Flu-like symptoms?

April 27, 2009

Swine flu epidemic fear grows, world on alert

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Governments around the world rushed on Sunday to check the spread of a new type of swine flu that has killed up to 81 people in Mexico and infected around a dozen in the United States.

Mexicans huddled in their homes while U.S. hospitals tracked patients with flu symptoms and other countries imposed health checks at airports as the World Health Organization warned the virus had the potential to become a pandemic.

In New Zealand, 10 pupils from an Auckland school party that had returned from Mexico were being treated for influenza symptoms…

Countries across Asia, which have had to grapple with deadly viruses like H5N1 bird flu and SARS in recent years, snapped into action. At airports and other border checkpoints in Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, officials screened travelers for any flu-like symptoms.

Argentina declared a health alert, requiring anyone arriving on flights from Mexico to advise if they had flu-like symptoms.

In France, two people returning from Mexico who had flu-like symptoms were being tested…

A British Airways cabin crew member was taken to hospital in London after developing flu-like symptoms on a flight from Mexico, but tests later cleared him of swine flu.

Unless I’ve overlooked it, there soes NOT seem to be any information at all about symptoms of the disease other than a reference to flu-like problems. Think it would be very useful to provide such information with at least some specifics in your next report, and perhaps offer a sidebar with details.


This is a good point raised by several readers. We have begun adding some basic symptom information to our flu stories, such as:

Flu is characterized by a sudden fever, muscle aches, sore throat and dry cough. Victims of the new strain have also suffered more vomiting and diarrhea than is usual with flu.

GBU Editor

A health worker explains the symptoms of influenza to a taxi driver in downtown Monterrey, northern Mexico, April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

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In 1918:In large U.S cities, more than 10,000 deaths per week were attributed to the virus. It is estimated that as many as 50% of the population was infected, and ~1% died. To compare, in “normal” (interpandemic) years, it is estimated that between 10-20% of the population is infected, with a .008% mortality.The fact the current ‘swine flu’ has shown to be contagious is alarming. So far the virus has shown to have a 6% to 6.3% mortality rate. It may not seem like much, but please consider the following: The deadly influenza panic in 1918 had a mortality rate of under 1%.This virus went on to kill tens of thousands of healthy people a day in large cities and up to 100 million people world wide.Viruses, like this strain of swine flu, kill their host by over-stimulating active immune systems that are robust and healthy. That is why the victims in Mexico were between the ages of 20 and 45.Some have said that no one in the United States have died from the virus, so we need not worry. Experts say it is only a matter of time. The virus is not prevalent enough to reach statistical significance in the United States, with only a handful of confirmed cases. 93.7% of all Mexicans with the virus recovered.More cause for worry: The 1918 virus started off ‘mild’ before it mutated into a raging storm. It also does not mean we will see millions of deaths. It is too early to draw sweeping conclusions. Nevertheless, there is potential for a disastrous pandemic. If 50% of Americans catch this flu in the next two years, and the mortality rate stays at 6.3%, we would witness 20+ million deaths.This strain of virus is more potent and more deadly than the virus that hammered the world in 1918 and 1919. Viruses come in waves. There are striking similarities to this virus and the virus that killed up to 100 million people in 1918. The first wave is historically more mild than the later waves.In addition to this virus becoming more severe, it is mutating faster than previous virus that we have seen. In addition, this virus is nothing like we have ever seen before because it combines features from viruses natural in different parts of the globe. We are in uncharted territory.If it follows the same path as the 1918 flu, we will see very damaging results. However, we must remember we are a global society now and the virus can spread quicker than we have ever witnessed in history. This is very concerning especially since the drugs we have now seem resistant.While there have been no deaths in America, it is shadowed by the fact the common variable among the deaths seem to be age. While most American cases have involved the very young and very old (under 10 and over 50) the Mexican cases that ended fatally involved the robust and healthy (over 20 and under 45).This virus kills the host by over-stimulating the immune system. The term that is used when the immune system over reacts is called a Cytokine Storm. It is usually fatal. During this “Storm” over 150 inflammatory mediators are released. This would account for the high mortality rate in 1918-19.http://tinyurl.com/d2te2f

Posted by Barb Lamont | Report as abusive

WTF it seems that reuters only allows commenting on some articles. oh well. i’ll put my comment here. there is a different Swine Flu article by reuters that includes this: “The U.S. government on Sunday declared the flu strain a public health emergency — a fresh challenge for the Obama administration, which is still mindful of the damage inflicted on his predecessor George W. Bush over his government’s inept handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”good job reuters…. throw in a little opinion there about the previous President… how about mentioning the New Orleans Mayor’s handling of Katrina while you’re at it?… cripe sake’s reuters: get over it. Enjoy your flu.

Posted by Joe Syxpak | Report as abusive

There is this information on the WHO website. Which says that only 7 people died by the new strain of virus H1V1 and 26 confirm cases in total.The rest of fatalities have not been confirm linked to this virus.http://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_04 _27/en/index.html27 April 2009Swine influenza – update 327 April 2009 — The current situation regarding the outbreak of swine influenza A(H1N1) is evolving rapidly. As of 27 April 2009, the United States Government has reported 40 laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A(H1N1), with no deaths. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection with the same virus, including seven deaths. Canada has reported six cases, with no deaths, while Spain has reported one case, with no deaths.

Posted by DOROTEO | Report as abusive

It’s worth keeping things in perspective. Pandemic could get serious, but let’s not lose our heads over every little bit of news that comes out about flu.For more see my blog:tomtommytom.blogspot.com

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive