Posted tagged ‘Flu’

H1N1 a National Emergency

October 25, 2009

President Barack Obama has declared a national emergency to deal with the rapid increase in illness from the Swine Flu (H1N1 influenza virus).

From CNN:

“The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities,” Obama said in a statement.

“Thus, in recognition of the continuing progression of the pandemic, and in further preparation as a nation, we are taking additional steps to facilitate our response.”

The president signed the declaration late Friday and announced it Saturday.

Calling the emergency declaration “an important tool in our kit going forward,” one administration official called Obama’s action a “proactive measure that’s not in response to any new development.”

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Pregnant Women Get Dibs on Swine Flu Vaccine

July 29, 2009

If you wanted to know who gets first shot at the Swine Flu vaccine, now you know.

Pregnant women, health care workers and children six months and older will be placed at the top of the list for swine flu vaccinations this fall.

From the Associated Press:

The panel also said those first vaccinated should include parents and other caregivers of infants; non-elderly adults who have high-risk medical conditions; and young adults ages 19 to 24.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to set vaccination priorities for those groups Wednesday during a meeting in Atlanta. The panel’s recommendations are usually adopted by federal health officials.

The recommendations are designed to address potential limits in vaccine availability this fall if there is heavy demand and limited supplies.

The government estimates that about 120 million swine flu vaccine doses will be available to the public by late October. Roughly 160 million people are in the priority groups considered most vulnerable to infection or most at risk for severe disease.

Although the number recommended to get doses exceeds the projected supply, health officials don’t think everyone will run out and get vaccinated. Traditionally, less than half of the people recommended to get seasonal flu shots get them. Only about 15 percent of pregnant women get seasonal flu vaccinations.

If there is ample vaccine, vaccinations also would be recommended for all non-elderly adults, the panel also voted. And if there’s still plenty of vaccine, the swine flu shots and spray doses should be offered to people 65 and older. Fewer illnesses have been reported in the elderly, who appear to have higher levels of immunity to the virus, health experts say.

However, the elderly should be pushed to get shots against seasonal flu, which is a significant health risk to older adults.

Swine Flu Cases Approaching 1500 Worldwide

May 5, 2009

According to the World Health Organization,the number of confirmed swine flu cases worldwide has increased to 1,490 with 30 deaths, most of them in Mexico.

From CNN:

It marks an increase of 405 cases and four deaths since Monday evening, said WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Keiji Fukuda.

Meanwhile, residents in Mexico City restlessly waited for life to return to normal as officials from both Mexico and the United States said the worst may be over in the swine flu outbreak.

Mexican officials, citing improvement in the battle against the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, announced plans to reopen government offices and restaurants on Wednesday — and museums, libraries and churches the following day.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged claims by Mexican authorities who believe their cases have peaked. “I have no reason to think that is inaccurate,” Napolitano said.

“What the epidemiologists are seeing now with this particular strain of H1N1 is that the severity of the disease, the severity of the flu — how sick you get — is not stronger than regular seasonal flu.”

But officials from WHO and the CDC plan to monitor developments in the Southern Hemisphere, where flu season arrives over the next few months as winter begins there.

United States Declares Flu Emergency

April 26, 2009

Government officials have declared a public health emergency in connection with the swine flu outbreak that has killed dozens in Mexico and sickened 20 in the United States.

From MSNBC:

Secretary Janet Napolitano also said border agents have been directed to begin passive surveillance of travelers from affected countries, with instructions to isolate anyone who appears actively ill with suspected influenza.

The number of cases confirmed in the United States by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now 20, including eight New York City high school students. Other cases are in Ohio, California, Texas and Kansas. Patients have ranged in age from 7 to 54.

Government health officials expect to see more cases of swine flu here, including possibly serious infections, a senior CDC official said.

CDC officials said they don’t yet have basic information about how the virus spreads, including how many cases each primary case might create, or how long it might take for them to be infected. However, agency officials believe the virus is spreading person-to-person. In the U.S., all the patients have recovered and only one patient was hospitalized.

From the Associated Press:

Canada became the third country to confirm human cases of swine flu Sunday as global health officials considered whether to raise the global pandemic alert level.

Nations from New Zealand to Spain also reported suspected cases and some warned citizens against travel to North America while others planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers.

The six Canadian cases in Nova Scotia and British Columbia all had links to people who had traveled to Mexico, and all are the same swine flu strain.

The six people have recovered, said Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer.

But “these are probably not the last cases we’ll see in Canada,” he said.

The news follows the World Health Organization’s decision Saturday to declare the outbreak first detected in Mexico and the United States a “public health emergency of international concern.”

A senior World Health Organization official said the agency’s emergency committee will meet for a second time Tuesday to examine the extent to which the virus has spread before deciding whether to increase the alert for a possible pandemic — an epidemic that spreads in humans around the world.

The same strain of the A/H1N1 swine flu virus has been detected in several locations in Mexico and the United States, and it appears to be spreading directly from human to human, said Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general in charge of health security.

Mexico’s health minister says the disease has killed up to 86 people and likely sickened up to 1,400 since April 13. U.S. officials say the virus has been found in New York, California, Texas, Kansas and Ohio, but so far no fatalities have been reported.

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.”

Vicks VapoRub Could Make Kids Sick

January 13, 2009

A new study has found that Vicks VapoRub, the menthol salve used to soothe generations of congested kids, may actually make some kids worse.

From MSNBC:

The strong-smelling ointment often dabbed under noses or rubbed on the soles of feet can be an irritant, increasing the production of mucus and decreasing how fast it’s cleared, potentially causing dangerous breathing problems in infants and very young children.

“In a small child who may be hypersensitive, this can make the airways even smaller,” said Dr. Bruce K. Rubin, vice chairman of the department of pediatrics at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.  “It can narrow them severely.”

VapoRub only fools the brain into thinking airways are open, Rubin said, by using active ingredients such as menthol, camphor and eucalyptus oil that trigger cold sensors. In reality, congestion remains.

“I would recommend never putting the Vicks in, or under, the nose of anybody — adult or child,” said Rubin, whose work is published in the latest issue of the journal Chest. “I also would follow the directions and never use it at all in children under age 2.”

But the makers of the 103-year-old unguent that gained fame during the 1918 flu epidemic said the researchers are unfairly targeting the popular product.

“We’re not sure that the data that Dr. Rubin has presented is very conclusive,” said David Bernens, a spokesman for Procter & Gamble, which has sold 1 billion units of Vicks VapoRub worldwide in the past five years. “We would hate to see everyone put into undue alarm based on very little data.”