Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Associated Press: UK reports its first swine flu death

A person has died of swine flu at a hospital in Scotland in the first death from the illness reported in Britain, officials said Sunday.

It also was the first death from the H5N1 strain of influenza reported outside the Americas by the World Health Organization in Geneva or the European Centers for Disease Control in Stockholm, which both keep tabs on confirmed cases of swine flu and deaths from the illness in countries around the world.

Scotland's government said the patient suffering from swine flu died at a hospital there. It said the patient was one of 10 people being treated for the influenza at the facility.

The statement did not identify the patient or the hospital. 'The patient had underlying health conditions,' the government statement said, without saying what they were.

The Associated Press: UK reports its first swine flu death

Dr. Ellie Cannon in The Daily Mail: Anxious about swine flu? If you're over 60 you can relax

London GP Dr. Ellie Cannon wrote a column on the website of the British newspaper The Daily Mail:

There is good news at last for the older patients in my surgery. If you are over 60, it appears you will be immune to developing swine flu.

That's the interesting pattern doctors and health protection agencies worldwide have noticed, even though this week the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared the outbreak a pandemic.

The virus has spread to 74 countries and the mortality rate is similar to that of 'normal' flu, with 141 deaths out of 30,000 cases. You would expect the most vulnerable to be older people - as is the case in our UK winter flu epidemics - but it is not.

It seems to be young adults who are succumbing to swine flu. 'The bulk of cases are among younger people - mainly in their 20s,' says Dr Keiji Fukuda, of the WHO.

Dr. Ellie Cannon in The Daily Mail: Anxious about swine flu? If you're over 60 you can relax

CIDRAP: Communication expert endorses WHO's delay on pandemic declaration

A well-known risk-communication expert said the World Health Organization (WHO) acted wisely in delaying its declaration of an influenza pandemic until yesterday, but he simultaneously expressed concern that the move may lead to complacency about the situation.

The WHO drew considerable criticism for putting off announcing a phase 6 pandemic alert in the face of evidence that the virus was spreading on several continents. But Peter M. Sandman, PhD, a New Jersey-based consultant and close watcher of pandemic preparedness, said the WHO's go-slow approach gave the world a chance to get used to the idea that a pandemic declaration was coming soon.

However, he also worried that declaring a pandemic of an illness that is usually mild may lead many people to think that a pandemic is not a serous concern.

Sandman observed, as have others, that the WHO has been trying to steer a course between unduly frightening people and lulling them into complacency.

Officially, yesterday's WHO announcement means that the H1N1 virus is spreading in communities in more than one region of the world. The virus first emerged in April in the United States and Mexico and has since spread to 74 countries. Its spread in places far from North America, including Australia, Chile, and the United Kingdom, had led to growing pressure on the WHO to announce that a pandemic was under way.

But at the urging of several governments, the WHO held off on taking the step for weeks out of concern that it would cause excessive alarm in a world that has learned to link the concept of a pandemic to the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which rarely infects humans but kills about 60% of those it does infect.

CIDRAP: Communication expert endorses WHO's delay on pandemic declaration

EDCD: Over 2000 infections in Europe

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control sees a rapid spread of H1N1 on the European continent.

Influenza A(H1N1)v infection
Update 13 June 2009, 17:00 hours CEST
Main developments in past 24 hours

237 new cases were reported in EU and EFTA countries;
6315 new cases were reported from non-EU and EFTA countries;
UK has reported 200 new cases;
Netherlands has reported 19 new cases of in-country transmission;
USA has reported 4638 new cases and 18 deaths during the week ending 6 June.

This report is based on official information provided by the national public health websites, or through other official communication channels. An update on the number of confirmed cases as of 13 June, 17:00 hours CEST, is presented in Table 1 and Table 2.
Disclaimer: the number of confirmed cases reported is based on laboratory test results, except for the US. Depending on the national laboratory testing policies, the actual number of cases by country may therefore be higher.

Epidemiological update

The number of EU and EFTA countries reporting cases did not change, with 26 of 31 EU and EFTA countries reporting confirmed cases. In the past 24 hours, 237 cases were confirmed in seven EU and EFTA countries (Table 1). The majority of the newly reported cases were from the UK (200), the Netherlands (16), Italy (8) and France (7). On the 13th June 2009, the Netherlands reported a total of 19 cases of in-country transmission.

Outside of the EU and EFTA countries, a total of 34,293 cases are currently reported, an increase of 6,315 cases (23%) over the previous situation report dated 12 June 2009 (Table 2). Mexico reported one more death, bringing their total to 109.

USA had 4638 cases and 18 deaths reported for the week ending 6 June. This represents an increase in their weekly reports of 46.6% over the 3164 cases reported for the previous week (ending 30 May). This brings the current total of influenza A(H1N1)v cases in the USA to 17855, with 45 deaths in all.

Other countries with large increases in their reported cases were Chile (641 new cases), Canada (537 new cases), Australia (134 new cases) and Argentina (127 new cases).

The complete EDCD Situation Report as PDF file