Archive for Avian flu

Hand Washing of Questionable Value in H1N1

I’ve wondered about all the emphasis on hand washing for the flu. Everything I’ve ever read has emphasized that the influenza virus is spread through microscopic water droplets expelled in a cough or sneeze that you breathe in and then the virus implants in the lungs. Why all the sudden emphasis on hand washing as a prophlyaxis? Hand washing isn’t going to do diddly about a virus implanted in the lungs. I certainly am not against hand washing; however, I’m afraid that it can foster a false sense of security in a person that has a condition that predisposes them to complications.

Newsweek has an interesting article this week entitled “Hand-Washing Won’t Stop H1N1”. So, if you one of those with pre-existing conditions, remember that that bottle of Germ-X will not be your savior after all if you were trusting that it would keep the flu away. I’m not sure whether spraying everybody around you with Lysol, with particular attention paid to small children with mucus trails, would be of any help, either but, like hand washing, it wouldn’t hurt.


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More Florida Swine Flu Deaths

SEBRING – Fourteen-year-old Marquis Hamilton’s death Friday has been linked to H1N1 swine flu, the Highlands County Health Department said today.

The 10th District Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Hamilton died from complications from the H1N1 virus, a health department official said.

“Our deepest sympathies are extended to family and friends,” said Robert Palussek, the health department administrator.

Before he died, Hamilton had flu-like symptoms but no pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses, a health department press release stated last week.

The teen’s step father was reportedly taking him to Florida Hospital Heartland Division early Friday morning after he complained of severe stomach cramps and flu-like symptoms.

The parent pulled into the Publix Supermarket parking lot on U.S. 27 and called 911 after realizing the boy was not breathing and tried to perform CPR.

Emergency medical services workers responded at approximately 4:30 a.m. Friday and tried to resuscitate the boy while on their way to Highlands Regional Medical Center.

The boy was pronounced dead at 5:36 a.m. at the hospital.

That is one of the scarier scenarios when a formerly healthy child dies suddenly from the flu. Hopefully the vaccine will keep this from being repeated in families throughout the nation; however, the flu is spreading rapidly throughout schools now.

Swine flu has claimed the life of a 46-year-old Charlotte County woman, the first death in the county from H1N1 complications.

Charlotte County Health Department spokesman Adam DuBois confirmed the death Wednesday.

“The medical examiner concluded their case today. It seems she died from bronchial pneumonia with complication from H1N1,” he said.

A third person has died in Polk County after becoming ill with the H1N1 swine flu, Polk County Health Department officials said.

The 46-year-old woman had underlying medical conditions and was admitted to a Central Florida hospital with respiratory and chest symptoms, officials said.

She died over the weekend, and the Health Department received word Wednesday morning that she tested positive for swine flu, said health director Dr. Daniel Haight.

He declined to provide details about her underlying conditions, her place of death or where she lived, except to say that she was not from Lake Wales, where an earlier death attributed to swine flu reportedly occurred.

Haight cited privacy issues and said he did not want people to focus on one area when flu is everywhere.

“The flu has really spread throughout the county,” he said.

Family members of the first Polk victim identified him as 31-year-old Michael Lester, who had worked at McLaughlin Middle School in Lake Wales. His death was reported July 16. A second man, a 34-year-old with an underlying medical condition, died Aug. 26.

Haight said none of the people were connected to each other.

There have been 78 laboratory confirmed H1N1 flu deaths in Florida and 593 deaths in the U.S., the Health Department said.

Interestingly, several news sites at different times cited that “78 deaths” figure, even though they were commenting on different deaths at different times. TampaBayOnline mentioned 87 deaths.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLAt a press conference in Punta Gorda this morning, the County Health Department released information about the H1N1 death.

On Sep. 1 at 1:41 p.m., the CCSO received a call from the daughter of 46-year-old Cheryl Ann McCabe of Port Charlotte, who found her deceased in the bedroom. When deputies arrived, it was determined that McCabe had been deceased for some time; EMS arrived and confirmed the death. A paramedic asked everyone to vacate the house at that time because of fear that the house might be contaminated with some type of hazardous condition, and appropriate actions were taken.

