Archive for Thursday, June 11, 2009

World Health Organization issues first pandemic alert in 41 years

June 11, 2009, 10:03 a.m. Updated June 12, 2009, 12:26 a.m.


Swine Flu Pandemic

An outbreak of H1N1 Swine Flu was reported in Mexico in April 2009. By the end of May, it had spread across the U.S., with all 50 states reporting cases.

— Swine flu is now formally a pandemic, a declaration by U.N. health officials that will speed vaccine production and spur government spending to combat the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.

Thursday’s announcement by the World Health Organization doesn’t mean the virus is any more lethal — only that its spread is considered unstoppable.

Since it was first detected in late April in Mexico and the United States, swine flu has reached 74 countries, infecting nearly 29,000 people. Most who catch the bug have only mild symptoms and don’t need medical treatment.

WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan made the long-awaited declaration after the U.N. agency held an emergency meeting with flu experts and said she was moving to phase 6 — the agency’s highest alert level — which means a pandemic is under way.

“The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic in the 21st century,” Chan said in Geneva.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Atlanta that he does not expect widespread public anxiety in the United States as a result of the declaration, noting it came nearly two months after the virus was identified.

For many weeks, U.S. health officials have been treating it as a pandemic, increasing the availability of anti-viral flu medicines and pouring money into a possible vaccination program. And scientists have grown to understand that the virus is generally not much more severe than the seasonal flu.

“That helps to tamp down any fears that may be excessive,” Frieden said at a news conference — his first as CDC director.

But the virus can still be deadly and may change into a more frightening form in the near future, and so people should not be complacent, he added.

So far, swine flu has caused 144 deaths, compared with ordinary flu that kills up to 500,000 people a year.

The pandemic decision might have been made much earlier if WHO had more accurate information about swine flu’s rising sweep through Europe. Chan said she called the emergency meeting with flu experts after concerns were raised that some countries, such as Britain, were not accurately reporting their cases.

Chan said the experts unanimously agreed there was a wider spread of swine flu than was being reported.

She would not say which country tipped the world into the pandemic, but WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said the situation from Australia seemed to indicate the virus was spreading rapidly there — more than 1,300 cases were reported by Thursday.

In Chile, authorities have identified almost 1,700 cases to WHO.

Many health experts said the world has been in a pandemic for weeks but WHO became too bogged down by politics to declare one. In May, several countries urged WHO not to declare a pandemic, fearing it would cause social and economic turmoil. At the time, WHO said it would rewrite its pandemic definition to avoid announcing one.

But with the recent surge in cases across Europe, Chile, Australia and Japan, the agency was under increasing pressure to acknowledge a pandemic.

“This is WHO finally catching up with the facts,” said Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota.

David Ropeik, an expert in risk perception and communication at Harvard University, said the “soft buildup” to declaring swine flu a pandemic has been helpful.

“That allows people to get used to what is otherwise a scary word, understand the particulars of the disease, and that should mean reaction will be a little more information-based and a little less emotional,” Ropeik said in an e-mail.

WHO will now recommend that pharmaceutical companies make swine flu vaccine. The agency typically recommends which flu strains drug companies should use in the vaccines. In a global outbreak, WHO also advises whether companies should make pandemic vaccine.

The decision to make pandemic vaccine is a gamble. Most flu vaccine makers cannot make both regular seasonal flu vaccine and pandemic vaccine at the same time. That means they must decide which one the world will need more.


Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

Marion: "It's all only fear-mongering on the part of the WHO."

Did you all just notice that after weeks of quoting WHO press releases to justify his scare mongering, Marion now blames the WHO for being the scare mongerer?

Marion studies his Rush Limbaugh debate lessons well


Boston_Corbett 4 years, 10 months ago

Marion, fyi, those N95 things are not mini bed pans.


gr 4 years, 10 months ago

"and pouring money into a possible vaccination program." "Possible"? Why does this make me think of a Government Motors (GM) bailout?

"The decision to make pandemic vaccine is a gamble. Most flu vaccine makers cannot make both regular seasonal flu vaccine and pandemic vaccine at the same time. That means they must decide which one the world will need more."

Or is that "...they must decide which one that will be most profitable"?


bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

Ray Nagin, the infamous New Orleans mayor during Katrina, and his wife, were quarantined in China because people on their flight displayed flu symptoms.

now why couldn't the Chinese have done this when Katrina was headed for New Orleans???

katara, you are not showing Marioni the proper reverence. he will now respond with lengthy posts of cut-and-paste, his own typos, and borderline foulmouthed comments about you!

the worst thing about Marioni is: he's so predictable, the ol' drunken bear.

hey Marioni! go take another drink! you're not as drunk as we think you oughta be.


Katara 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh looky, the fear mongerer is back again. Better start wearing your mask 24/7, Marion, if you aren't already doing so.


Marion Lynn 4 years, 10 months ago


"He added: "These flu viruses can change their pattern of attack, so when we come into the flu season in the autumn and winter in this country, when we expect a big surge of cases, we need to watch very carefully to see if the character of the virus is changing."

