Tag Archives: H1N1 Novel Swine Flu

How many people does it take to make a baby really sick?

We have an interesting conundrum. Our offspring (______) is due on November 20th. This places the likely date of birth just prior to Thanksgiving. This causes many people to get very excited because they get to see and play with the new baby. I wonder how mad at me all those people are going to get when they find out I might not let that happen?
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New model may help scientists better predict and prevent influenza outbreaks

Athens, Ga. – Each year, the influenza virus evolves. And each year, public health officials try to predict what the new strain will be and how it will affect the population in order to best combat it.

A new study by an international team of researchers, led by assistant professor Andrew W. Park, who holds a joint appointment in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology and in the College of Veterinary Medicine, may make their task a little easier. The study breaks ground by working across scales and linking sub-molecular changes in the influenza virus to the likelihood of influenza outbreaks. The paper, published in the Oct. 30 edition of the journal Science, shows the relationship between the evolution of the virus and immunization rates needed to prevent an outbreak in the population.

Park explained that these findings can help inform efforts to prevent future outbreaks. “Public health officials will be able to assess the usefulness of a vaccine based upon its relationship to the current influenza strain and the population’s immunity level,” he said.

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H1N1 2009 Novel Swine Flu Thingie = Fewer Hospital Beds?

So the other day, grandma was taken to the hospital with various medical issues, and treated in the ER. After she was stabilized, she was sent to the ICU, but was unable to get a bed at first because the “ICU was full of H1N1 patients.” I’m was not sure what that means because the term “H1N1” does not distinguish between the two flu events we are currently having, but I later asked and found out that the person who said that meant “Swine Flu.”*

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The “Swine Flu” does not have a name?

Effect Measure has an interesting take-down of a post on The Global Language Monitor (GLM), which brings up an interesting point or two.

The GLM is a very strange site which has, as Revere points out, declared itself to be an important go-to place to find out about language trends across the world. I have not decided what I think about this site except when I browse around it it I feel my guard going up, and up and up. In a recent post, the GLM lists cases of inappropriate political correctness. The GLM says “Once again, we are seeing that the attempt to remove all bias from language is itself creating biases of their own” and they point out as the number one example of this … Swine Flu:

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How effective is the flu shot?

There are several answers to this question. One was overheard the other day among a bunch of well educated people oriented towards science who were taking a break from their job.

Person 1: “So, how effective is the seasonal flu shot?”

Person 2: “I heard about 1%. If you get the flu shot, you’ll have a 1% difference in if you get the flu.”

Person 3: “That’s crazy. I don’t know where you are getting your data from. It can’t be 1%, but I admit I don’t know what the actual answer is, but it can’t be that.”

Persons 4 through 6: “Well, if YOU don’t know, and HE says 1%, I’m going with the 1%. Too much trouble to get a flu shot anyway.”

Person 3: “Wait, wait! That’s crazy! That makes no sense!” as persons 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are filing out of the break room to go back to work. “You can’t leave thinking that 1% is correct! It can’t be correct!!!”

Person 5: [Over her shoulder on the way out the door.] “Hey, why don’t you go ask your husband. He’s a Scienceblogger, right?”
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Seasonal flu shot increases risk of H1N1 infection?

This idea has been knocking around for a a few days, and is regularly discussed by David Dobbs at his blog. This concerns me quite a bit, as my wife is 8 months pregnant, flu is a very serious risk for pregnant women and their babies, she teaches in a high school, and got her seasonal flu shot last week. It’s called the Hoskins effect and it seems to happen now and then with viruses.

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Who gets the first flu shots?

It is decided. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has met, ruminated, voted, and now decrees that pregnant women, health care workers, and children over six months old will be vaccinated first. The reason we even need to worry about this is that there will not be nearly enough flu vaccine to go around in the event of a real surge in the novel swine flu.

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Is obesity a risk factor for H1N1 Novel Swine Flu infection?

… or is obesity simply Yet Another Risk Factor in severity of this illness?

Probably the latter, but health officials seem interested in the developing data.

From CTV:

… in a report released Friday, health officials detailed the cases of 10 Michigan patients who were very sick from swine flu in late May and early June and ended up at a specialized hospital in Ann Arbor. Three of them died.

Nine of the 10 were either obese or extremely obese. Only three of the 10 had other health problems. Two of the three that died had no other health conditions.

This hardly settles the question of whether obesity is its own risk factor for swine flu. It’s possible the patients had undiagnosed heart problems or other unidentified conditions.

The report is called Intensive-Care Patients With Severe Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection — Michigan, June 2009 and is published in MMWR, the CDC’s rapid turnaround publication for disease. The report warns:

This report describes the clinical findings of a limited series of patients with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and refractory ARDS …. This patient group represents the most severely ill subset of persons with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and is notable for the predominance of males, the high prevalence of obesity (especially extreme obesity), and the frequency of clinically significant pulmonary emboli and MODS. All required advanced mechanical ventilator support, reflecting severe pulmonary damage. The pulmonary compromise described in this report suggests that severe pulmonary damage occurred as a result of primary viral pneumonia. Although data are not available, this damage also might be attributable to secondary host immune responses (e.g., through cytokine dysregulation triggered by high viral replication). However, bacterial coinfection in the lung not identified by blood culture or bronchoalveolar lavage cannot be excluded.

The high prevalence of obesity in this case series is striking. Whether obesity is an independent risk factor for severe complications of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection is unknown. Obesity has not been identified previously as a risk factor for severe complications of seasonal influenza. ….

Further characterization of severe cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the United States and worldwide is needed to determine the frequency of the findings from this limited case-series.

You can read the report here.

Clearly this is very preliminary and I suspect that this will not develop. In other words, I suspect that existing poor health related to the cardiopulmonary system is a serious risk factor with any flu. But we shall see.