Thursday, July 2, 2009

Far From Over

Although the World Health Organization is not recommending travel restrictions, it is not safe to travel on the plane these days. If someone on the plane has already contracted the influenza A (H1N1) virus, the rest of the passengers have exposed to the risk of contracting the virus as well. The worst is that all of them may require to be in quarantine for several days.

Hundred of medical professionals and specialists from 40 countries met in Cancun, Mexico where the virus was first found. The gesture was to show that Mexico was a safe place to travel. Dr. Margaret Chan indicated that recommendations to avoid travel to Mexico, or to any other country or area with confirmed cases, serve no purpose. It was easy for her to provide a statement but to stay out of the virus, it would best be not traveling to country like the United States where many confimed cases were identified. Perhaps, it would best be not getting on the plane unless there is an urgent business. Maybe this would help stop the spreading of the virus.

Specialist warned the world that the virus could mutate into a more malicious form and come back in a few months for a more violent attack At that time, the death toll could rise and became the outbreak like the flu pandemic in 1918 that killed tens of millions people. “Watching how quickly H1N1 spread globally was quite disconcerting” said Canada’ Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. “It is so important for countries to have a plan in place to be able to respond”.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccine

According to the mathematical model worked out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there should be about 1 million Americans infected with the H1N1 virus by now. However, those who have been infected with the virus showed mild symptoms and illness as well as a fairly quick recovery.

But, the virus seems to migrate from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, where the winter is about to start and the flu season is on the way. Nevertheless, “the virus is not mutating for the moment, it is stable.” Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization said in Moscow. Although the H1N1 infections seemed to be mild, it was also warned that medical professionals needed to do more protection on them so as to avoid getting infected with the virus. According to statistics, it was reported that a small number of health care workers have been infected with the virus while at work.

Meanwhile, China is now testing the vaccine for the influenza A (H1N1) and it is expected that the vaccine will be out in the market in September, just before the winter when another flu season will start. On the other hand, Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis AG said that it has successfully produced a first batch of swine flu vaccine weeks ahead of expectations.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Confirmed Cases of Influenza A (H1N1) – Up and Rising

Although the world-wide economy is still stagnant, confirmed cases of the influenza A (H1N1) virus have been rising quickly and spreading expeditiously around the world. Although the financial crisis proved highly contagious, the influenza A (H1N1) had proved even more deadly.

In the United States, in particular, New York City, the death toll for the Influenza A (H1N1) has climbed to 32. As medical professionals warned that although symptom of the H1N1 has showed rather mild effect in most cases, the virus could mutate into a more malicious form and create a more violent attack on human. Therefore, every country should remain alert and vigilant as suggested by the World Health Organization.

However, it seemed that some countries were not taking the most urgent measurements for the disease even though the World Health Organization has issued a pandemic warning of Phase 6 on June 11, 2009. Some irresponsible people still got on the plane and flied thousand miles across the world even thought they had already developed a fever. The worst was that they did not even wear a mask on the plane, spreading the virus to all passengers on board. Thanks to the host carrying the virus, all passengers on board were at risk and would spread the virus to different countries.

If people were not taking all necessary precautions, the H1N1 virus would be more than happy to travel around the world unless all borders were close. However, this would be an impossible protocol as the world had become much closer than 20 years ago because we all lived in a network and no country could act alone but rely on each other. One country down, the chain reaction would start and it was highly contagious.

It is suggested as recommended by the World Health Organization that people who have developed a fever with temperature should stay home and rest. They should not even travel to other country to spread germs. Country with rising confirmed cases should implement more serious quarantine procedures. Do not spread the virus to other countries. Please be reminded that we are dealing with a highly contagious disease.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Phase 6 Now

On Thursday, June 11, 2009, The World Health Organization has issued a new warning, raising the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to 6, indicating that the situation has become very serious and a global pandemic is underway. It also indicated that the H1N1 virus has caused sustained community level outbreaks in two or more countries.

