H1N1 Virus “Swine Flu” Information

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Flu Season Peaking, CDC Encourages Vaccinations

(Daily Health Report) Although temperatures may be increasing and the days may be getting longer, flu season is not yet over.  The United States is currently experiencing a greater number of flu cases than ever before, health official explain.  Because of that, vaccinations are strongly urged, and more importantly, they are also readily available.

In rare instances, outbreaks like that of H1N1 (swine flu) last year, may have different peaks. For the typical seasonal flu, however, most people tend to become ill in February, and the flu season slowly fades off as winter ends.  Click here for full article.

Shots urged as flu season hits peak

(Journal Sentinel Inc.) “We’re still saying it’s not too late to vaccinate, and the vaccine is a good match for the strains we’re seeing,” said Tom Haupt, epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. “It can take up to two weeks to build immunity (after getting the shot), but we want to prevent influenza hospitalizations and late-season deaths.”   Click here for full article.

World Health Organization (WHO) admits errors in handling flu pandemic

(MSNBC.com) The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday conceded shortcomings in its handling of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, including a failure to communicate uncertainties about the new virus as it swept around the globe.  For complete article, click here.

Add swine flu to regular flu vaccine, says World Health Organization (WHO)

(AP) The World Health Organization is recommending that swine flu be added to regular flu vaccines next season.  The swine flu pandemic virus, or H1N1, emerged too late last year to be added to the regular flu vaccine, and a separate vaccine was needed.  For this year’s northern hemisphere flu season, however, the two vaccines should be combined, WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said Thursday after the agency met this week to decide which strains should be recommended to drug makers for vaccines.  Complete article here.

H1N1 flu pandemic easing, but a third wave of infections could yet strike says World Health Organization (WHO)

(Reuters) “Pandemic infections are occurring in many countries but overall the pattern is decreasing,” Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s top flu expert, said at the start of a week-long meeting of the organization’s Executive Board.  He warned, however, that a new wave of infections could hit the northern hemisphere in late winter or early spring, saying: “This is probably the biggest speculation. We simply do not know.”  Complete article here.

Swine flu / H1N1 Virus: How to protect your family from H1N1 virus / Swine flu

The steps you need to take  to protect your family from the H1N1 virus / Swine flu.  Read the article from the Orange County Register by clicking here.

Protect yourself from H1N1 Swine Flu Virus

From shopping carts to door knobs to public rest rooms.  Learn the simple strategies to protect yourself from the H1N1 virus / Swine flu virus by reading this article from NewsOXY.com.

New drug-resistant swine flu / H1N1 virus case

A sixth person has tested positive for a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu, public health officials say.  (Read full BBC article here.)

BULLETIN: H1N1 mutation makes swine flu virus resistant to antiviral drugs – Tamiflu doesn’t work anymore

(Examiner.com) In patients around the world, patients are being identified with a strain of the swine flu that is Tamiflu-resistant. The H1N1 mutation makes the swine flu virus resistant to treatment with Tamiflu, a common antiviral medication licensed for use in the United States. Clusters of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 mutations have been identified in North Carolina and Wales, with isolated cases occurring around the world.  For the complete article, click here.

H1N1 Virus / Swine Flu — Critical Questions & Answers — what you need to know now

(Zanesville Times Recorder) The following are reader-submitted H1N1 questions with answers supplied by Dr. Alissa Ackelson, infectious diseases director of Infection Control, Genesis HealthCare System:

*  Is the H1N1 vaccine  / Swine flu vaccine FDA safe to get and has anyone who has received it died or gotten sick from either the shot or the mist?

*  Does UV light kill the H1N1 virus / Swine flu virus?

*  Is there mercury in the H1N1 vaccine / Swine flu vaccine? If so, how much and whom might it harm?

*  What is the difference between H1N1 (swine flu) and seasonal flu?

*  When will people older than 24 who have chronic health conditions, such as asthma or compromised immune systems, be eligible for the H1N1 vaccine? According to the CDC, this was to be a priority group.

For answers and the complete article, click here.

H1N1 Virus Goes Viral: Role of new media in rapid communication.

“No lines, free H1N1 vaccine still available at West Roxbury flu clinic. Hurry. The clinic closes today at 4.’’ – Twitter message from the Boston Public Health Commission, Sunday afternoon. Never before has a virus gone viral like this. There are swine flu blogs and swine flu tweets, swine flu videos on YouTube and swine flu groups on Facebook.   Complete Boston.com article here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 Virus Swine Flu may cause 90,000 U.S. deaths — and infect half the U.S. population this year (U.S. Government report)

(Bloomberg) — Swine flu [H1N1 virus] may infect half the U.S. population this year, hospitalize 1.8 million patients and lead to as many as 90,000 deaths, more than twice the number killed in a typical seasonal flu, White House advisers said.  In a report by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, President Barack Obama today was urged to speed H1N1 vaccine production…  Read full article here.

(USA Today)U.S. report predicts 30,000 to 90,000 H1N1 virus deaths. The global H1N1 flu pandemic expected to infect as much as half the U.S. population, flooding hospitals with nearly 2 million patients and causing 30,000 to 90,000 deaths, according to the first official forecast of the scope of the flu season now getting underway.  Read full article here.

SPECIAL REPORT: “How do I protect my child from Swine flu?”

