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U.S. Urges Calm Over Swine Flu

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, April 27, 2009 11:11 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Swine Flu, CDC, Public Health, Pandemic, Influenza A

Medical personnel in Spain take precautions as the first swine flu case has been identified there.

Swine Flu – Don’t Panic U.S. Urges

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IMAGE SOURCE:  Valencia, Spain health workers/ New York Times 

Americans are being urged not to panic.  So far cases of the swine flu in the U.S. have been mild.

About 20 cases of the swine influenza A (H1N1) have been found in the U.S., with eight in New York City and seven in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is trying to find the source of the infection. 

The U.S. has called for an emergency declaration as a “standard operating procedure” said Homeland Security Secretary Jane Napolitano, equating it to emergency preparedness similar to what would be called for a hurricane.

With that, funds can be released along with one-quarter of the nation’s stockpile of antiflu drugs, which totals about 50 million dosages.

Later today the State Department is expected to issue a travel warning urging Americans avoid visiting Mexico if possible, especially for nonessential travel. 

American investigators said they expect more cases here.  The swine flu has killed about 103 in Mexico and has 1,600 sickened. 

So far there is only one hospitalization in the U.S.  Eight of the 20 cases are confirmed in New York City at the St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens.   They are reported to be mild cases.

Individual schools have been closed there and in Texas.  In addition to California, there are two cases in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio. 

These strains of the virus appear to have the same footprint as the Mexican variety.   

Whether the virus is mutating from a swine flu to a more lethal virus is still unclear, partially because there are only two labs, one in Atlanta and one in Winnipeg, Canada that can confirm a case, reports the New York Times

Still uncertain is whether this year’s flu vaccine is effective against the swine flu. There is a human strain of H1N1 in this year’s shot. 

The CDC reports that this influenza is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir.  Those sickened should also wear face masks.

Americans are being encouraged to wash their hands frequently and stay home if they feel ill. 

Travel

Border agents with Mexico are asking travelers if they are suffering from a fever or the flu. Across the border are being asked to wear masks and are being directed to medical care.

Airlines are still flying into and out of Mexico, though restrictions have been listed on those who decide to reschedule their trips to another time.  CNN reports that Delta and Air Canada allow passengers to change their travel plans at no additional cost. 

Canada recently identified six cases of swine fever among people who had just visited Mexico. 

Travel advisories have also been issued urging Europeans to avoid traveling to Mexico or the U.S. and on Monday, the European Union’s health commissioner warned Europeans to avoid travel to Mexico or the U.S. unless it is absolutely necessary.  

The CDC believes that warning is a bit too strong especially since there have been just 20 cases of swine flu in the states. The news that Spain has its first confirmed case sparked the warning.  New Zealand has 10 suspected cases. 

Sickening the Economy

U.S. stocks concerning food and travel are taking the hit so far Monday. Crude oil futures fell nearly $3, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft and Intel

The swine flu outbreak has analysts lowering expectations for pork producers, namely Smithfield Foods Inc., Hormel Foods Corp., and Tyson Foods Inc.  There is no evidence that the swine flu can be spread by consuming pork, but is expected to discourage purchasers of the meat while the outbreak is in full swing.    The industry-funded National Pork Board said it "wishes to reassure the public that pork is safe and will continue to be safe to consume” reports Forbes.

President Obama declared Monday that “science is more essential…than ever before” to ensure the nationals health, security and economy.  Speaking to the National Academy of Sciences, the president has vowed to take politics out of science, referring to his recent decision to reverse the ban on funding embryonic stem cell research.   #


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