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 WHO declares swine flu pandemic

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Damocles
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PostSubject: WHO declares swine flu pandemic   Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:45 pm

WHO declares swine flu pandemic

Thursday, June 11,2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global flu pandemic after holding an emergency meeting.

It means the swine flu virus is spreading in at least two regions of the world with rising cases being seen in the UK, Australia, Japan and Chile.

WHO chief Margaret Chan said the move does not mean the virus is causing more severe illness or more deaths.

The swine flu (H1N1) virus first emerged in Mexico in April and has since spread to 74 countries.

Official reports say there have been nearly 30,000 cases globally and 141 deaths with figures rising daily.

Hong Kong said it was closing all its nurseries and primary schools for two weeks following 12 school cases.

It is the first flu pandemic in 40 years - the last in 1968 killed about one million people.

However, the current pandemic seems to be moderate and causing mild illness in most people.

Most cases are occurring in young working age adults and a third to a half of complications are presenting in otherwise healthy people.

Margaret Chan said: "We have evidence to suggest we are seeing the first pandemic of the 21st century.

"Moving to pandemic phase six does not imply we will see increased in deaths or serious cases."

She added it was important to get the right balance between complacency and vigilance and that pandemic strategies would vary between countries depending on their specific situation.


It is global and fulfilling the requirements of a pandemic
Professor John Oxford, flu expert

And the WHO do do not recommend closure of borders or any restrictions on the movement of people, goods or services.

But the picture could change very quickly.

"No other pandemic has been detected so early or watched so closely," Chan said.

One factor which has prompted the move to a level six pandemic was that in the southern hemisphere, the virus seems to be crowding out normal seasonal influenza.

The move was not prompted by the situation in any one country but the reports of several pockets of community spread, officials said.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Geneva, says that while the number of cases has made the declaration inevitable, the WHO will have to manage the global anxiety the declaration of a pandemic will generate.

Pandemic planning

There have been more than 800 cases in the UK with some areas of Scotland being particularly hard hit.

The government has been stockpiling antivirals such as Tamiflu and has ordered vaccine, some doses of which could be available by October.


SWINE FLU - THE BASICS
Symptoms usually similar to seasonal flu - but deaths have been recorded
It is a new version of the H1N1 strain which caused the 1918 flu pandemic
Current treatments do work, but as yet there is no vaccine
Good personal hygiene, such as washing hands, covering nose when sneezing advised

What comes next in flu fight

Chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said the WHO declaration of a pandemic would not significantly change the way the UK was dealing with swine flu at the moment.

But he added there could be some minor changes to who received antivirals.

"The declaration of a pandemic per se doesn't make a big difference to the to the way we are handling the outbreaks we have.

"We are going to continue to investigate every case that occurs and treat their contacts with antivirals even though they may not be ill.

"The difference is that the Health Protection Agency has learnt a lot about approaching this question of antiviral prophylaxis and they are going to be treating the closer contacts of the cases, rather than the more far-flung contacts, because they feel that that is supported by what they know so far about how the disease is transmitting.

He added: "These flu viruses can change their pattern of attack, so when we come into the flu season in the autumn and winter in this country, when we expect a big surge of cases, we need to watch very carefully to see if the character of the virus is changing."


There is concern that the virus might mutate in the southern hemisphere over its winter and become more virulent, but there's no sign of that yet
Fergus Walsh
BBC's medical correspondent

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said a move to level six means that countries need to be ready to implement pandemic plans immediately but the UK was already operating at a "heightened state of readiness".

But it could affect the speed at which the UK gets pandemic vaccine supplies but that had been factored into pandemic planning.

Flu expert Professor John Oxford said people should not panic as the outbreak was milder than others seen in the past century.

"It is global and fulfilling the requirements of a pandemic but I don't think anyone should worry because nothing drastic has happened between yesterday and today."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8094655.stm


Last edited by Damocles on Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: WHO declares swine flu pandemic   Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:47 am


WHO warns swine flu 'unstoppable'

Friday, July 3,2009
WHO calls for vigilance over swine flu

The UN's top health official has
opened a forum in Mexico on combating swine flu by saying that the spread of the virus worldwide is now unstoppable.


World Health Organization head Margaret Chan added that the holding of the meeting in Cancun showed confidence in Mexico, which has been hard hit.

The WHO says most H1N1 cases are mild, with many people recovering unaided.

As the summit opened, the UK alone was projecting more than 100,000 new cases of H1N1 a day by the end of the summer.

As the peak of the flu season approaches in South America, some areas have declared a public health emergency.

El Salvador reported its first death from swine flu, a day after Paraguay reported its first fatality.

'Mild symptoms'"

As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a
fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is
unstoppable," Dr Chan said in her opening remarks.




A hospital in Athens, Greece, has been quarantined for swine flu



She stressed that the overwhelming majority of patients experienced
mild symptoms and made a full recovery within a week, often in the
absence of any form of medical treatment.

The exceptions, she said, were pregnant women and people with underlying health problems,
who were at higher risk from complications from the virus and should be monitored if they fell ill.

"For a pandemic of moderate severity, this is one of our greatest challenges: helping people to understand when they do not need to worry, and when they do need to seek urgent care," Dr Chan said.

Turning to the summit venue, the WHO chief added: "Mexico is a safe, as well as a beautiful and warmly gracious, place to visit.

" Leaders and experts from 50 countries are in Cancun for the two-day meeting to discuss strategies for combating the virus.

It has been more than two months since the initial alert over swine flu.

Since then, the H1N1 virus has entered more than 100 countries, infected more than 70,000 people and killed more than 300 worldwide.

Authorities across South America are becoming increasingly concerned as the peak flu season approaches, the BBC's Andy Gallacher reports from Cancun.

Schools across Argentina have sent students home and pregnant women have been told they can take two weeks off work to avoid contracting the virus.

It is hoped the Cancun meeting will address many of the issues that might help slow the spread of swine flu but, our correspondent adds, many people are concerned that an effective vaccine has still not been developed.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8130196.stm
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