Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swine flu is usually mild, but it has spread fast, so it's officially a pandemic

UPDATE JUNE 11, 2009:

WHO: Swine flu pandemic has begun, 1st in 41 years

June 11, 2009

GENEVA -The World Health Organization declared a swine flu pandemic Thursday — the first global flu epidemic in 41 years — as infections in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere climbed to nearly 30,000 cases.

...WHO will now ask drugmakers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine. The declaration will also prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus.

WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan made the announcement Thursday after the U.N. agency held an emergency meeting with flu experts. Chan said she was moving the world to phase 6 — the agency's highest alert level — which means a pandemic, or global epidemic, is under way...

Chan described the virus as "moderate." According to WHO's pandemic criteria, a global outbreak has begun when a new flu virus begins spreading in two world regions.
The agency has stressed that most cases are mild and require no treatment, but the fear is that a rash of new infections could overwhelm hospitals and health authorities — especially in poorer countries.

Still, about half of the people who have died from swine flu were previously young and healthy — people who are not usually susceptible to flu. Swine flu is also crowding out regular flu viruses. Both features are typical of pandemic flu viruses.
The last pandemic — the Hong Kong flu of 1968 — killed about 1 million people. Ordinary flu kills about 250,000 to 500,000 people each year...


I have a bad case of flu, which is strange, because I haven't had the flu in 25 years. I've been so achy and fatigued, and I have a horrible cough.

It's alarming that people in Mexico and Inuit populations in Canada seem to become very severely ill from the swine flu.

Perhaps people with indigenous American ancestry need to take particularly good care of themselves during the next few months, so they won't be run down and weak if they get exposed. Also, they need to be careful if they do get sick, get plenty of rest and not go back to work too soon.

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