Pandemic? When pig 'flu flies...
TV3 just had the Health Minister on concerned that the pig 'flu is being carried by school kids back from a trip to Mexico.
Updated map of the spread via: Aotearoa: a wider perspective
RNZ now reporting:
Ministry of Health officials say there is no guarantee these students have the swine influenza, which is thought to have killed 81 people in Mexico, but they consider it likely. All precautions are being taken to allow for this.
Mr Ryall said "I am advised 10 students have tested positive for Influenza A, and these results will now be sent to the World Health Organisation laboratory in Melbourne to ascertain whether it is the H1N1 swine influenza." H1N1 influenza is a subset of influenza A.
None of the affected patients are considered seriously ill, and most are on the road to recovery. --UPDATE ENDS]
With modern air travel bringing diverse populations into contact with each other so quickly this influenza strain could already be airborne.
WHO statement regarding the yellow alert:
WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic.
The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans.
Xinhua reporting far more quickly and accurately about pig 'flu in North America than it did about bird 'flu in it's own backyard:
The WHO is sounding the alarm because it is striking healthy people not normally victims of 'flu and deaths have resulted in Mexico (that's the way I've read this report):
24 April 2009 -- The United States Government has reported seven confirmed human cases of Swine Influenza A/H1N1 in the USA (five in California and two in Texas) and nine suspect cases. All seven confirmed cases had mild Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), with only one requiring brief hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.
The Government of Mexico has reported three separate events. In the Federal District of Mexico, surveillance began picking up cases of ILI starting 18 March. The number of cases has risen steadily through April and as of 23 April there are now more than 854 cases of pneumonia from the capital. Of those, 59 have died. In San Luis Potosi, in central Mexico, 24 cases of ILI, with three deaths, have been reported. And from Mexicali, near the border with the United States, four cases of ILI, with no deaths, have been reported.
Of the Mexican cases, 18 have been laboratory confirmed in Canada as Swine Influenza A/H1N1, while 12 of those are genetically identical to the Swine Influenza A/H1N1 viruses from California.
The majority of these cases have occurred in otherwise healthy young adults. Influenza normally affects the very young and the very old, but these age groups have not been heavily affected in Mexico.
Because there are human cases associated with an animal influenza virus, and because of the geographical spread of multiple community outbreaks, plus the somewhat unusual age groups affected, these events are of high concern.
The Swine Influenza A/H1N1 viruses characterized in this outbreak have not been previously detected in pigs or humans. The viruses so far characterized have been sensitive to oseltamivir, but resistant to both amantadine and rimantadine.
Sunday Times now reporting:
The British Airways crew member was taken to Northwick Park hospital in Harrow, northwest London, after flight BA242 landed at 2pm.
“The patient was admitted directly to a side room and the hospital is scrupulously following infection control procedures to ensure there is no risk to any other individual in the hospital,” the hospital said.
The Port Health Authority, the agency responsible for disease containment at the UK’s borders, is asking crew on flights into Britain from Mexico to report any passengers suffering from coughs and sneezes to medics.
Avian flu, which has killed 250 people since 2003 and sparked the last pandemic threat, is caused by influenza viruses adapted to infect birds. Swine flu is caused by viruses adapted to pigs. Big problems arise when human and animal flu viruses mix and mutate into new organisms that can spread through the population.
The fact that most of the Mexican dead were aged between 25 and 45 rather than being elderly or very young is seen as a particularly worrying sign. The first victims of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 were also healthy young adults.
The symptoms of swine flu in people include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, coughing and sore throat.
Michael Osterholm, a pandemic flu expert at the University of Minnesota, said new cases were probably already incubating around the world.
Tamiflu, an antiviral drug used against bird flu, is said to be effective against the new strain.
Tamiflu, eh - what's the bet all the (expensive) NZ stock acquired during the avian 'flu scare expired last month? --UPDATE ENDS]