Pandemic Update – July 19, 2009

There are now at least 858 confirmed deaths from the new H1N1 pandemic virus. Most countries have reported outbreaks.

In the US, there are at least 284 confirmed deaths. 65 of these are in New York state.

Hospitals are under increasing strain in a number of countries, especially Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand and Canada. There have been reports of infected health care workers in a number of countries. In Argentina, 10% of the fatalities have been among health care workers. In the US, some nurses have been forced to reuse respirators, possibly resulting in their infection with the new virus.

Concern about access to vaccine is increasing. Most manufacturers are no longer taking orders. It is unlikely that more than a small fraction of the world’s population will receive vaccine before they face widespread outbreaks in their areas.

A disproportionate number of pregnant women have died of the new H1N1 virus. It has become standard practice to deliver babies by Caesarean sections shortly before the mother is expected to die, usually after having been on a ventilator for days to weeks. In the UK, there are increasingly strong warnings to pregnant women to stay home to avoid infection.

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