- Comonly asked question: why close schools aggressively? We don't for seasonal flu.
When you have a novel virus that everyone can catch, you treat it differently than seasonal flu, which many people have at least partial immunity to. Typically, schools close at ~10% to ~20% sick. But if you want to stop community spread you have to close the schools at 1% sick or you lose the effect. So with a virus you want to stop, you are proactive rather than reactive. More here about legal aspects
Schools play a critical role in protecting the health of their students, staff, and the community from highly contagious, infectious diseases such as seasonal or pandemic influenza. Modeling and analyses conducted by CDC and others indicate, for example, that community-wide school closures may mitigate the incidence of pandemic influenza, thereby reducing its impact on individuals, groups, healthcare providers, public health systems, and the economy. The public health premise is that closing schools limits the spread of influenza (or other communicable conditions) consistent with social distancing theories.
- Good summary:
Aside from testing procedures, assessment and management of 2009 H1N1 (swine) flu should largely mimic that for seasonal flu, the CDC says.
For now. And remember, like seasonal flu, cases can grow in a hurry.
A hundred cases of swine flu in the U.S.? Health officials say there are likely more. Just how many is not important, they say. As the world faces a potential pandemic, swamped labs are not testing all possible cases. Getting an exact tally has taken a back seat to finding new outbreak hot spots or ways to limits its spread, health officials said.
"The specimens are coming in faster than they can possibly be tested," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Davis, state epidemiologist in Wisconsin, where a lab helped spot the nation's first known case, in a 10-year-old boy from San Diego.
- We'll have a pandemic, but not just yet.
More countries will get to stick their fingers in this pie because the virus is spreading rapidly. Lab-confirmed cases are up to 236 from 148 yesterday; and three more European countries have joined the list: the Netherlands, France (with a probable case), and Switzerland. Peru and Costa Rica are now flu zones, too. Even a member of President Barack Obama’s security team is suspected of catching swine flu during a recent visit to Mexico with the president. Because of this spread, Angus Nicoll, head of ECDC’s influenza program, said today that it’s "inevitable" that WHO will raise the alert level from pandemic phase 5 to 6, and "it’s just a question of when that will happen." But WHO said the situation hasn’t changed yet: "There is nothing that epidemiologically suggests today that we should be moving towards phase 6," said Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, in a briefing.
"There’s a backlog of several thousand specimens that need to be tested," said Fukuda.
We wrote about a high-throughput laboratory here. Keiji Fukuda's comment shows why we need one.
- Another good summary of epidemiologists and ID docs.
- Media Matters:
Trust for America's Health (TFAH) today re-issued a series of It's Not Flu As Usualguides on pandemic flu preparedness for families, businesses, medical providers, and community groups.
"Worry and fear will not protect us -- knowing the facts and planning ahead will," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "All of us want to do the right things to protect ourselves and our families in the event of a health emergency. These guides provide information that can help prepare for not just for a potential pandemic flu outbreak, but also for many other types of health emergencies."
- Want to talk H1N1 risk communication? These people do it for a living.
- Are we writing too much about influenza? Public health expert Cervantes at Stayin' Alive thinks so.
So why do we spend so much attention here to pandemic flu and so little to what public health is really all about? That’s an interesting question which I will address anon- assuming anybody cares.
Me, I think we can multitask. But if you agree with either one of us, donate to the people who watch for emerging diseases all over the world. The International Society for Infectious Diseases runsProMED mail, the internet sentinal site, and they could use the help.
The Democratically controlled Congress yesterday easily approved a $3.4 trillion spending plan, setting the stage for President Obama to pursue the first major overhaul of the nation's health-care system in a generation along with other far-reaching domestic initiatives.
- The Hill:
A new public insurance plan is an essential part of reforming the U.S. healthcare system, 16 Democratic senators declared in a letter to two powerful committee chairmen Wednesday.
The letter was addressed to the two senators expected to shape healthcare reform legislation; Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
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