Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Australia is a good test ground for Swine Flu

The reason is that many had escaped surveillance at Australian
Airports thinking that it is just like normal flu, contrary to what
the 13th UK victim had mentioned. Before taking Tamilflu it was bad
but after taking Tamilflu the symptoms almost disappear instantly.

A lot of Australians are confused by the severity of Swine Flu of
before taking Tamilflu and after Tamilflu.

Experts appear to be convinced that what made Spanish Flu of 1918 very
fatal in the winter was a genetic mutation but there is no proof of
this. Evidence clearly points out the effect of weather of the Case
Fatality Rate of Spanish Flu.

A better theory is that Spanish Flu does not thrive well in warm
weather because of lots of sunlight reducing the amount of exposure to
flu virus for each person.

Another theory is that in the cold, our body has less resistance to
flu virus. This is more feasible because the current Swine Flu is only
fatal against those that have immune systems that are compromised
regardless of age, except those older than 50.

The low fatality rate of Spanish Flu in 1918 in summer could be due to
this reason as well. Those who died in summer of 1918 should be
checked in order to verify this theory.

In winter, with poor heating and living at below normal summer
temperature of 15 degree Celsium, our bodies are less resistant to flu
virus. Examples are the Eskomoes where fatality rate reach 80% in
winter. Not sure about Summer though.

Swine flu containment critical

Tony Eastley reported this story on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 08:12:00
Listen to MP3 of this story ( minutes)

Alternate WMA version | MP3 download

Professor Anne Kelso, the director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for
Influenza in Melbourne, advises the Commonwealth's chief medical
officer. She tells AM that while the swine flu has not killed any
Australians, containment of the spread is still very important. She
says it is possible the virus will mutate and after this Australian
winter, there will still be a danger from the Northern Hemisphere

TONY EASTLEY: Professor Anne Kelso is the director of the WHO
Collaborating Centre for Influenza in Melbourne. She advises the
Commonwealth's chief medical officer.

Professor, good morning.

Every day more cases of the virus are turning up on planes and on
ships. Is it too late to try and contain this virus now?

ANNE KELSO: Well, Tony I think it, the cat is out of the bag in some
ways of course. Clearly the virus is here and it's spreading to some
extent in our community but there's still value, I think, to be had in
attempting to slow down that spread and there are a couple of reasons
for that.

The first is that it gives the community more time to prepare and
secondly, it gives us more time to develop a vaccine.

It is going to take some months for vaccine to be available but the
more that we can slow down the spread of the virus in the community,
the more people who can benefit from that work.

TONY EASTLEY: Now the virus hasn't killed anyone here yet and people
who have it appear to have only mild symptoms. Why should we be more
alarmed about this H1N1 virus compared to the normal influenza that
does kill people each year?

ANNE KELSO: Well of course, there have been very few cases in
Australia so far and in other countries where there has been more
extensive spread, particularly in the US, it's clear that there have
been a number of deaths.

But you are right that the number of deaths is still low compared with
the numbers we might see in a normal flu season.

One important difference is that the people who have died with
illnesses associated with this virus have been relatively young. We
are used to seeing it mostly being elderly people who are killed by
influenza during the winter season but it is much younger people who
are being killed by this virus.

They are people who have other underlying health conditions that must
be exacerbating their ability to fight the virus so I think as we see
more cases here, of course, there is a risk that people in that
category in our own community will also have much more serious

TONY EASTLEY: Professor Kelso, is there also a possibility that this
flu will somehow mutate in Australia?

ANNE KELSO: We certainly are concerned about that because as the
conditions become more suitable for the spread of flu in winter here,
then if there is wide-spread circulation of this virus then inevitably
it will mutate.

What we won't know of course, until it happens is whether those
mutations will make the virus worse or better so that we simply have
to wait and see.

TONY EASTLEY: Will it more likely mutate in the next northern winter
because that was the worst fear?

ANNE KELSO: I think that the longer it spreads, the greater the chance
of mutation and so the first concern is our Southern Hemisphere
winter. If we get through that without too many difficulties, then
yes, the next concern will be the Northern Hemisphere winter.

TONY EASTLEY: At present, people with the disease are being treated
with antivirals and I think you said you have around nine-million
doses in stock in Australia. Are the antivirals reducing the period
that people are suffering from and could transmit this H1N1 virus?

ANNE KELSO: Well, certainly if the antivirals are used early enough
then they do limit the disease. It is harder to say that it reduces
the transmission of the virus, there is much less evidence for that,
but there is certainly strong evidence that it reduces the disease and
therefore helps people to recover more quickly and of course, part of
the reason to use antivirals is to limit the illness in the people who
have the virus.

TONY EASTLEY: So if I got this flu this morning while I am talking to
you, let's say, would I survive with antivirals?

ANNE KELSO: Well, I hope so Tony. I believe you're young and healthy
and therefore have a very good chance of fighting the virus but there
may be many people in the community who have other diseases, heart
disease, diabetes, other sorts of conditions that make it more
difficult for them to fight the virus.

TONY EASTLEY: And if someone gets the virus here and now, does it
somehow give them immunity down the track somewhere?

ANNE KELSO: Well, certainly being infected with an influenza virus
does give you immunity to that influenza virus. If this virus mutates
rapidly and deviates, diverges a lot from the virus that is currently
circulating then that immunity would be less protective.

TONY EASTLEY: Right and if it was to mutate, does any immunity I have
now, would that be lost against a more virulent and deadly strain?

ANNE KELSO: It is a question of time really. I think that if it
mutated soon but was still pretty similar to the current virus, then
the immunity that you had from a current infection would be

Unfortunately from what we know so far, immunity due to infection with
previous seasonal influenza viruses probably isn't very protective.

TONY EASTLEY: Professor Anne Kelso, the director of the WHO
Collaborating Centre for Influenza in Melbourne, who also advises the
Commonwealth's chief medical officer.

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