Sunday, October 25, 2009

USA Today: Obesity a swine flu risk factor?

Some swine flu cases in America are raising questions about obesity's role in why some people with infections become seriously ill.

A high proportion of those who have gotten severely ill from swine flu have been obese or extremely obese, but health officials have said that might be due to the fact that heavy people tend to have asthma and other conditions that make them more susceptible. Obesity alone has never been seen as a risk factor for seasonal flu.

But in a report released Friday, health officials detailed the cases of 10 Michigan patients who were very sick from swine flu in late May and early June and ended up at a specialized hospital in Ann Arbor. Three of them died.

Nine of the 10 were either obese or extremely obese. Only three of the 10 had other health problems. Two of the three that died had no other health conditions.

This hardly settles the question of whether obesity is its own risk factor for swine flu. It's possible the patients had undiagnosed heart problems or other unidentified conditions.

Still the finding was striking, investigators acknowledged.

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USA Today: Obesity a swine flu risk factor?

New York Times: Worst Case - Choosing Who Survives in a Flu Epidemic

New York state health officials recently laid out this wrenching scenario for a small group of medical professionals from New York-Presbyterian Hospital:

A 32-year-old man with cystic fibrosis is rushed to the hospital with appendicitis in the midst of a worsening pandemic caused by the H1N1 flu virus, which has mutated into a more deadly form. The man is awaiting a lung transplant and brought with him the mechanical ventilator that helps him breathe.

New York’s governor has declared a state of emergency and hospitals are following the state’s pandemic ventilator allocation plan — actual guidelines drafted in 2007 that are now being revisited. The plan aims to direct ventilators to those with the best chances of survival in a severe, 1918-like flu pandemic where tens of thousands develop life-threatening pneumonia.

Because the man’s end-stage lung disease caused by his cystic fibrosis is among a list of medical conditions associated with high mortality, the guidelines would bar the man from using a ventilator in a hospital, even though he is, unlike many with his illness, stable, in good condition, and not close to death. If the hospital admits him, the guidelines call for the machine that keeps him alive to be given to someone else.

Would doctors and nurses follow such rules? Should they?

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New York Times: Worst Case - Choosing Who Survives in a Flu Epidemic

FDA warns of bogus swine flu products on the Internet

If there is money to be made from people's fear or misery, there is someone who has something to sell you.The Federal Food and Drug Administration warns many bogus products are now circulating on the Internet that falsely claim to relieve symptoms or even prevent the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Scam artists with such things as air sterilizers, supplements, face masks; shampoos and fake Tamiflu, are selling these bogus products over the Internet. Tamiflu is a FDA-approved product made by Switzerland's Roche Group and is currently being rationed.

A fake Tamiflu circulating on the Internet has been tested by the FDA. The agency found it to contain powered talc and generic Tylenol.

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FDA warns of bogus swine flu products on the Internet

Washington Post: Scientists study pig farming for answers on swine flu

TIPTON, IOWA It may be crowded and carpeted in manure, but the long, white building beside State Route 38 is one of the most pathogen-free homes a pig could have.

The animals never know the feel of grass, mud or sunshine, and hardly the touch of man, in their six months of life. But they are also free of many of the infections that slow the growth and occasionally end the lives of their outdoor cousins.

'We're producing the most efficient animal, one that is healthy every day,' said Devon Schott, the 34-year-old farmer who owns the building. To do that, he said, 'biosecurity is of utmost importance.'

Despite the buttoned-up methods of farmers such as Schott, many experts think pig farming presents a serious and overlooked risk to public health. Proof of that assertion -- indirect but indisputable, in the opinion of virologists -- is the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza.

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Washington Post: Scientists study pig farming for answers on swine flu

Radio Netherlands Worldwide: Europe opts for widespread flu vaccination

An increasing number of European countries are opting for widespread vaccination against the Mexican flu. Even in countries such as Italy and Sweden, where vaccination of vulnerable groups began last week, all inhabitants are now being called up to receive the vaccine.

In Britain, France and Germany, the general public can be vaccinated at the local GPs from Monday. In Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, large-scale vaccination will get under way in the first two weeks of November.

After much hesitation, the Norwegian government has also decided to extend its vaccination programme from high-risk groups to as much of the population as possible, starting in late November and early December.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide: Europe opts for widespread flu vaccination

Dayton Daily News: Hundreds turn out for H1N1 FluMist clinic

Milder temperatures, plenty of parking and vaccines kept Warren County’s H1N1 flu vaccine clinic at the Lebanon Raceway/Warren County Fairgrounds moving smoothly Saturday morning, Oct. 24.

People started to arrive at the fairgrounds after midnight, and Health Commissioner Duane Stansbury said at 6 a.m. there already was a line to enter the grandstand area for the FluMist vaccine for the H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu.

“We can’t afford to get sick,” said Lisa Cecil of Lebanon who brought one of her three sons to the clinic Saturday and has insisted they all get the vaccine. “If there are any preventative measures available, we’re going to take them.”

Gwen Motley of Carlisle came with her two daughters, ages 3 and 6, and said she was concerned about the new influenza strain.

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Dayton Daily News: Hundreds turn out for H1N1 FluMist clinic Obama Declares Swine Flu Outbreak a National Emergency

WASHINGTON — President Obama has declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, allowing hospitals and local governments to speedily set up alternate sites for treatment and triage procedures if needed to handle any surge of patients, the White House said on Saturday.

The declaration came as thousands of people lined up in cities across the country to receive vaccinations, and as federal officials acknowledged that their ambitious vaccination program has gotten off to a slow start. Only 16 million doses of the vaccine were available now, and about 30 million were expected by the end of the month. Some states have requested 10 times the amount they have been allotted.

Flu activity — virtually all of it the swine flu — is now widespread in 46 states, a level that federal officials say equals the peak of a typical winter flu season. Millions of people in the United States have had swine flu, known as H1N1, either in the first wave in the spring or the current wave. Obama Declares Swine Flu Outbreak a National Emergency