Friday, 12 June 2009

Half of Serious Swine Flu Cases were Healthy

This is something new to me and journalists and government officials
had hidden these facts from the public.

Fortunately in US, these healthy people managed to survive their
ordeals but it will burden the Health Care systems of all nations if
this Swine Flu is allowed to spread as what is happening in Australia
and USA.

It is only a matter of time for USA, with their lackadaisical attitude
towards Swine Flu to be overwhelmed with serious Swine Flu cases that
needs hospitalisations which will surely mean deaths even for those
who were perfectly healthy.

Since this Swine Flu is already declared a pandemic, can we still
claim under our Medical Insurance in Malaysia?

Australia is another case. Many Australians are taking it easy which
resulted in a huge increase in the number of Swine Flu cases. It is
still early to tell because it will take 14 days of infection for
fatality to occur.

A few Australians were reported to be in intensive care units.

WHO Raises Pandemic Alert To Phase 6, Director General Gives Speech
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Main Category: Swine Flu
Also Included In: Public Health; Flu / Cold / SARS
Article Date: 12 Jun 2009 - 0:00 PDT

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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced it has raised the level
of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6, following an
emergency meeting yesterday by WHO scientists in Geneva to assess the
available evidence on global infections of A(H1N1) swine flu.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said:

"The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic."

In an official announcement speech yesterday, Chan commented how this
particular A(H1N1) virus, which has not circulated in humans before,
emerged in late April, appears to be spreading easily from person to
person and country to country, to the extent that barely two months
later we now have 74 countries reporting nearly 30,000 lab-confirmed
cases of infection.

But this could be a very conservative estimate of the actual spread of
the virus because as she went on to explain:

"With few exceptions, countries with large numbers of cases are those
with good surveillance and testing procedures in place."

Also, in several countries, it is no longer possible to trace clearly
how the virus has passed from human to human and the WHO experts
consider that further spread will be inevitable.

"I have conferred with leading influenza experts, virologists, and
public health officials. In line with procedures set out in the
International Health Regulations, I have sought guidance and advice
from an Emergency Committee established for this purpose," said Chan,
explaining that the evidence available and the assessment of these
experts together meets the scientific criteria for an influenza

"I have therefore decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic
alert from phase 5 to phase 6," she added.

It is still early days in the progress of the pandemic and the virus
is being watched very closely. In fact this is the first time ever
that a pandemic has been detected so early or observed so intensely,
in "real-time" as it happens.

"The world can now reap the benefits of investments, over the last
five years, in pandemic preparedness," said Chan.

Chan explained that the world is in a strong position, "we have a head
start", she said. But the irony of advanced warning is the risk of
worry and panic, and people need to be reassured and advised about
what to do, in the midst of early but incomplete and uncertain
scientific knowledge about the disease.

The picture, which is currently very patchy, could change at any

"The virus writes the rules and this one, like all influenza viruses,
can change the rules, without rhyme or reason, at any time," warned

On a global scale, there is good reason to believe that this pandemic,
at least for the time being, will not be severe. But, this could
change, as it has in the past, and it can vary from country to

The vast majority of patients infected so far have had mild symptoms
and have made a full recovery, without medical treatment.

And on a global scale, while each and every death to the virus is
"tragic" said Chan, the number so far has been small compared to the
number of infections.

"However, we do not expect to see a sudden and dramatic jump in the
number of severe or fatal infections," she added.

The Director General summarized what we know so far about the new H1N1
swine flu:

* It tends to infect younger people: in nearly all areas with
large and sustained outbreaks, most cases have been in people under
the age of 25.

* In some areas with large and sustained outbreaks, about 2 per
cent of the cases became severe very quickly, progressing rapidly to
life-threatening pneumonia.

* Most of the severe and fatal infections were in people aged
between 30 and 50.

* This is a very different pattern to seasonal flu, where most
deaths occur among the frail and elderly.

* Many, but not all, severe cases appear to have been in people
who were already ill or had a chronic condition like asthma,
cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and autoimmune disorders.
However, this is based on limited, preliminary data.

* But, importantly, we should note that about a third to a half of
the severe and fatal infections have been in young and middle-aged
people who were healthy and with no previous medical conditions when
they caught the virus.

* It is clear that pregnant women are at higher risk of
complications if they catch the virus, and given its prevalence among
younger age groups, this is a particularly worrying pattern.

* But perhaps the most worrying aspect of this pandemic is that we
don't know how the virus will behave in the developing world. Until
now, nearly all cases reported so far have been in comparatively
wealthy countries.

Chan said there were two reasons to be concerned about how the virus
will affect developing countries based on the evidence so far.

First, 99 per cent of maternal deaths, such as in childbirth or during
pregancy, are in the developing world. And second, about 85 per cent
of world's chronic diseases are in low and middle-income countries.

"Although the pandemic appears to have moderate severity in
comparatively well-off countries, it is prudent to anticipate a
bleaker picture as the virus spreads to areas with limited resources,
poor health care, and a high prevalence of underlying medical
problems," warned Chan.

Chan said that countries should be prepared to see further spread of
cases, and countries where the situation appears to have peaked should
prepare for a second wave.

Health ministries in all countries have now received guidelines on how
to protect against the spread of the virus, and countries who have
experienced no or only a few cases "should remain vigilant", she

Countries where the virus has already spread widely should concentrate
on managing infected patients, and should not waste valuable resources
on testing and investigation.

Chan said WHO has been talking closely with vaccine companies and
since production for the usual yearly doses of seasonal flu vaccine
are about to complete, this should free up full capacity to
concentrate on vaccine making for the pandemic strain.

WHO do not recommend countries to close their borders or restrict

"Influenza pandemics, whether moderate or severe, are remarkable
events because of the almost universal susceptibility of the world's
population to infection," said Chan, who closed her speech with one
final comment:

"We are all in this together, and we will all get through this,

Source: WHO.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

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