Skip to comments.NHS at the limit: Intensive care units almost full as swine flu takes its toll
Posted on 12/24/2010 10:14:52 AM PST by Smokin' Joe
Intensive care units across Britain are almost full as the NHS faces one of the worst flu outbreaks in a decade.
Some hospitals have only one or two life-support machines left and critically ill patients are being transferred by ambulance to other trusts.... >snip< Senior doctors report that they are seeing the highest number of flu cases in more than 20 years and expect the situation to worsen over the coming weeks.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
Not to create a kerfluffle, but folks should be aware of this.
Love how they try to substitute swine flu for flu in the title while the article talks about flu in general.
Guess they are trying really hard to sell last years leftover and unwanted swine flu shots...
Fear of catching the swine flu is one of the reasons I don’t watch “The View”. (Stolen from that great American, Larry the Cable Guy).
I guess we better mandate flu shots for everyone. You think that government controlled health care might some day demand it, or deny you treatment if you refused your shot and got sick?
Thanks for the heads up. The flu is hitting hard around here right now.
It is H1N1 flu. That is why so many are ending up in intensive care and not just home in bed.
All they need to take is 10000 IU’s D3, unless they’ve outlawed nutritional supplements there. The D3 will prevent flu better than the flu shot, just without the mercury, msg, and animal body parts.
Anyone who wants to know what’s going on in the UK right now should read the daily news thread on the PFI forum. It will be here in the US shortly. Mutations have made it more aggressive, and there is a likelihood that neither having had a vax or previous infection will offer protection. I had swine flu last year and it took me months to get well. It’s not a hoax, overblown or made up. It’s real. And it will be much worse this year.
Here’s today’s News Thread, they have a new one daily:
Niman’s latest commentary this morning.
H1N1 Death Cluster In Leicestershire UK Raises Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 17:20
December 24, 2010
Tests are being carried out to see if a number of people, including young children, have died from flu or respiratory disease.
It has been reported that three adults have died from swine flu and six children aged under five have died from viral respiratory diseases in Leicestershire in the past few weeks.
NHS managers refused to comment on the numbers until they have the results of laboratory tests to confirm the causes of death.
The above comments describe an H1N1 death cluster at Leicestershire, UK. However, since the cases have not been lab confirmed, they are not included in the HPA fatality list, which is a gross under-estimate. It is likely that similar unreported H1N1 deaths are widespread in the UK, s Since H1N1 is treatable with anti-virals, and treatment is most effective when started within 48 hours of symptoms, it is likely that many cases are tested and found to be positive, but unreported because cause of death has not been verified. Similarly, positives are also likely to be a gross under-estimate because the rapid test for H1N1 has a very low sensitivity (as low as 10%, which means that 90% of H1N1 infected cases test negative).
The recent report of 460 ICU cases, which are largely from H1N1, has sounded alarm bells because of the rapid rise in such cases (302 were reported three days earlier) and the limited ECMO capacity (which were severely taxed last season when only 180 patients were in ICU beds).
Thus, the true magnitude of the current and growing problem is not well understood by the general population, where vaccination rates are low, and mixed messages on normal flu deaths continue to misinform.
Interesting. I had the swine flue last year, and it sucked! There was a guy I grew up with that was in ICE for two weeks because of it.
The H1N1 didn’t hit as hard as was first feared, but is nothing to mess with.
The ‘pond’s’ not that far away...
Vitamin D3 > 4000 iu/day
I’m not taking flu shots because they use thimersol (mercury) as a preservative. How can anyone tell me it’s safe to have this injected into my body when the people who remove it from the hospital do so treating the leftover shots as hazardous toxic waste?
I read this morning that Florida’s flu season has started early this year. With all the holiday travelers and even friends and relatives getting together from smaller areas, the bug is going to be spreading rapidly. Take precautions, y’all.
Thanks, Smokin’ Joe.
Will double up on vitamin D3. (The word “kerfluffle” tickles my funny bone. I’m easily amused.)