(By Carley Bowman, BBC News) How can I protect my child from swine flu [H1N1 virus]? It is a question that has kept me awake at night.  For several weeks I have been waiting anxiously for my GP to call my three-year-old son Ben in for the [swine flu / H1N1 virus] vaccine.  But when the call finally came questions flooded into my mind.  Is it safe?  Does he really need it?  Will he suffer any side-effects?  What are the risks if he doesn’t have it?  Full article here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 virus / Swine flu has killed 3,900 people — including 540 kids — and sickened 22 million Americans

(USA Today) The H1N1 virus / Swine flu has swept through about 22 million Americans from April to October, killing an estimated 3,900 people, including 540 children, health officials said Thursday.  The analysis represents the government’s latest effort to assess a viral H1N1 virus outbreak that in just six months has flooded emergency rooms and intensive-care beds in at least 48 states that have reported widespread H1N1 flu cases. With flu season just beginning, an estimated 98,000 people have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Complete article here.

URGENT BULLETIN: President Obama declares H1N1 virus / H1N1 flu / “swine flu” outbreak a national emergency

(AP) — President Barack Obama declared the H1N1 swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed H1N1 treatment and protect noninfected patients.   More than 1,000 people in the United States, including almost 100 children, have died from the strain of flu known as H1N1, and 46 states have widespread H1N1 flu / H1N1 virus / swine flu activity.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission.  Full article here.

Debunking Myths About H1N1 / Swine Flu Vaccine

(The New York Times / The Learning Network) What precautions should you take against the H1N1 flu?  Should you get the vaccine?  In this lesson, students identify and debunk some of the myths surrounding H1N1 flu, or swine flu, and the new vaccine for it.  Click here for the full article.

WEEKLY UPDATED: Combined Seasonal Flu and H1N1 Swine Flu Map by the CDC

Seasonal flu and H1N1 Swine Flu map by CDC

Seasonal flu and H1N1 Swine Flu map by the CDC

Symptoms of the H1N1 virus in children — and — what parents need to know now

According to the CDC, the emergency warning signs in children regarding the H1N1 virus:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

For additional information, visit the CDC at this link.

10 Ways You Put Yourself at Risk for Swine Flu (Without Realizing It!)

(Health.com) It’s important to take steps to prevent yourself from getting the seasonal flu, as well as H1N1, commonly referred to as swine flu. If you already sneeze into your sleeve, wash your hands diligently, and avoid crowds where these viruses can easily spread, you’re on the right track. But you still may be putting yourself at risk in these unexpected ways — probably without even realizing it.  Click here for an article that provides the 10 things you need to know.

H1N1 flu to-do (and don’t do) list. What you need to know now.

(CNN / Health.com) The onslaught of information about H1N1 Swine Flu — be it playground rumors, employer signs telling you to cover your cough, memos from your kids’ school, or scary-sounding news reports — is making it pretty hard to figure out what you should be doing right now.  Click here for an article  that provides practical medical advice.

BULLETIN: 20% of all children nationwide had H1N1 Swine Flu this month, says CDC.

(AP / New York Times) About 1 in 5 U.S. children had a flu-like illness earlier this month — and most of those cases likely were H1N1 swine flu, according to a new CDC government health survey. The information comes from a household survey of more than 14,000 adults done in the first 11 days of October.  H1N1 swine flu is widespread throughout the country, and the virus is causing more illness now that it has at any time since it was first identified in April.  Full article here.

SPECIAL REPORT: Frustration looms as H1N1 vaccines run out

(CNN) Public health departments across the country are quickly running out of H1N1 vaccine / swine flu vaccine and don’t know when the next batches will arrive.   “We wait by the door every day to see if H1N1 vaccine is going to come,” said Erin Sutton, spokesperson for the Virginia Beach Health Department in Virginia. “With the overall delay from the manufacturing company, [it] has caused a great deal of frustration and problems.”   Complete report here.

BULLETIN: FDA warns against fake online H1N1 “Swine Flu” remedy claims

(Reuters) – The U.S. government this week warned against the online marketing of unlicensed health remedies claiming to protect against H1N1 swine flu infection, including fake “Tamiflu” pills from India.  One order, which arrived in an unmarked envelope from India, consisted of unlabeled white pills that contained talc and the common pain reliever acetaminophen, the FDA said. Others contained various amounts of oseltamivir but were not approved for use in the United States.   Click here for complete article.

BULLETIN: First H1N1 Vaccine / Swine Flu Vaccine Shipments Arrive

(ABC News) Hospitals today began to receive the first doses of a H1N1 vaccine / Swine Flu vaccine designed to ward off a potential H1N1 flu pandemic — this, after months of anticipation and debate over who would be the first to be vaccinated.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: FDA Approves H1N1 Vaccines / Swine Flu Vaccines, Paving Way for Large-Scale U.S. Vaccination Campaign

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that H1N1 vaccines (swine flu vaccines) produced by four manufacturers — CSL Ltd., Novartis, Sanofi-Pasteur and Medimmune — had won FDA approval, paving the way for a large-scale U.S. H1N1 swine flu vaccination campaign, the Wall Street Journal reports.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: Young children need 2 doses of H1N1 vaccine. Children 10 to 17 need one dose of swine flu vaccine.

(Reuters) - Younger children will need two doses of the vaccine against the new pandemic of H1N1 influenza, U.S. officials said on Monday.  They said tests of Sanofi-Pasteur’s (SASY.PA) swine flu vaccine showed children respond to it just as they do to seasonal flu vaccines, with children over 10 needing only a single dose.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said young children will likely need to have their [H1N1 Swine Flu vaccine] doses 21 days apart.  But he said they could receive seasonal flu shots and H1N1 shots on the same day — something that could ease the logistics of vaccinating children multiple times.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 Vaccine / Swine Flu Vaccine Will Be Too Late to Prevent Pandemic, Experts Say

(New York Times) Several prominent epidemiologists are warning that even though the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine works much better than expected, it will still come too late to blunt the peak of this season’s pandemic.  The epidemiologists said Friday that they expected the peak to come as early as next month, long before enough H1N1 swine flu vaccine to protect all 159 million Americans who need it most will be ready.  Complete article here.

