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WHO - 5 Out Of 6 Influenza Alert

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 01, 2009 1:04 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Influenza, Swine Flu, Tamiflu, WHO, CDC

The WHO says this is a five pandemic out of a six.

WHO Reports Latest



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


Influenza experts are on alert and standby in case they are needed to advise the World Health Organization, Reuters reports.   The last level issued for this pandemic was a five on a six-point scale. That indicates a pandemic is spreading beyond North America.

The 1918 flu pandemic killed an estimated 30 to 50 million people, but this influenza does not appear to be that virulent, reports the CDC.

11countries have officially reported cases of the swine flu H1N1 also being called Influenza A.  The disease is confirmed in 331 people. Ten have died.  The official tally jumped by 74 overnight, mostly in Mexico where thousands of cases are being tested.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies 141 cases and one confirmed death.

Cases have now been confirmed by state health authorities in New York, Texas, California, South Carolina, Kansas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Maine, Colorado, Georgia and Minnesota, reports ABC News.

Vaccine manufacturer Roche Holding AG, maker of Tamiflu, is in talks with the WHO about making additional supplies available.

Face Mask Sales Brisk

To keep pace with the demand, two leading respiratory mask makers say they are ramping up production.  Diversified manufacturer 3M Co. and Kimberly-Clark Corp. supply pharmacies, which report brisk sales of right-fitting masks.  Most in demand are the N95 respirators, which are individually fitted to the wearer and filter tiny particles from the air. Surgical masks filter out bits of saliva from the wearer rather than air particles of viruses or bacteria.

Makers of mechanical ventilators that force air into the lungs through a tube inserted in the nose, have also seen an increase in interest. In the worst case scenario, AP reports, about 750,000 would need the machines to help breathing.

Dental School, Schools Close

Estimates are that 250,000 school children have had classes cancelled, creating a child care dilemma for their parents.

Harvard’s dental school treatment clinic has been closed and the university suspended classes after a dental student contracted a probably case of the swine flu, reports the Boston Globe. The student had had contact with someone who had recently traveled to Mexico.

The clinic treats about 50 patients a day and those who had contact with the student are being tracked down.  Classes Friday are also suspended at Harvard Medical School and school of public health, which are all in the Longwood neighborhood.

“There is no need for panic,” said Dr. David Rosenthal, director of the university’s health services to the Boston Globe. #

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