Ahhh, yes - time for the annual “government knows best” flu vaccine media blitz.
My elderly neighbor swears by the sun and fresh air. Whenever going out to the store or being around large crowds, he’ll come home and walk around the yard breathing deeply to clear his lungs. Of course, wash your hands frequently.
Importantly, the reason the NHS is overwhelmed with a relatively few number of IC patients, is because they, like most of the health systems in the West, including the US, are based on the “push” supply system.
This means they have very little extra of anything. They only get what they need for the number of patients they expect to have, plus just a little bit. Then, if say one hospital gets a few unexpected extra patients, all needing the same thing, say an antibiotic, they have to borrow supplies from other hospitals who have a little extra.
However, this can turn deadly in a hurry. As far as influenza goes, for example, the typical flu season in the US needs about 100,000 respirators. Nationwide, we have about 104,000 respirators.
This means that if there is a bad year for influenza, and you need a machine to help your breathe, you may very well get put on a waiting list.
And, of course, if there is a catastrophic health emergency, like a “killer” influenza, a LOT of people won’t be able to get any treatment at all.
And that is why we have triage. It means that the people who might live go here, the people who will probably die go there, and everybody else, well, it sucks to be you.
Thanks for the ping. Interesting how this, while seemingly more serious than last year’s outbreaks, is not getting much press.
Oh, wait. Obamacare has already been passed. Nevermind.
I will tell the kid’s about this. They were real good about using the hand sanitizer at school, washing their hands as soon as they got home, etc. They have been slacking on it this year.
“You think that government controlled health care might some day demand it, or deny you treatment if you refused your shot and got sick?”
Heh, hospital beds here are always difficult to get. Nothing new about this...
Sounds good to me. Lots of fresh air and sunshine out here. A walk after a big Christmas dinner just might be the thing to do.
Merry Christmas, bgill.
Thanks for the ping, Joe.
I thought they destroyed the leftover vaccine, but I could be remembering incorrectly.
The human body produces vitamin D in sunlight. Breathing deeply might help clear the errant virus out of the lungs as well, but I’d put my chips down on the Vitamin D being the major factor in staying healthier.
If Government controlled health care mandates it, they’ll probably have the needed vaccine doses ready by the end of any epidemic.
Precisely. We've heard what turned out to be cries of "Wolf!", but we really cannot afford to ignore the threat, the past nonwithstanding.
We all know the drill: avoid public venues with sick people when possible, use hand sanitizer or wash hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face, wash before eating, etc. Vitamin supplements may prove helpful as well (I believe they have in my case, but that might not work for everyone).
Awareness is as essential to prevention as the steps we take, especially as people tend to let their guard down after a period of seemingly reduced threat levels.
This was brought to my attention via FReepmail, and I figured it best to pass it on.
Probably the best vitamin supplement is Vitamin D, which is not a true vitamin, but is actually a hormone. And it needs a few explanations.
1) It works in several ways, including eroding the viral coat while it is in transit in the blood, and opening several immune system pathways that fight infections; while at the same time moderating the immune response as a natural ACE inhibitor:
2) While sunlight is good for “homemade” Vitamin D, and a 15 minute whole body (i.e. naked) exposure of sunlight will give you a large amount, about 30,000 IU, it will take 2-3 days to raise your blood serum levels. Therefore supplements are useful because they are both faster and more reliable than sunlight.
3) A small number of people are sensitive to as little as 3,000 IU of Vitamin D oral supplementation, so it is very good to know if you are one of them. Another small number of people do not absorb Vitamin D supplements properly, so it does not increase their blood serum levels. So both of these groups are dependent on sunlight or injected Vitamin D.
4) Some people are taking as much as 30,000 IU orally, as a “one shot”, at the first sign of a cold or flu, then moving to a daily maintenance dose of 6,000 IU for the rest of the duration of the cold or flu. As prophylaxis during cold and flu season, they take a daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 IU.
Daily doses of from 10,000-30,000 IU can result in overdose in about two weeks, which usually takes the form of hypercalcification, but this has not been well studied.