BULLETIN: One Shot of H1N1 Vaccine Seen as Protective for H1N1 Swine Flu

(New York Times) Defying the expectations of experts, clinical trials are showing that the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine protects with only one dose instead of two, so the H1N1 vaccine supplies now being made will go twice as far as had been predicted.  That means it should be possible to vaccinate — well before the flu’s expected midwinter peak — all the 159 million people that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate are in the high-risk groups: pregnant women, people under 24 years old or caring for infants, people with high-risk medical conditions and health-care workers.   Complete article here.

Experts say H1N1 shot is safe; safety of H1N1 vaccine / safety of Swine Flu shot — report

(Excerpt from Reuters report.) Flu experts themselves have little doubt the vaccine being made against H1N1 is safe. It is made using precisely the same technology as the annual seasonal flu vaccine, which is given to hundreds of millions of people every year.   But because is new, vaccine makers have been testing it to learn what the right dose is.

The World Health Organization is trying to reassure a global audience that vaccines being made by 25 different companies, with various formulations, are all safe.   “If we have a safety signal in one country it could stop vaccination efforts in others,” WHO’s top flu expert Dr Keiji Fukuda told a meeting of infectious disease specialists organized by the U.S. Institute of Medicine this week.   Full article here.

BULLETIN: No flu vaccines before mid-October, CDC predicts

(Reuters) – Scientific advisers to President Barack Obama may have asked the government to speed up the availability of [H1N1 virus] swine flu vaccines, but they are unlikely to be ready before October, the new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: Health officials look to contain H1N1 virus / Students targeted for flu shots

Health officials may return to that method of mass inoculation, in an effort to contain the spread of the H1N1 flu virus this fall among school-age children… Vaccine for the H1N1 virus will be shipped to each state in October… Full article here.

“Explosion” of H1N1 Virus / Swine flu virus cases expected according to World Health Organization (WHO)

Governments must prepare for a swift response to the global spread of swine flu as it is expected to speed up in the next few months, according to  the World Health Organization (WHO).

The World Health Organization’s Western Pacific director Dr. Shin Young-soo warned countries to be prepared for an “explosion” of  H1N1 Virus / Swine Flu virus cases, which he said could double every three to four days for several months.

According to Dr. Shin Young-soo:  “We only have a short time period to reach the state of preparedness deemed necessary.  Communities must be aware before a [an H1N1] pandemic strikes as to what they can do to reduce the spread of the [H1N1] virus, and how to obtain early treatment of severe cases.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that nearly one third of the world’s population will be infected over the next two years — or approximately 2 billion people.

For more information, visit the World Health Organization (WHO) Web site.

H1N1 Swine Flu strategists see schools as potential “hotbeds of infection”

(The Washington Post) One of the main battlegrounds in the fight against an expected resurgence of swine flu this fall will be the schoolyard, a place where the disease could, well, go viral.  People between 6 months and 24 years old appear to be particularly vulnerable to the swine flu virus, known as H1N1. And there are several reasons to think that schools could be hotbeds of infection.  Click here for complete article.

BULLETIN: H1N1 Swine Flu on Campuses Boosts Call for Vaccinations

(HealthDay News) – As clusters of H1N1 swine flu break out on U.S. college campuses, school administrators are beefing up efforts to encourage students to take preventative steps to keep the virus from spreading further.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: Study Details H1N1 Swine Flu Transmission Rates

(HealthDay News) — Every person who is infected with the H1N1 swine flu puts 1.5 other people at risk over the three days before coughing, fever and other symptoms appear. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.   Anyone showing early symptoms of the flu needs to contact their health-care provider immediately.  In addition, anti-viral drugs will likely help slow transmission, the researchers said.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: No Side Effects So Far in Trial of H1N1 Swine Flu Shot

(NYTimes.com) There have been no serious side effects from the first set of injections of the new [H1N1] swine flu vaccine, federal health officials said Friday in predicting that nearly 200 million doses could be produced by year’s end.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: Manufacturing delays cut available H1N1 vaccine / Swine Flu vaccine from 120 million to 45 million doses

(Reuters) – U.S. officials on Monday said they had slashed their estimate of how many swine flu vaccine doses will be available for the start of a mass vaccination campaign in the fall.   Citing delays in manufacturing and packaging the vaccines, the Department of Health and Human Services said only 45 million doses of the new H1N1 vaccine would be on hand in mid-October, instead of the 120 million previously forecast. Full article here.

BULLETIN: Single H1N1 virus / Swine Flu shot claimed safe, effective

(USA TODAY)  A Chinese company has become the first drugmaker worldwide to complete clinical trials for an H1N1 swine flu vaccine, and the developer reports that one shot has proved “safe and effective.” Health officials had predicted that two shots per person would be needed, raising concerns about possible shortages of the vaccine.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: Glaxo starts testing flu pandemic vaccine

LONDON (Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline has started testing its pandemic H1N1 swine flu vaccine in humans, and expects to start giving the results to government agencies next month, the drugmaker said on Friday.  Full article here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 virus / flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza ‘unhelpful’ in children

[BBC Report]  Work in the British Medical Journal shows Tamiflu and Relenza rarely prevent complications in children with seasonal flu, yet carry side effects.  Although they did not test this in the current swine flu pandemic, the authors say these drugs are unlikely to help children who catch the H1N1 virus.  For the full report, click here.

