Friday, July 3, 2009

NZ Herald: Be prepared, or face the consequences when the pandemic peaks

In a column in the New Zealand Herald, Gill South wrote:

"For many New Zealand businesses, the swine flu virus has arrived at the worst possible time; when they are already leaning heavily on a depleted staff, with many personnel doing more than one job, the idea of losing even more employees for a period is enough to send many management teams into despair.

The Ministry of Health says businesses can expect absenteeism to be as high as 50 per cent for a two-week period during the peak of the pandemic, and businesses need to be aware the overall pandemic could last around eight weeks.

There has been plenty of news about how to handle the clinical side of things in the workplace, but how should companies respond in a more considered managerial way?

Business continuity specialist David Dunsheath, who runs Business Continuance Planning, says managers should be trying to protect their reputation, operation and finances. Don't think of this as a pandemic, think of it as a business continuity challenge, he says. 'It's about preparedness.'

The consultant recommends larger operations not only have a crisis management team, but a business continuity team and a clinical health team."

NZ Herald: Be prepared, or face the consequences when the pandemic peaks

U.S. scientists discover why A/H1N1 flu virus spreads less effectively

The new A/H1N1 strain of flu has a form of surface protein that binds inefficiently to receptors found in the human respiratory tract, which make it spread from person to person less effectively than other flu viruses, scientists said.

A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the discovery Thursday in the online edition of Science.

'While the virus is able to bind human receptors, it clearly appears to be restricted,' says Ram Sasisekharan, director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) and the lead MIT author of the paper. Sasisekharan and his laboratory co-workers have been actively investigating influenza viruses.

That restricted, or weak, binding, along with a genetic variation in an H1N1 polymerase enzyme, which MIT researchers first reported three weeks ago in Nature Biotechnology, explains why the virus has not spread as efficiently as seasonal flu, says Sasisekharan.

Sasisekharan and CDC senior microbiologist Terrence Tumpey have previously shown that a flu virus's ability to infect humans depends on whether its hemagglutinin protein can bind to a specific type of receptor on the surface of human respiratory cells.

U.S. scientists discover why A/H1N1 flu virus spreads less effectively

ABC News: "Babies should wear face masks"

A New South Wales Health Department expert says all children younger than two should wear face masks to prevent the spread of swine flu.

The senior clinical adviser to the department's Chronic Disease Program, Professor Ron Penny, says parents should heed his advice because influenza has a higher mortality rate in babies.

Professor Penny says anyone with flu symptoms or lung disease should also wear face masks.

He says Australians need to accept responsibility to prevent disease spreading.

ABC News: "Babies should wear face masks"

First Chinese A/H1N1 fatality "was electrocuted"

A 34-year-old woman who became the first swine flu victim to die in China may have actually been electrocuted in the hospital toilet, it has emerged.
The unnamed patient was found dead early on Wednesday morning in the Number One People's Hospital in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

The woman had been admitted to the hospital on June 23, but had shown signs of recovery as her fever abated.

Doctors told Xinhua, the state newswire, that her temperature had been normal for a week and that her only remaining symptom was occasional coughing.

Yesterday, relatives of the woman attacked the hospital, smashing the entrance lobby and an ambulance with rocks. They said the woman had died from an electric shock while using the bathroom.

First Chinese A/H1N1 fatality "was electrocuted"

China A/H1N1 flu patient dies "accidentally"