Swine Flu Threat Very Serious: World Wide Pandemic is Possible if not Likely

 

As I understand it the disease began in Mexico and there are some 60 dead in Mexico City.  As you know Mexico City is one of the worlds “Mega Cities” with an astronomical population like Cairo, or LA or New York City.  The Mexicans have far greater poverty and at one time they had thousands of homeless people who were permanent residents of the Mexico City Landfill.  Men, Women and Children alike were living in the landfill surrounded by squalid conditions that would make anyone sick, physically and spiritually. Now there are cases reported in San Diego and in Texas who share a common border with Mexico.  It’s possible that the disease may have made it to a prep school in New York City where as many as 75 kids may be ill.  This Prep School Outbreak is not confirmed to be the killer bug from Mexico. 

Authorities have been reluctant to close the boarder to Mexico because the ramifications for trade and commerce are pretty expensive.  There is the Political correctness factor as well in that the USA does not want to be seen closing its boarders to keep potentially infected Mexicans out of our country because someone might call us racists. According to the World Health Organization it’s too late to contain the thing in Mexico anyway.  It’s no surprise that major pophttp://wcbstv.com/health/swine.flu.nyc.2.994071.htmlulation cities are infected give the constant commerce and travel in today’s world.  Mexico City is a huge city so to is the vast population base in Sothern California, San Diego and LA. Air travel and trucks are constantly in and out of all our major cities so a report that from Mexico, Texas and Sothern California that it could make the jump to New York Cities is not surprising or unusual.  As of today I can find no credible reports or whispers that this is anything other than a natural outbreak as opposed to a weponized bug that someone dropped on us.  There’s not even a hint that this is anything but natural.

Protection for your family includes taking really good care of yourself from diet to exercise and rest to keep a good healthy immune system.  Frequent hand washing is always a good idea and very effective in combating flu bugs but if you do feel ill make sure you cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.  See a doctor if you’re having flue like symptoms and don’t let this report bug you too much.  All the deaths to date have been in Mexico and not the United States where our public health facilities, doctors and drug industry give us a huge advantage in handling a nasty flu outbreak.  Avoiding large gatherings is a good idea until this blows over.  Keep an eye on this story because bugs can mutate into more benign types of bug or more virulent so keeping a prudent eye on what’s going on with the bug allows you to take precautions and change your behavior if you deem it necessary.

Consider these reports from WCBSTV in New York as well as Reuters and Newsmax.

WCBSTV News New York

http://wcbstv.com/health/swine.flu.nyc.2.994071.html

Possible Swine Flu Outbreak At NYC Prep School

Department Of Health Officials Testing 75 Students At St. Francis Preparatory School In Queens

 

As many as 75 students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens got sick on Thursday. More got sick on Friday. What health officials want to know is was it swine flu or something more benign.

There are mounting fears about a deadly swine flu virus that is reported to have killed as many as 60 people in Mexico, one that health officials fear has already seeped into the United States.

St. Francis Prep was ordered to cancel an evening program Friday night because the New York City Department of Health isn’t sure what made students sick Thursday and Friday with flu-like symptoms.

“I just saw lot a lot of kids lined up along the wall near the nurse’s office,” sophomore Kelsey Dittmeir said.

If it’s the flu, the question is what kind of flu? And could it be the unique strain suspected in 20 recent deaths?

Tests are underway.

“It could be a strain we’ve seen before. It could be the regular flu,” Dr. Ross Weiss said. “It could be flu B that happens late in the year. It could be any of those so we really can’t speculate at this point. That’s why we were very anxious to get samples to the lab and get them tested so we can find out what we are dealing with.”

If it’s the new strain of swine flu it could be a problem. Most cases have been reported in Mexico, where schools, museums and public gathering places have been closed.

Eight patients have also turned up in California and Texas, although their symptoms have been mild.

Students told CBS 2 HD they plan on getting tested over the weekend. One senior we spoke to said she left school Thursday before her fellow classmates got ill.

“My chest just hurts and I have shortness of breath. My ears were hurting me earlier but they are okay now. My head is still in and out,” Noel Alexandria said.

Added Dr. Weiss: “There were people tonight interviewing students and we’ll be here tomorrow. And when we get the test results that will dictate what our next steps are.”

The city hopes to identify those symptoms as flu it has seen before. If the tests come back negative they will be sent down to the Centers for Disease Control. So far, officials have been told all the cases have shown mild symptoms.

Swine flu could infect U.S. trade and travel

Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:25am IST

 

 

 

By Kyle Peterson

CHICAGO, April 24 (Reuters) – Mexico’s deadly swine flu could disrupt trade and travel between the United States and Mexico if it prompts restrictions on the movement of goods across the border or sparks fear in consumers, analysts say.

The potential impact is far from clear as experts race to learn more about the disease, which has claimed the lives of as many as 61 people. But shipping and travel industries are especially vigilant.

“If you end up with a significant demand shift, you could end up with a very substantial effect on our products, whether it be government-imposed restrictions or alternatively if the consumers just decide to say ‘no’,” said Bob Young, chief economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Since Mexico and Canada are the two largest buyers of U.S. agricultural goods, such restrictions could be a drag on U.S. agriculture, Young said.

The World Health Organization has said it is concerned about 800 “influenza-like” cases in Mexico. The group confirmed the outbreak of a new strain of swine flu in the United States and said about 60 people had died in Mexico. [nN24524032]

Any decision to restrict food shipments due to flu would come from the U.S. Agriculture Department, which has the power to “shut down movement,” said Russell Laird, an executive director representing agricultural and food carriers at the American Trucking Associations.

“So far, we haven’t heard anything, but if that call is made we’ll make sure to do our part,” he said.

Katherine Andrus, general counsel for the Air Transport Association (ATA), said the airline trade group is taking its cues from the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but that so far there had been no decision to restrict travel between the United States and Mexico.

TRAVEL RESTRICITONS?

“We generally monitor reports of these outbreaks,” Andrus said. “Any time there is an outbreak of something … we certainly pay attention. But we really look to CDC.”

“We wouldn’t expect to see international air traffic actually halted for something like this,” she said.

U.S. Commerce Department data show about 5.9 million U.S. citizens flew to Mexico in 2008.

The last major health-related disruption of air travel occurred during the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, outbreak, which killed hundreds of people around the world.

The outbreak, which began in China, came on the heels of the Sept. 11 attacks and hit earnings for airlines with large operations in Asia.

“Avian flu in 1997 and SARS in 2002-2003 killed economic activity, so a swine flu problem in 2009 might result in more of the same,” said Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report, an energy-related newsletter in Philadelphia.

In 2008, Mexico was the top export market for U.S. beef, with sales valued at nearly $1.4 billion. It was the No. 2 market for U.S. pork, valued at $691.28 million.

The pressure on oil prices that could result from decreased travel and economic activity was echoed by several other industry sources, who also noted that Mexico and Texas have large numbers of oil industry workers that could be affected. (Additional reporting by Bob Burgdorfer and Nick Carey in Chicago and Robert Gibbons; Editing by K.T. Arasu and Todd Eastham)

Newsmax.com

 

Mexico Swine Flu Deaths Spur Global Epidemic Fears

Friday, April 24, 2009 6:55 PM

MEXICO CITY — A unique strain of swine flu is the suspected killer of dozens of people in Mexico, where authorities closed schools, museums, libraries and theaters in the capital on Friday to try to contain an outbreak that has spurred concerns of a global flu epidemic.

The worrisome new virus _ which combines genetic material from pigs, birds and humans in a way researchers have not seen before _ also sickened at least eight people in Texas and California, though there have been no deaths in the U.S.

“We are very, very concerned,” World Health Organization spokesman Thomas Abraham said. “We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human … It’s all hands on deck at the moment.”

The outbreak caused alarm in Mexico, where more than 1,000 people have been sickened. Residents of the capital donned surgical masks and authorities ordered the most sweeping shutdown of public gathering places in a quarter century. President Felipe Calderon met with his Cabinet Friday to coordinate Mexico’s response.

The WHO was convening an expert panel to consider whether to raise the pandemic alert level or issue travel advisories.

There is no vaccine that specifically protects against swine flu, and it was unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer. A “seed stock” genetically matched to the new swine flu virus has been created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said Dr. Richard Besser, the agency’s acting director. If the government decides vaccine production is necessary, manufacturers would need that stock to get started.

Authorities in Mexico urged people to avoid hospitals unless they had a medical emergency, since hospitals are centers of infection. They also said Mexicans should refrain from customary greetings such as shaking hands or kissing cheeks. At Mexico City’s international airport, passengers were questioned to try to prevent anyone with flu symptoms from boarding airplanes and spreading the disease.

Epidemiologists are particularly concerned because the only fatalities so far were in young people and adults. It’s possible that more vulnerable populations _ infants and the aged _ had been vaccinated against other strains, providing some protection.

The eight U.S. victims recovered from symptoms that were like those of the regular flu, mostly fever, cough and sore throat, though some also experienced vomiting and diarrhea.

U.S. health officials announced an outbreak notice to travelers, urging caution and frequent handwashing, but stopping short of telling Americans to avoid Mexico.

Mexico’s Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordoba said 68 people have died of flu and the new swine flu strain had been confirmed in 20 of those deaths. At least 1,004 people nationwide were sick from the suspected flu, he said.

Scientists have long been concerned that a new flu virus could launch a worldwide pandemic of a killer disease. A new virus could evolve when different flu viruses infect a pig, a person or a bird, mingling their genetic material. The resulting hybrid could spread quickly because people would have no natural defenses against it.

Still, flu experts were concerned but not alarmed about the latest outbreak.

“We’ve seen swine influenza in humans over the past several years, and in most cases, it’s come from direct pig contact. This seems to be different,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a flu expert with the University of Michigan.

“I think we need to be careful and not apprehensive, but certainly paying attention to new developments as they proceed.”

The CDC says two flu drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem effective against the new strain. Roche, the maker of Tamiflu, said the company is prepared to immediately deploy a stockpile of the drug if requested.

Both drugs must be taken early, within a few days of the onset of symptoms, to be most effective.

Cordoba said Mexico has enough Tamiflu to treat 1 million people, but the medicine will be strictly controlled and handed out only by doctors.

Mexico’s government had maintained until late Thursday that there was nothing unusual about the flu cases, although this year’s flu season had been worse and longer than past years.

The sudden turnaround by public health officials angered many Mexicans.

“They could have stopped it in time,” said Araceli Cruz, 24, a university student who emerged from the subway wearing a surgical mask. “Now they’ve let it spread to other people.”

The city was handing out free surgical masks to passengers on buses and the subway system, which carries 5 million people each day. Government workers were ordered to wear the masks, and authorities urged residents to stay home from work if they felt ill.

Closing schools across Mexico’s capital of 20 million kept 6.1 million students home, as well as thousands of university students. All state and city-run cultural activities were suspended, including libraries, state-run theaters, and at least 14 museums. Private athletic clubs closed down and soccer leagues were considering canceling weekend games.

The closures were the first citywide shutdown of public gathering places since millions died in the devastating 1985 earthquake.

Mexico’s response brought to mind other major outbreaks, such as when SARS hit Asia. At its peak in 2003, Beijing shuttered schools, cinemas and restaurants, and thousands of people were quarantined at home.

In March 2008, Hong Kong ordered more than a half-million students to stay home for two weeks because of a flu outbreak. It was the first such closure in Hong Kong since the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

“It’s great they are taking precautions,” said Lillian Molina, a teacher at the Montessori’s World preschool in Mexico City, who scrubbed down empty classrooms with Clorox, soap and Lysol between fielding calls from worried parents.

U.S. health officials said the outbreak is not yet a reason for alarm in the United States. The five people sickened in California and three in Texas have all recovered.

It’s unclear how the eight, who became ill between late March and mid-April, contracted the virus because none were in contact with pigs, which is how people usually catch swine flu. And only a few were in contact with each other.

CDC officials described the virus as having a unique combination of gene segments not seen before in people or pigs. The bug contains human virus, avian virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.

Scientists keep a close eye on flu viruses that emerge from pigs. The animals are considered particularly susceptible to both avian and human viruses and a likely place where the kind of genetic reassortment can take place that might lead to a new form of pandemic flu, said Dr. John Treanor, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The virus may be something completely new, or it may have been around for a while but was only detected now because of improved lab testing and disease surveillance, CDC officials said.

The most notorious flu pandemic is thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19. Two other, less deadly flu pandemics struck in 1957 and 1968.

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