Posted tagged ‘Epidemic’

It’s a Swine Flu Pandemic…RUN!!!!!

June 11, 2009

The World Health Organization has finally declared a much anticipated swine flu pandemic. This marks the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.

From the New York Times:

The move came after an emergency meeting with flu experts here that was convened after a sharp rise in cases in Australia, which reported 1,224 cases on Wednesday, and rising numbers in Britain, Japan and elsewhere.

In a statement sent to member countries, the W.H.O. said it decided to raise the pandemic alert level from phase 5 to 6, indicating a global pandemic outbreak, The Associated Press said, attributing the information to health officials from Scotland, Indonesia and Thailand. An official announcement of the change was due at 6 p.m. Geneva time on Thursday (noon in New York).

In an effort to avoid triggering panic with such an announcement, W.H.O. officials are expected to include a caveat that the flu, which has resulted in mostly mild cases, is not more deadly now that it has been declared a pandemic. Rather, the announcement reflects the global spread of the disease, not an increase in its severity.

According to W.H.O. rules, the organization should declare a pandemic once it finds evidence of widespread “community transmission” — meaning beyond travelers, schools and immediate contacts — on two continents.

Swine Flu Outbreak Followed Closely On Twitter…Is This Good?

April 28, 2009

With today’s technology, anyone can see the spread of diseases such as swine flu in real time, and alert public health officials to potential new cases by using Google, or now an even easier way, through Twitter.

But there are those who believe that Twitter has become a place that has caused unnecessary hype and misinformation about the outbreak, which is believed to have claimed more than 100 lives in Mexico.

From CNN:

“This is a good example of why [Twitter is] headed in that wrong direction, because it’s just propagating fear amongst people as opposed to seeking actual solutions or key information,” said Brennon Slattery, a contributing writer for PC World. “The swine flu thing came really at the crux of a media revolution.”

Twitter’s popularity has exploded in recent months, and Slattery said it’s a new development that a wide number of people would turn to the site in search of information during an emergency.

Others take a softer approach to the buzz on Twitter.

Writing for CNET, a CNN partner site, Larry Magid advises online readers to take medical advice with a grain of salt.

The Internet is “a great way to get general information, prevention tips and information on how to handle a known condition, but be cautious when using it to try to diagnose yourself,” he writes.


“Our site used to update every hour,” said John Brownstein, a physician at Children’s Hospital Boston who, along with fellow CHB computer scientist Clark Friefeld, created the HealthMap swine flu tracking service, which was recently modified to include Twitter updates. “But that was too slow for the amount of information we’ve been accumulating, so we had to switch to a Twitter feed instead.”

The new swine flu Twitter service launched Sunday morning with about 50 users. By Monday afternoon, more than 1,400 people had signed up to receive the latest swine flu news.

Swine flu is big news on the social networking site. On Monday, the top three trend searches (“Swine flu,” #swineflu, and “CDC,”) were related to the virus.

Some of the “tweets,” as the 140-character-or-less messages are called, are serious, noting emerging hotspots or asking fellow Twitterers whether the virus has reached a given community.

Other tweets are more snark than science. “Maybe my computer has this swine flu thing?” said user Ifoch. Many express dismay at histrionic media coverage of the potential for a pandemic when casualties still number in the hundreds.

Cities on Alert Over Swine Flu Scare

April 24, 2009

Mexican officials closed all schools today in the capital city in an effort to combat the swine flu virus that has killed dozens in Mexico and has already infected eight people in the United States.

From CNN:

Authorities also closed schools in Mexico in an effort to quell the virus, which has killed at least 68 people in the country, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.

Other public institutions, including museums and government offices, were also closed in Mexico City.

Mexican soldiers distributed surgical masks to pedestrians and motorists in downtown Mexico City on Friday, according to state-run media.

President Felipe Calderon canceled a scheduled trip to the northern state of Chihuahua and stayed in Mexico City to address concerns on the virus.

“We know the seriousness of the problem,” Calderon said. ” I know that we will be able to solve this. This is our obligation.”

More than 1,000 people have fallen ill in Mexico City in a short period of time, U.S. health experts said.

Health officials said they are concerned that the swine flu virus matches samples of a virus that has killed people in Mexico.

“This situation has been developing quickly,” said acting Centers for Disease Control Director Richard Besser. “This is something we are worried about.”