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Europe Ignoring Swine Flu?

May 30th, 2009 1 comment
Table. U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
updated May 29, 2009,

States* Confirmed and Probable Cases Deaths
Alabama
71 cases
0
Arkansas
6 cases
0
Arizona
540 cases
3
California
553 cases
0
Colorado
68 cases
0
Connecticut
149 cases
0
Delaware
115 cases
0
Florida
165 cases
0
Georgia
28 cases
0
Hawaii
71 cases
0
Idaho
12 cases
0
Illinois
1002 cases
2
Indiana
138 cases
0
Iowa
71 cases
0
Kansas
34 cases
0
Kentucky**
50 cases
0
Louisiana
114 cases
0
Maine
11 cases
0
Maryland
48 cases
0
Massachusetts
416 cases
0
Michigan
229 cases
0
Minnesota
47 cases
0
Mississippi
13 cases
0
Missouri
29 cases
1
Montana
14 cases
0
Nebraska
43 cases
0
Nevada
84 cases
0
New Hampshire
35 cases
0
New Jersey
72 cases
0
New Mexico
97 cases
0
New York
553 cases
4
North Carolina
14 cases
0
North Dakota
6 cases
0
Ohio
18 cases
0
Oklahoma
67 cases
0
Oregon
132 cases
0
Pennsylvania
123 cases
0
Rhode Island
13 cases
0
South Carolina
41 cases
0
South Dakota
6 cases
0
Tennessee
100 cases
0
Texas
1403 cases
3
Utah
122 cases
1
Vermont
3 cases
0
Virginia
29 cases
0
Washington
575 cases
1
Washington, D.C.
14 cases
0
Wisconsin
1430 cases
0
Wyoming
1 case
0
TOTAL*(49)
8,975 cases
15

*includes the District of Columbia

**one case is resident of KY but currently hospitalized in GA.

Some estimate over 100,000 cases of swine flu in North America, and Japan’s cases, by some counts, tip swine flu into pandemic. So say the New Scientist editors. European health officials however are balking, claiming there is no evidence of sustained H1N1 transmission in Europe. Those same editors go on to say, “That’s hardly surprising, as Europe isn’t doing the relevant tests.”

Most health departments in Europe are suffering from swine flu test equipment shortages. In the UK, officials are only testing potential swine flu cases if they meet the following criteria. Fever above 38 Celcius or history of fever AND two or more flu-like symptions (cough, sore throat, etc.) AND contact with a confirmed swine flu case OR have been in Mexico or the US in the past week.

If that seems convoluted and backwards you’re more perceptive than UK health officials. Swine flu is spreading in Japan, usually when those falling ill have had no contact with US/Mexico travelers.

Before you dismiss these public health administration lapses because you think swine flu is overhyped, we encourage you to read other articles on swine flu tracker. Specifically take note of the typical wave-like pattern of past flu pandemics. The virus can mutate in the southern hemisphere during the northern hemisphere’s summer  months and return stronger.

European nations are familiar with both the power of pathogens and the consequences of inept policies thereof. (foot and mouth/hoof and mouth anyone?) If you happen to be or know a prominent health officer in Europe, consider telling them that evidence has debunked the old head in the sand technique for dealing with swine flu.

Current US swine flu cases

The table to the right displays current swine flu cases in the US by state.

For international human cases of swine flu infection
please visit the World Health Organization web site.

NOTE: Because of daily reporting deadlines, the state totals reported by CDC may not always be consistent with those reported by state health departments. If there is a discrepancy between these two counts, data from the state health departments should be used as the most accurate number.

Swine Flu Threat Over?

May 22nd, 2009 No comments
Is the swine flu sky falling?

Is the swine flu sky falling?

“Now would be the worst time to kid ourselves that swine flu is nothing to worry about.” So say the editors of New Scientist in the most recent issue. (For the record, New Scientist is our favorite magazine of any sort, ever. Except maybe for Mad Magazine, when we were nine years old.)

