I’ve heard the rumbling fears of our medical health academia in the past about the potentials for Global Pandemics since the Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) out breaks a few years ago. With such a diverse and openly traveled globe, the probability to spread disease from community to community, continent to continent is dramatically salient. The Swine Flu outbreaks as of late have resurfaced fears of a new viral pandemic and in New York, openly have been of concern as I watched NY1 yesterday when they mentioned 8 kids came back from Spring break last week from Mexico, and shortly returning to Saint Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, 150 students went home with flu like symptoms.
I received a message from my doctor on the concern over this very new and potentially threatening outbreak, so and thought I would pass it on (my comments are in [ ]).
The Bad News
First, this is not a new disease. It was known to circulate amongst pigs and most cases previously occurred in people who were in contact with pigs. The first human case in the US was registered in 1976;
Second, it appears that virus was able to â€œjumpâ€ from â€œanimal to humanâ€ to â€œhuman to humanâ€ transmission. This is considered worrisome, because most of us would not have immunity against it, since we never come close to pigs and we come in contact with other humans all the time in a course of our regular daily activities;
Third, in Mexico, it is so far affected young adults, but not children or elderly people, who are usually considered to be more vulnerable. This is also considered a worrisome sign of epidemic;
Forth, there is no vaccine against it to be used in humans;
Fifth, the typical flu incubation period is 24-48 hours, but can be longer in some cases;
Sixth, infected people may be contagious for up to 7 days.
First, most infected people would have nothing more than regular flu-like symptoms: fever, lethargy, aches, runny nose, sore throat, etc. There are no specific symptoms of the disease. No deaths were registered in the U.S. at this time;
Second, the virus is susceptible to four different antiviral drugs available in the US, which are effective both for treatment and prophylaxis of the disease.
What should we do at this time.
First, do not panic;
Second, avoid crowded places, non-essential travel, contact with sick people; [Great, this is New York City. Practically unavoidable unless we all be come shut ins]
Third, use protective masks if you have to visit someone sick, or traveling to known epidemic areas;
Forth, wash your hands frequently; [I do this frequently anyway – have you ever touched a sweaty subway poll?]
Fifth, stay home if sick and let your children miss school, if any reasonable suspicion arises regarding epidemic; [YES! I find it ridiculous that employees feel they can work through their sickness by going into work, while at the same time feel completely comfortable with infecting the entire office with their sickness. We should all have laptops and VPN to be able to work from home in today’s technology age]
Sixth, contact you doctor immediately upon developing flu-like symptoms;
Seventh, if you believe you came in close contact with people (within 6 feet) who might have been infected or who were confirmed to be infected, you should contact your doctor and start chemoprophylaxis immediately. [if you live in NY and ride the subway, just get to the doctor now]
Eighth, there is no instant diagnostic test to definitively confirm swine flu, but your doctor will be able to arrange a confirmatory test with the County public health department. The test is usually a nasal swab. There are quick tests to confirm the presence of the flu virus by type A or B although (Swine virus is Type A).
Special Considerations for Children
Aspirin or aspirin-containing products (e.g. bismuth subsalicylate â€“ Pepto Bismol) should not be administered to any confirmed or suspected ill case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection aged 18 years old and younger due to the risk of Reye syndrome. For relief of fever, other anti-pyretic medications are recommended such as acetaminophen or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Please find the following Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization documents attached for your information:
CDC Health Advisory April 28th
Influenza-like illness in the United States and Mexico
Swine Influenza and You
Swine Influenza Recommendations
Google has long stated they wanted to get into the Pandemic tracking business. Here we have a Global Map for tracking Swine Flu cases.
Janet Napolitano, head of the Homeland Security Department said “[The United States is] proceeding as if we are preparatory to a full pandemic,”. Mexico has already closed schools nation wide and is considering a full country shut down of public transportation [yahoo news].
UPDATE: Sadly, Obama had included $900 Million in the stimulus bill for pandemic events and after GOP fought the inclusion of this money (Sen. Susan Collins stated on the floor “What does that have to do with an economic stimulus package?” – CNN Jan 31, 2009) and Karl Rove Mocked the president for looking out for US citizens in the WSJ, the Obama administration capitulated to the objection, conceded it’s removal. House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey had justified the funding as a global pandemic would be detrimental to the needs to expand the nations and our global partner’s economies. This seems now to be justified as CNBC reports:
Oil prices fell more than 2 percent to close to $50 a barrel as investors feared a new blow to an already fragile global economy if trade flows are curbed and manufacturing is hit.
The MSCI world equity index fell 0.8 percent and U.S. stocks also slipped.
Flu fears hit U.S. airline stocks hard as investors worried that the travel industry would suffer. Shares prices for UAL Corp, the parent of United Airlines, shed 14 percent, while Continental Airlines Inc lost 16 percent.
Yet again, the GOP is on the wrong side of policy that would help Americans. They are increasingly the party of the elite and not surprisingly don’t give a real flyingfuck about the welfare of the citizens of the United States.