BULLETIN: Updated Federal Guidelines for 2009 H1N1 Virus “Swine Flu” Influenza in Schools

(August 7, 2009) Updated federal guidelines offer state and local public health and school officials a range of options for responding to 2009 H1N1 influenza [Swine flu] in schools, depending on how severe the flu may be in their communities. The guidance says officials should balance the risk of flu in their communities with the disruption that school dismissals will cause in education and the wider community.   The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was announced today at a joint news conference by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.   Click here to read the complete press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

BBC Interactive Worldwide H1N1 Virus Pandemic Map

BBC Interactive Worldwide H1N1 Virus Pandemic Map

BBC Interactive Worldwide H1N1 Virus Pandemic Map

Click on the world map image or the following link to bring up the Interactive Worldwide H1N1 Virus Pandemic map provided by the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk//nol/shared/bsp/hi/flash_slides/09/swine_flu/swf/imageslider.swf

BULLETIN: Schools gear up for [H1N1] swine flu shots

(AP REPORT) — Hundreds of schools are heeding the government’s call to set up [H1N1 "swine flu"] flu-shot clinics this fall, preparing for what could be the most widespread school vaccinations since the days of polio.   An Associated Press review of [H1N1] swine flu planning suggests there are nearly 3 million students in districts where officials want to offer the [H1N1] vaccine once federal health officials begin shipping it in mid-October.   Full report here.

Nasal vaccine developed for H1N1 virus / swine flu

July 31 (UPI) — Maryland-based Medimmune pharmaceuticals expects to produce nearly five times the amount of H1N1 vaccine originally anticipated…. [The company] expects to make 200 million doses by March [2010].   Medimmune is of the five companies under contract to the U.S. government to produce H1N1 flu vaccine. Medimmune also makes the nasal spray vaccine FluMist for seasonal flu viruses.   Click here for the full article.

BULLETIN: H1N1 virus / swine flu vaccine should be “fast tracked” to September when schools open

(By Daniel J. DeNoon / WebMD Health News / July 17)

Pandemic swine flu vaccine should be fast-tracked, with vaccinations starting in mid-September — soon after schools open.   That recommendation is expected at today’s meeting of the National Biodefense Safety Board (NBSB), an influential board of outside advisors to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

A briefing document by the NBSB states:   A critical goal is to have some [standalone] novel H1N1 vaccine available by mid-September 2009, should it be needed.”

“A second wave is likely to occur, as soon as fall 2009,” the briefing document states. “Best estimates suggest that infection rates will be two to three times higher than expected with seasonal influenza. The second wave could peak in October, but we must anticipate onset as early as September.”

For the full article, click here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 virus / swine flu spreading even in summer — defying expert predictions

By Thomas H. Maugh II / July 18, 2009 / Los Angeles Times

Experts, who expected a seasonal slowdown, think that more than a million Americans have been infected with pandemic H1N1 influenza. They say a rise in cases is likely when school starts.  For complete article, click here.

BULLETIN: Swine flu may cause seizures in children

July 23 (Reuters / by Julie Steenhuysen) – Children who have unexplained seizures and flu-like symptoms should be tested for infection with the H1N1 swine flu  virus and treated with flu-fighting drugs, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

They said four children in Dallas County, Texas, who got the new swine flu virus in late May had seizures or changes in mental status caused by brain infections and swelling.  Some of the children experienced drowsiness, weakness and disorientation and were slow to respond to questions. Two of the four had seizures.   For the complete article, click here.

BULLETIN: U.S. may need 600 million H1N1 virus vaccine / swine flu vaccine doses says CDC

(CNN) — At a recent meeting at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], health officials said U.S. demand could reach 600 million doses of vaccine [for H1N1 virus / swine flu], enough for two doses for each of the approximate 300 million people in the United States. That’s in case two doses are required for children and adults under 50, CDC representatives said.  That would come on top of the 115 million doses of seasonal flu that are distributed annually, health officials said Friday.   For the full article, click here.

H1N1 virus “swine flu” infected 1 million in U.S.

(Los Angeles Times) At least 1 million Americans have now contracted the novel H1N1 influenza, according to mathematical models prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while data from the field indicates that the virus is continuing to spread even though the normal flu season is over and that an increasing proportion of victims are being hospitalized.  Nearly 28,000 laboratory-confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, also known as swine flu, have been reported to the CDC, almost half of the more than 56,000 cases globally reported to the World Health Organization.  For the complete article, click here.

BULLETIN: World Health Organization (WHO) says H1N1 Virus “not stoppable” — raises global pandemic alert to Phase 6, the highest level

(CNN) — The World Health Organization raised the swine flu alert Thursday [June 11, 2009] to its highest level, saying the H1N1 virus has spread to enough countries to be considered a global pandemic.

“This is an important and challenging day for all of us,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in a briefing with reporters. “We are moving into the early days of the first flu pandemic of the 21st century.”

Phase 6, Chan said, is meant as a signal to countries to recalibrate their strategies to minimize the harm from swine flu.

“The virus is not stoppable,” she said. “I would advise [countries]  to maintain vigilance, enhance surveillance and be prepared for the arrival of the novel H1N1 [virus].”

For the complete text of this article, please click here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 virus continues to spread rapidly (includes H1N1 Virus Map)

June 13 (Xinhua) — The A/H1N1 flu [a h1n1 virus / a(h1n1) virus] continues to spread around the world, and in some places rapidly.

As of Friday, June 12, there were 29,669 confirmed cases A/H1N1 [a h1n1 virus / a(h1n1) virus] in 74 countries and regions, including 145 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.  Click here for BBC’s H1N1 Virus Map.

In the past week, the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States reported nearly 5,000 new A/H1N1 [a h1n1 virus] cases, bringing the total number to 17,885 in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico.  The CDC also reported a total of 49 deaths in 13 states, of which New York topped the list with 17.

