Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 30, 2009

Swine flu: Thursday wind-up

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 30, 2009

There have now been 91 laboratory confirmed diagnoses of the H1N1 virus in the United States.  There has been one fatality.  The virus has now been confirmed in ten states. The CDC provides updates at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/index.htm

Yesterday the WHO increased its pandemic alert level to Phase 5, one short of a full pandemic.  There are reports that a move to six could happen later today. It is worth noting that a “pandemic” is mostly a matter of how a virus is transmitted and the geographic spread of the virus.  It does not, necessarily, reflect on the virulence of the disease.

With the exception of  Mexico, where there have been at least 176 fatalities, the disease is usually presenting mild symptoms.  “This virus doesn’t have anywhere near the capacity to kill like the 1918 virus,” which claimed an estimated 50 million victims worldwide, said Richard Webby, a leading influenza virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis,”  reports the Los Angeles Times. But clearly the Mexican cases, the novelty of this flu strain, and the possibility of further mutation are cause for significant concern.

According to  WHO, “The situation continues to evolve rapidly. As of 18:00 GMT, 29 April 2009, nine countries have officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection. The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection including seven deaths. (HLSwatch note: These official numbers are often lagging indicators due to rigorous laboratory confirmations.) The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths – Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).”

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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 30, 2009 @ 8:07 am

Surveillance systems hopefully operating at full capacity now and maximum coverage. Mexico could well have had larger numbers of victims had comprehensive surveillance started in late March when large numbers were already suspected or reported seeking health care assistance. What appears to be a solid two week delay may not be a good sign for mitigation. I defer to the experts and the witch-hunters. Or is it “which” hunters?

Comment by Peter J. Brown

April 30, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

The number in the US should read at least 94. Maine reported 3 cases by the time the evening news aired last night (Wed.). I noticed that the CDC swine flu web site made no mention of any cases in Maine when the daily update was posted this morning.

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