Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5 Congressional Pages Have Developed the Swine Flu

Today it was announced that 5 Congressional pages have been determined to have the swine flu. To prevent further spreading, the remaining Congressional pages have been quarantined. This reminds us what health officials have been telling us - which is that the swine flu epidemic is not over and that, in fact, we should expect increased cases and more severe cases and deaths from the H1N1 swine flu than we have experienced thus far. In summary, we have a long road to go in dealing with the swine flu and the worst is still likely to occur with the flu season this coming fall. It is also possible that the H1N1 swine flu break will last more than one year. As Bob Woodrow of the Washington Post has commented, the H1N1 swine flu outbreak is still very possible to become the biggest news story of this year.

What is Different About the H1N1 Swine Flu From the Regular Flu

From what we presently know about the H1N1 swine flu, it does not seem to be more deadly than the regular flu. This is not necessary cause for relief, however, as already approximately half of the states report deaths from the swine flu - and a large number of deaths annually occur from the normal flu. What is different about the H1N1 swine flu, however, is how teens and young adults seem to be more susceptible to severe cases and even death than infants or the elderly as is the case with the normal flu strains. In this way, the H1N1 swine flu is more like the 1918 world-wide influenza that killed approximately 100 million people than normal seasonal flu outbreaks. Also, like the 1918 influenza, the current H1N1 swine flu is spreading very rapidly during the summer months - i.e. during what is normally a period of drop off of the spread of normal flu. This could mean that the swine flu this fall is likely to be much more severe than what has occurred thus far.

Will the Swine Flu Vaccine Be Available In Time for the Fall?

A potential vaccine for the swine flu is presently being tested for safety and efficacy. The problem is that it would then need to be manufactured and administered in huge quantities by September. The reason for the September deadline is because, even after being given a flu vaccine, it takes 6-8 weeks for the body to build up its immune system to fight the flu after being given the vaccine. Since the peak flu season is typically from November to January, one can count backwards and figure out that the flu vaccine needs to be administered by September.

Denmark Has Reported First Case of Swine Flu Resistance to Anti-Viral Drugs Such As Tamiflu

Denmark has reported a case of an individual where the swine flu has shown to have developed a resistance to anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu. This is a significant program as we approach the fall flu season. Normally in any given flu season, about half of the population has a resistance to whatever is the current flu. This will not be the case where instead, perhaps only three percent or less of the population will have any resistance to the H1N1 swine flu. Even if the swine flu is no more virulent than any other flu outbreak, this would mean that we should expect a larger outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu simply because the population has no natural immunity or resistance to it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

263 Deaths and Over 40,000 Cases of the Swine Flu Now Reported

The Centers for Disease Control has now reported 263 deaths and over 40,000 confirmed cases of the swine flu in the U.S. In some areas, the CDC has indicated that the outbreak has been severe while in other areas the outbreak has been mild. Unlike typical flu outbreaks, the swine flu outbreak in the U.S. has continued into the summer. Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere where they are just beginning their winter season, the number of swine flu cases has increased. In an interview on the Charlie Rose show, Washington Post writer Bob Woodward (famous for, among other things, his breaking of the Watergate story in the 1970's)when asked what is the biggest current news story that everyone is missing indicated that, while reporting of the swine flu has diminished, the swine flu might eventually become the biggest news story of 2009 if the number of cases and deaths increase in the coming fall and winter.