The Sheriff’s report said this concern was because another unexpected death occurred at this same residence on Aug. 29 with the death of McCabe’s boyfriend, 42-year-old Raymond Bei. His death was reported to CCSO 11:16 a.m. that day by McCabe. The report said he had extensive medical issues. Bei’s doctor signed the death certificate and he was removed to a local funeral home.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends for their loss, and we continue to encourage people to take precautions against flu-like illness by following proper hygiene practices” said Steven Mitnick, M.S., A.R.N.P, M.B.A, and Administrator of the Charlotte County Health Department.

If two people in the same house die of a flu-like illness, I believe it should be investigated thoroughly, prior medical conditions or not.

Brazil Registers 899 Swine Flu Deaths.

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Duval County has 7th Swine Flu Death


The seventh Duval County laboratory confirmed H1N1 swine flu death has been verified in a 52-year-old woman who died Sept. 3.

Statewide there have been 77 confirmed deaths.

Pre-existing health conditions often play a role in how individuals react to the flu. People with respiratory illness should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections and flu-like symptoms. Other advice includes:

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

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

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

People experiencing cough, fever and fatigue, possibly along with diarrhea and vomiting, should contact their physician.

For more information go to or call the Florida Flu Information Line at (877) 352-3581.

Lots of cases in my school district now among both students and staff.

You are still infectious a week after getting the flu.

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Swine Flu Hitting NE Florida


The H1N1 virus needs no introduction in the Martell household. Beginning with a few sniffles and sore throats a week ago Friday, the virulent flu strain quickly overwhelmed all seven children and both parents.

“It just swept through nine people instantly,” said Bill Martell, 38, the Jacksonville family’s seasoned patriarch. He and his wife consider raising children “our thing.” Still, he said, “I’ve had sick kids throwing up with fevers, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Neither has Northeast Florida.

The swine flu is already radiating across the First Coast, four months ahead of when doctors usually see the peak in flu-like illnesses. In other words, it is shaping up to be the earliest onset of flu season in recent memory, health officials say.

That’s bad news for everyone, but especially those on the front lines like Mobeen Rathore, head of immunology at Shands Jacksonville. The hospital, like many others, has placed restrictions on patients’ visitors to keep the virus from spreading within its walls.

That means no children 5 and under or people with flu-like symptoms in patient areas. Want a priest to pray for you at your bedside? Not if he’s sick. Coughing and sneezing members of the clergy are specifically mentioned in the prohibition.

“What we know is it seems to spread more efficiently than seasonal flu,” Rathore said of the H1N1 cases he has witnessed. “It looks like it’s maybe more contagious,” particularly among younger people, who don’t seem to have any immunity to it.

Duval and St. Johns counties were among five Florida counties where the flu had reached “widespread” proportions during the week of Aug. 23-29, according to the Florida Department of Health. The others: Hillsborough, Orange and Sarasota. Both Northeast Florida hot spots failed to report their status the following week, the most recent available on the department’s Web site.

Taj Azarian, the Duval County Health Department’s surveillance coordinator, said it’s too early to say whether the outbreak will get worse or how it will be affected when — or if — the seasonal flu arrives. What is known: It was already circulating at an unseasonably high rate when schools opened a couple weeks ago, providing ideal conditions for the virus to spread.

“We’ve never had a virus spreading at this level when we’ve come into the school year,” he said. “Usually in early October, November we start getting our first cases.”

So far, no schools have closed, despite some reports of swine flu cases. That is a change from last spring, when a single case prompted the OakLeaf School in northern Clay County to close for two days.

The swine flu has sickened thousands nationwide since emerging last April. In the Jacksonville area, illnesses remained sporadic until recently. The infection’s initial lack of a solid footing here may explain why it is jumping from one person to another with such ease now, Azarian said.