For the complete article, click here.

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BULLETIN: Kids may get swine flu shots first (AP Report)

WASHINGTON (AP) by Lauran Neergaard — Schoolchildren could be first in line for swine flu [a h1n1] vaccine this fall — and schools are being put on notice that they might even be turned into shot clinics.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday she is urging school superintendents around the country to spend the summer preparing for that possibility, if the government goes ahead with mass vaccinations.

For full article, click here.

DAILY UPDATE: U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The following is the direct link to the CDC Web page for all updates regarding the H1N1 Virus “Swine Flu” Pandemic.   Includes a daily update of U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection, key disease facts, tips on staying healthy, antiviral information, and more:   http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

Pace quickens to develop H1N1 influenza “swine flu” vaccine

ScienceDaily (June 2, 2009) — Scientists around the world are accelerating their efforts to develop a vaccine against the H1N1 influenza virus (Swine flu) as rapidly as possible, reports Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN). The need for such a vaccine received a strong impetus from the World Health Organization, which has issued a Phase 5 pandemic alert, a strong signal that the WHO believes a pandemic is imminent, according to the June 1 issue of GEN.

To read the full article, click here.

“Symptoms of Swine Flu (H1N1 Virus)” video by the CDC

embedded by Embedded Video

REUTERS: “Could H1N1 start to resist drugs?”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The new H1N1 influenza virus is now widespread, causing a range of illness, and U.S. health officials said on Tuesday they fear it could mix with drug-resistant versions of seasonal flu.

So far the new strain of swine flu, which has killed seven people in the United States and may have infected more than 100,000, responds well to treatment with antiviral drugs, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.

But this year its cousin, a seasonal H1N1 strain, became mostly resistant to the most commonly used antiviral — Roche AG’s Tamiflu. GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza, an inhaled drug, still works.

According to CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat:

“The particular risk here … is that co-circulation of this new virus together with the seasonal strains might put us at risk for there to be a reassortment event.”

Reassortment is the viral equivalent of sex — two viruses can meet and swap entire stretches of their genetic material. Flu viruses are especially prone to this and some pandemics have emerged because of this genetic mixing.

For the full article, click here.

Continuous H1N1 Virus Update: World Health Organization (WHO)

Visit the World Heath Organization’s (WHO’s) Web site for the latest regional and global information regarding the H1N1 Virus “Swine Flu” including:

* Influenza A(H1N1) special highlights and bulletins
* Daily updates on the A(H1N1) virus
* Recommendations regarding travel
* Influenza pandemic alert level
* H1N1 virus frequently asked questions (FAQs)
* Use of antiviral drugs against influenza A(H1N1)
* Vaccines for the new influenza A(H1N1)
* Maps showing laboratory-confirmed H1N1 virus cases worldwide

Also included are Guidance Documents for:

* Individuals    * Communities     * National authorities    * Health professionals    * Media

Web address:  http://www.who.int/en/

BULLETIN: CDC sees “something different”– a year-round flu season (Reuters report)

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON, June 18 (Reuters) – The new strain of H1N1 flu is causing “something different” to happen in the United States this year — perhaps an extended year-round flu season that disproportionately hits young people, health officials said on Thursday.

So far the virus [H1N1 virus] is causing mild to moderate disease, but it has killed at least 167 people and been confirmed in nearly 40,000 globally.

The United States has been hardest hit, with upward of 100,000 likely cases and probably far more, with 44 deaths and 1,600 hospitalized.

“The fact that we are seeing ongoing transmission now indicates that we are seeing something different,” the CDC’s Dr. Daniel Jernigan told a news briefing.

“And we believe that that may have to do with the complete lack of [H1N1] immunity to this particular [H1N1] virus among those that are most likely affected. And those are children,” Jernigan added.

For the complete article, click here.

Worldwide spread of H1N1 flu outbreak

June 23 (Reuters) – The WHO [World Health Organization) has declared an influenza pandemic and advised governments to prepare for a long-term battle against the virus.

Latvia has registered its first confirmed case of the A (H1N1) flu virus. A second Australian diagnosed with H1N1 has died. Honduras has confirmed its first H1N1 swine flu death.  Montenegro confirmed its first case of the flu virus in a patient who flew in from the United States. Tunisia also discovered its first cases of the new H1N1 flu on Monday.  [The following] are some details about the spread of the new H1N1 flu, a mixture of swine, bird and human viruses and which has infected over 52,700, according to the latest World Health Organisation and local health authority tallies.

For the full Reuters report, click here.

BULLETIN: World Health Organization (WHO) reported to raise pandemic alert level to 6 — the highest level

The New York Times is reporting that the World Health Organization (WHO) may soon raise its pandemic alert level to 6 — the highest level. The escalation to level 6 is reportedly due to the rise in Japanese cases of the H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus. MarketWatch reports that Japan’s cases of influenza A-H1N1 “Swine Flu” has reached as high as 129.

According to the WHO, designation of a Phase 6 / Level 6 A-H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus outbreak would indicate that a global pandemic is under way.

Awaiting further updates from the WHO. More details to follow…

World braces for flu siege (USA TODAY report)

By Steve Sternberg. USA TODAY

The World Health Organization’s decision Thursday to declare the first influenza pandemic in nearly half a century has prompted public health experts worldwide to plan for an extended siege of global illness.

“When you’re talking about pandemic influenza, you’re talking about a marathon, not a sprint,” says the WHO’s top flu expert, Keiji Fukuda.

The WHO decision marked the agency’s formal recognition of the magnitude of the challenge posed by a novel H1N1 flu virus that is spreading globally among people who, because the virus is new, are universally susceptible to it.

