Archive for Avian flu

Area Hospitals Taking Swine Flu Precautions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local hospitals are seeing more flu symptoms from people who are testing positive for H1N1. Now they’re being proactive in trying to stop the spread of the virus.

When Priscilla Wynn and her daughter Alexis left the hospital Thursday, Priscilla said she was happy with what she saw.

“The lady that just treated her had on a mask,” Priscilla said. “And she sprayed Lysol, so that kind of protected — I felt like she was trying to protect us.”

That’s exactly what a lot of area hospitals are trying to do, protect you and your family from getting the H1N1 virus.

So far in there have been 550 H1N1 deaths in the U.S., 70 of which were in Florida, including five in Duval County.

Dr. Joseph Sabato, a disaster medical officer at Shands at the University of Florida, said in the last few months, his hospital has seen hundreds of people test positive for the swine flu.

Hunh. Wonder how I missed that “hundreds of people testing positive for swine flu” part in the last few months.

Parents are not going to keep their children home when they are ill because (a) they can’t afford it, and (b) the school only allows so many absences per year. I know of a parent that put her child on the bus to go to school with his eyes literally swollen shut from pinkeye. The child could not open his eyes and he was put on the bus to school. Really. So if this particular child gets the flu, we can trust that parent to do the right thing and keep him home, right? I cannot tell you the number of times that a kid was sent in to school with a fever and/or diarrhea and vomiting, dripping thick green goop from eyes and nose which was quickly communicated to classmates and teachers regardless of Lysoling every surface daily.

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70 Swine Flu Deaths in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – State health officials say 70 people have died from swine flu in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health released an updated H1N1 death toll Wednesday.

Federal health officials have sent testing supplies to the state’s four labs, allowing state technicians to test samples without the additional step of sending them to the Centers for Disease Control.

Health officials are urging Floridians to seek medical help if they feel sick, to wash hands frequently, practice good hygiene and to stay home if they feel ill.

Interestingly, the news of these deaths trickles out a month after they have died…..

A 52-year-old man died of complications from the H1N1 virus last month, the fifth to die from the re-emerging pandemic in Duval County, health officials said today.

Four of those deaths have come since the end of July.

Health officials repeated warnings today for the public to remain vigilant and practice good hygiene. Many worry that cases are going to spike as the new school year begins and fall ushers in cooler temperatures.

Authorities were mum on whether the latest death, which came on Aug. 24, involved underlying health conditions. In Duval, three women and two men have died of the H1N1 virus, better known as the swine flu. The women were 26, 33 and 43 years old, and the other man was 55.

The only swine flu death reported in Northeast Florida outside Duval was a 30-year-old Clay County woman.

I suppose we’ll find out next month how many died in our area this month.

More scary stuff:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Metro Public Health Department confirmed on Wednesday that a 5-year-old Nashville boy has died as a result of H1N1 influenza.

Metro Schools confirmed that the child, Max Gomez, attended Henry Maxwell Elementary School in Antioch. Administrators at the school were expected to send notes home with students to let parents know of the child’s death.

SCOTTSBORO – Eleven-year-old Alex Garcia of Scottsboro led his soccer team to an 8-1 win Saturday in Huntsville.

But Alex, recalled by his family as a “nonstop” youngster who was a tough competitor on the soccer field, grew gravely ill over the weekend and died Monday morning.

State health officials said they suspect swine flu was the cause of his death, but they did not announce any test results for the novel H1N1 virus Tuesday. It was not immediately known if Alex had an underlying medical condition that might have contributed to the severity of his illness.

You may barely get the sniffles or be dead in 24 hours. Be careful.

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WHO Warns of Severe Form of Swine Flu

Per the New York Times:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients infected with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need hospital care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic.

“During the winter season in the southern hemisphere, several countries have viewed the need for intensive care as the greatest burden on health services,” it said.

“Preparedness measures need to anticipate this increased demand on intensive care units, which could be overwhelmed by a sudden surge in the number of severe cases.”

Earlier, WHO reported that H1N1 had reached epidemic levels in Japan, signalling an early start to what may be a long influenza season this year, and that it was also worsening in tropical regions.

