world

Health officials trying to reduce impact of swine flu

16 Comments

With global anxiety spreading even faster than the new swine flu — and a vaccine still months away — health authorities are struggling to reduce the impact of an outbreak that can't be contained by simply shutting borders.

The world has no vaccine to prevent infection but U.S. health officials aim to have a key ingredient for one ready in early May, the big step that vaccine manufacturers are awaiting. But even if the World Health Organization ordered up emergency vaccine supplies — and that decision hasn't been made yet — it would take at least two more months to produce the initial shots needed for human safety testing.

"We're working together at 100 miles an hour to get material that will be useful," Dr Jesse Goodman, who oversees the Food and Drug Administration's swine flu work, told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, health authorities are preparing for the worst. "I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," said Dr Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. is shipping to states not only enough anti-flu medication for 11 million people, but also masks, hospital supplies and flu test kits. President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.5 billion in emergency funds to help build more drug stockpiles and monitor future cases, as well as help international efforts to avoid a full-fledged pandemic.

"It's a very serious possibility, but it is still too early to say that this is inevitable," the WHO's flu chief, Dr Keiji Fukuda, told a telephone news conference.

Cuba and Argentina banned flights to Mexico, where swine flu is suspected of killing more than 150 people and sickening well over 2,000. In a bit of good news, Mexico's health secretary, Jose Cordova, late Tuesday called the death toll there "more or less stable."

Mexico City, one of the world's largest cities, has taken drastic steps to curb the virus' spread, starting with shutting down schools and on Tuesday expanding closures to gyms and swimming pools and even telling restaurants to limit service to takeout. People who venture out tend to wear masks in hopes of protection.

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States rose to 66 in six states, with 45 in New York, 11 in California, six in Texas, two in Kansas and one each in Indiana and Ohio, but cities and states suspected more. In New York, the city's health commissioner said "many hundreds" of schoolchildren were ill at a school where some students had confirmed cases.

New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Britain, Germany, Spain and Canada have also reported cases.

But only in Mexico so far are there confirmed deaths, and scientists remain baffled as to why.

The WHO argues against closing borders to stem the spread, and the U.S. — although checking arriving travelers for the ill who may need care — agrees it's too late for that tactic.

"Sealing a border as an approach to containment is something that has been discussed and it was our planning assumption should an outbreak of a new strain of influenza occur overseas. We had plans for trying to swoop in and knockout or quench an outbreak if it were occurring far from our borders. That's not the case here," Besser told a telephone briefing of Nevada-based health providers and reporters. "The idea of trying to limit the spread to Mexico is not realistic or at all possible."

"Border controls do not work. Travel restrictions do not work," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in Geneva, recalling the SARS epidemic earlier in the decade that killed 774 people, mostly in Asia, and slowed the global economy.

Authorities sought to keep the crisis in context: Flu deaths are common around the world. In the U.S. alone, the CDC says about 36,000 people a year die of flu-related causes. Still, the CDC calls the new strain a combination of pig, bird and human viruses for which people may have limited natural immunity.

Hence the need for a vaccine. Using samples of the flu taken from people who fell ill in Mexico and the U.S., scientists are engineering a strain that could trigger the immune system without causing illness. The hope is to get that ingredient — called a "reference strain" in vaccine jargon — to manufacturers around the second week of May, so they can begin their own laborious production work, said CDC's Dr Ruben Donis, who is leading that effort.

Vaccine manufacturers are just beginning production for next winter's regular influenza vaccine, which protects against three human flu strains. The WHO wants them to stay with that course for now — it won't call for mass production of a swine flu vaccine unless the outbreak worsens globally. But sometimes new flu strains pop up briefly at the end of one flu season and go away only to re-emerge the next fall, and at the very least there should be a vaccine in time for next winter's flu season, Dr Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health's infectious diseases chief, said Tuesday.