This was the second time which the World Health Organization issued the global flu epidemic almost 40 years ago since the Hong Kong flu in 1968, infecting an estimated 500,000 Hong Kong residents, killing an estimated one million people worldwide.

When it was no longer to contain the virus in one territory, further spread was inevitable. As of June 12, 2009, it was reported that nearly 30,000 influenza A (H1NI) cases have been confirmed in 74 countries with 145 deaths.

Currently, Australia is another country where the H1N1 virus has hit it real hard, totaling of 1,300 confirmed cases so far, including several top sports stars.

However, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director of the WHO urged people to remain calm and said that the raise of the alert to Phase 6 did not imply that we would see increase in number of deaths or very severe cases.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Time to Relax Now

According to the World Health Organization, the infected cases of the H1N1 virus in the United States have way passed Mexico. As of May 13, 2009, Mexico has reported 2059 laboratory confirmed cases of infections including 56 deaths while the United States has reported 3009 cases alone including 3 deaths. Meanwhile, Canada reported 358 cases including 1 death. These three countries seemed to have the highest number of cases so far. Not only was that. The infected cases were now traveling across the Pacific Ocean and exported to Asia. Officials of the Asian countries were in high alert and remained vigilance.

Given that the frequent traffic between Asia and the United States, it would be very difficult to avoid the spreading of the virus to the Asian countries, especially when the United States seemed to be ill-equipped for the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic and showed no sign whatsoever to deter the virus from spreading to other countries. For example, there were already several confirmed cases in Tokyo, China and Hong Kong in this week only and all of them were infected in the United States. Perhaps, port authorities and the CDC in the Unites States should take up stricter measurement so that the H1N1 virus could be over sooner.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Long Battle Ahead of Us

You must have asked “when are all these going to end?” Number of confirmed cases for the influenza A (H1N1) virus seemed to reach new high every week and confirmed cases began to appear in countries where they never had the H1N1 virus before.

The H1N1 had traveled across from Ontario to Japan as three people who returned to Japan from a High School visit in Canada were tested positive for the H1N1 virus, making Japan to report the H1N1 for the first time. As the confirmed cases seemed to be unusually high in this flight, 49 other passengers who took the same flight from Detroit to Tokyo were also needed to be quarantined.

Meanwhile, China reported its first confirmed case of the influenza A (H1N1) virus. A 30-year old man who returned from St. Louis, Missouri, the United States to Beijing via Tokyo developed a fever after he had landed in Beijing and made a local fight connection to Chengdu. He felt ill on the local fight and went straight to the hospital for treatment and he was later confirmed as a mild case of H1N1. Officials tracked down other passengers on the same fight for quarantine.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One Virus, Too Many

A 25-year old Mexican was tested positive for the Influenza A (H1N1) virus after he arrived in Hong Kong via Shanghai. The Metropark Hotel, where he stayed was closed immediately after he was confirmed with the infection. As a result, everybody including 200 guests and 100 staff had to put into segregation for 7-day quarantine for fear that there might be a chance of spreading the virus further.

As the city was hard hit by the SARS virus in 2003, officials from the Government acted quickly to respond to this Mexican situation which was exactly the same in 2003 and was still haunted in their minds. In 2003, a doctor infected with the SARS virus came to Hong Kong from Guangzhou. During his only one-night stay in the hotel, he spread a massive dosage of the SARS virus and infected at least 10 different people from various countries. The chain reaction caused a series of outbreak in Canada and Europe.

This time the officials took no chance and traced down everybody including the nearby passengers who sat close to the Mexican in the plane for 7-day quarantine. Even the two cab drivers who took the Mexican to the hospital and from the airport to the hotel was not excluded.

Only one sick person and over 400 people had to be put into isolation. Though the virus is so small and one cannot even see it with the naked eyes, the effect is more like a giant monster.

Please take care of yourself from getting the H1N1 virus.