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Swine flu pandemic is threat to school term (UK)
Times Online (UK) ^ | June 11, 2009 | David Rose and Mark Henderson

Posted on 06/12/2009 10:21:51 AM PDT by john in springfield

Thousands of schools could be forced to close for weeks on end to stem the spread of swine flu, scientists say.

...the Government’s Chief Medical Officer said that “several million” Britons would fall ill with the H1N1 virus.

Sir Liam Donaldson predicted a “huge surge” of cases when children go back to school in the autumn.

Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College, London, who advises the Government and the WHO, said that widespread illness could lead to schools closing for several weeks, and extensive disruption to businesses and the wider economy...

...Professor Ferguson said that the pandemic could mean that 25-35 per cent of the population would fall ill within three or four months, placing severe strain on the NHS.

The virus was likely to be two to three times more deadly than seasonal flu, which kills an estimated 12,000 people each year, he said.

...It is estimated that a widespread school closure policy could prevent one in seven cases and one in five among children, while reducing infections at the peak of the pandemic by 40 per cent.

A decision will be not be taken until the circumstances of any autumn outbreak are known, however, because of the measure’s high economic and social costs...

...The last global flu pandemic, in 1968 — “Hong Kong” flu — killed up to four million people worldwide, including 25,000 in Britain.

...Sir Liam said that past pandemics suggested that there would be a steady increase of cases over the summer in Britain, followed by large peaks in September/October, or at Christmas...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: flu; h1n1; influenza; pandemic; pandemicpanic; school; swineflu; term
Some of the latest news on the current flu, which is looking comparable to 1968. It will be combated with Tamiflu (as long as it doesn't become Tamiflu-resistant, and we'd better pray it doesn't), vaccine (which probably won't be available until at least September), and maybe things like school closings.
1 posted on 06/12/2009 10:21:51 AM PDT by john in springfield
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To: john in springfield
And yet, after the initial high level publicity about the threat, you rarely hear anything about it. The first 200 cases got ten times the press than the next 10,000.
2 posted on 06/12/2009 10:24:45 AM PDT by TCats
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To: john in springfield

Actually, I’m thinking they might be able to speed up the vaccine if things get bad. A Swiss company has produced a first batch. (See:,2933,525937,00.html). However, this same article also states vaccines should be available “after September.”

The problem appears to be getting through pre-clinical evaluation, testing, clinical trials, governmental approval, manufacturing, and distribution.

3 posted on 06/12/2009 10:27:47 AM PDT by john in springfield
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To: TCats

“The first 200 cases got ten times the press than the next 10,000.”

I’m certain it’s WAY more than 10,000 now.

4 posted on 06/12/2009 10:29:54 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: john in springfield

The USN has had a lot of problems on board a number of their ships from swine flu.

5 posted on 06/12/2009 10:37:25 AM PDT by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to...otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: TCats


Well, when something is new, it’s sensational. And sensational sells newspapers.

The whole thing, at this point, has been simply dismissed by a lot of people (including a lot here at FR, many of whom have called it things like a “hoax.”). What they fail to understand is that pandemics start small and we are still in the early stages. The real impact on public health will come later. It’s like getting news of a distant train rolling down the track. When it doesn’t arrive in the first couple of weeks, people dismiss it.

It’s also true that this flu, so far, has “only” about a 0.6% fatality rate. That means there’s a 99.4% chance you’ll live through it... if you get it, which maybe 2/3rds of people won’t. So that puts the odds of your survival at around 99.8%. Even if you have a large family, and even if 1/3rd of the country comes down with this flu, odds are excellent that you’ll all live through it. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that this bug has the potential, at least, to kill around 600,000 people in the US alone. That’s 200 times as many people as we lost in the World Trade Center event. And unlike seasonal flu, this flu kills a high percentage of children, young people and adults in the prime of life.

WILL we lose that many people? Hopefully not. I’m hoping we won’t get anywhere near that number. But every person we lose will be another family devastated by this thing, completely without regard to the economic consequences. And anyone who thinks this flu is a “joke” or a “hoax” is simply ignorant or delusional.

6 posted on 06/12/2009 10:39:54 AM PDT by john in springfield
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To: john in springfield
Here's some more info (from elsewhere) which ties in with my hopes that we will see far less than the potential negative impact:

WHO officials say the world is actually in the best ever position to deal with a pandemic due to efforts made in the past five years.

"No previous pandemic has been detected so early or watched so closely, in real-time, right at the very beginning. The world can now reap the benefits of investments, over the last five years, in pandemic preparedness," Chan said at a news briefing on Thursday.