“Perhaps most significantly, clinicians from around the world are reporting a very severe form of disease, also in young and otherwise healthy people, which is rarely seen during seasonal influenza infections,” WHO said.

“In these patients, the virus directly infects the lung, causing severe respiratory failure. Saving these lives depends on highly specialized and demanding care in intensive care units, usually with long and costly stays.”

MINORITIES AT RISK

Minority groups and indigenous populations may also have a higher risk of being severely ill with H1N1.

“In some studies, the risk in these groups is four to five times higher than in the general population,” WHO said.

“Although the reasons are not fully understood, possible explanations include lower standards of living and poor overall health status, including a high prevalence of conditions such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension.”

WHO said it was advising countries in the Northern Hemisphere to prepare for a second wave of pandemic spread. “Countries with tropical climates, where the pandemic virus arrived later than elsewhere, also need to prepare for an increasing number of cases,” it said.

*sigh*

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More Florida Swine Flu Deaths, Absenteeism in Schools

TAMPA - A 50-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man became Pinellas and Polk counties’ second swine flu deaths as a Hillsborough County private school deals with a spike in absences attributed to the virus.

Both of those who died had other health problems, as have the six Hillsborough County residents reported killed by H1N1.

Details such as where the woman lived, what her other health problems were, and when she died were not available, according to Maggie Hall of the Pinellas Health Department.

The man died today, reported Daniel Haight of the Polk Health Department.

“These deaths highlight the seriousness of influenza, especially in those with an underlying medical condition,” he wrote in a press release. “”It is very important that a person with mild flu not expose those at higher risk.”

That’s what students at Tampa Catholic High School appear to be doing. Twenty percent of the 700 students are absent, many with suspected swine flu, their principal reported.

The outbreak has led to the cancellation of junior varsity football practice the past two days.

“We’ve told people to stay home if they feel like they have anything,” said Prinicipal Tom Reidy said. “I’m happy our kids and parents are listening to that.”

The increase in cases was not unexpected. Young people are especially susceptible to swine flu and on school campuses, the highly contagious virus can spread quickly. Hillsborough County Health Department Director Doug Holt predicted it would take two weeks for influenza to invade a campus once classes started; that’s how long Tampa Catholic students have been back at school.

To avoid getting or spreading the flu, health officials recommend that you:

* Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

* Wash hands frequently to lessen the spread of respiratory illness.

* Contact your physician if you are experiencing cough, fever and fatigue, possibly along with diarrhea and vomiting.

Geez. I know that we’ve been told to “wash our hands frequently” to combat swine flu. That advice is given, of course, by people that haven’t been in the classroom and don’t know that usually there isn’t even time to go to the bathroom, let alone wash hands frequently throughout the day. Washing hands isn’t going to make much difference, either, when a sick lil’ cherub whose parents were not supposed to send him/her to school ill coughs/sneezes directly in your face or uses the hem of your clothing for a snot rag.

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Hope the Vaccine At Least Arrives in Time to Keep Health Care Workers Going

From Bloomberg:

“The Northern Hemisphere medical care requirements for the next six months are a train wreck waiting to happen,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis. “In the fall, even if nothing else changes in terms of the virus’s severity and our preparedness, it’s going to be a real challenge.”

In the U.K., where swine flu sparked a summer wave of illness worse than the previous 10 winters, about 1 in 10 patients hospitalized for the virus end up in intensive care, according to Liam Donaldson, England’s chief medical officer. In Australia, that proportion is about 25 percent, he said.

“They have had a relatively high level of intensive care admissions amongst hospitalized patients,” Donaldson told reporters in London yesterday. “We might end up like that, but we can’t be 100 percent sure.”

Bypass Patients

While fewer than 0.5 percent of swine flu sufferers may need hospitalization, those who do can remain in intensive care for up to three weeks, occupying a bed that could be used for 15 heart bypass patients. Christchurch Hospital, the biggest on New Zealand’s South Island, postponed non-emergency procedures requiring an ICU stay such as heart bypass as flu patients — three-quarters needing mechanical ventilation — filled up the 12-bed unit and nine other hastily created intensive-care beds, according to Shaw.

