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Thread: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

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    WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    UN health officials are expected to declare the first global flu pandemic in 40 years, after holding emergency talks on the swine flu crisis.

    The World Health Organization called the meeting after a steep rise in the number of cases in Australia.

    Hong Kong on Thursday announced it was closing all its nurseries and primary schools for two weeks after 12 students tested positive for the virus.

    The last global flu pandemic came in 1968 over the Hong Kong flu.

    That pandemic killed about one million people.

    A disease is classed as a pandemic when transmission between humans becomes widespread in at least two regions of the world.

    Evolving situation

    The latest virus emerged in Mexico in April and since then thousands of cases have been confirmed throughout North and South America.

    The H1N1 strain has spread to 74 countries but the WHO has so far resisted labelling the outbreak a full-blown pandemic.
    All primary schools and nurseries in Hong Kong are to shut for 14 days from Friday in a bid to contain the virus, the territory's chief executive Donald Tsang said.

    It follows confirmation that 12 secondary school pupils have contracted the illness. Secondary schools are not yet being ordered to close.

    At least 50 people are now confirmed to have the virus in the territory.

    Keiji Fukuda, head of the WHO influenza programme, has claimed the "Swine Flu virus has evolved significantly" in the past few days.

    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | WHO 'set to declare flu pandemic'
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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    One of my wife's friends was hospitalized with swine flu on Monday. She's got severe type 1 diabetes and other medical issues so she's in the high risk category.

    Hopefully she responds well to the treatment.
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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    WHO: Swine flu pandemic has begun, 1st in 41 years - Yahoo! News

    And it's now official.

    But is it an official overreation? One statistic stands out:

    On Wednesday, WHO said 74 countries had reported nearly 27,737 cases of swine flu, including 141 deaths.
    Now being sick sucks, and being dead is even worse, but 141 deaths out of 27,737 reported cases is a mortality rate of 0.5%--right in line with normal mortality rates for influenza.

    With these statistics, the only defensive measures that can be justified are the normal methods of good hygiene: hand washing, don't cough on people, et cetera.

    So where's the pandemic?

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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    A pandemic is defined by the spread of the disease, not by mortality rate.

    From WHO:
    "A pandemic can start when three conditions have been met: a new influenza virus subtype emerges; it infects humans, causing serious illness; and it spreads easily and sustainably among humans."
    Last edited by NDNdancer; 06-11-09 at 12:07 PM.
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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    Quote Originally Posted by NDNdancer View Post
    A pandemic is defined by the spread of the disease, not by mortality rate.

    From WHO:
    "A pandemic can start when three conditions have been met: a new influenza virus subtype emerges; it infects humans, causing serious illness; and it spreads easily and sustainably among humans."
    All well and good....but where's the seriousness of this?

    What does WHO declaring a "pandemic" over a new strain of flu accomplish when that strain is just not that serious?

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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    In previous pandemics, the mortality rates increased during the second wave of the pandemic.

    Being aware of the potential is not a bad thing. If it blows over as nothing, great, if not, the forewarning could save lives.
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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    Quote Originally Posted by celticlord View Post
    All well and good....but where's the seriousness of this?

    What does WHO declaring a "pandemic" over a new strain of flu accomplish when that strain is just not that serious?
    It's actually pretty important in terms of the world health/global health picture.

    Influenza virions are pretty promiscuous and swap out genetic material pretty easily. A fairly benign virus can change within a couple of generations into a pretty nasty virulent strain. The most important part in the monitoring, is determining how fast it can spread, how infectious it is, and can it cause serious disease.

    We now know H1/N1 can spread quickly through a population, it's a new virus so there's very little protective antibodies in the population, and that it's an influenza virus with the potential to kill. Because it's influenza, it does have the propensity to change and mutate with other influenza virions, others that are highly virulent. We don't know what those combinations will look like, we have no idea what kind of disease they may cause. There's a wide variety of flu strains, which make it difficult to immunize a population.

    It's important to monitor and be on top of this infection because we don't know enough about it to be complacent. Complacency could kill.

    Here's more from the CDC:
    There are three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C. Influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States. Influenza type C infections cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics.

    Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 16 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 9 different neuraminidase subtypes, Influenza A viruses can be further broken down into different strains. The current subtypes of influenza A viruses found in people are A (H1N1) and A (H3N2).

    Influenza B viruses are not divided into subtypes. Influenza B viruses also can be further broken down into different strains.

    Influenza A (H1N1), A (H3N2), and influenza B strains are included in each year's influenza vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine can protect against influenza A and B viruses. The flu vaccine does not protect against influenza C viruses.
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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    The U.S. and the Northern Hemisphere is entering into Summer, so the flu (any flu) will not spread quite as quickly. However, the Southern Hemispher is entering it's normal Fall/Winter season.

    I would certainly watch South America and Australia and other S.H. countries to see how quickly this flu spreads. We can also determine how virulent and dangerous it will be to the people living in the Southern Hemisphere. That will give us some indication of just how serious it may get here this coming Fall/Winter, when the Second Wave of the swine flu is expected to hit the Northern Hemisphere.

    Here is a great site on all things swine flu...including state-by-state coverage and international coverage -- Swine Flu

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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    Quote Originally Posted by NDNdancer View Post
    It's important to monitor and be on top of this infection because we don't know enough about it to be complacent. Complacency could kill.
    Monitor yes....panic no.

    Seems to me the WHO is panicking.

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    Re: WHO Set to declare full pandemic - Swine Flu

    Well, actually declaring it a pandemic is following their own criterion. It's also following the recommendations of the CDC and it's counterparts in other countries.

    By issuing such a declaration, it puts into place several things within the WHO and UN structure that will assist in monitoring the second wave that's predicted to start soon. Without the declaration of "pandemic" status, it continues to be each individual country's "problem" rather then a global problem.

    It does fit the criterion for a pandemic and although not as lethal as other pandemics, it has the potential. Elevating it's status to pandemic sets in motion a larger worldwide response and allows other, smaller health agencies within poorer nations to access needed surveillance tools and resources.

    I don't think it's "panic". I think thus far it's been a pretty responsible, even-handed response.

    I do think the anti-immigrant faction within this country used it in irresponsible ways to justify their particular political agenda. That response was over the top. WHO wasn't.
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