September 18, 2009 |
As health officials brace for a new onslaught of illness from the novel H1N1 virus, they remain perplexed by one of the most unusual and unsettling patterns to emerge from this pandemic -- the tendency of the so-called swine flu to strike younger, healthier people. The initial explanation was that the elderly, who are usually most vulnerable to the flu, have built-in immunity as a result of their exposure more than 50 years ago to ancestors of today's pandemic strain. But the limits of the theory are becoming more clear.
July 25, 2009 |
Hundreds of thousands of Americans could die over the next two years if the vaccine and other control measures for the new H1N1 influenza are not effective, and, at the pandemic's peak, as much as 40% of the workforce could be affected, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is admittedly a worst-case scenario that the federal agency says it doesn't expect to occur.
September 23, 2011 |
The film "Contagion" may have been fiction, but the 1918-19 influenza epidemic was horrifyingly real. The "Spanish flu" epidemic tore a path of destruction across the globe, killing an estimated 50-100 million people within months before disappearing into history. Now, evidence from U.S. soldiers felled by the virus reveals that it circulated in the country for four months before the pandemic was even identified. The findings, published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer a picture of a virus as it turned from common pathogen to killer bug, said senior author Jeffery Taubenberger, a pathologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md. "This was one of the worst infectious disease outbreaks that ever occurred," Taubenberger said.
March 20, 2008 |
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that climate change and pandemic disease threatened international security as much as terrorism and that Britain must radically improve its defenses. Brown listed the greatest threats to Britain's peace as "war, terrorism and now climate change, disease and poverty -- threats which redefine national security." Officials estimate that a flu-type pandemic in Britain could cost as many as 750,000 lives, according to a report commissioned by Brown. It also says major coastal floods probably would result in a military evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people.
January 15, 2012 |
In recent weeks I've had occasion to wonder whether Talmudic scholars of yore ever debated the question of what to do when a nice Jewish boy came down with swine flu. Less shameful than a diagnosis of trichinosis, perhaps, in which the subject would surely be harshly judged for his complicity in having partaken of undercooked pork. Yet hasn't a swine flu victim also ingested (or at least inhaled) the virus one way or another? Admittedly, this was not foremost on my mind when, in 2006, my wife and I purchased a drug called Tamiflu.
October 6, 2005
On Tuesday, President Bush tried to reassure us by saying he will use the military to enforce a quarantine to prevent the spread of an avian influenza pandemic. I would much rather hear from our president that the federal government will give all the necessary economic support to produce as rapidly as possible a vaccine for the H5N1 (avian) influenza virus. This is the only effective way to prevent a pandemic: a mass vaccination as was done against polio. A Centers for Disease Control director recently said that a vaccine against the avian influenza virus is going to be available but there are not sufficient funds to mass-produce it soon enough.
February 16, 2011 |
A new influenza vaccine grown in cultured animal cells rather than eggs is at least as effective as conventional vaccines, a finding that could speed approval of the new way of producing the vaccine, researchers reported Tuesday. If the manufacturing technique is approved, it could improve the ability of vaccine makers to respond to emerging viruses and pandemics. The vaccine for the recent H1N1 influenza pandemic, for example, did not become available until the outbreak had already crested.
December 18, 2009 |
Available doses of the vaccine against pandemic H1N1 influenza will top 100 million in the United States by today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday. The vaccine has become sufficiently plentiful, prompting at least 24 states and some other communities to lift restrictions and open distribution to everyone. And some pharmacies are starting to get the vaccine for general distribution. Earlier, supplies had been targeted at those most at risk, including children and pregnant women.