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Reply #21: No hysteria yet [View All]

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Yo_Mama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-25-09 09:26 PM
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21. No hysteria yet
The bottom line is that there are currently confirmed cases in at least three states (TX, CA, KS) with probables in several more. It's uncontainable, because the distribution and tracing of the cases proved that there had to be intermediate persons in the chain of infection.

However, right now there is no cause to panic, because the first sets of US cases were only picked up by special tracing programs designed to find new viruses crossing the border. The virus is spreading, but it appears to be making people only mildly ill. The one person in the US who was hospitalized was an immune-suppressed person.

The KS cases were traced to a Mexican contact. The probables in NYC are being tested because of a Mexican link. Several of the CA cases are not traceable to a Mexican link. That's why they are so completely certain that it is spreading through the US population to some extent.

It may well be widely distributed across the US by now. There have been no unusual pockets of death from pneumonia/influenza reported. You can check that for yourself at CDC's MMWR report on Wonder at
In fact, deaths from those causes are currently running significantly lower in the US than last year. For week 15 09, there were 820 US deaths in reporting locations attributed to pneumonia/flu. In weeks 15 and 16 of 08, the number was well above 900 both weeks.

The reason why the public health authorities in WHO, Canada, the US and the UK are so concerned is that the virus is novel, and they believe that the human population will have little resistance to it. They are already talking about maybe adding a vaccine for this strain into next year's standard vaccination.

The risk is that this virus could mutate into a more lethal version. Since Mexico is reporting associated deaths, the question is whether that has already happened or whether there is just so much of it around of it in some locations that the usual non-causative deaths (where flu was only a contributing factor) are being reported in alarming numbers.

There was an unusual rash of pediatric deaths from flu in the southern US a couple of years ago. Testing showed that the deaths were associated with a bacterial infection. That is one of the risks of flu - that someone who is sick with another infection, but whose immune system is curbing that infection, will be worn down by fighting the flu virus and become ill with a secondary bacterial infection.

Some of the reports associated with the Mexican deaths do appear to fit the pattern of secondary bacterial infection rather than a lethal flu. Also, not all the samples sent for gene sequencing and identification to US and Canadian labs are testing out as being this new flu strain. The US got 14 and only 7 matched, and as of this morning Canada still was reporting that only 12 out of their 18 matched. So it is quite possible that the flu circulating in Mexico is also a relatively mild strain. In a huge city, you are always going to have a number of deaths from respiratory distress initiated by flu. For example, TB is widely spread in Mexico. A person who had little too no symptoms from TB might experience a sudden burst of TB in their lungs from fighting a flu infection, and die. But the real cause of death would be the TB, and not the flu.

Right now it is just a situation in which you should take common sense measures. If you've been ill recently and still aren't feeling too chipper, and you come down with a flu-like illness, consider going to the doctor earlier than you otherwise would. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, avoid sick people and wash your hands. If you are sick, don't go to work and cough all over everyone else.

It wouldn't be time to get hysterical until the MMWR started showing unusual rates of death from pneumonia/flu.
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