Friday, May 1, 2009

May First Swine Flu Update.....Alot is Breaking today on the Hog Farm Connection ( so this post has been imported from my Swine Flu Blog)

The First Story that I reccomend to read is the Latest in Huffington post that explains MORE about the Connection between the HOG Farms in Mexico, that are US owned and their connection to this Outbreak. This story also explains that Scientists are looking at a similiar Hog strain outbreak of 1998. ( I will continue to call it Swine Flu here, as it is scientifically presenting as virus that is related to Hog Waste Practices. I will not call it what the Hog Industry wants it called.) Do read the article as it brings up that there may indeed be more of an American Connection, and more is posted in the Comments- including whole interviews with Virologists about WHY it is "Swine Flu".

"In an interview with Science Magazine, the CDC's chief virologist, Ruben Donis' essentially confirmed the reading of the current swine flu strain made by New Scientist: that it evolved from a strain that cropped up in U.S. hog farms in 1998."
This WSJ story connect the Germ Dots and explains the actual sleuthing that went on and is ongoing tracking this Virus. Really well done.
In the US 300 schools have closed due to symptomatic children, and to protect other children until results come in.There is an actual lag in getting test results, as the swabs are sent to the State and then sent to the CDC labs in Georgia. Schools are taking a precautionary stance, if they have children that have substantial symptoms and are listed as probable by their Doctor, then schools are closing for up to 5-7 days.In many cases this is involving school nurses making weighty decisions, and school districts that have limited nurses are actually closing more schools. Many parents are wrestling with decisions about sending their children to school, or keep them home.
This LA Times article tells how hospitals all over are stressed with overflow due to the Swine Flu, sadly I think that many people sitting in a ER Waiting room is creating more of a mess. In the UK they have people phone their doctor, self quarentine and the tamiflu is phone prescribed and shipped via courier to their homes, this makes more sense. In other places Seperate facilities and entrances are set up for the Flu Patients.
Harvard shut down it's medical and dental school this week,
after a resident came down with swine flu.

Finally we have some Some Real Numbers out of Mexico. 300 Confirmed Cases ( last weekend they were saying over 1000, so this is different.
But we still don't know anything about the Cases, age, gender etc.
More about Swine Flu across the DC region and the Whitehouse Aide to Secretary Chu that did acquire the illness.
More schools in California close due to Swine Illness.
On a local level I did find numerous stories of local pharmacies running out of tamiflu and relenza, I am not sure about how it is distributed, but this is something to watch.
In Texas an entire district was closed due to flu and the schools sanitized. yet the True numbers in Fort Worth of illness remain undetermined.
BBC has more about the World Reaction and response and cases.
Across the Globe Middle East is still taking drastic measures in Egypt, by culling pig herds.
For people abroad Sky News has set up a fairly complete Travel Advice Page for those wondering how to protect themselves.
The Guardian has great article about lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu could be a good teaching tool.
On another front some people are researching the questions about Hog Farming and the Hygiene practices, Border Explorer has a thought provoking post on it. And Nature Network has more about this current outbreak that is worth reading.
3:30PM LA Times has article about how School Closures might help decrease the spread.


enigma4ever said...

THIS IS FROM THE GRIST::::explains WHY it is Swine FLU...

""Another hat tip to the increasingly essential Tom Laskawy.) In an interview with Science Magazine, the CDC’s chief virologist, Ruben Donis’ essentially confirmed the reading of the current swine flu strain made by New Scientist: that it evolved from a strain that cropped up in U.S. hog farms in 1998. Both New Scientist and Donis emphasize that what we’re talking about is a swine flu—in direct contradiction of the pork industry’s party line. In an interview with me today, David Warner, director of communications at the National Pork Producers Council, repeatedly attributed the outbreak to “human flu, not swine flu.” He acknowledged that new strain had swine and avian components, but insisted that the human components dominated; and he denied outright that the hog industry had anything to do with it. So that’s the pork industry’s take. Here’s the assessment of CDC’s Donis, as portrayed in this Science interview.

Q: Is it of swine origin?

R.D.: Definitely. It’s almost equidistant to swine viruses from the United States and Eurasia. And it’s a lonely branch there. It doesn’t have any close relatives.

Q: How about the neuraminidase gene?

R.D.: It has close relatives in Asia. It’s also swine.

Q: The matrix gene?

R.D.: The same as neuraminidase.

Q: So where are avian and human sequences?