The WHO is working closely with vaccine manufacturers who are just wrapping up production of seasonal flu vaccine for fall and are gearing up to produce the first doses of an H1N1 vaccine by September. The agency urged member nations to maintain their vigilance to detect changes in the virus’s behavior and, if the virus is widespread, to focus on caring for patients.

For complete article, click here.

BULLETIN: H1N1 flu spreads to Taiwan, Kuwait, Iceland

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization said on Monday the H1N1 flu strain has spread to Taiwan, Kuwait, Iceland, Switzerland and Honduras, but with still few deaths outside of Mexico.

In its latest tally, which tends to lag national reports but is considered more secure, the United Nations agency said its labs have confirmed 12,515 infections with the newly-discovered strain that has killed 91 people.

For complete article, click here.

FORBES: “Swine Flu Cases Balloon Worldwide”

The number of people infected with swine flu jumped to nearly 10,000, prompting new warnings from officials around the world. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon warned everyone to remain vigilant against swine flu as 1,350 people around the world were confirmed to have been infected with swine flu just in the past two days.

To view the rest of the article, click here.

Top-line information from the CDC: Novel influenza A (H1N1) flu virus

Novel influenza A (H1N1) is a new flu virus of swine origin that was first detected in April, 2009. The virus is infecting people and is spreading from person-to-person, and has sparked a growing outbreak of illness in the United States with an increasing number of cases being reported internationally as well.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s H1N1 virus “swine flu” Web page at:  http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

May 12, 2009 UPDATE: H1N1 Swine Flu Cases Worldwide Tops 5,200

World Health Organization (WHO): Global Swine Flu Cases Top 5,200

12 May 2009

The World Health Organization says the number of swine influenza A-H1N1 cases now tops 5,200 in 30 countries, while two additional countries reported their first cases Tuesday.

Finland and Thailand on Tuesday each confirmed two cases of swine flu.  Authorities in both countries say each of the patients had recently traveled to Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.

In addition, Cuba confirmed its first case Monday.  In an essay published online, former Cuban President Fidel Castro accused Mexico of waiting to notify the public about the outbreak until after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Mexico last month.

Mexico has announced two more deaths from the virus, bringing its total fatalities to 58.  Mexico’s health minister, Jose Angel Cordova, said the outbreak in Mexico continues to decline.

Tens of thousands of Mexican primary school children returned to freshly-scrubbed classrooms Monday after a nationwide shutdown aimed at containing the virus.

The swine flu has also killed three people in the United States, one person in Costa Rica and one in Canada.

Other swine flu cases have been confirmed in Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Austria, Israel, Japan, South Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand.

The World Health Organization has released a report warning that although a flu virus may be considered mild, it can change over time as it spreads around the globe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

Three steps to prevent the return of the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) this Fall

May 12, 2009
Bernadine Healy, M.D.
Copyright © 2009 U.S.News & World Report

The H1N1 virus, or swine flu, first brought to public attention a mere couple of weeks ago, quickly spread from its epicenter in Mexico to at least four other continents, 30 countries, and more than 5,000 people, reaching near-pandemic levels before subsiding.

So far, the global outbreak of this novel strain, decoded by researchers as a mongrel mix of mostly swine, a touch of bird, and enough of human to make it jump from animal into people, has caused milder and less transmissible disease and far fewer deaths than originally feared. But it would be dangerous to assume that we are out of the woods.Indeed, as the risk seems to abate, the public health focus must now shift promptly to the hard-to-gauge threat that this H1N1 influenza poses when flu season begins in the fall. And here our predictive abilities are no better than a coin flip.

We have faced just three flu pandemics in the past century, two of which turned out not to be serious. But the pandemic of 1918 took half a million lives in the United States and, conservatively, 50 million worldwide. That virus, also an H1N1 strain, though of avian origin, first emerged in the spring like a lamb, only to return in the fall like a lion, having mutated into a fierce and deadly form.

Granted, science and medicine were rather primitive at the time. But the experience is not something that public health officials can ignore. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said last week that she would rather be overprepared than have to answer questions after a deadly outbreak about why WHO did not take sufficient action.

Yet there is no certain playbook as to what constitutes the best course of action here. If we vaccinate aggressively but the virus does not reappear as a killer, for example, we could see a replay of the 1976 H1N1 swine flu fiasco. When that potential pandemic virus fizzled, the Ford administration was excoriated for overreacting with its crash immunization program, which had been recommended by the White House’s health advisers and the nation’s leading scientists. The president was blamed for vaccine side effects that caused paralyzing Guillain-Barré syndrome in more than 500 people and as many as 25 deaths, vastly exceeding any injury caused by the natural infection.

Despite the risk of such unforeseen consequences, there are three major actions the government needs to take now that will shape what happens in the fall.

Speed up diagnosis. Even before the swine flu outbreak was declared an emergency in late April, scientists from Mexico and Canada had already deciphered the full genome of the flu strain. But until recently, testing for the virus based on its genetic signature has been performed by a handful of government laboratories like our own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The centralized approach has led to backlogs that have sometimes kept patients and communities waiting in worried limbo and resulted in the closing of schools and the needless ostracizing of neighbors who were thought to be infected until the tests came back negative. There is no better illustration of the need for fast, precise diagnosis than what happened in Mexico, where more than 170 deaths were suspected within the first two weeks after the outbreak came to public attention but have turned out so far to be closer to 56. (The rest of the world combined has counted five swine flu-related deaths.) According to recent estimates, Mexico may have had more than 30,000 cases.

Even more sophisticated gene chip technology, developed with the support of the military and Homeland Security, can identify the full panel of circulating flu strains all at once and in a matter of a few hours—as well as spot any potentially dangerous mutations. Scaling such technologies up, so that testing can be widespread and much more rapid, would allow communities to tailor vaccination programs more precisely and guide the distribution of antiviral medications. Both vaccines and drugs are apt to be in short supply if things turn bad next fall.

