Doomwatch: Swine Flu Part Two

There are reports that the UK has discovered that the swine flu virus can survive outside the body for at least up to 72 hours on dry surfaces. This is not unusual for influenza viruses, and is one of the reasons why seasonal flu spreads so insidiously. I posted a little about this last year on my even less frequently updated other blog.

According to New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden, many hundreds of New York school children may have the infection, presumably having picked it up from schoolmates returning from Mexico trips. If these are confirmed, I think it would fulfil the WHO criteria for pandemic phase 5.

Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short. – WHO

Mexico is now reporting 152 suspected deaths, but the medical infrastructure there, never top flight, is incredibly stretched, and only 7 of those cases have been sufficiently proven to be due to be swine flu to be part of the WHO figures. With many cases not properly tested, it is quite probable that some of those 152 are due to regular flu (which kills up to half a million worldwide every year, though usually mostly the elderly or infirm), or some other, yet to be determined, disease. The other possibility suggested is that many more people in Mexico have been infected than the 1600+ currently listed, and they’ve not been ill enough for it to raise any concern, meaning that the mortality rate even in Mexico would be far lower than it appears. As ever, data is key, and there are huge holes that will need to be filled before this outbreak is understood. There are still no deaths outside of Mexico, though the US has reported a handful of new cases requiring hospitalisation.

There are disturbing reports from some alleged Mexico City medical professionals that the government is under-reporting the number of deaths, and also that many people are finding themselves unable to get sufficient medical treatment. I suspect, as things more forward, the initial Mexican response is going to look fairly disastrous, though I’m inclined to suspect lack of resources and experience rather than lack of will.

Then we have this monitoring company, Veratect, that says it warned the WHO and the CDC on the 6th of April, but were ignored:

Update 1:17 am GMT, 29th of April

Here’s something I just spotted which is a bit disturbing. It seems that a Japanese government agency has found some bizarre side-effects to Tamiflu, which is the primary antiviral stockpiled in the UK, and elsewhere.

OSAKA, Japan, April 19 (UPI) — Researchers from Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry say Tamiflu apparently increases abnormal psychological behavior in young influenza patients.

The team, led by Osaka City University Professor Yoshio Hirota, said its study revealed influenza patients between the ages of 10 and 17 were more likely to exhibit serious abnormal behavior if they consumed the antiviral medication, The Daily Yomiuri reported Sunday.

Tamiflu was banned by the Japanese ministry in 2007 for use on 10- to 19-year-olds after delirious behavior was observed in some children taking the drug.

The new study focused on nearly 10,000 influenza patients under the age of 18 diagnosed after the 2006 fiscal year.

They stated in their report that those patients ages 10 to 17 who took Tamiflu had a 54 percent greater chance of exhibiting abnormal behavior than those patients who did not take the medication.

“The link with Tamiflu can’t be ruled out,” the researcher said in the report released Saturday. “New research should be carried out, focusing on serious abnormal behavior.”

The report identified examples of abnormal behavior as a child who attempted to leap from a balcony or a child who began hopping after consuming Tamiflu. No margin of error was given for the medical study. – United Press International

1 comment to Doomwatch: Swine Flu Part Two

  • El indecente Diaz Ferran y sus muchachos empresarios, una vez más ponen en evidencia su falta absoluta de responsabilidad, de solidaridad. Son los causantes de la grave crisis y encima ponen condiciones. ¿Por qué estas son escuchadas? Ahí está la cuestión. Espero que en este caso el gobierno &q;aausociolistt" reaccione en apoyo de los trabajadores. ¿Ocurrirá?