jump in swine flu cases as the northern hemisphere moves into its flu season.

Britain, the United States and Canada have all seen an upsurge in H1N1 cases in recent weeks, with fears it could lead to major disruptions in schools, workplaces and hospitals if the flu season takes hold.

In Canada, church leaders are recommending parishioners stop shaking hands, with some telling people to opt for a "fist-bump" instead.

A report last week in the US showed that swine flu was spreading from school-aged children to the rest of the population, while in Canada – which has begun a mass vaccination programme – cases were on the rise.

In New Zealand, there have been 19 confirmed swine flu deaths but the pandemic has now weakened. The Health Ministry reported this week that there is now nobody in hospital with swine flu or its complications. However, health officials expect that to change as the northern hemisphere moves into winter.

"With the northern hemisphere starting to see big increases in the pandemic strain, I think we are going to get bumps," Mark Jacobs, director of public health, said.

"It is very likely we are going to get another wave of infection at some point, but we don't know exactly when that's going to happen."

A recent outbreak among Japanese students in Christchurch highlighted the fact that swine flu had not disappeared entirely, despite the reduction in cases.

"I think the most likely timing of a second wave of infection is going to be the beginning of next flu season, but there's no guarantee it won't happen before then," he said.

Dr Jacobs said New Zealand and Australia's experience with the flu strain this year had been closely examined by medical officials in North America, particularly the public health response and the impact it had on healthcare.

New Zealand recorded its first cases almost exactly six months ago, when students from Auckland's Rangitoto College arrived back from a trip to Mexico on Anzac Day. At its peak, one in four intensive care beds in some hospitals were taken up by swine flu victims.

"They have been very interested in our experience and the experience of Australia in particular. We've been sharing a lot of information with the World Health Organisation about what has been happening here," he said.

"They've certainly got a bit less uncertainty. The northern hemisphere now knows a lot more about the virus largely because of our experience here and in Australia."

New Zealand is unlikely to issue the swine flu vaccine publicly until autumn.

Author:  Bluebonnet [ Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

Swine flu scare closes down TA school

Oct. 27, 2009
An outbreak of influenza at a Tel Aviv elementary school has sparked fears of a swine flu epidemic Tuesday, although the strain of the virus which has affected two-thirds of the school's pupils, remained unclear.

Parents of some 80 pupils at the Ussishkin elementary school in Tel Aviv notified the school on Sunday that their children were experiencing high fevers and other flu-like symptoms, setting off alarm bells at the school that an outbreak of influenza was occurring.

On Monday, an additional 40 pupils began experiencing similar symptoms, leading the school's parents' committee to effectively shut the school down. According to the Education Ministry, teachers had arrived at the school on Tuesday, but all of the school's 180 pupils remained at home.

"There's definitely a problem here," a spokesman for the Education Ministry in Tel Aviv told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "The Health Ministry is currently performing a number of checks on students to see what they are suffering from, but at the moment it's still unclear."

According to the spokesman, an outbreak of swine flu was unlikely, because such a large number of pupils had come down with what appeared to be the same sickness "in one fell swoop".

"And that's not how swine flu outbreaks usually occur," the spokesman said. "Usually it begins with a few people, and then spreads to others. This happened over the course of one weekend because, according to what we know, all of the students were completely healthy last Friday."

The spokesman added that there had been an Israel Scouts meeting over the weekend, which drew a large number of the pupils, and was being eyed as the possible starting point of the outbreak.

"We believe that this is an outbreak of some kind of 48-hour virus and not swine flu," the spokesman stressed. "Of course, we'll know more as the pupils' conditions develop. I know that the Health Ministry has conducted blood tests on a number of the pupils and we're awaiting those results as well."

The Health Ministry also released a statement which said that there was no need to panic, and that the situation was under control.

"The [Tel Aviv] Municipality is also doing everything it can to control the situation," the spokesman said. "They've brought in cleaning crews to sterilize the school and I think, while everyone has been calm and collected here, we're all just hopeful that this is a minor bug that will pass soon."

Since the World Health Organization's director-general Margaret Chan declared swine flu, or the H1N1 virus, a "public health emergency of international concern" last April, over 4,300 Israelis have contracted the illness.

Additionally, at least nine people who have become infected with swine flu are currently listed in serious or critical condition in various hospitals around the country.

