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Best case scenario on H1N1 containment predicts pharmaceutical companies produce 4.9 billion vaccines - but there are concerns that the swine flu bug could trade data with drug-resistant strains to create a dangerous new animal.
ATLANTA - Scientists have identified a lethal new virus in Africa that causes bleeding like the dreaded Ebola virus.
The so-called "Lujo" virus infected five people in Zambia and South Africa last fall. Four of them died, but a fifth survived, perhaps helped by a medicine recommended by the scientists.
It's not clear how the first person became infected, but the bug comes from a family of viruses found in rodents, said Dr. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist involved in the discovery.
A 24-year-old woman in the southern city of Guangzhou tested positive for the virus after developing a fever a day earlier, the Health Ministry said on its website. It is believed she caught the disease from a man who visited the photo studio where she works on Monday and Tuesday.
The man — a 28-year-old Chinese-American who was having wedding photos taken with his fiancee — arrived in the capital of China's Guangdong province on Sunday from New York, where he works at a hospital. He tested positive for the flu on Wednesday.
The case raises the risk of a wider spread of the virus throughout China, a country where basic medical care is weak.
But Zeng Guang, a top epidemiology expert with the Chinese Center of Disease Control and Prevention, said that the public should not be worried about domestic transmission of the virus.
He urged people, however, to avoid crowds and people who have high temperatures as well as to frequently wash their hands, according to a statement on the Health Ministry site.
"We're certainly concerned. But it was just a matter of time considering what has happened in other countries," said Vivian Tan, spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation's China office. "We still feel they need to keep up surveillance, and these cases show that surveillance works because they are picking up close contacts of early cases."
7 hours ago
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico is reporting six more deaths from swine flu, bringing the country's toll to 95.
The Health Department says that 4,974 people have been sickened nationwide. That number includes the 95 deaths.
Health officials say 34 percent of those who died were obese and diabetic.
Mexico says its epidemic has largely subsided, but the confirmed toll has been rising as scientists test a backlog of samples from patients.
The department announced the new toll in a statement Thursday.
China reports first domestic case of A/H1N1 flu, further control steps planned
H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009
A U.S. health official said a swine flu vaccine could be available as early as October, but only if production and testing run smoothly this summer.
The United States could authorize emergency use of some currently unapproved immune system boosters called adjuvants to make a swine flu vaccine more effective, an official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.
A big challenge facing manufacturers of a vaccine for the new swine flu story" href="http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/swineflu">H1N1 flu will be making sufficient quantities of vaccine from a limited supply of active ingredient, or antigen.
One option to extend supply is to use an adjuventto increase the body's immune response and reduce the amount of antigen needed in each shot. Several companies are working on this approach, including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Switzerland's Novartis AG (NOVN.VX).
Michael Shaw, associate director of the CDC's Laboratory Science Influenza Division, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on swine flu in New York that a vaccine could be "stretched" to make more doses by using an adjuvant.
One reason the emergence of H1N1, also called swine flu, has caused so much concern -- and near hysteria in some cases -- is the memory of the painful and often fatal outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) back in 2003. Over several months, this devastating viral respiratory illness, caused by a coronavirus, spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Before the disease was contained, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 8,098 people had become sick from SARS and 774 died. Although public health measures finally controlled that global outbreak, there has been no effective way to prevent or treat the breath-robbing malady should a SARS pandemic erupt -- until now. A new study shows a protein from red algae may have the ability to successfully treat SARS infections.
PEOPLE who may have been in close proximity to a six-year-old Bundaberg child who is the city's first confirmed case of swine flu should have been contacted by authorities by now, the health department said last night.
A Queensland Health spokesman could not confirm whether the infectious boy and his family had travelled up from Sydney via plane or other means.
He said the “contact” area would have extended two rows back and two rows forward in a plane. Anyone who had the symptoms of the virus should present themselves at a hospital.
The boy, who is in isolation at his Bundaberg home, had been on holiday with his family on the Pacific Dawn cruise ship, on which three of the crew have now tested positive to the virus.
They disembarked at Sydney on Monday and travelled home. On arrival in Bundaberg, the family took the youngster to hospital where he was confirmed as having the virus.
WHO, however, says it is convening an expert panel to determine new criteria for announcing a global outbreak. The agency caved to pressure from member countries, including Britain, who urged the U.N. heath agency not to declare a pandemic.
Oxford said several of the confirmed British and Scottish swine flu cases have no known connection to confirmed cases or travel history. These sporadic cases — where there is no clear chain of transmission — are considered to be evidence a virus is widespread.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said the agency was working with national authorities to see if swine flu is spreading more widely in Europe.
Some experts felt nations weren’t looking very hard.
“Based on WHO’s current definitions, we are in a pandemic,” said Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota. “To say it is not entrenched in Europe is like denying that the sun rises.”
The wave analysis shows the vertical rise of new cases in Australia, up from 39 to 147
The big news, though, remains the sharp acceleration of new cases outside the first wave infection areas
The number of pig flu cases is tipped to double every few days and GPs and emergency departments are already swamped with those showing flu-like symptoms. How are health professionals coping?
Fact: a member of a (non-clinical) department is confirmed positive for swine flu (via his GP, which is why the official "pig phone" from the Health Department didn't ring). Fact: five of the staff member's close colleagues are off sick, with flu-like symptoms.
Read the whole story HERE
The official rules during the "contain" phase of a pandemic are to quarantine all close contacts, with or without flu symptoms. But if a lot more hospital staff go into quarantine there are serious implications. Already, healthy staff are at home with their children who were quarantined after a schoolmate got the disease. On Thursday the Austin had staff shortages in almost every medical round.
Already the clinic is seeing 70 people a day. "This is unprecedented," Kerr says. "Normal flu drives our 'winter business', but at the peak of winter we'd see 180 to 200 people a day (in the emergency department). Now we are seeing 260. This place was already at physical capacity even without these numbers."