5) A good complement to Vitamin D against upper respiratory virus diseases is ionic zinc, in the form of Cold-Eeze lozenges, specifically. This is because the virus typically reproduces in the mucous membranes of the sinuses, and zinc inhibits this reproduction.
Unfortunately, most zinc supplements are not readily uptaken by the mucous membranes. Cold-Eeze uses a proprietary form of zinc, zinc gluconate, that *is* readily uptaken. It produces a mildly unpleasant, metallic flavor after use, that is desirable, so you shouldn’t drink liquids for some time after using a lozenge.
With Vitamin D, this will give the infection a one-two punch. Yet the rule applies that the sooner these are used at the onset of the cold or flu, the better.
Whatever happened to bird flue that everyone here was so excited about?
I’ve been puking for 21 hours - can’t even keep a thimble of water down. Did have my hin1 vaccine. Maybe norovirus i might call 911 later if i still can’t drink.
It becomes a numbers game at some point where the sheer number of people infected in a less deadly strain actually result in more fatalaties than the relatively few fatalities (number wise) from a less infectious strain with a much higher lethal outcome, just because the latter affects far fewer people.
Because of the locale involved (East Asia), and the relatively rapid spread along migration pathways in bird populations, it was expected that H5N1 posed a potential threat to humans worldwide. Thankfully, that threat has not developed, even though small outbreaks of one to a few cases still occur sporadically.
Thank you for the information and advice!
Brief update: relative took me to ER (saved $950 over ambulance). Not a flu or even Norovirus. Two liters of IV saline and a trip to GI lab. I have been avoiding Upper GI for years but they had me as a captive audience under Valium. Went great, they tell me, no recollection at all under Versed and Fentanyl and Valium (But I’m sure it was lots of fun in real time). This was all covered under a state insurance program (WA State), but that program Basic Health may be going away in two months. Glad this happened now! I actually have had good experiences with Basic Health. It is not much like RomneyCare!
so what’s the diagnosis?
glad you’re home and ‘talking’ to us...
It should be added that because of its nature, H5N1 is seen as the most dangerous potential biological threat the world has ever faced. It ranks just behind limited nuclear war in its potential to kill as many as 1 billion people, perhaps more.
Unlike typical influenza, or even most other emergent lethal diseases, H5N1 has mysteriously maintained its 60% mortality in humans (with treatment). A 60% mortality is about optimal for greatest overall mortality.
Less than that, like bubonic plague, with a 40% mortality, and the disease will be more widespread, but with lower overall epidemic mortality; and greater than that, like pneumonic plague, with a mortality of 90%, or septicemic plague, with a 99% mortality, and the disease burns itself out by killing off those who would spread it, so has a lower overall epidemic mortality.
Because of its “H5” factor, unlike other influenza, nobody has even limited immunity to it. In a typical flu, this limited immunity means that much more of the virus must be taken up by a person for an infection to become established, which limits its spread. With H5N1, even a small amount will cause infection.
Also uncharacteristically, H5N1 infects a dizzying array of animal vectors. Birds, dogs, horses, cattle, cats, and fish all have extraordinarily different immune systems, yet all have been found with H5N1 infections. It also effects all the major food animals: chickens and other fowl, cows, pigs, sheep and goats (the most popular meat in the world), rabbits and freshwater fish. I do not know if it has yet been found in seafood.
So even if H5N1 does not emerge as a major human plague, it could still be extremely deadly by wiping out much of the worlds farm animals.
It was noted some time ago, by the chief epidemiologist of Vietnam, that infected herds of animals and flocks of birds, though not suffering from the disease, are used by it to promulgate new and more effective forms, as he described it, “an immense, natural selection computer.”
He found a single herd of swine, each of which had on average five different strains of the virus in competition. Once one of them became dominant, it went into “subfinals” against the dominant strains in other pigs in the herd. Eventually, the entire herd had the single most dominant virus.
