Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu Real time Map

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What Is swine Flu?


Symptoms usually similar to seasonal flu - but deaths recorded in Mexico
It is a new version of the H1N1 strain which caused the 1918 flu pandemic

Too early to say whether it will lead to a pandemic
Current treatments do work Good personal hygiene, such as washing hands, covering nose when sneezing advised H1N1 is the same strain which causes outbreaks of flu in humans on a regular basis. But this latest version of H1N1 is different: it contains genetic material that is found in strains of the virus that affect swine.

Flu viruses have the ability to parts between different viruses from different species
Pigs provide a 'melting pot' for these viruses to mix and match with each other.

How dangerous is it?

Symptoms of swine flu in humans appear to be similar to those produced by standard, seasonal flu.

These include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue.
It is worth remembering that seasonal flu often poses a serious threat to public health: each year it kills 250,000 - 500,000 around the world.

But lives have been lost in Mexico, and deaths has been confirmed in the US and elsewhere with this new outbreak.

How worried should people be?

When any new strain of flu emerges that acquires the ability to pass from person to person, it is monitored very closely in case it has the potential to spark a global epidemic, or pandemic.

1918: The Spanish flu pandemic remains the most devastating outbreak of modern times. Caused by a form of the H1N1 strain of flu, it is estimated that up to 40% of the world's population were infected, and more than 50 million people died, with young adults particularly badly affected and there was no air travel then.

The World Health Organization has warned that swine flu could potentially trigger a global pandemic, and stress that the situation is serious. The WHO are one step below Pandemic warning.

By the time a ppanemic strikes you will need to have taken action already to obtain tamiflu or similar. You will not be able to obtain any by the time the pandemic strikes.

Nobody knows the full potential impact of a pandemic, but experts have warned that it could cost up to hundreds of millions of lives worldwide. The Spanish flu pandemic, which began in 1918, and was also caused by an H1N1 strain, killed millions of people.

However, the fact that many of the victims are young does point to something unusual. Normal, seasonal flu tends to affect the elderly disproportionately


Phase 1: No infections in humans are being caused by viruses circulating in animals.

Phase 2: Animal flu virus causes infection in humans, and is a potential pandemic threat.

Phase 3: Flu causes sporadic cases in people, but no significant human-to-human transmission.

Phase 4: Human-to-human transmission and community-level outbreaks.

Phase 5: Human-to-human transmission in at least two countries. Strong signal pandemic imminent. We are Now here.

Phase 6: Virus spreads to another country in a different region. Global pandemic under way.

Can the virus be contained?

The virus appears already to have started to spread around the world, and most experts believe that, in the era of readily available air travel, containment will be impossible

The World Health Organization says that restricting flights will have little effect. It argues that screening of passengers is also unlikely to have much impact, as symptoms may not be apparent in many infected people. You need to take precautions now.

Can it be treated?

The US authorities say that two drugs commonly used to treat flu, Tamiflu and Relenza, seem to be effective at treating cases that have occurred there so far. However, the drugs must be administered at an early stage to be effective. There have also been reports that Resveratrol may help alleviate symptoms but so far this is not proven.

Use of these drugs may also make it less likely that infected people will pass the virus on to others.

What about a vaccine?

There is no vaccine at present and the only option is to take the drugs and precautions previously mentioned.

What should I do to stay safe?

Anyone with flu-like symptoms who might have been in contact with the swine virus - such as those living or travelling in the areas of Mexico that have been affected - should seek medical advice.

Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and who have fever and cough.

General infection control practices and good hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including the human swine influenza. This includes covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible and disposing of it promptly.

It is also important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people and cleaning hard surfaces like door handles frequently using a normal cleaning product.

In Mexico masks have been handed out to the general public, but experts are sceptical about how useful this is.

How Soon will it strike here?

No one knows the answer to this. It could take weeks or even months. In the worst case scenario it could suddenly spread rapidly via air travel and vast areas of the US and Europe would be left overwhelmed with the infected