While 34 deaths in Israel have been officially linked to swine flu, only two of those were caused directly by the H1N1 virus. Others who contracted the virus before their deaths had additional medical conditions, which significantly weakened their ability to fight the illness.

Author:  rutsuyasun [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

New Zealand: Update 158
Via Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 09 Swine Flu: Update 158. Excerpt:

During the week ending 30 October there was a slight rise in the number of New Zealanders seeing their doctor in relation to influenza-like illnesses (ILI). Most people were seeking advice for sick babies and children aged under four.

As at midday today there is one person in intensive care with confirmed H1N1 pandemic influenza.

The total number of deaths attributed to swine flu remains at 19.

Please note that this number is likely to change as Coroners complete investigations into a number of influenza-related deaths that have occurred over the last few months. ... e-158.html

Author:  Bluebonnet [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

The threat is deadly serious
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The H1N1, or “swine flu,” death toll is increasing in Turkey.

The situation is not as bad as it is in Ukraine, where in one week more than 60 people fell victim to the virus or a deadly variant and lost their lives. But Turkish officials are stressing that unless vaccinations are vigorously applied and increased public and individual hygiene measures are taken, as many as 21 million Turks might be affected as winter sets in. The resulting death toll, they say, could be in the thousands. :huh

Almost three weeks ago, the Turkish Health Ministry made an assessment and prepared both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. According to the optimistic scenario, the H1N1 virus will not develop a deadlier variant; members of all risk groups in Turkey will accept vaccinations; local administrations, hospitals and individuals will work to improve both public and individual hygiene and consequently just 1.8 million Turks will be affected by the pandemic, with a death toll of around 400.

If the vaccination program does not succeed, however, the Health Ministry’s pessimistic scenario forecasts that some 21 million people out of the country’s population of more than 73 million will be affected by the virus and the death toll might reach 5,300 or more.

In view of the fact that an average 16,000 Turks lose their lives every year to flu and related respiratory illnesses, it can be argued that the H1N1 pandemic might be over-exaggerated, and that not only Turks, but all of humanity has become unnecessarily panicked due to some officious local health officials and executives of the World Health Organization.

What’s happening in Ukraine, however, indicates that the virus might have developed a more deadly variant and that the present-day swine-flu phobia might indeed be underestimating the dimensions of the global threat.

Officially, some 2,000 Turks are reported to have been infected with the H1N1 influenza virus, but Health Minister Recep Akdağ and leading medical professors are stressing that the actual number infected is probably at least fivefold higher than that figure. The ministry has been critical of the media reporting each and every case and has declared that it will no longer disclose the number of people infected.

Hospitals, on the other hand, have stopped testing whether people are affected, instead they examine the symptoms and only those patients who doctors conclude from an external examination may have been infected are tested. This practice may be aimed at cutting the cost of the fight against the influenza pandemic, but by letting potentially infected people engage with others, the ministry and hospitals are, in a way, helping the pandemic spread. In addition, despite repeated assertions by the Health Ministry that cleanliness is vitally important in battling this serious threat, the hygienic situation at most Turkish public hospitals and local health-care centers is appalling.

Despite some objections from some leading doctors that the vaccine has not been properly tested and could produce some severe side effects – perhaps more serious that the much-feared influenza pandemic – Turkey started its vaccination campaign this week. Health personnel are being given priority for vaccinations along with the pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Muslim hajj. So far so good. Yet the prime minister of the country bluntly declared yesterday that he would not be vaccinated.

Acknowledging that the health minister had called for vaccinations and was vaccinated himself, the prime minister said “there are lots of speculations about the swine flu.”

“I want to express one thing. Please don’t kiss others and when you shake hands, please wash your hands and if there is a possibility of infection, immediately use disinfectants,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. “As regards vaccination, I disagree with the health minister. It is all right if my citizens, of their own free will, decide to be vaccinated.”

Of course it is up to the premier to decide whether he wants to be vaccinated or not. Perhaps someone has advised him that getting vaccinated might be exploited by his adversaries to kill his macho image. Yet, as the prime minister of this country, a leading political figure admired by millions of people, does Erdoğan have the right to publicly say that he does not want to be vaccinated and thus discourage the public?

Did not the Health Ministry present him with the latest assessments regarding the spread of the virus in Turkey and the importance of vaccination in preventing, or at least slowing down, the spread of this pandemic among the citizens of this country? Was not he presented with the optimistic and pessimistic scenarios?

Perhaps the health minister must brief Erdoğan once again on how grave the threat is.

Author:  Bluebonnet [ Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

This makes me sooo sad!

Seven Yanomami Indians living on the border between Venezuela and Brazil have died from an outbreak of suspected swine flu in the last three weeks, according to reports from Venezuelan sources and the UK-based NGO Survival International.

Raidan Bernade, a Venezuelan doctor based in La Esmeralda on the Orinoco, said that a 35-year-old Yanomami woman was confirmed to have died from swine flu but it was not possible to confirm that the six babies who died - the oldest just 1-year-old -had died of the illness.

Some 1,000 Yanomami are reported to have contracted the virus in the region and Yamilet Mirabal, the government's deputy minister of indigenous affairs for the region, has confirmed that suspected cases of swine flu had been detected in the jungle villages of Mavaca, Platanal and Hatakoa.

Bernade told news agencies that: "everything is under control" and that many of the flu cases the indigenous Yanomami are suffering from are down to a seasonal flu.

The Yanomami are the largest relatively isolated tribe in the Amazon rainforest, with a population of about 32,000 that straddle the Venezuela-Brazil border. Due to this isolation they have very little resistance to introduced diseases such as flu.

The UK-based indigenous rights NGO Survival International has called on the governments of Venezuela and Brazil to take urgent action to protect the 32,000 Yanomami who live in the isolated border area, where access to medical care is difficult.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival said: "The situation is critical. Both governments must take immediate action to halt the epidemic and radically improve the health care to the Yanomami. If they do not, we could once more see hundreds of Yanomami dying of treatable diseases. This would be utterly devastating for this isolated tribe, whose population has only just recovered from the epidemics which decimated their population 20 years ago."

Author:  Bluebonnet [ Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Swine Flu Cases

Venezuela slows Amazon Indian swine flu outbreak
By Frank Jack Daniel

PUERTO AYACUCHO, Venezuela (Reuters) - A potentially devastating outbreak of swine flu among the Yanomami Indians in Venezuela's Amazon rainforest appears to be contained after a rapid medical response in the isolated zone. :clap

Considered to be the largest isolated Amazon tribe, with a population of about 30,000, the semi-nomadic Yanomami had limited contact with the outside world until 50 years ago.

Since the 1960s, the Yanomami population has been hard hit by illnesses brought by gold miners and other outsiders.

The deaths of six Yanomami are being investigated for possible links to the H1N1 virus. But Neris Villalobos, chief epidemiologist for the state of Amazonas, said the initial outbreak peaked at the end of October and was waning.

Possibly spread by outsiders at a government-organized event last month, flu symptoms showed up in more than 1,000 Yanomami, local health officials said. The number of new cases has declined sharply since then.

"The action taken has been successful, although we cannot yet say that the situation is over," Villalobos told Reuters in Puerto Ayacucho, capital of the local Amazonas region.

She said medics still needed to visit far-flung villages to check for any possible undetected cases of the disease. Medics have given Swiss drug maker Roche's flu drug Tamiflu to more than 2,000 villagers in the tribal area, accessible only by river or air.

Socialist President Hugo Chavez's government in recent years has expanded health services to the Yanomami. About 30 doctors are now permanently stationed on the Venezuelan side of the Yanomami region, which straddles the Brazilian border and is about as large as Greece.

Many are Cubans who form part of Chavez's popular nationwide drive to put doctors in remote communities.

During the outbreak, Cuban-trained Venezuelan doctors were flown in to bolster care. "If they had not taken the measures in a timely fashion, this would have been a truly enormous epidemic," said Cuban doctor Giovanni Castellano.

Illegal gold mining in the region, especially on the Brazilian side of the border, spread disease such as malaria among the tribe in the 1980s and caused the deaths of about 20 percent of the population in a seven-year period.

Tribe members typically live in circular communal huts built around a courtyard. The men hunt for food and the women plant dozens of different crops in clearings. Every few years they move to new forest areas to let land regenerate.

The H1N1 virus appears to have entered the Yanomami's rainforest home during a meeting organized by government officials to mark the October 12 anniversary of the arrival in the Americas of explorer Christopher Columbus, medics said.

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