Pandemic Update – November 1, 2009

There have been over 6,500 reported deaths due the new H1N1 virus.

There have been over 1,400 reported deaths in the United States. President Obama has declared a National Emergency with respect to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The federal government has released the last of its stockpiled supplies of the children’s version of Tamiflu to the States. Some vaccine has been delivered and administered, but the number of people who wish to be vaccinated greatly exceeds the available supply. This is likely to continue to be true for weeks, if not months. Flu activity continues to be erratic, but appears to be increasing in the densely populated Northeast. New Mexico, Utah and Arizona have the highest incidences of death. Approximately 1 in every 100,000 citizens in those States have already died of pandemic flu.

In Europe, Ukraine has taken draconian steps to stop the rapid spread of influenza in the western oblasts (provinces). Although the number dead is relatively small as compared to the total population, there are reports of thousands in the hospitals. Since deaths lag hospitalisations by several weeks, there may be many more dead soon. In the United Kingdom, ICUs are once again filling up. In Ireland, some patients have been sent to the ECMO Center at Karolinska in Sweden. ECMO is an advanced technology for people with severe respiratory disorders.

In Asia, few cases are being reported in most countries. This is more likely attributable to a desire to hide the extent of the disease, than a true decrease in its spread. The pace of deaths has slowed dramatically in India. However, concern about a more lethal version of the virus has again been expressed due to a new and more severe pathology. South Korea will raise its alert to the highest level next week due to the rapidly increasing numbers of infections and deaths.

There are reports people who exhibit all the symptoms of the new H1N1 but who test negative for it in many countries, including the US, India and Ukraine. Many of these patients have died. Either the reagents developed to detect the H1N1 virus are starting to fail, perhaps due to mutations, or there is an unknown, highly infectious disease capable of causing severe symptoms and death circulating throughout the world.

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