Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Death in Texas, First in America; H1N1 Case in Minnesota Being Tested

It's official: someone in the United States died of swine flu: a 23-month-old in Texas. The child had been brought from Mexico to Houston, Texas, for treatment.

My prayers are with the family who lost their child, and all families who have lost people to this disease.

"...'Given what we've seen in Mexico, we have expected that we would see more severe infections and would see deaths,' [acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Richard] Besser said.

"However, he stressed that people should maintain their perspective on the swine flu outbreak.

" 'Seasonal flu each year causes tens of thousands of deaths in this country -- on average, about 36,000 deaths,' Besser said. 'And so this flu virus in the United States, as we're looking at it, is not acting very differently from what we saw during the flu season.'..."

Minnesota Probably Has Its First Swine Flu / H1N1 Novel Case

It's likely that the first case of swine flu in Minnesota is in a town about 40 miles down the road.

Cold Spring schools closed Rocori Middle School and St. Boniface School. The school closings were voluntary.

They're being careful, which I think is smart, instead of waiting until the CDC tests come back.

"...The Minnesota Department of Health characterized the case as 'probable.'

"The MDH lab has confirmed the virus as type A H1N1 influenza. But it says the strain can't be identified using lab tests available to the department...." (FOX 9)

I heard on the radio just now (9:08 a.m.) that a sample from the Cold Spring case is being flown to CDC labs. And, that the superintendents of each

Swine Flu: It's H1N1 Novel Now

Also on the radio news: The name of this swine flu is H1N1 Novel now - which makes sense, since it's a combination of avian, human, and swine flu - and is being spread from person to person.

The Minnesota Department of Health hasn't updated its page on swine flu today, but I expect they will soon.

Avian Flu "A Fantastic Dry Run"

When people started getting bird flu (remember news of avian flu in 1997 and 1999?), vaccination research started getting more attention. I remember those 'good old days,' when we were hearing self-congratulatory remarks about how Modern Medicine had Stamped Out Disease. I wish it could be done without the suffering we experience - but we do seem to need the occasional reminder that we're not omnipotent.

Talking about the spread of avian flu: "...'It was a fantastic dry run,' says Professor John Oxford of Barts and the London School of Medicine.

" 'If this had happened six years ago we would really be in a fix - we are in a better position than we have ever been in the history of this planet to combat this.'..."

The big problem with H1N1 Novel is that it's "novel" - new. People who had closely-related sorts of flu may have limited immunity, but nobody's immune to H1N1 Novel, and there's no vaccine for it. Yet.

As officials keep saying, this isn't a situation for panic. Come to think of it, is there ever a situation that gets better when people panic?

Flu happens, people die. There are common-sense things to reduce the risk: washing hands, particularly before preparing food or eating; staying home if you're sick (and employers making it safe for employees to not infect the entire staff); even, as Indiana officials recommend, not shaking hands.

In the news: List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources:


ecrunner said...

The flu isn't something to joke about, but the fact that people name it, report on it so dramatically, kind of seems like too much. There are many things that we can be doing to prevent any future scares. Why don't we see the many available
health resources that offer tips and advice on the flu (and swine flu)

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks for the link. As for "Why don't we see the many available..." with your link?

News media may have a (in my view, self-defeating) policy of not providing links to raw data.

And, I suppose it's because most people don't know about the resources I link to on Swine Flu 2009, a routinely updated anchor page for the influenza 2009 H1N1 situation on this blog.

I think it's possible that there's a perception - correct or not - that 'common people' can't handle detailed, undigested, information.

Brian H. Gill said...


I checked out that link - and followed it to what appears to be a relevant post: which now is linked to from that anchor page.


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