The virus appears as mild as the regular flu in the vast majority of cases. Reflecting that growing understanding, the World Health Organization recently announced that doctors should prescribe antiviral medications like Tamiflu only to the old, young and pregnant.

But, like the regular flu, H1N1 can be severe, even deadly. Statewide, 670 people have been hospitalized, including 35 in Northeast Florida. Of those, 29 have come from Duval, by far the most populous county.

The state’s death toll: 78, including six in Duval and one in Clay.

Nearly one out of five of the Florida deaths have been among people under 25 years old, a statistic that mirrors the trend internationally. That has forced health officials for the first time to consider young adults as a high-risk group.

A vaccine for the regular flu has been making the rounds since the start of this month, but a swine flu shot won’t be ready until mid-October, health officials say. The good news: It looks like for many people, one shot will be enough, instead of two as scientists first suspected.

All the attention about flu season, though, may be having a good side effect.

At the Walgreens on Sadler Road in Fernandina Beach, the number of people seeking flu shots averages about 20 a day, said pharmacy manager Mandy Clark. Many came before Sept. 1, before they were eligible to receive insurance coverage for the shot.

“That tells me people are a little more educated this year and looking out to stay healthy … whereas normally people are in a hurry and don’t get them,” Clark said.

As for the Martells, life is getting back to normal. All that remains from their week of misery are pale faces and droopy eyelids.

Asked what the ordeal taught him, parent Bill said, “Be more cautious, especially in school. Everything they’re saying on the news: Keep your hands clean.”

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9-Month-Old Baby Latest H1N1 Victim in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Health Department confirmed the sixth H1N1 flu related death on Wednesday.

The latest victim is a 9-month-old boy who died last Thursday. Young children are among those at highest risk for contracting the disease.

To date, there have been 77 laboratory-confirmed H1N1 swine flu deaths in Florida.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of these individuals, ” said Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros. ” H1N1 swine flu, like seasonal flu, can in some circumstances be very serious, therefore, all of us should continue to adhere to good health practices including, stay home if sick, cover cough and sneeze, and wash hands frequently.”

DCHD provide the following recommendations: People with respiratory illness should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections, including influenza, to others in the community.

They also recommend:
•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.

People experiencing cough, fever and fatigue, possibly along with diarrhea and vomiting, should contact their physician.

Anyone who thinks they have influenza is asked to call a health care provider and discuss whether you need to be seen in their office, emergency department or stay home.

Let me assure you right now that irresponsible people are sending their sick kids to school on the school bus on a daily basis. I know.

If you are depending on people using good sense or to follow the CDC recommendations to stop the spread of disease, better come up with an alternate plan, particularly if your child or other family members are in a high risk category.

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Over 400 Dead from Flu in Papua New Guinea

Posted at 21:39 on 04 September, 2009 UTC

The Papua New Guinea government is being urged to declare a state of emergency immediately as the death toll from epidemics in a remote province soars to more than four-hundred people.

The Governor of Morobe Province, Luther Wenge, says eye witness reports say almost 300 people have now died from an outbreak of flu and dysentery in the inaccesible district of Menyamya, while another 114 people have died from cholera in the coastal villages of Tewai-Siassi.

The Health Minister Sasa Zibe says he wants a state of emergency to be declared but does not yet have enough information from officials to seek such a declaration.

But Luther Wenge says the information he is receiving from people on the ground leaves him in no doubt a state of emergency must be declared immediately so resources can be freed up to treat people.

“Act now, act now. You can from those information you can make a decision and then provide money so that doctors and nurses and all the appropriate people must get in now because as a matter of fact people are dying, there’s no question about it, people are dying in fifties and hundreds.”
Luther Wenge says the provincial government has no money to cope with the epidemics as its already spent it on other disasters in the province.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Damn. Schools have been open two weeks here; a kid was sent into the school I work at today with a horrible cough and feeling miserable. Parents could not be contacted to send him home. He remained in relative isolation; however, he came in contact with a lot of other students before then. I suspect similar situations are happening in schools across the nation.

Yeah, yeah, I know, the flu is mild here, nothing to worry about.

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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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