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Many people suffering from swine influenza, even those who are severely ill, do not have fever, an odd feature of the new virus that could increase the difficulty of controlling the epidemic, said a leading American infectious-disease expert who examined cases in Mexico last week.
But about a third of the patients at two hospitals in Mexico City where the American expert, Dr. Richard P. Wenzel, consulted for four days last week had no fever when screened, he said.
GENEVA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to raise the current A/H1N1 flu alert to its highest level of six on Thursday, news agencies reported.
AFP quoted the Swedish government's announcement that the WHO "declared a swine flu pandemic on Thursday, raising its alert to the maximum level six."
Reports also said that the WHO is telling its members that it is declaring the flu pandemic -- the first global flu epidemic in 41 years. That means a global outbreak of the flu has begun.
WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan is to hold a news conference to announce the organization's official decision at 1600 GMT Thursday after an experts meeting was held to discuss the issue earlier Thursday.
The agency has stressed that most cases are mild and require no treatment, but the fear is that a rash of new infections could overwhelm hospitals and health authorities -- especially in poorer countries.
Still, about half of the people who have died from swine flu were previously young and healthy -- people who are not usually susceptible to flu.
Swine flu is also continuing to spread during the start of summer in the northern hemisphere. Normally, flu viruses disappear with warm weather, but swine flu is proving to be resilient.
Many health experts say WHO's pandemic declaration could have come weeks earlier but the agency became bogged down by politics. In May, several countries urged WHO not to declare a pandemic, fearing it would cause social and economic turmoil.
"This is WHO finally catching up with the facts,
Many Salt Lake County hospitals are being overrun by people reporting respiratory problems, including ones related to H1N1 swine flu. That's prompting officials to urge people with only mild symptoms to stay home. On Monday, the emergency room at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray was so busy it diverted ambulances to other hospitals. But not everyone showing up to the ER is sick: Some want antiviral drugs because they've been exposed to the flu. Some just want to be tested. "Unless you're severely ill, don't seek care at an emergency department," said Ilene Risk, epidemiologist for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. "Sometimes [ER patients] are not even ill [with the flu]. They've just been exposed. If they need antiviral medications they should work through their health-care provider." There are legitimately severe cases of the new flu strain: As of Wednesday, 71 county residents have been hospitalized. While that's a big jump from the 33 cases reported last week, Risk said preliminary data show hospitalizations may be peaking. But most people .ing to the ER with flulike symptoms don't need to go. When they do, they risk infecting others or getting sicker. Debra Wynkoop, director of health policy for the Utah Hospitals and Health Systems Association, said valley ERs are seeing 20 percent to 30 percent more patients. "That's pretty significant," she said. "Every hospital in the valley is experiencing the same increase in patient load.
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan officials say a 58-year-old Roscommon County man is the state's second swine flu-related death.
The Michigan Department of Community Health said Thursday that the man died June 4. Lab results on Wednesday confirmed the H1N1 influenza virus.
The department says the man also had other underlying health conditions but did not release any additional information.
Michigan had 418 confirmed cases of swine flu as of Tuesday. A 53-year-old Macomb County woman died June 1 from complications of the virus.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 27 deaths from the infection in the United States as of June 5.
Three more people - including at least one child - have died of swine flu in New York City, bringing the total number to 15, the health department said Thursday morning.
The announcement came on the same day the World Health Organization told its member nations it is declaring a swine flu pandemic - the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.
The latest three New York City cases include one victim under the age of 2, one between 10 and 20 years old, and another between 30 to 39 years old, the city health department said.
Thursday afternoon, the newly appointed health commissioner will testify about the city's response to the swine flu outbreak in a hearing Thursday at City Hall.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley will give his first public report on H1N1, or swine flu, at 2 p.m. in the City Council's public safety committee hearing.
Farley, who became the commissioner of the city Health Department on Monday, will be joined Joe Bruno, commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management, among others.
The committee, chaired by Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), is expected to probe the city's response to the virus and its communicable disease preparedness plan.
The World Health Organization declared the first flu pandemic of the 21st century on Thursday, urging countries to shore up defenses against the virus which is "not stoppable" but has proved mainly mild so far.
The United Nations agency raised its pandemic flu alert to phase 6 on a six-point scale, indicating the first influenza pandemic since 1968 is under way.
"This is a very important and challenging day for all of us. It is important because we will be raising our pandemic alert level to level 6," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan told reporters on a teleconference.
World now at the start of 2009 influenza pandemic
Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
In late April, WHO announced the emergence of a novel influenza A virus.
This particular H1N1 strain has not circulated previously in humans. The virus is entirely new.
The virus is contagious, spreading easily from one person to another, and from one country to another. As of today, nearly 30,000 confirmed cases have been reported in 74 countries.
This is only part of the picture. With few exceptions, countries with large numbers of cases are those with good surveillance and testing procedures in place.
Spread in several countries can no longer be traced to clearly-defined chains of human-to-human transmission. Further spread is considered 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.
On the basis of available evidence, and these expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met.
I have therefore decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6.
The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.
We are in the earliest days of the pandemic. The virus is spreading under a close and careful watch.
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.
We have a . start. This places us in a strong position. But it also creates a demand for advice and reassurance in the midst of limited data and considerable scientific uncertainty.
Thanks to close monitoring, thorough investigations, and frank reporting from countries, we have some early snapshots depicting spread of the virus and the range of illness it can cause.
We know, too, that this early, patchy picture can change very quickly. The virus writes the rules and this one, like all influenza viruses, can change the rules, without rhyme or reason, at any time.
Globally, we have good reason to believe that this pandemic, at least in its early days, will be of moderate severity. As we know from experience, severity can vary, depending on many factors, from one country to another.
On present evidence, the overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment.
Worldwide, the number of deaths is small. Each and every one of these deaths is tragic, and we have to brace ourselves to see more. However, we do not expect to see a sudden and dramatic jump in the number of severe or fatal infections.
We know that the novel H1N1 virus preferentially infects younger people. In nearly all areas with large and sustained outbreaks, the majority of cases have occurred in people under the age of 25 years.
In some of these countries, around 2% of cases have developed severe illness, often with very rapid progression to life-threatening pneumonia.
Most cases of severe and fatal infections have been in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
This pattern is significantly different from that seen during epidemics of seasonal influenza, when most deaths occur in frail elderly people.
Many, though not all, severe cases have occurred in people with underlying chronic conditions. Based on limited, preliminary data, conditions most frequently seen include respiratory diseases, notably asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and obesity.
At the same time, it is important to note that around one third to half of the severe and fatal infections are occurring in previously healthy young and middle-aged people.
Without question, pregnant women are at increased risk of complications. This heightened risk takes on added importance for a virus, like this one, that preferentially infects younger age groups.
Finally, and perhaps of greatest concern, we do not know how this virus will behave under conditions typically found in the developing world. To date, the vast majority of cases have been detected and investigated in comparatively well-off countries.
Let me underscore two of many reasons for this concern. First, more than 99% of maternal deaths, which are a marker of poor quality care during pregnancy and childbirth, occurs in the developing world.
Second, around 85% of the burden of chronic diseases is concentrated 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.
Ladies and gentlemen,
A characteristic feature of pandemics is their rapid spread to all parts of the world. In the previous century, this spread has typically taken around 6 to 9 months, even during times when most international travel was by ship or rail.
Countries should prepare to see cases, or the further spread of cases, in the near future. Countries where outbreaks appear to have peaked should prepare for a second wave of infection.
Guidance on specific protective and precautionary measures has been sent to ministries of health in all countries. Countries with no or only a few cases should remain vigilant.
Countries with widespread transmission should focus on the appropriate management of patients. The testing and investigation of patients should be limited, as such measures are resource intensive and can very quickly strain capacities.
WHO has been in close dialogue with influenza vaccine manufacturers. I understand that production of vaccines for seasonal influenza will be completed soon, and that full capacity will be available to ensure the largest possible supply of pandemic vaccine in the months to come.
Pending the availability of vaccines, several non-pharmaceutical interventions can confer some protection.
WHO continues to recommend no restrictions on travel and no border closures.
Influenza pandemics, whether moderate or severe, are remarkable events because of the almost universal susceptibility of the world’s population to infection.
We are all in this together, and we will all get through this, together.
ALAMEDA COUNTY (BCN) – Officials say a middle-aged Alameda County man who had tested positive for the H1N1 virus died Wednesday, marking the second swine flu-related death in that county and the third in the Bay Area.
According to Alameda County Public Health Department spokeswoman Sherri Willis, the man who died Wednesday suffered from chronic health problems.
[edit on 11-6-2009 by JBA2848]
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, federal Minister of Health, along with Dr. David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Frank Plummer, Scientific Director General of the National Microbiology Laboratory, and Dr. Danielle Grondin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Infectious Disease and Emergency Preparedness in the Public Health Agency of Canada will provide an update on the topic of H1N1 flu virus.
The total number of confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 influenza in Latin America and the Caribbean has risen to 9,148, including 113 deaths, as of Wednesday.
Chile, with a total of 1,694 confirmed cases, announced on Wednesday its third death case of the epidemic, becoming the second Latin American country with the largest number of flu cases.
Costa Rica reported on Wednesday 11 new cases, raising the total number to 104, including one death. Costa Rica was the second Latin American country reporting an A/H1N1 flu death following Mexico.
Guatemala reported on Wednesday another six confirmed cases, bringing the total in that nation to 66, while Nicaragua reported five new cases, with a total of 51 cases in the country.
Brazil confirmed on Wednesday three new cases, bringing the total number of the infected to 43, while Uruguay confirmed four new cases, raising the infected in the country to 36.
Venezuela reported on Wednesday a total of 25 cases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 235 cases had been reported in Argentina, 64 in Peru, 16 in Paraguay, five in Cuba and three in Bolivia till Wednesday.
Colombia confirmed on Tuesday its first death due to the virus, and the total confirmed cases in the country reached 35.
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic confirmed on Friday its first death, becoming the fourth country in Latin America to report a flu death. It also reported 11 new cases, bringing the total in the country to 91.
On Tuesday, Mexico said it had reported a total of 6,241 cases, including 108 deaths. Honduras reported a total of 89 cases.
Ecuador on Monday confirmed two new cases, bringing the country’s confirmed cases to 60. El Salvador confirmed a total of 69 cases. Panama reported 221 cases.
According to the WHO, the A/H1N1 flu has already killed 141 people across the world, and more than 27,700 people from 74 countries and regions have been infected so far.
WATERBURY, Conn. -- A Waterbury kindergartner has become the state's second confirmed H1N1 death, health officials said Thursday.
The child had underlying health problems, according to state health officials.
The office of Waterbury's mayor told Eyewitness News that the child was enrolled in school, but was part of a program in which the teacher went to the child's home.
Officials planned to release more information about the child's death at a 3:30 p.m. news conference.