What’s more, a 10th of those critically ill patients needed their blood pumped through an artificial lung, a procedure known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, that only one hospital in New Zealand offers.

“I’ve seen nothing like this,” said John Beca, head of pediatric intensive care at New Zealand’s national children’s hospital in Auckland. Five of Beca’s six ECMO units have been used simultaneously this winter. He’s ordering three more.

The government has been cautioning parents about not sending their children to school when they are sick. Riiiight. That’s going to work really well to prevent the spread of disease!

Last year during cold and flu season, a lot of kids had a diarrheal and vomiting norovirus-type illness. They threw up on the bus. They threw up in the classroom. They threw up in the lunchroom. When sent to the nurse’s office so that their parents could be called and they could be sent home, they said “I threw up last night, but mommy (or daddy) said I had to go to school today anyway.” We have had a child come to school with eyes swollen shut from conjunctivitis. Children get very droopy after the medicine mommy or grandma or other caregiver gave them to reduce their fever wears off. Some children sit at their desk and cry because they feel so bad, and there is nobody at the telephone numbers given for emergency contact.

I know what it is like to be in the situation that many of the parents are in, too. I have had a job where I was told that I was denied a raise because I missed more time because my children were sick than any of the other women in my department. (I was the only one young enough to have small children.) In many cases, mommy has to decide which is better for the child: Staying home when sick but being without food or utilities because she loses her job, or sending the child to school sick.

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Chile Confirms Swine Flu in Turkeys

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile said Friday that tests show swine flu has jumped to birds, opening a new chapter in the global epidemic.

A top United Nations animal health expert said the infected turkeys have suffered only mild effects, easing concern about a potentially dangerous development. Chile’s turkey meat remains safe to eat, the expert said.

Chile’s health ministry said it ordered a quarantine Friday for two turkey farms outside the port city of Valparaiso after genetic tests confirmed sick birds were afflicted with the same virus that has caused a pandemic among humans.

So far, the virus — a mixture of human, pig and bird genes — has proven to be very contagious but no more deadly than common seasonal flu. However, virus experts fear a more dangerous and easily transmitted strain could emerge if it combines again with avian flu, which is far more deadly but tougher to pass along.

I think they should be saying when, not if.

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Two Jacksonville Women Die From Swine Flu

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Health Dept has confirmed the deaths of women in Jacksonville this month with cases of the H1N1 virus, commonly called swine flu.

Other than the fact that one woman was 33 and the other was 43, no other information was released about the women.

This brings the death toll in Jacksonville to three and raises the number in Florida to 48. The Florida Department of Health said 536 with confirmed cases of swine flu required hospitalization as of Aug. 12.

“We need to keep our guard up because it’s a new kind of flu and it’s quite contagious,” Dr. Robert Harmon, director of the Duval County Health Department, said last month.. “It has the potential to mutate and spread and become a serious problem. That’s why the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic.”

With an expected swine flu vaccine expected to be available this fall, local health departments are trying to start regular flu vaccinations as soon as shipments of the seasonal flu vaccine arrive at the end of this month so they can focus on the H1N1 vaccinations when they become available in the fall.

I know that people are going to say “Oh, big deal, people die from the flu every year”, but women in their 30s and 40s don’t.

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30-Year-Old Clay County Woman the Latest Swine Flu Fatality

From Jacksonville.com:

A 30-year-old Clay County woman died Friday of swine flu, a public health official said. It was the first swine flu fatality recorded in the county.

I do not recall, until this year, hearing of a healthy 30-year-old succumbing to the flu.

Mills said swine flu, which only reached Northeast Florida in April, now accounts for about 90 percent of the flu cases reported to her agency. Health officials in Florida have stopped publicly reporting routine swine flu diagnoses.

Nationally, there have been 477 deaths and 7,511 people hospitalized, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

Mills said the death should underscore to people the need to take precautions to limit the spread of the disease. People with respiratory diseases should stay home, and away from work or school to avoid spreading infections, she said, and others should avoid close contact with people who are coughing or seem sick. Mills said people should contact a doctor if they a cough, fever and fatigue, especially in conjunction with diarrhea and vomiting.