"We have a head start. This places us in a strong position," she said.

From another article:

Almost 90 per cent of the world's population will not have timely access to affordable supplies of vaccines and antiviral agents in the current influenza pandemic, but it is possible that inexpensive generic drugs that are readily available, even in developing countries, could save millions of lives.

That's the conclusion reached by an extensive review and analysis by immunisation expert Dr David Fedson, published online by Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses within hours of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic.

Dr Fedson points out that seasonal flu resistance to antiviral drugs like Tamiflu may make them ineffective in the pandemic and maintains that without effective drugs some countries will have to rely on 19th century public health measures to see them through the outbreak.

He is calling for urgent and sharply focused research to determine whether drugs that reduce inflammation or modify the host response - the way that the body responds to infection or injury - could be used to manage the pandemic. And he believes that a lot could be learnt from the work done on these commonly available generic drugs - which include drugs to lower cholesterol and treat diabetes - by scientists not involved in influenza research.

I guess in terms of response the whole thing is neither to over-react, or under-react. It's a bit difficult for people to know exactly where the balance is, given all of the various uncertainties and the fact that our last pandemic was 40 years ago.

7 posted on 06/12/2009 10:48:53 AM PDT by john in springfield
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To: john in springfield

Someone yesterday on another thread proclaimed that a report that the US has had 17,000 confirmed cases of this influenza so far was “BS.” I pointed out that the CDC had confirmed 13,000 as of last Friday.

The new official US weekly update is up at the CDC’s site now:

So far, officially in the United States:

17,855 cases
45 deaths

Others are reporting it’s more like 60 deaths so far. Since they were saying 50 a day or two ago, and since the offical stats are likely a bit behind, I’d say they’re probably very close.

8 posted on 06/12/2009 10:57:37 AM PDT by john in springfield
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To: john in springfield


The extent to which people have “tuned out” on this issue is illustrated by the fact that an article entitled “Local contractor sent to demolish house, but it’s the wrong one” has 7 times as many views as this one.

Move on, folks. Nothing to see here.

9 posted on 06/12/2009 11:03:51 AM PDT by john in springfield
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To: john in springfield
Your analysis is spot on. One thing missing though is the potential for this thing to mutate to a strain of much higher rates of lethality. Each person who contracts it serves as a cooking pot where the virus may spontaneously mutate to such a form.

This possibility is not out of the question and the probability of increased lethality is amplified by the unique composition of H1N1, a combination of Human, Swine and Avian Flu.

This story is likely far from over IMO.

10 posted on 06/12/2009 1:44:40 PM PDT by TCats
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To: TCats

Right. In fact, that was what happened in 1918: a mild but novel influenza evolved into a much more vicious killer. And I certainly don’t discount that possibility.

There are at least three other, similar possibilities:

1) It combines with the seasonal influenza and becomes Tamiflu-resistant. This would not be good news.

2) We produce a vaccine, but the virus mutates into a new form against which our vaccines are ineffective. This would not be good news.

3) It somehow combines with the highly pathogenic, utterly terrifying strain of H5N1 that has killed 77% of those who’ve caught it, to produce a highly-transmissible doomsday bug. I consider this to be a very unlikely scenario, but I doubt it’s outside of the realm of theoretical possibility. I will say I’m not particularly worried about it at this point, though, as I do consider it very unlikely.

Actually, if H5N1 goes big in the future, this flu could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as we might learn many valuable lessons from fighting a relatively less-lethal strain.

Any way you cut it, though, the current flu pandemic is a big story, and unfortunately is only likely to get bigger.

11 posted on 06/12/2009 2:07:49 PM PDT by john in springfield
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To: Smokin' Joe

H1N1 Flu article ping

12 posted on 06/16/2009 3:57:35 PM PDT by DvdMom
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To: 2ndreconmarine; Fitzcarraldo; Covenantor; Mother Abigail; EBH; Dog Gone; ...

Ping... (Thanks, DvdMom!)

13 posted on 06/16/2009 7:19:56 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: john in springfield

Click below to find out what to do if you get Flu even Mexican Swine Flu H1N1.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine — a nutritional supplement at a dosage of 1,200 mg per day may help to prevent Influenza infection, may reduce the symptoms of existing Influenza infection and may reduce the duration of Influenza infections.

by Dr. Marcus Gitterle, M.D.

14 posted on 06/16/2009 8:31:39 PM PDT by BellStar (It is not who votes. It's who counts the votes.)
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