R.D.: We have to step back [to] 10 years ago. In 1998, actually, Chris Olsen is one of the first that saw it, and we saw the same in a virus from Nebraska and Richard Webby and Robert Webster in Memphis saw it, too. There were unprecedented outbreaks of influenza in the swine population. It was an H3.

But what about the Asian component? In my interview with the National Pork Producer’s Warner, he suggested that the flu had developed primarily in Asia. The CDC’s Donis isn’t buying that.

Q: What’s the newest part of this strain?

R.D.: Neuraminidase and the matrix are the newest to be seen in North America. They were not part of the team—I talk about flu virus as teams of genes. There are eight players. They have these two new players from Asia.

Q: It suggests a mixing of pigs from North America and Asia.

R.D.: One little detail we haven’t discussed is [that] these Midwestern viruses were exported to Asia. Korea and many countries import from the U.S. Swine flu is economically not such a big deal that many countries don’t check for it.

In other words, the strain stems from from U.S. hog farms in 1998, and has since bounced back and forth between here and Asia.

As Laskawy noted in the above-linked post, Donis doesn’t dismiss Smithfield’s Granjas Carroll operations in Mexico as a possible source of the outbreak.

Q: What do you think about the pig farm in Veracruz?

R.D.: I don’t know the details. They said they had a huge operation and the workers were not getting sick; that’s what the company claims. The only suspicious thing in that story is this is the largest farm in Mexico. The fact that the index case also is from the area makes it interesting.

He does add one thing that will comfort the pork industry.

Q: Do large farms have more swine flu?

R.D.: Not really. Even folks who have 50 pigs have to buy feed and supply from vendors that go from farm to farm, and they don’t wash their boots or whatever. Usually the virus is transmitted very effectively.

Fair enough; but when the 50-herd pig operation gets infected, you’re created 50 carriers for new evolution. When a 15,000-strong hog confinement catches the flu, well, it’s a whole different order of magnitude. Donis ends the interview with the reminder that while the current outbreak seems mild in terms of death rate, medical professionals are doing a lot of finger-crossing.

Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask you that I should have?

R.D.: We all pray this remains sensitive to antivirals. We all hope that vaccines will be developed. The virus doesn’t grow very well in eggs. We hope the virus will improve [the] ability to grow in eggs so we can produce [a] vaccine very quickly so these secondary and tertiary cases can be controlled. In some countries there’s good surveillance, but in others, who knows.

Q: What do you think of this outbreak?

R.D.: This is the first one I’ve seen firsthand as a virologist. The avian influenza outbreak is not comparable because this is unfolding so quickly. This reminds me of SARS. With avian there’s very little transmission. And even with SARS, transmission was far less.

Q: Does this one scare you?

R.D.: I saw figures that do scare you. We’ve received 300 samples from Mexico, and these cover the span of February, March, and April. And you look at flu A, traditionally it’s A/H1 or A/H3 or it’s B up until the end of March. There are two or three cases up to [the] last days of March that are swine. Then in April they skyrocket. So all the cases in the D.F. areas, where most samples came from, it really transmits very efficiently.

Grist food editor Tom Philpott farms and cooks at Maverick Farms, a sustainable-agriculture nonprofit and small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

enigma4ever said...

THIS WSJ article is excellent and explains the TRUE Story of Some of what is going on down in mexico:::::


MEXICO CITY -- "I've got some bad news."

The voice on the conference call last week was Frank Plummer, a Canadian scientist who had just spent 24 hours analyzing virus samples from 51 seriously ill people in Mexico.

The news: Seventeen people carried a completely new type of flu virus, one which had its origin in pigs. Flu from swine, which can be fatal, has rarely made the jump to humans -- much less appeared in so many people at once. Within minutes, Mexico's health minister grabbed a red-telephone hotline to President Felipe Calderón. "Mr. President, I need to see you urgently. It's a matter of national security."

A picture is now emerging of how U.S. and Mexican officials, with a key assist from a Canadian government lab, first realized they faced a new type of disease and began racing to isolate its earliest origins. Until recently, Mexico was widely assumed to be ground zero. Now, however, some California doctors are questioning that.

On the Front Lines

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Brian L. Frank for The Wall Street Journal
A worker sanitizes the hallway in the special respiratory unit of the at Aurelio Valdivieso Hospital in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The four earliest confirmed cases are divided evenly between California and Mexico. In fact, it appears two children in California got sick in late March, several days before the first two known Mexico cases in early April.

Since then, the virus, which has been called "swine flu" but is scientifically known as A/H1N1, has turned up in cities from New York to Los Angeles, and spread rapidly to countries as far as New Zealand and Israel. On Thursday, some 300 U.S. schools were closed as part of an effort to contain the disease. And the White House said a U.S.-government security guard caught the bug earlier this month while in Mexico to prepare for President Barack Obama's trip there.

As the disease emerged, health officials put the pieces of the puzzle together relatively quickly. Unlike China's alleged months-long coverup of the SARS respiratory-disease outbreak in 2002-03, Mexico's government appears to have reacted vigorously. The country has been the hardest hit, with the disease believed responsible for as many as 176 deaths so far. The U.S. has had just one death, a Mexican boy who caught the bug in Mexico.

Within a few hours of Dr. Plummer's April 23 conference call last week, Mexico's cabinet decided to close schools in Mexico City, a move that later was expanded nationwide. Restaurants, bars and many other businesses have shuttered in Mexico City, turning the city into a virtual ghost town. This weekend, all professional soccer games are to be played to empty stadiums.

But something may have been brewing in Mexico as early as mid-March, when health officials say they first noticed a slight uptick in patients with severe pulmonary problems such as pneumonia. A/H1N1 flu can cause pneumonia.

At the time, the slight increase didn't cause much worry. An average of 20,000 people die each year from pneumonia in Mexico.

And almost no one expected a potential new pandemic to begin in North America, medical experts say. New flus often originate in parts of Asia, where poor farming families live in close proximity to domesticated animals such as birds and pigs, enabling dangerous animal viruses to jump to humans.

Brian L. Frank
Dr. Gerardo Pérez Lescas in Oaxaca, Mexico, treated one of the first people known to have died from the new influenza -- 'an unusual case,' he says.
Normally, bird and swine viruses aren't good at spreading from human to human, which helps limit the damage to people in direct contact with animals. The latest virus, however, is an unusual hybrid of pig, bird and human flu bugs. It also has the scary ability to leap from human to human. Thousands of people may have already been infected.

"We're in unprecedented territory really," said Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., which operates a laboratory that works with the World Health Organization. So far, the virus is treatable with antiviral medicines. It appears less deadly than first thought, as long as good medical care is within reach.

In Mexico, one early warning sign occurred in a dusty village in Mexico's eastern Veracruz state called La Gloria, which sits near an industrial pig farm. An unusual outbreak of respiratory disease began there on March 9 and ended April 13, affecting some 600 villagers, including Edgar Hernandez, a skinny 5-year-old with spiky hair and Cheshire-cat grin.

"Mom, I don't feel well," Edgar told his mother, Maria del Carmen, one morning in early April. He had a high fever, so she took him to a nearby clinic, waiting in line so long with other people suffering from flu-like symptoms that Edgar fell asleep.

The doctor diagnosed flu, and prescribed an antibiotic and paracetamol. Within three days, Edgar was fine, save a lingering cough. State health officials, alerted to the outbreak, turned up in La Gloria March 28 and spent a week taking samples from 43 residents.

By April 8, Edgar's sample and one other tested positive for type "A" flu (the kind that usually arrives between early winter and early spring in temperate climates) but had to be sent away for more sophisticated testing before doctors could start to figure out the true implications.

A similar thing was happening in San Diego, where scientists from the Naval Health Research Center there were conducting a trial for a new diagnostic test for influenza. During the first week in April, the center collected two samples, from a 10-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl, that turned out to be neither a known seasonal flu virus, or a bird flu. Both samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control for further testing, on April 14 and 17.

Pinpointing the disease's origin is proving to be tricky. The fact that some people have gotten sick without needing hospitalization suggests the virus may have floated around undetected before late March.

Well before scientists were solidly on its trail, the A/H1N1 virus claimed its first known victim. Adela Maria Gutierrez was a 39-year-old accountant and mother of three who worked as a census taker for Mexico's tax office, a job that sent her knocking door to door, contacting hundreds of people. None appear to have gotten sick, say local health officials.

She got sick on April 1. A few days later, she showed up at the emergency room of an Oaxaca City hospital on April 9 -- turning blue from a lack of oxygen. Her heart was racing abnormally quickly as well.

Flu: Complete Coverage

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Live Updates: Tracking news of the outbreak
WHO's updates | CDC's updates

Vote: How worried are you about a flu pandemic? Join the discussion.
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Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius on coordinated efforts to prevent a pandemic.
Acting CDC director Dr. Richard Bresser on what is currently known about the outbreak.
The FDA's Dr. Josh Sharpstein details a new panel to respond to H1N1.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on vaccine efforts.