"Right now it's moving very rapidly," he said of the vaccine development.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
Login to comment

The situation is getting deadly serious so fast, 88 suspected cases in Australia , three confirmed in New Zealand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Welcome to the next pandemic. Not much you can do about it but keep the hands clean and maybe wear a mask. Not having to ride the crowded trains to work just to have some jerk sneeze all over the place and not cover his/her hands would be nice, but people aren't about to change their lifestyles that much.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

as worldwide fears over a new deadly strain of flu tilted towards panic

Thanks, media.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not having to ride the crowded trains to work just to have some jerk sneeze all over the place and not cover his/her hands would be nice, but people aren't about to change their lifestyles that much."

one of the main reasons I walk or take a taxi

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i always thought that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh yes captain my captains, my decision makers, my life lines, for maybe it will be nothing for I have not been educated in the bowls of your institutional intellects, nor do I speak your many dialects. Yet still, woe is the unprepared, for all life is bio mass made up of multi-bio organisms that through time, have come together to form natural fitness. Present life, once divided separate micro bio organisms, created in self supporting environments, and programmed to group, seek mass, (and self divide in some cases) and defend fitness through evolutionary bio-coding, consistently gather, fuse and or reject, within environmental states of self supporting bio containments (the living body of life for you simpletons), and in the course of time, environmentally pending, fought and fight off threats of undesirable negative bio intrusions that threatened the bio-groupings natural fitness, and eventually, result, and have resulted, in the present day human mass. In other words, desirable bio intrusions bond within our bodies and some go undetected. Those that are undesirable, turn up in familiar forms of viruses, prions, and the like that destroy the bio-container. Therefore, a little hysteria is permitted for A(H1N1) for woe is man who forgets the plagues of it’s past. Woe is the man who contemplates this on the tree of woe. Wow, the above is all in Genesis, what copy were you all provided and basing your populations being on….also, the Book of the Upright makes for interesting reading if you should feel inclined to educate yourselves....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

where more than 150 people are believed to have died from the flu.

Oh yeah??

The death toll in Mexico is 7. Yes 7 people. Not the hundreds that the media had been saying.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/807735/boy-named-as-swine-flus-first-victim

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A while ago someone here posted a report about a possible American pig farm in Mexico being ground zero, I just finished watching a special CNN report with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he is in La Gloria, Veracruz, Mexico where it seems to be ground zero, many people were sickened there. When Dr.Gupta tried to entre the American owned pig farm he was turned away, when he tried to interview it's workers, security guards turned him away. If you don't believe me, look up this news on CNN, Dr.Sanjay Gupta now in Mexico trying to find out how this horrible Swin flu had it's origins. There seems to be a huge cover up by this American pig factory in Mexico.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lets watch how The World will strike the most dangerous event for humans than World War...!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

skip: I myself walk or ride my bike to work for the most part, though we both know it's not a possibility for the majority of Japanese.

neverknow2: How old is your link (couldn't open it). I believe the number of CONFIRMED deaths from swine flu is more than 10, and suspected cases still under investigation (ie. people that died from POSSIBLE other causes) is more than 100. The media may well be exaggerating, but it seems more probably that a country itself would cover up the numbers of confirmed deaths at first in an attempt to ward off exactly what's happening -- cancellation of tourism, banning exported goods, etc. What's more, I prefer having exaggerations in the media and allowing myself to read and judge (I believe most articles actually say the number of confirmed deaths from swine flu is only in the 10s) than having little or no coverage of what's going on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It seems to me that the actual risk from this strain of flu has been blown out of all proportion by news media thirsting for attention. The news media have beaten this into something it isn't and generated panic. Smithinjapan - this article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8024039.stm) was updated only a few hours ago and states that only 7 confirmed deaths were caused by swine flu as opposed to 159 suspected.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It seems this is hype. It appears this is another case of fear-mongering.

But it is conditioning the hersd to accept that mandatory 'vaccinations' (alleged) are to be expected.

Some people are standing to make a lot of money from this bs. But the smart people will stay away from hospitals and drugs and providing they use commonsense they should be fine if the catch the 'swine' flu (or if tiey catch anything else).

It seems we are being led up the garden path again by agents of our governments. Be cynical & skeptical and be careful. Be well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

'Herd'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

& by the way. I heard from an email from an American woman shacked-up with a Mestizo in Mexico that the news at ground zero is that the schools are close and some events have been cancelled because some AMERICAN brought over this nasty flu. - Take it for what it's worth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

'closed'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

what i find strange is how fast this came. Personally being the thinker i am, i think there is a conspiracy behind this, because from december 2005 to febuary 2009 there was 12 cases. just 12 now suddenly theres hundreds? theres something strange about that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites