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H1N1 Flu Cases Rising

Update: - Let's beware of complacency folks...

President Barack Obama has warned that the US is not "out of the woods yet" in containing a swine flu outbreak.

He said the virus was not as virulent as first feared, but warned of the possibility of "an even worse flu season sometime in the fall [autumn]".

Earlier, officials said the number of confirmed infections in the US had nearly doubled overnight to 1,639.

Meanwhile, Canada reported its first confirmed flu death in the western Alberta province.

And people are being more careful, which is helping:

The good news is the publicity surrounding the outbreaks has made people change their behavior, Besser said.

Dr. Robert Blendon and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults, including people who only have cellphones -- a first for a major public health survey.

They said 67 percent reported they or someone in their household has washed their hands or used hand sanitizer more frequently because of the outbreak. And 55 percent had made plans to stay home with children or work from home if they became sick, if school closed or if a family member got sick.

"This has really gotten into their lives," Blendon told the briefing. "This is not something people are watching and not doing anything about. It is quite incredible."

Besser said H1N1 presented a "teachable moment" that could not only help people better prepare for future pandemics but change the course of other infectious diseases.

"If they can make handwashing something that is routine, if they can make covering their coughs appropriately something that is routine ... they will protect themselves not only from influenza but so many respiratory infections," Besser said.

"It would be absolutely wonderful if a spin-off from people taking more precautions against flu would be a decrease in gastrointestinal diseases."

---original post---

Not good news:

Outbreaks of the new H1N1 swine flu continue to spread across the United States, with 896 confirmed cases and more to come, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

U.S. officials have said they expect the swine influenza virus to spread to all 50 states and to cause many infections ranging from mild to severe.

Acting CDC Director Dr Richard Besser said the actual numbers matter less than the pattern of disease. "So far we are not seeing any signs of this petering out," Besser told reporters. "We are on the upswing."

It could effect a large number of people worldwide:

Up to 2 billion people could be infected by swine flu if the current outbreak turns into a pandemic lasting two years, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said the historical record of flu pandemics indicates one-third of the world's population gets infected in such outbreaks. Independent experts agreed that the estimate was possible.

John Oxford, professor of virology at St. Bart's and Royal London Hospital:

"I don't think the 2 billion figure should scare people because it's not as though 2 billion people are going to die. The prediction from WHO is that 2 billion people might catch it. Half of those people won't show any symptoms. Or if they show any symptoms, they will be so mild they will hardly know they've had it."

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Comments (5)

Mac Lorry:

The good news is that the Mexican flu is turning out to be no more virulent than the "seasonal" flu, one of which is also a subtype H1N1.

We've seen this all before with the Russian, Asian, Hong Kong and 1976 Swine flu. The exception is the 1918 Spanish flu, which was also subtype H1N1, but coded for a specific amino acid the Mexican flu is missing.

Ryan:

Yawn. We've had something like ten confirmed cases and like 20 more suspected cases here in Utah. Everyone was sick for a few days and now they're fine.

Why does the media feel the need to keep trumping this up?

If you live in a first world country with things like immunizations, health departments, and access to NyQuil, you're FINE.

People just love to freak out and start putting plastic wrap over their windows, circa 2001.

epador:

The good news is that this is a good test of the Public Health systems of the world. We have a chance to examine how things work in real-time and hopefully improve the system for the next, more deadly, epidemic.

Chad:

The Swine Flu is dangerous, but not much more than Influenza A. Yes, it's still a hazard, but there's something new every year as viruses mutate and become harder to slow down. We have yet to develop any medication that actually "kills" any type of virus. All they can do is mitigate the effects. I am very concerned about the possible effects of a bio-weapon being used, and am glad to see that the CDC is watching the epidemiology of this very carefully. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when, and I'm hoping it happens somewhere else when it does occur. It's a good thing there's a surplus of Tamiflu saved up, huh? Sure, it's not enough for everyone, but it should be (unless this thing really breaks out of control) enough to treat the most susceptible people. I'm a big believer in hand sanitizer and hepa filters, myself. Oh, and bleach, don't forget the bleach.

Heralder:
Why does the media feel the need to keep trumping this up?

The media tackles it like any story that will make people want to read, and they harp on it and stretch it far beyond it's mileage.

On the other hand, the CDC has done a good job with this I think, they've approached it with a calm and intelligent demeanor, keeping in mind the political and economic consequences of arbitrarily shouting PANDEMIC!!1!

While in the U.S. we likely have little to fear from it in it's current form, the H1N1 virus could be absolutely deadly to third world countries.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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