Real Time Econ: Biden Gaffe Highlights Threat
Economists React: Flu's Potential Effects
Health Blog: Call It Swine Flu, or H1N1?
Video: Egypt Orders Mass Culling
Video: Swine Flu Spreads as Mexico Deaths Mount
Video | Q&A: A Flu Primer
Swine Flu: Complete Coverage

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Doctors struggled to figure out what was wrong. One test showed up positive for coronavirus, a rare bug that can cause respiratory distress and which was responsible for the SARS outbreak. But the next test was negative.

"It was an unusual case. When we thought it was avian flu, we went on alert," said Gerardo Pérez Lescas, head of intensive care at the Oaxaca hospital.

Ms. Gutierrez's condition deteriorated rapidly. She died April 13, leaving her doctors "completely in the dark," says Alejandro López Ruiz, chief of epidemiology. The next morning he got on a plane to Mexico City, carrying vials of Ms. Gutierrez's lung samples for further testing.

That same day, April 14, Miguel Angel Lezana, Mexico's top government epidemiologist, was sitting at his desk when he got a call from the director of the National Institute for Respiratory Diseases, a specialized hospital in Mexico City. The hospital had noticed an unusual number of severe pneumonia cases. Adding to the mystery, most appeared in otherwise healthy adults. And flu season was already over.

"That was the first point in which I got a little worried," says Dr. Lezana. Two days later, given the flu outbreaks in Veracruz, Oaxaca and now Mexico City, he issued a national health alert for influenza, notifying the regional office of the World Health Organization.

Still, health officials in Mexico suspected it was merely a particularly nasty regular flu. "Our hypothesis was that we were faced with an ordinary influenza that for some reason was extending beyond the normal time," says Dr. Lezana.

Not so in the U.S. That same day, CDC officials roped in Michele Ginsberg, chief of community epidemiology in San Diego's Health & Human Services Agency. The CDC told her that both California children had been infected with what may be a new type of swine flu. Most worrying, the children lived 160 miles apart, and neither had been around pigs.

The implication: They may have contracted the virus from other humans.

"This could be the big one," Dr. Ginsberg told her co-workers, referring to a flu pandemic that has long been predicted by public-health experts.

Dr. Ginsberg moved swiftly. She and her colleagues obtained blood samples and nasal swabs from the infected boy's family and sent them to the CDC. They put in 18-hour days.

On April 17, the CDC -- by then aware of Mexico's health alert -- talked to Dr. Lezana in Mexico to describe their suspicions. "This time of year influenza is supposed to be dying down," said Michael Shaw of the CDC's influenza division. "That's one of the first alarm bells -- they were detecting influenza, they couldn't tell what it was, and the number of cases was increasing."

On Saturday morning, April 18, Eduardo Sada, a respected epidemiologist, was playing tennis when he was interrupted by a phone call from a colleague at Mexico's health ministry summoning him to the office for an emergency. Dr. Sada said he needed to go home first to take a shower. "Forget the shower, come right away," the ministry official responded.

One hour later, Dr. Sada was at the epidemiology center in the south of the city with 60 grim-faced colleagues, grappling with the surge of pneumonia cases. The symptoms were strikingly similar: a high fever, bone-rattling body aches and pounding headaches. Acute respiratory problems, and death, could follow quickly.

Dr. Sada and his colleagues worked into the night to create a questionnaire to determine the scope of the problem. On Sunday morning, they fanned out, questionnaires in hand, to visit the city's largest hospitals.

By 6 p.m., they had the data in hand: In the previous 24 hours, 120 people had been admitted with A-type influenza. Six had died.

"We knew then we were in the middle of an influenza outbreak," says Dr. Sada.

Early that week, Dr. Lezana sent 51 samples from people with flu-like symptoms to Canada's National Microbiology lab in Winnipeg. After more than a day of testing, the lab called with the grim news. "My heart sank," he says. "We not only had 17 positive samples, but the cases were in the capital and three states."

On Friday, after treating ill and dying patients from dawn to dusk, Dr. Sada went home, hugged his 2-year-old son and his wife, broke down and cried. "I told my wife it was the saddest day in my life," says Dr. Sada. "I had treated a young person who I thought was going to die, and I knew that many other people were going to die."

At the same time, Dr. Sada says, it could have been worse. He praised health officials here for deciding two years ago to stockpile antiviral medicines and upgrade the country's system of disease alerts. "I'm proud of my country," Dr. Sada says.

enigma4ever said...

