Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Is swine flu getting worse?

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No, says the U.S. federal government, but officials finally have enough data to give a good picture of the pandemic and it isn’t pretty. The CDC estimates that 22 million Americans caught swine flu in the first six months of the pandemic and 3,900 people died.

This includes 540 children.

So why the big jump in numbers? In a country of 300 million people, it takes some time to do a count. The US doesn’t have an organized public health system and states and cities lack enough staff to crunch the numbers in real-time. So the CDC takes a representative, detailed sampling from 10 states and then extrapolates this to the total US population. The latest figures are the first to give a good estimate of how extensive the pandemic is so far.

The CDC is pushing vaccines but at the same time, supply is spotty and people are often suspicious of them. Americans are not alone in this mistrust, by the way – check here for an unpdate on what is happening in Europe.  And here is one creative way to help prevent the spread…

Swine flu vaccination finally starts

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  Swine flu vaccination is under way in the US, although the CDC admits it is a bumpy start .

 The World Health Organization is worried that people may believe rumors about the safety of the vaccine and avoid it .  What could happen with H1N1 anyway?

from Maggie Fox:

Where scientists go to learn about swine flu

Usually, at a forum on swine flu, all the experts stand up, present a bunch of general background material, a few new findings, and leave. The learning curve on H1N1 is so steep that by the time you fill in the background, you are out of time, and there's no point in hearing the next presenter speak to a general audience

But this week's Institute of Medicine  meeting was different. Epidemiologists - the people who specialize in how disease spreads - were talking to molecular geneticists. Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization filled in the bench scientists on how negotiating to get vaccines and drugs for poor countries was taking up everyone's valuable time. Veterans of the 1976 swine flu vaccine mess told their stories. Every scientist sat there raptly listening to the other's presentations. Much of the material had not yet gone through the time consuming peer-review process needed for publication in a medical journal, so it was a little raw, but that much more useful and timely to an educated audience.

from Maggie Fox:

Swine flu update

WHO has given up on trying to keep any kind of precise count on swine flu, which is just about everywhere now. It's fairly mild but hardly anyone has any immunity, so it will infect far more people than seasonal flu does in an average year. That may mean more serious cases and more deaths than usual, just by virtue of sheer numbers.

It is affecting lots of kids but there are some clear guidelines for health care workers to protect themselves and their families.

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