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Update on Swine Flu

Friday, October 29, 2010 // Uncategorized

4/26/2009 7:23:09 PM

Here’s the latest on the Swine Flu.  I don’t think that everyone needs to hoard Tamiflu.  Use the usual precautions that you would use if you were around someone who was sick.  Wash your hands after returning home.  I’m monitoring a number of sources throughout the day.  Check here for any other recommendations.

WHO declares swine flu crisis a health emergency
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GENEVA: The World Health Organization has declared the swine flu outbreak
in North America a “public health emergency of international concern”. The
decision means countries around the world will be asked to step up
reporting and surveillance of the disease implicated in dozens of human
deaths in Mexico and at least 8 non fatal cases in the US. WHO fears the
outbreak could spread to other countries and is calling for a coordinated
response to contain it.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan made the decision late on Saturday after
consulting influenza experts during an emergency meeting. She earlier told
reporters the outbreak had “pandemic potential.” But her agency held off
raising its pandemic alert level, citing the need for more information.

“It would be prudent for health officials within countries to be alert to
outbreaks of influenza-like illness or pneumonia, especially if these occur
in months outside the usual peak influenza season,” Chan told reporters by
telephone from Geneva, where she convened an emergency meeting of influenza
experts. “Another important signal is excess cases of severe or fatal
flu-like illness in groups other than young children and the elderly, who
are usually at highest risk during normal seasonal flu,” she said. Several
Latin American and Asian countries have already started surveillance or
screening at airports and other points of entry.

At least 62 people have died from severe pneumonia caused by a flu-like
illness in Mexico, WHO says. Some of those who died are confirmed to have a
unique flu type that is a combination of bird, pig, and human viruses. The
virus is genetically identical to one found in California. US authorities
said 8 people were infected with swine flu in California and Texas, and all
recovered. So far, no other countries have reported suspicious cases,
according to WHO. But the French government said suspected cases are likely
to occur in the coming days because of global air travel. A French
government crisis group began operating Saturday. The government has
already closed the French school in Mexico City and provided French
citizens there with detailed instructions on precautions.

Chilean authorities ordered a sanitary alert that included airport
screening of passengers arriving from Mexico. No cases of the disease have
been reported so far in the country, deputy health minister Jeanette Vega
said, but those showing symptoms will be sent to a hospital for tests. In
Peru, authorities will monitor travelers arriving from Mexico and the US
and people with flu-like symptoms will be evaluated by health teams, Peru’s
Health Ministry said. Brazil will “intensify its health surveillance in all
points of entry into the country,” the Health Ministry’s National Health
Surveillance Agency said in a statement. Measures will also be put in place
to inspect cargo andluggage, and to clean and disinfect aircraft and ships
at ports of entry.

Some Asian nations enforced checks Saturday on passengers from Mexico.
Japan’s biggest international airport stepped up health surveillance, while
the Philippines said it may quarantine passengers with fevers who have been
to Mexico. Health authorities in Thailand and Hong Kong said they were
closely monitoring the situation. Asia has fresh memories of an outbreak of
severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which hit countries across the
region and severely crippled global air travel. Indonesia, China, Thailand,
Vietnam and other countries have also seen a number of human deaths from
H5N1 bird flu, the virus that researchers have until now fingered as the
most likely cause of a future pandemic.

The Dutch government’s Institute for Public Health and Environment has
advised any traveler who returned from Mexico since April 17 and develops a
fever over 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit (38.5 Celsius) within four days of
arriving in the Netherlands to stay at home. The Polish Foreign Ministry
has issued a statement that recommends that Poles postpone any travel plans
to regions where the outbreak has occurred until it is totally contained.
The Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said
earlier Saturday it shared the concerns about the swine flu cases and stood
ready to lend support in any way possible.

WHO’s emergency committee, called together Saturday for the first time
since it was created in 2007, draws on experts from around the world. They
may decide that the outbreak constitutes an international public health
emergency. If so, they will consider whether WHO should recommend travel
advisories, trade restrictions or border closures and raise its pandemic
alert level.

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