CDC Numbers ( updated 11 am daily)
# of laboratory confirmed cases
Arizona 4
California 13
Colorado 2
Delaware 4
Illinois 3
Indiana 3
Kansas 2
Kentucky 1
Massachusetts 2
Michigan 2
Minnesota 1
Nebraska 1
Nevada 1
New Jersey 5
New York 50
Ohio 1
South Carolina 16
Texas 28 and 1 death of mexican toddler
Virginia 2

TOTAL COUNTS 141 cases 1 death
International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection

enigma4ever said...

Happy in Nevada sent this, not sure where she got it, more on the Smithfeild Issue, I think she got it from the WSJ, but it is different than the article above that I did get from wsj::::

Mexico's top government epidemiologist said Wednesday that it is "highly improbable" that a farm in the Mexican state of Veracruz operated by Smithfield Foods Inc. Is responsible for the nation's swine-flu outbreak.

Miguel Ángel Lezana, the government's chief epidemiologist, said in an interview that pigs at the farm are from North America, while the genetic material in the virus is from Europe and Asia.

Government health workers plan to re-test the pigs for any sign of swine flu, he said.

Veracruz is home to the illness's earliest known victim so far, though Mr. Lezana on Wednesday said a Bangladeshi street vendor in Mexico City was among the first victims. Locals have been pointing fingers at the pork-processing giant in the nearby village of Perote, run by Smithfield and the Mexican company Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico S.A, as the source of the flu.

Virginia-based Smithfield says its farm has nothing to do with the virus. On the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Smithfield earlier Wednesday dropped 28 cents, or nearly 3%, to $9.16.

When news surfaced last week that a virus called swine flu was killing people in Mexico, C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive of Smithfield, dispatched two of his lieutenants, Chief Financial Officer Robert "Bo" Manly and Gregg Schmidt, president of international operations for the company's hog-production business, to Perote.

On Wednesday, Veracruz governor Fidel Herrera arrived in Perote in a helicopter. He periodically wiped his cellphone with a wet napkin. During one phone conversation, he told Smithfield's Mr. Schmidt that the company needed to be doing more in response to the rumors.

"The whole world is looking at this little town," Mr. Herrera said.

Mr. Schmidt said Smithfield officials had met with five Mexican state and federal agencies in the health, agriculture and food safety sectors. They agreed Smithfield would send nasal swabs from its Mexican hogs to a lab in the U.S. For genetic sequence analysis testing to determine whether they're the source of the virus.

The entire pork industry has been hurt by the swine flu outbreak, prompting industry protests that it has been unfairly impugned. But Smithfield has come under the sharpest fire.

The tension is linked to Smithfield's rocky past in the Veracruz region where its plant is located. Smithfield and its Mexican partner operate a farm that annually produces about one million hogs. Smithfield also has a 600,000-hog farm in the state of Sonora. The hogs are sent to non-Smithfield plants near Mexico City where animals are made into meat for consumption mainly in Mexico.

People in the Veracruz town of La Gloria protested when Smithfield first said it wanted to build the farm about two-and-a-half miles from the town. Townspeople erected roadblocks, picketed, and even hijacked a company truck, the company says. Smithfield decided to locate the farm farther out, about five to eight miles from the community.

But some community members grew concerned because the farm was situated in a dust-filled valley, which they worried would lead to hog waste mixing with the dust and causing respiratory problems.

When it was learned that five-year-old La Gloria resident Edgar Hernandez had contracted swine flu, locals began blaming Smithfield. Some people complain that a lagoon filled with pig waste has a foul stench. Edgar's mother says the farm creates a problem of flies, and wants authorities to do something about it. (Her son no longer shows signs of being ill.)

Smithfield says Mexico's environmental agency has audited the company's lagoons and recently said it was in compliance with environmental standards. Smithfield also says all who enter the farm must abide by quarantine procedures, including changing into clean clothes.

Smithfield's Mr. Pope says he thinks the events in Mexico have become "politicized," and that that "we know of no pigs that are sick, no people on those farms that are sick and no people in our plants" who are sick.

Write to Ana Campoy at and Lauren Etter at

enigma4ever said...

MSNBC news ticker at 3pm:::

400,000 Anti-virals are being delivered to Mexico.

300 schools still closed.
134 cases in the states ?
141 depending on the sources ?

enigma4ever said...

6PM update::::
Friday night News NBC:::
Over 201 in 23 states...