Unfortunately, I fear that this fall a lot of people are going to be too scared about the possibility of losing their jobs to take off from work if they are ill, and thereby pass it on to people that shouldn’t be getting it. *sigh*

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CDC Warns Health Care Providers to Prepare for Overwhelmed Hospitals and Clinics in the Fall

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Friday began distributing millions of dollars to help cash-strapped states respond to the H1N1 pandemic amid a deep economic recession that has decimated local health budgets.

“For a pandemic to come in this economy is enormously challenging,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the National Association of County and City Health Officials annual conference. “If we could have chosen a different time for the H1N1 to come, we would have.”

After Frieden’s speech, a CDC spokesman said $260 million was on its way to the states, part of a $350 million package of federal grants announced on July 10 to help the country prepare for the worst. The remaining $90 million is earmarked for hospitals.

Frieden acknowledged that budget cuts and layoffs had hit the nation’s state and local public health agencies. He encouraged city and county health officials to get busy soliciting volunteers and creating partnerships with local schools, businesses and nursing services to beef up their communities’ ability to manage the pandemic and the mass vaccinations planned for this autumn.

“There is no magic answer to this,” Frieden said.
Health officials were warned during the three-day conference in Orlando to expect hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics to be overwhelmed by sick patients as the flu season begins in the autumn.

Frieden advised the health workers to prepare for the possibility of full intensive care wards and to try to find ways to expand the normal capacity for respiratory therapy.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

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Pandemic Flu Checklist for Individuals

From the CDC.gov Pandemic Flu Checklist for Individuals:

You can prepare for an influenza pandemic now. You should know both the magnitude of what can happen during a pandemic outbreak and what actions you can take to help lessen the impact of an influenza pandemic on you and your family. This checklist will help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a flu pandemic.

1.To plan for a pandemic:

◦Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.

◦Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.

◦Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

◦Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

◦Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.

◦Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.

2.To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection:

◦Teach your children to wash hands frequently with soap and water, and model the correct behavior.

◦Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, and be sure to model that behavior.

◦Teach your children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick. Stay home from work and school if sick.

3.Items to have on hand for an extended stay at home:

Examples of food and non-perishables

◦Ready-to-eat canned meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups

◦Protein or fruit bars

◦Dry cereal or granola

◦Peanut butter or nuts

◦Dried fruit

◦Crackers

◦Canned juices

◦Bottled water

◦Canned or jarred baby food and formula

◦Pet food

Examples of medical, health, and emergency supplies

◦Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment

◦Soap and water, or alcohol-based (60-95%) hand wash

◦Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

◦Thermometer

◦Anti-diarrheal medication

◦Vitamins

◦Fluids with electrolytes

◦Cleansing agent/soap

◦Flashlight

◦Batteries

Other non-perishable items

◦Portable radio

◦Manual can opener

◦Garbage bags

◦Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers

I would add a few things to that list:

Disposable latex (or neoprene) gloves in the event that you have to care for a sick family member.

Bleach, Lysol, other disinfecting agents to clean up vomit/waste.

The CDC seems to be assuming that water and electrical supplies may be compromised at some point due to illness of the employees or employees’ families working at the utilities. They’ve recommended a 2-week supply of bottled water, but no way to heat/cook the canned foods (Kids, just shut up and eat the damn cold green beans, ‘kay?) (No, that ain’t gonna work.) So, I’d recommend you have a new bottle of gas for the grill, the camping stove, and/or charcoal for the grill just in case the second wave is larger (but hopefully not deadlier).

Unfortunately, this thing will be coming back at a time when a large number of people are unemployed/on the verge of losing unemployment benefits and really can’t afford to stock up. If you can afford to do so, stock some extra supplies for those in the neighborhood/family that can’t. The worst that could happen if this thing fizzles out (which I hope for) is that you don’t have to buy pork and beans for awhile, right?

Second Flu Wave Hits Mexico

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