Augment supplies of antivirals. No drug cures the flu, but antiviral agents like Tamiflu can make the illness less intense. It has no doubt been comforting to know that swine H1N1 is sensitive to this agent and that the Department of Health and Human Services has stockpiled 50 million doses as part of its national emergency preparedness efforts. Homeland Security distributed a quarter of the stockpile to areas of the country most affected by the new bug. But we have to be realistic: Because of an odd mutation, the virus that caused most flu this past season, a different and mild H1N1 virus, became unexpectedly and totally resistant to Tamiflu by year’s end. The new swine strain might well follow the path of its distant cousin.

So we need backup drugs. Relenza is one, but it has not been approved for children under 7 and can be risky in asthmatics. Combining Tamiflu with older antivirals has shown some benefit. Clearly, we need newer versions of these drugs as well as other ways to fend off the virus. Consider the provocative data that vitamin D can protect against influenza of all types. The vitamin carries low cost, little or no risk, and lots of other benefits.

Settle on vaccine policy. HHS has been making preparations for a swine flu vaccine but faces many policy considerations. The first is just how many vaccines will be needed. The number under review now ranges from one vaccine, which adds swine flu protection to what’s already in the mix for fall, to three vaccines—the regular seasonal vaccine already in production plus two doses of a stand-alone swine flu vaccine.

On the face of it, it’s hard to believe we could marshal the resources to produce enough vaccine for a three-dose option. If universal immunization were planned, that would call for almost a billion doses of vaccine for the United States alone. Impossible.

It may be too late to groan about the nation’s antiquated flu manufacturing process, which requires one to two hen’s eggs to cultivate a dose of vaccine. But implementing better technology should certainly be put on the agenda as a top priority. It’s clearly time to accelerate the use of new manufacturing facilities that don’t rely on hens’ eggs, such as the North Carolina plant just being built by Novartis.

Beyond production, we need to develop a policy for administering flu vaccines wisely. One lesson that came out of an analysis of the 1976 swine flu outbreak by Richard Neustadt and Harvey Fineberg was that the decision to manufacture a certain vaccine does not mean it should be given in a mass immunization program if the virus circulating appears to have taken a benign rather than a deadly turn.

These many critical decisions can easily be second-guessed. But all need to be made in any case, whether to prepare for swine flu or bird flu or some other pathogen that might befall us.

May 8, 2009 UPDATE: H1N1 Swine Flu Cases Worldwide Exceed 2,300

Published: May 8, 2009

The World Health Organization said Friday that 2,384 people in 24 countries now had confirmed cases of swine flu.

Only 46 people are known to have died of the virus, all but 2 of them in Mexico.

Scientists on Thursday described 11 cases of Americans who were infected before the current outbreak with swine flus that partly matched the new epidemic strain that emerged in Mexico in March. The first case was in December 2005.

In articles published online in The New England Journal of Medicine, virologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described those cases, most of them in young people in the Midwest who touched or were near pigs. All had a “triple reassortant” virus that combined human, swine and avian flu genes.

The H1N1 flu now spreading out from Mexico also has those genes, as well as genes from Eurasian swine.

The Eurasian genes “have never been seen in the Americas before, in humans or swine,” Michael W. Shaw, a member of the C.D.C.’s virus investigation team, said in a news conference on Thursday. “There is a gap in the surveillance.”

But, he added, “a lot of researchers are digging through their freezers” for stored samples that might contain the Eurasian genes.

The 11 patients all recovered, though 4 had to be hospitalized.

In Mexico, university and high school students returned to classes on Thursday. Fearing that bringing people back together could cause a resurgence of the virus, the Mexican authorities continued to recommend face masks on public transit. Restaurants reopened, but all staff members had to wear masks, too.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda, a W.H.O. assistant director general, noted that, in previous pandemics, up to a third of the world was eventually infected with each new virus over the course of one to two years.

The total number of swine flu cases in Europe increased to about 150. But there is not enough evidence of sustained community transmission there to justify raising the W.H.O. pandemic alert level, Dr. Fukuda said.

In the United States, state health authorities are not testing every possible case of the virus because backlogs have developed and 100 different viruses can cause flu symptoms. In New York, for example, the authorities test only people with flu symptoms serious enough to warrant hospitalization.

On Thursday evening, the C.D.C. case tally stood at 896 cases in 41 states.

“We are not seeing any signs of this petering out,” said Dr. Richard E. Besser, the C.D.C.’s acting director. “We are still on the upswing of the epidemic curve.”

Only about 10 percent of those infected had a travel history to Mexico, he said.

About 5 percent of the people with confirmed cases have been hospitalized. That is a much higher proportion than normal for seasonal flu, and the median age is 15, which is unusually young. But because some states are now testing only seriously ill patients for the novel virus, such skewing of the data is to be expected, Dr. Besser said.

While schools do not need to close because of a case of swine flu, he said, children who have it should stay home for seven days, including a day after their symptoms disappear.

Holding “swine flu parties” or otherwise deliberately trying to get infected with the virus on the theory that it will provide immunity if the disease returns in the fall “is a big mistake,” Dr. Besser said.

“How an individual person will be impacted by the infection is something we do not know,” he added. “We do not recommend that people follow that course.”

The CDC report released by the New England Journal of Medicine also included additional information about America’s two swine flu deaths — a toddler and a pregnant woman who both died in Texas — each of whom had suffered from several other illnesses when they were infected with the virus.

