Friday, May 8, 2009

Swine Flu / Influenza A(H1N1) - 2nd Minnesota Case Confirmed

"MDH: 2nd swine flu case confirmed in Metro"
KSTP (May 7, 2009)

"The Minnesota Department of Health has reported a second confirmed case of swine flu, this time in the Metro.

"According to the the MDH website, the department lists a second case in the Twin Cities area along with the first confirmed case from Cold Spring.

"The department has not given any further specifics about the location of the Metro confirmed case.

"Health officials earlier this week backed away from recommending that schools with swine flu cases be closed, saying the virus was acting like ordinary seasonal flu...."

I'm not terribly surprised that there's a second confirmed case in Minnesota. People here travel about as much as people in any state in the union. About reversing the 'close the schools' recommendation: that's about what we're seeing from other agencies, all the way up to WHO, where travel restrictions between countries aren't being recommended.

I quoted the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, earlier today. He said this about influenza A(H1N1): "...'We cna't [!] make any definitive projections about where this is going. It appears to be acting like a typical seasonal flu, only it's out of season. We shouldn't be seeing this much influenza and it's with a new virus and that's the cause fo [!]the concern.'..." (CNN)

In other words: there isn't that much difference between influenza A(H1N1) and a typical seasonal flu. Except that this new human / avian / swine flu hybrid is making the rounds at an unusual time of year.

KSTP provided some links, including: I've added these to my 'swine flu anchor page.'

So far, here in Minnesota we've got 2 confirmed cases of this swine flu / H1N1 novel influenza / influenza A(H1N1). Plus 19 probable cases.

Officials Don't Know Everything

I don't envy people who are in leadership positions - particularly when something like this mutant flu is involved. It's a new disease, and killed 1 in 14 of the first 900-plus people who caught it. The death rate now is around what a normal flu virus inflicts. Influenza A(H1N1) acts like a normal flu, but it's going around at the wrong time of year.

And, the 'big one' - the 1918 pandemic - started out as a relatively innocuous disease.

So, if the people in charge try to control the spread of this disease, and make the public aware of the possible risks, they're plotting against the people.

If they don't, they might be like the fellow we hear about now and again: the leader or a town near the Indian Ocean, who was very sensible and level-headed. The locals were fussing about some far-off eruption, but he kept them from rushing to the docks and making a run for it. Probably saved a life or two, by preventing confusion around the boats.

Instead, people in that town had a ringside seat for the big Krakatoa eruption.

I don't know how much of that story is true. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa (or Krakatau) was real enough: with an official death toll a little upwards of 36,000. I wasn't able to get a name for the fellow who prevented public panic - at the cost of his subjects' lives. (More at "Department of Geological Sciences at San Diego State University, Earlham College.)

Bottom line: health officials and elected public leaders aren't clairoyant. They don't have crystal balls, and they can't see into the future.

Some public leaders haven't done all that well: like the Egyptian government's hog slaughter, following zero cases of swine flu among Egyptians, and zero cases among Egyptian pigs. Egyptian pig farmers were none to happy about that exercise in goofiness.

On the other hand, outfits like the CDC and WHO have, to date, published statements which are, if anything, rather dull statistical reports with a familiar recommendations about washing our hands before and after handling food. That, and not sneezing on other people.

Me? I'm following the progress of influenza A(H1N1), posting about it now and again, and updating that 'anchor page, "Swine Flu 2009," as I find new resources.

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

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