And this is happening right now, in herds and flocks across Asia. All that needs to happen is between one and three viral mutations, so that the virus can easily spread from human to human. And if the virus cannot innovate this itself, it could borrow that ability from another influenza virus.
Thank you and late Merry Christmas!
I have no recollection this morning of writing that message #35 so the memory blocker was still active somewhat last night. Posting Under the Influence! I also can’t remember being driven home, putting my pets to bed, my going to bed, etc.
No real dx but the GI specialist did somehow get the spasm in the esophagus stopped. Throat just a little sore today. Happy to be able to drink fluids again!
It would be good to know what caused it, so you could avoid it in the future, if possible. I’m glad you are doing better!
Thank you. Have an excellent New Year, sir. I’ll see the gastroenterologist in a month again. It was probably partly neuropsychological as benzodiazepines calmed it down somewhat by themselves. Plus the GI said I have a hiatal hernia — very common at 50s and older. I’m just tired right now but feeling OK.
The situation has gotten MUCH, MUCH worse in the UK since this article was posted.
As of a few days ago the number of people in intensive care in the UK was 4 times the level it was at during the peak of last year's flu season. The UK medical system is already in crisis, and the worst is not yet here. It has started in a number of other countries, including the U.S.
I have not seen anything on FR covering this. (The MSM, of course, is completely silent.) I don't have much time at the moment, but hopefully someone will start a thread on it. For personal reasons I have done very little posting on any board for about a year, and my ping list is woefully out of date.
This breaking story is mostly being ignored in the U.S. media, and what is out there is mostly wrong (surprise, surprise...). But here's a few starters:
...The vast majority of these cases are due to H1N1 infections, indicating that the H1N1 circulating in the UK has largely escaped the immunological response generated by infection or vaccination with the H1N1 circulating in the UK last season.
The vaccine breakthrough was initially cited in Australia over the summer, and related sequences have become dominant in the UK and other northern hemisphere countries where vaccine breakthroughs and dramatic increases in severe H1N1 cases is becoming increasingly common...
From Monotreme's Blog (A PhD specializing in flu. I am not Monotreme.):
Recent reports indicate that the pandemic H1N1 virus is causing much more strain on the health care system in the United Kingdom this flu season than last year. For example, approximately 50% of all critical care beds are currently occupied by people infected with pandemic H1N1. And this is occurring early in the flu season. The peak in infections is likely weeks away.
Pinging the folks on the flu list to your comment and links, EternalHope. I don’t think we should ever underestimate anything which has great lethal potential. I’m no fan of hysteria, either, but foreknowledge of potential threats helps one be prepared to deal with them if they occur.
Thanks for the ping!
I just wrote a sort of flu summary update.
I may freepmail it to you and you can tell me what you think. I really, REALLY don’t want to get into a thread with people saying it’s a hoax, chicken little, crap like that.
I’ve been reading on PFI and Niman’s site for days one end and this is dire, much much worse than last year, and looks as though tamiflu resistence is setting in, and the vax isn’t on target any more.
I understand that hand sanitizers are either useless or don’t work against viruses; that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be in fighting flu. Some hand sanitizers have been found to actually have bacterial contamination.
I think that they give people a false sense of security and keeps them from taking other, perhaps more effective, precautions against the flu.
I'm thinking that it would be a good idea to be stocked up on food, medicine, and other essentials in the event that the flu hits your area hard and you want to hunker down for the duration.
If someone was well stocked, they could theoretically get by without trips to the supermarket.
I doubt there's that many people who couldn't do without clothes shopping and going to the movies and dinner. Food is harder, but sitting down and planning on a month's supply of food could leave you well stocked enough to get by with a minimal of going out.
Milk, eggs, and bread are the things people want the most. Eggs keep about forever. They'll keep WEEKS properly refrigerated.
People can buy powdered milk. Probably not as tasty, but in a pinch, it will do.
Bread can be home made, or bought in quantity and frozen, or frozen bread dough can be purchased and baked as needed.