The report said the Mexican toddler had a chronic muscle weakness called myasthenia gravis, a heart defect, a swallowing problem and lack of oxygen. The 33-year-old woman had asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, a skin condition called psoriasis and was 35 weeks pregnant. She delivered the baby safely by Caesarean section before her death, news reports said.

Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.

April 29, 2009 Update: World Health Organization (WHO) raises flu threat level, warns pandemic imminent

Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:30pm EDT  (Copyright 2009, Reuters)

By Laura MacInnis and Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization said on Wednesday the world is at the brink of a pandemic, raising its threat level as the swine flu virus spread and killed the first person outside of Mexico, a toddler in Texas.

“Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a news conference in Geneva as she raised the official alert level to phase 5, the last step before a pandemic.

“The biggest question is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start,” Chan said. But she added that the world “is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.”

Nearly a week after the H1N1 swine flu virus first emerged in California and Texas and was found to have caused dozens of deaths in Mexico, Spain reported the first case in Europe of swine flu in a person who had not been to Mexico, illustrating the danger of person-to-person transmission.

Both U.S. and European officials have said they expect to see swine flu deaths.

President Barack Obama said during an evening news conference at the White House there was no need for panic and rejected the possibility of closing the border with Mexico.

‘THE HORSES ARE OUT’

“At this point, (health officials) have not recommended a border closing,” he said. “From their perspective, it would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out, because we already have cases here in the United States.”

Obama also praised his predecessor for stockpiling anti-viral medication in anticipation of such an outbreak.

“I think the Bush administration did a good job of creating the infrastructure so that we can respond,” Obama said. “For example, we’ve got 50 million courses of anti-viral drugs in the event that they’re needed.”

Despite worries that a major flu outbreak could hit the struggling global economy, world stocks rallied on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. recession appeared to be easing.

Almost all cases outside Mexico have had mild symptoms, and only a handful have required hospitalization.

Chan also urged companies who make the drugs to ramp up production. Two antiviral drugs — Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Tamiflu, made by Roche AG — have been shown to work against the H1N1 swine flu strain.

Drugmakers have donated millions of doses of their drugs to the WHO. She also alerted governments to be ready to distribute stockpiles of their drugs. Vaccine makers were on standby to begin making a new vaccine if needed.

In Mexico, where up to 159 people have died from the virus and around 1,300 more are being tested for infection, people struggled with an emergency that has brought normal life virtually to a standstill over the past week.

MEXICAN BOY DIES IN TEXAS

Germany, Austria and Peru reported cases of the illness, bringing the number of affected countries to 10. Peru said its case involved a woman who had traveled to Mexico and its health minister immediately announced the suspension of all commercial flights arriving from that country.

Texas officials said a 22-month-old boy had died while on a family visit from Mexico, marking the first confirmed U.S. swine flu death.

In the Texas border city of Brownsville, where the young Mexican was first diagnosed and many residents have families on both sides of the Rio Grande river border, some residents said they were now reluctant to venture south to Mexico.

“I am extremely concerned because you could die,” said Santiago Perez, 18, a student at Pace High School.

Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s newly confirmed health secretary, spent her first day in office on a rapid-fire media tour as the administration sought to calm public fears while urging public health vigilance.

“We know that the cases will continue to rise,” Sebelius said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the Customs and Border Patrol was keeping an eye out for sick travelers, as usual, and had checked 49 people with flu-like symptoms. She said 41 had been cleared of H1N1 infection and eight were still being studied.

“We are preparing for the worst; hoping for the best,” Napolitano said. “All of us should be dusting off our business contingency plans, looking at things like telecommuting and the like so that things keep operating.”

Mexico’s central bank warned the outbreak could deepen the nation’s recession, hurting an economy that already shrank by as much as 8 percent from the previous year in the first quarter.

France said it would seek a European Union ban on flights to Mexico.

The EU, the United States and Canada have advised against non-essential travel to Mexico, a popular tourist destination, with many of the cases linked to travel there. Many tourists already in Mexico were hurrying to leave, crowding airports and trying to change their tickets.

“We didn’t want to get stuck here,” said Australian Alex Grinter, who left her beach vacation in the southern state of Oaxaca to get an early flight to Vancouver.

In Mexico City, a metropolis of 20 million, all schools, restaurants, nightclubs and public events have been shut down to try to stop the sickness from spreading.

H1N1 swine flu is seen as the biggest risk since H5N1 avian flu re-emerged in 2003, killing 257 people of 421 infected in 15 countries. In 1968 a “Hong Kong” flu pandemic killed about 1 million people globally, and a 1957 pandemic killed 2 million.

Seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people in a normal year, including healthy children in rich countries.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington, Jason Lange, Catherine Bremer Alistair Bell and Helen Popper in Mexico City; Matt Bigg in Atlanta; Writing by Andrew Quinn and Dan Whitcomb; editing by Todd Eastham)

BULLETIN: World Health Organization (WHO) closer to declaring H1N1 global “Phase 6″ pandemic

GENEVA, June 2 (Xinhua) — As the A/H1N1 flu virus spreads further around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) is getting closer to declaring a full pandemic, a senior official of the UN agency said on Tuesday.

“Globally we believe that we are at phase 5, but we are getting closer to phase 6,” said WHO Assistant Director-general Dr. Keiji Fukuda, referring to the WHO’s six-phase pandemic alert system.

The new virus is causing more and more infections in countries outside of North America, notably in Britain, Spain, Japan, Australia and Chile, Fukuda told a news conference in Geneva.

For the full article, click here.

H1N1 Symptoms (Offical information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

“The symptoms of H1N1 (swine) flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1 (swine) flu.  In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with H1N1 (swine) flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 (swine) flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.”

Additional information regarding H1N1 symptoms can be found via this link.