So is this a swine flu scare tactic? Fear mongering? No. Even in the unlikely event that we’re lucky enough to say the worst of swine flu is behind us, our opening quote is sage advice. While we’ve started to receive the blog comment equivalent of hate mail, ostensibly for crying wolf and propagating the “swine flu myth”, the sad truth of the matter is this: Swine flu is still serious business.

Before you chastise this or any other swine flu information source, please research historical flu patterns. You’ll understand the wave-like pattern of past flu pandemics and even their smaller cousins, the less scary flu epidemic. Typically, there’s an early wave of flu infection. Then because of seasonality or whatever other reason, the flu outbreak subsides. All clear? Nope. Flu tends to return in a second wave, even stronger than before.

Other than the early cases in Mexico, swine flu turned out to be much less vicious than initially feared. But don’t count your chickens yet. Our swine flu luck could run out. The odds are 50/50 at best that Chicken Little is the idiot here. For all of our sakes, I hope the sky stays right where it is. In the meantime, expect more swine flu news from whatever we’re considering the trenches these days.

Click links above for swine flu news, swine flu maps and look around for past swine flu features. And seriously, subscribe to New Scientist.

Swine Flu Cases Mount

May 7th, 2009 4 comments

Click the image for a map of swine flu cases.

Click the image for a map of swine flu cases.

Swine flu cases are quickly approaching the one thousand milestone in the US as additional swine flu victims also mount in Mexico. The editors of New Scientist have called for a “ flu Manhattan project” in the face of a looming swine flu pandemic, noting the irony that it’s not an Asian bird flu prompting this alarming editorial.

What’s so hard about a swine flu Manhattan project? As usual, the devil’s in the corporate/government details. Preventing a swine flu pandemic can not be done unilaterally. This must be a whole-world effort to combat the next flu pandemic. Naturally, it comes down to dollars and cents, or yuan or whatever currencies we need to spend. Read the New Scientist article for more details.

Why was swine flu so much worse in Mexico?

In Mexico, there are more over the counter options to treat swine flu symptoms. Want antibiotics? No problem. They’re cheap and you don’t need a prescription. Additionally, though there’s a certain level  of state-run health care in Mexico, many residents aren’t near clinics and don’t have enough money to pay the nominal fee required for swine flu treatment.

This trend of avoiding treatment is exacerbated in the younger generations which were hit hard by swine flu. It’s not that swine flu is uncharacteristically killing the hearty youth, rather they’re avoiding medical help in lieu of home symptom treatment. The only two people to be killed by swine flu in the US were both weakened. One elderly, the other a baby.

The over the counter drugs and the recklessness of Mexican youth alone cannot explain the excessive swine flu deaths in Mexico. Elements of Mexican culture are also to blame. Did you know there are thousands of schools in Mexico without running water and bathrooms? It’s no wonder swine flu spread so quickly and became so deadly. Furthermore, Mexico City is one of the most crowded cities on the planet. Cramped conditions, poor medical policies and antiquated sanitation made (and continue to make) the perfect swine flu storm in Mexico.

Is all of Mexico like that?! No. There are plenty of places where there is no swine flu, like Cabo San Lucas. Why? There are restrooms in Cabo. The tap water is drinkable even by people from the US. And most importantly, it’s a desert… with a lot of tourist money flowing through its infrastructure veins. Who says money doesn’t solve big problems? Slap them. They’re wrong. Money fixes swine flu.

Visit the swine flu tracker swine flu map for the latest on swine flu news.

Swine Flu Update

May 6th, 2009 1 comment
Swine flu in Mexico, or a Michael Jackson video?

Swine flu in Mexico, or a Michael Jackson video?

Some are saying parts of Mexico look like a scene out of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.

Dr. Richard E. Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has bluntly stated: “As this moves forward, I fully expect that we will see deaths from this infection.” He’ was right. Tuesday marked the first domestic US death from swine flu. An earlier swine flu death in the United States originated in Mexico. The child died in the US when its caretakers brought it to Texas for treatment. In the same vein, (not to discount these tragic deaths,) the first domestic swine flu death was an elderly person with other health problems.