“ There is concern that the virus might mutate in the southern hemisphere over its winter and become more virulent, but there's no sign of that yet ”

Fergus Walsh BBC's medical correspondent

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said a move to level six means that countries need to be ready to implement pandemic plans immediately but the UK was already operating at a "heightened state of readiness".

But it could affect the speed at which the UK gets pandemic vaccine supplies but that had been factored into pandemic planning.

Flu expert Professor John Oxford said people should not panic as the outbreak was milder than others seen in the past century.

"It is global and fulfilling the requirements of a pandemic but I don't think anyone should worry because nothing drastic has happened between yesterday and today."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Marion writes:

On this forum there must be any number of relatives of Michael Moore...............

Big fat idiots.


Marion Lynn 4 years, 10 months ago



The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Geneva, says that while the number of cases has made the declaration inevitable, the WHO will have to manage the global anxiety the declaration of a pandemic will generate.

Experts have warned that poorer nations, especially those in the southern hemisphere now heading into their winter season, face the greatest risk from the flu pandemic.

Pandemic planning

There have been more than 800 cases in the UK with some areas of Scotland being particularly hard hit.

The government has been stockpiling antivirals such as Tamiflu and has ordered vaccine, some doses of which could be available by October.


Symptoms usually similar to seasonal flu - but deaths have been recorded It is a new version of the H1N1 strain which caused the 1918 flu pandemic Current treatments do work, but as yet there is no vaccine Good personal hygiene, such as washing hands, covering nose when sneezing advised

Chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said the WHO declaration of a pandemic would not significantly change the way the UK was dealing with swine flu at the moment.

But he added there could be some minor changes to who received antivirals.

"The declaration of a pandemic per se doesn't make a big difference to the to the way we are handling the outbreaks we have.

"We are going to continue to investigate every case that occurs and treat their contacts with antivirals even though they may not be ill.

"The difference is that the Health Protection Agency has learnt a lot about approaching this question of antiviral prophylaxis and they are going to be treating the closer contacts of the cases, rather than the more far-flung contacts, because they feel that that is supported by what they know so far about how the disease is transmitting.



Marion Lynn 4 years, 10 months ago

OK, you don't like what I write, go argue with the BBC!

WHO declares swine flu pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global flu pandemic after holding an emergency meeting.

It means the swine flu virus is spreading in at least two regions of the world with rising cases being seen in the UK, Australia, Japan and Chile.

WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan said the move did not mean the virus was causing more severe illness or more deaths.

The swine flu (H1N1) virus first emerged in Mexico in April and has since spread to 74 countries.

“ We have evidence to suggest we are seeing the first pandemic of the 21st century ” Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general

Official reports say there have been nearly 30,000 cases globally and 141 deaths, with figures rising daily.

Hong Kong said it was closing all its nurseries and primary schools for two weeks following 12 school cases.

It is the first flu pandemic in 40 years - the last in 1968 killed about one million people.

However, the current pandemic seems to be moderate and causing mild illness in most people.

Most cases are occurring in young working age adults and a third to a half of complications are presenting in otherwise healthy people.

Dr Chan said: "We have evidence to suggest we are seeing the first pandemic of the 21st Century.

"Moving to pandemic phase six does not imply we will see increased in deaths or serious cases."

She added it was important to get the right balance between complacency and vigilance and that pandemic strategies would vary between countries depending on their specific situation.

“ It is global and fulfilling the requirements of a pandemic ”

Professor John Oxford, flu expert

And the WHO does not recommend closure of borders or any restrictions on the movement of people, goods or services.

But the picture could change very quickly.

"No other pandemic has been detected so early or watched so closely," Dr Chan said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for calm.

"Let me stress: this is a formal statement about the geographical spread of the disease ... It is not in itself a cause for alarm," he said.

He warned that in the developing world the consequences of the virus could be more serious, and that the southern hemisphere was now entering the flu season.

One factor which has prompted the move to a level six pandemic was that in the southern hemisphere, the virus seems to be crowding out normal seasonal influenza.

The move was not prompted by the situation in any one country but the reports that it had spread in several parts of the world, officials said.



Godot 4 years, 10 months ago

If you choose to travel on public transportation now, you are asking for trouble.

A Royal Carribean cruise was denied harbor in Antigua and the Bahamas because 3 people on the cruise had flu symptoms.

Ray Nagin, the infamous New Orleans mayor during Katrina, and his wife, were quarantined in China because people on their flight displayed flu symptoms. Several countries are closing their borders.

If you travel abroad, you might find it difficult to return home.

Staycation 2009. Coming to a family near you.


bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

it is so comforting knowing that Marion's done his due diligence and is on top of this situation.

he's such an expert on almost everything.

what would we do around here without him?

or, what would he do without his 100-proof brain lubricant?

I will note his lengthy comment above he's trying to temper his previous fear mongering now. compare previous postings by Marioni with that one, funny thing he's changed his song a bit.

what would marioni do if his Google went out?


bearded_gnome 4 years, 10 months ago

hey, this article didn't mention the head of WHO, a very fine Chinese babe, think named Margaret Chan. she really does something to me: you give me fever when you kiss me fever when you hold me tight Fever In the morning Fever all through the night

Everybodies got the fever That is somethin you all know Fever is'nt such a new thing Fever start long ago

Romeo love Juliet Juliet she felt the same When he put his arms around her He said Julie baby your my flame

Now give me fever When were kissin Fever with that flame in you Fever I'm a fire Fever yeah i burn for you

Captain smith and pocahontas had a very mad affair When her daddy tried to kill him She said daddy oh don't you dare

He gives me fever With his kisses fever when he holds me tight Fever I'm his misses Daddy won't you treat him right

---traderoutes anyone?


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 4 years, 10 months ago

autie, Nah, Che Guevra was thin little pancake eater, spoke French, liked French philosophers.
He was kinda Latin America's "token French guy".

Maybe Francisco Villa was a chorizo eater, not sure.


Multidisciplinary 4 years, 10 months ago

Does Jimmy Dean make that in an 8 pack breakfast egg and cheese biscuit?


autie 4 years, 10 months ago

chorizo? Isn't that what Che Guevra ate? and TOB thinks I'm a pinko commie comrade. Just roll it up in a really thin pancake with lots of RED sauce.


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 4 years, 10 months ago

Mmmmmm, Bacon fever. But honestly right now, I'm kinda really in the mood for chorizo.


autie 4 years, 10 months ago

bunker ready? the question is "are the HEPA filters in place?"


Multidisciplinary 4 years, 10 months ago

Slowness? Isn't that one of the signs? She touched your card, then handed if back to you? How you feeling buddy? Some one going to be around to check on you every couple of hours tonight?


The_Original_Bob 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry I'm late to the show. The lady at the ticket counter was slow in processing my card for my ticket to this heaping mound of awesomeness.


tangential_reasoners_anonymous 4 years, 10 months ago

"We don't know what's going to happen in the next 6 to 12 months."

(We don't know what's going to happen in the next 6 to 12 minutes.)

(In fact... )

(We don't know what's going to happen.)


Flap Doodle 4 years, 10 months ago

Heck, autie, you'll outlive all of us.


autie 4 years, 10 months ago

he's not talking to me is he?


Flap Doodle 4 years, 10 months ago

Hysteria can't be good for an elderly person who has damaged their health with alcohol and tobacco for many years. Best get your affairs in order, bub. You've one foot in the tomb and the other on a banana peel.


autie 4 years, 10 months ago

chuckling, chuckling.....bam (head hits keyboard)

You can laugh all you want; I've been correct all along and come Septemebr or so, let's see if you are still laughing.

Fear mongering by WHO? or is that whom?


lowrentsKS 4 years, 10 months ago

Marion seems like the type who looks through a crack in their blinds every 5 minutes just to make sure nothing is going on on their property. do you cut up nerf balls that stumble into your yard as well?


Marion Lynn 4 years, 10 months ago

snap_pop_no_crackle (Anonymous) says…

Calm down & have a sip of Gray Goose, girlfriend."

Marion writes:

Bite me.


Flap Doodle 4 years, 10 months ago

Calm down & have a sip of Gray Goose, girlfriend.


Marion Lynn 4 years, 10 months ago

Just can't take it can you?

I therefore say "Nyah!" to you!

Don't worry, though!

It's all only fear-mongering on the part of the WHO.

We don't have to necessarily be concerned with how many people H1N1 kills; the mortality rate at this time if fairly low.

What we need to be concerned with is how many people it directly infects at any given time and whether or not it mutates.

If this country had a few million people sick, all at the same time, the economic and social effects could be very serious.

You get twenty million people all seeking medical attention at once and you would get a total meltdown of the health care system.

And as far as "trade routes" go, just how is it that you think this thing moves around?

We're not talking about the Northwest Passge, here, peopele but modern "trade routes" which include regularly scheduled passenger and freight flights world wide.

Contrary to the notion of an "amorphous" travel system, such routes and schedules are very well defined and continuous and H1N1 des not move by being teleported!

It moves in people travelling on airplanes, in cars and trucks and ships, all of which follow modern "trade routes".

You can laugh all you want; I've been correct all along and come Septemebr or so, let's see if you are still laughing.

WHO says there is no way to stop the spread and there may or may not be a vaccine.

In the next few days and weeks you are going to travel restrictions imposed by various nations and stepped-up screening at airports and ports of entry.

And this only if H1N1 doesn't mutate into a form with a much higher mortality rate.

A mutation occurs and you'll still be laughing all the way to the morgue!

I doubt that H1N1 is going to be The Big One but it could be and we don't yet know, wo anyone who fials to give at least some consideration to the possibilities and take at least a few precautions may well regret it later.

There is no Holy Hand Grenade for this one.

I detect the odour of Elderberries coming from your direction.


MarchSadness 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey look, the LJW got a new swine flu file photo...just kidding ha! Get a new pic, it's getting old.


Flap Doodle 4 years, 10 months ago

Watch the trade routes! (pre-emptive hysteria)


Commenting has been disabled for this item.