I think I'll inventory our supplies, even though we're likely to be OK even on short notice. :)
Thanks Smokin’ Joe, Happy New Year! Please forgive if this is a redundant ping. The ECMO acronym stands for Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation, IIRC. Folks needing ECMO means that their lungs are out of action for all intents and purposes, if and until they can recover.
You’re Welcome, Alamo-Girl!
“It is true that some viruses are readily inactivated by alcohol; however, some are not. Viruses consist of nucleic acid (either RNA or DNA) surrounded by a capsid (protein shell). Some viruses have an additional external layer or wrapping known as an envelope. The envelope is created from a piece of phospholipid membrane that comes from the infected host cell during the budding process when viral particles leave the infected cell. Enveloped viruses are referred to as lipophilic viruses, because of their lipid envelope, while non-enveloped viruses are referred to as non-lipophilic viruses.
“Generally, enveloped (lipophilic) viruses are susceptible to alcohol: Herpes simplex virus (HSV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza virus (Flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), vaccinia virus, Hepatitis B and C viruses are considered susceptible to alcohols.
However, certain nonenveloped (nonlipophilic) viruses such as hepatitis A and enteroviruses, which are both responsible for viral gastrointestinal infections are less susceptible. Depending on the alcohol concentration of the hand-cleanser and time of exposure to the alcohol, hepatitis A and other nonlipophilic viruses may not be eliminated.
“Alcohol kills microorganisms by denaturing proteins and the most effective alcohol preparations have contain 60-95% alcohol. Higher concentrations are less effective because proteins are not denatured easily in the absence of water. Most commercial hand-cleansers contain between 65-70% alcohol. Nonenveloped viruses require slightly higher alcohol concentrations for reliable inactivation than are found in many commercial hand-cleansers (70-80%).
“The effectiveness of alcohol in ridding hands of potentially infectious microorganisms is dependent not only on the alcohol concentration, but the time of exposure, and the volume of alcohol as well. It is important to ensure adequate contact between the cleanser and the then hands. Although the optimal volume of alcohol-based cleanser has not been determined, it is suggested that if hands feel dry after rubbing hands together for 10-15 seconds, an insufficient volume was likely applied.”
However, this is only half the equation.
Very, very few pathogens can successfully create a runaway infection with minimal contamination, such as Tularemia (rabbit fever), that only needs 10 to 50 bacteria to establish itself. Most bacteria and viruses require tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions, all at once, especially if the immune system has been exposed to it, or a similar pathogen, before.
For example, if you have overcome an infection of an ordinary H1N1 flu strain, a “second cousin” to that strain may require millions of viruses to establish an infection, and even then it will not be severe. But a “fifth to tenth cousin” of that strain might need far less to establish itself, and the disease itself with be harsher.
And this is the value of washing the hands, or at least using hand sanitizer. Such a volume of pathogen has to be carried in a glob of contamination. If you can wash the glob off, it will take enough of the pathogen with it so the *remainder* won’t be able to infect you.
This is why there is a rule that if you can physically see contamination, you should use soap and water. Only if the hands are (relatively) clean should you use hand sanitizer.
And dirty hands are, in many circumstances, absolutely essential to the spread of cold and flu viruses.
Experiments have shown that the ideal environment to spread viruses by coughing and sneezing is at 40F and low humidity. As the temperature and humidity increase, colds and flu become much more dependent on hand contamination.
Ironically, air conditioning does much to increase the spread of colds and flu by both stagnating and recirculating air. If instead windows are opened, air circulation inside and out radically reduces the amount of pathogen floating about on drops of moisture.
One final note, viruses that cause intestinal problems resulting in diarrhea and/or vomiting, can be readily wafted into the air with toilet flushing. So it is not a bad idea when those diseases are about, to put a cup of chlorine bleach in the toilet after use, a minute or so before flushing.
And then to wash hands before exiting the bathroom.
Seems they cannot afford to heat their homes, so public transit is their means of staying warm during this coldest of winters for them.
Which in turn means more exposure to germs and viruses.