The one piece of encouraging news is that, outside of Mexico, swine flu victims can make a quick recovery if the illness is treated early. Of the thousands of suspected cases in Mexico, only about one thousand people remain hospitalized today, suggesting that the illness is very treatable if medical attention is sought in the early stages.

And though the initial spread of swine flu is by some accounts waning, experts predict that the northern hemispheres winter flu season will likely welcome a more virulent version of the H1N1 swine flu virus. Health organizations will pay close attention to the swine flu in the southern hemisphere in an effort to perfect a vaccine before the more populous northern flu season.

More good news. In an effort to halt or slow the spread of the swine flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) released 2.5 million doses of Tamiflu on Tuesday for distribution in developing countries.

See the swine flu tracker swine flu map page for more information on swine flu cases near you. Stay tuned for more swine flu updates.

China to Mexico Swine Flu Airlift

May 5th, 2009 No comments

Mexico has dispatched a plane (or planes) to China to collect the 70+ Mexican citizens who’ve been detained / quarantined due to swine flu fears.

Tensions are high in Mexico as both government officials and residents accuse China of inhumanely overreacting. China detained all Mexicans who shared a plane with the once passenger who tested positive for the H1N1 virus, the cause of swine flu.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

Surely you recall how just a few years ago China faced worldwide scorn for not taking serious steps to combat bird flu. Now they’re facing criticism for quarantining people in luxury hotels to prevent a swine flu pandemic. Would these critics be happy if China had done nothing?

One of the primary reasons we’re noticing some attenuation to the spread of swine flu is the responsible actions taken by some governments. Mexico closed sporting events because of bird flu. Texas halted school sporting events. China separated potential swine flu zombies from the general public. Just because none of them had swine flu does not make it a bad policy.

Swine flu updates

Check swine flu tracker’s swine flu map for the latest in swine flu cases near you.

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Swine Flu Perspective

May 3rd, 2009 No comments
Will swine flu be a splash or a tsunami?

Will swine flu be a splash or a tsunami?

Time to put the current swine flu outbreak in its place. Though we might be seeing the beginning of a lull in the initial swine flu outbreak, flu experts predict the swine flu will continue to spread in the future, and will likely become much more prevalent in the 2009/2010 flu season. It is not uncommon for flu outbreaks to exhibit wave-like patterns. As we’ve no natural nor acquired immunity to this H1N1 strain, it could get ugly. How ugly?

This image puts swine flu into perspective. As recently as 40 years ago, over a million people died from a flu strain. That’s almost one in 3,000 people on the planet dead, a figure that belittles the current epidemic.

However, should scientists/governments/et al develop and manufacture enough reliable vaccine, this swine flu could remain a relatively mild flu outbreak. Unfortunately, manufacturing and distributing enough flu vaccine is challenging at best. What’s the motivation? Some say the a serious flu pandemic would hit the global economy to the tune of  more than three trillion dollars. ($3,000,000,000,000.00) That’s incentive.

Be sure to check the latest swine flu map. And become familiar with swine flu symptoms. Use the links at the top of this page.

151 Swine Flu Cases in the US

May 2nd, 2009 No comments
swine-flu-map

Swine Flu Map

Revised estimates put the total US swine flu cases at 151. One baby from Mexico who came to the US for treatment remains the lone US swine flu death. The first reported swine flu cases in the US (of the current H1N1 virus strain,) were on April 22 in southern California. The previous incidence of swine flu in the US was in 1976 when 13 fell ill and one died in New Jersey.

As much as most US media implies that this recent outbreak of swine flu began in Mexico City, the April 22, 2009 date associated with two cases in California are the first cases reported by the US media.

It wasn’t until a day later, on April 23rd when we first learned of a debilitating respiratory illness in Mexico. It is unknown if the two California cases are related to the swine flu outbreak in Mexico.

It’s important to note that most of Mexico is free of sine flu. Popular Mexican vacation spots like Cabo San Lucas have reported no swine flu. Post your swine flu questions in the comments of any post.

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