It’s Coming….Get Scared!

From CNN:

The H1N1 flu virus could cause up to 90,000 U.S. deaths, mainly among children and young adults, if it resurges this fall as expected, according to a report released Monday by a presidential advisory panel.

The report says 30,000 to 90,000 deaths are projected as part of a “plausible scenario” involving large outbreaks at schools, inadequate antiviral supplies and the virus peaking before vaccinations have time to be effective.

Up to 40,000 U.S. deaths are linked to seasonal flu each year, with most of the fatalities occurring among people over 65. With seasonal flu and H1N1, this fall is expected to bring more influenza deaths and place “enormous stress” on intensive care units nationwide, which normally operate near capacity, the report says.

An H1N1 resurgence may happen as early as September, at the beginning of the school year, and infections may peak in mid-October, according to the report. However, the H1N1 vaccine isn’t expected to be available until mid-October, and even then it will take several weeks for vaccinated individuals to develop immunity, the report says.

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Tamiflu and Nightmares?

From CNN:

“More than half of children taking antiviral drug Tamiflu suffer side-effects such as nausea, insomnia and nightmares, UK researchers have said…

Almost one in five (18 percent) of the children reported a “neuropsychiatric side effect,” such as poor concentration, inability to think clearly, problems sleeping, feeling dazed or confused, bad dreams or nightmares and “behaving strangely,” researchers said.

The UK’s Department of Health said in a statement: “The European Union regulatory position remains that no causal association between Tamiflu (or Relenza) and an increase in neuropsychiatric events has been established.”

Reports from Japan, where Tamiflu has in the past been widely-used against seasonal flu, has linked the drug in rare instances with unusual neurological and psychiatric disturbances in children, according to media reports.

Japan is now advising against prescribing Tamiflu to youngsters aged 10 to 19 after its own studies revealed people reporting psychiatric symptoms, according to media reports.”

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Phase 6 Imminent!

The WHO is reportedly gearing up for a declaration of pandemic phase 6.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  CNN is reporting that the WHO has scheduled an emergency meeting for today.  If the WHO declares a pandemic Thursday, it will be the first flu pandemic in 41 years.

“What this would mean is that spread of the virus has continued and that activity has become established in at least two regions of the world…It does not mean that the severity of the situation has increased and that people are getting seriously sick at higher numbers or higher rates than they are right now. This is a very important point for countries to understand.”

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1,085 cases of Influenza A (H1N1) Infection World-wide

I came home to find CNN putting up soothing articles,  like “When a Pandemic Isn’t a Pandemic” and “Swine Flu No Worse Than Regular Flu.”

Apparently, you can have a pandemic without a large number of deaths.  Or at least, that’s what the WHO is saying now.  Before, the WHO’s definition of a pandemic, which appeared on their website,  said

“that a pandemic flu causes “enormous numbers of deaths and illness. After a CNN reporter pointed this out, WHO spokeswoman Natalie Boudou called back to say the definition was in error and had been pulled from the WHO Web site.”

“It was a mistake, and we apologize for the confusion,” she said. “(That definition) was put up a while ago and paints a rather bleak picture and could be very scary.”

The correct definition is that “pandemic” indicates outbreaks in at least two of the regions into which WHO divides the world, but has nothing to do with the severity of the illnesses or the number of deaths.”

Now, to me, this sounds like the WHO still isn’t really sure what they want the definition of a pandemic to be.  It seems very important to the WHO and other health agencies to constantly remind people that this new virus certainly isn’t shaping up to be like the 1918 killer virus.  I have to wonder when, and not if, there will be another pandemic like the one in 1918.

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