Tuesday, November 24, 2009

H1N1 Cases Declining In Hospitals Across US

The swine flu pandemic has taken a turn in the United States. Doctors in several cities are now reporting fewer cases of the H1N1 virus, prompting some to believe the outbreak may have peaked. Still, the virus has killed nearly 7,000 people worldwide since April, and health officials say there could be another outbreak in the U.S.

At its peak, there were so many outbreaks of H1N1 flu, this children's hospital in Texas had to set up tents for its patients. Two months later, the tents are down and so are the number of people who are sick.

'At some points we were seeing as many as 70 percent of patients testing positive for the flu, and now it's down below 10 percent,' Dr. Pat Crocker, Dell Children's Medical Center estimates.

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H1N1 Cases Declining In Hospitals Across US

TheMedGuru: Hajj pilgrims in Mecca and Medina unconcerned about swine flu threat

Millions of devout Muslims are descending on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina for the largest annual pilgrimage in the world despite the underlying fears of the pandemic swine flu affecting the Hajj.

A decrease in the turnout had been anticipated sparked by the global pandemic, but pilgrims have poured from the four corners of the world into Saudi Arabia in preparation for this year's Hajj, which will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

According to official sources, around 500,000 pilgrims offered Friday prayers in Medina, the second holiest city in Islam.

Nevertheless, fears of disease were well founded as already four have fallen prey to the lethal virus - the first among pilgrims. The health ministry stated the deaths were due to underlying health issues and the failure of the victims to take adequate precautions and get vaccinated before embarking on the pilgrimage.

Fortunately the number of infections is less than had been feared by Saudi authorities. Only 20 pilgrims had been detected with the virus. Of these, 12 have been treated and discharged, while four remain critical in hospital.

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TheMedGuru: Hajj pilgrims in Mecca and Medina unconcerned about swine flu threat

Chinaview.com: H1N1 flu virus mutation detected in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Department of Health announced that it had found the same mutation in a H1N1 flu virus sample as the one detected in Norway recently.

The department said that it had examined the genetic sequence of H1N1 flu viruses in its monitoring system. Out of the 123 sequences studied, one sample showed the same mutation as the Norway strain.

The virus was taken from a year-old boy who developed flu-like symptoms July 22. He was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital July25 and discharged three days later. He has recovered.

Mutations are frequently encountered in influenza viruses. According to the World Health Organization, the same mutation of the virus has been found on the Chinese mainland and in other countries, including Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine and the United States.

The virus with this mutation remained sensitive to antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza. No evidence suggests these mutations are leading to an unusual increase in the number of H1N1 flu infections or a greater number of severe or fatal cases.

Chinaview.com: H1N1 flu virus mutation detected in Hong Kong

WKYC.com: New swine flu strain resistant to Tamiflu

Could there be a new strain of H1N1? That's what health officials are investigating after a few cases seem to be resistant to the treatment drug, Tamiflu.

It was discovered that a few patients at Duke University Medical Centers and a few others overseas in whales were diagnosed with a strain of flu too strong for Tamiflu to treat.

Health officials with the CDC say this doesn't indicate a health emergency. But there is concern over what appears to be mutations of the virus.

'We are unable to say if their deaths were caused by influenza, they are influenza associated but they had medical issues that were compromising their health,' says Megan Davies, a North Carolina State Epidemiologist.

The virus is just as severe, but this new mutation of H1N1 has a different characteristic. It might not be treatable with medications currently available.

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WKYC.com: New swine flu strain resistant to Tamiflu

Reuters: WHO probing drug resistant swine flu

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization is looking into reports in Britain and the United States that the H1N1 flu may have developed resistance to Tamiflu in people with severely suppressed immune systems, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said five cases have been confirmed in Wales of patients infected with H1N1 resistant to oseltamivir -- the generic name of Roche and Gilead Sciences Inc's antiviral drug Tamiflu.

The patients had serious conditions that suppressed their immune systems, which can give the virus a better than usual opportunity to develop resistance, the HPA said. It said the drug-resistant strain had probably spread person to person.

'We have seen the reports, we need to look into them,' WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham said in Geneva.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week also reported four cases of H1N1 resistant to Tamiflu at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. All were said to be very ill with underlying severely compromised immune systems and multiple other complex medical conditions.

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Reuters: WHO probing drug resistant swine flu

BBC News - Canada's doctors told to stop using swine flu vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline has advised doctors in Canada to stop using a batch of its swine flu vaccine, amid reports of severe side-effects in some patients.

The batch of some 170,000 doses was put on hold because of the reported higher than usual number of patients having anaphylactic reactions.

This may include breathing problems, raised heart rate and skin rashes.
The pharmaceutical company said it was investigating the reports, which could lead to the withdrawal of the batch.

The reports say one in 20,000 people suffered adverse reactions to the batch of GlaxoSmithKline's Pandemrix vaccine. This is five times the expected number.

None of the patients reportedly suffered long-term ill-effects.

BBC News - Canada's doctors told to stop using swine flu vaccine

RT Reports: Mutant drug resistant H1N1 showing up in U.S

Swine flu mutation - Same receptor as 1918 Spanish flu pandemic found in Ukraine virus

According to analysis of genetic testing done by the World Health Organization, the Ukraine flu virus is an H1N1 mutation that is similar to the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.

The two flu virus outbreaks both have changes in the receptor binding domain D225G, and similar symptoms, which include bleeding in the lungs. Current estimates of the deaths attributed to the Ukraine flu outbreak is as many as 400, and increasing daily.

In 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic killed between 20 million and 40 million people. The pandemic took place during the end of World War I, but ten times as many Americans died from the Spanish Flu as died in the war - nearly 700,000.

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Swine flu mutation - Same receptor as 1918 Spanish flu pandemic found in Ukraine virus

Dutch begin mass vaccinating 830,000 children, a musical variation

The Netherlands has begun vaccinating up to 830,000 children against swine flu in one of the country's largest vaccination programs.
Children between six months and four years old have received invitations to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus.
The Netherlands has ordered enough vaccine to inoculate the entire country of 16 million people. Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with autoimmune diseases were vaccinated first.
A major center in Amsterdam is expecting 64,000 children Monday, the first day of a three-day campaign.
Children and parents arrived in a constant stream of buggies and bikes, and were greeted with clowns singing songs about how shots don't hurt - though an occasional wail could still be heard.

The NOS Jeugdjournaal (Junior News) reports (in Dutch):

And a funny re-edit of the mass-vaccination, on music