FURTHER UPDATE: Mexico Swine flu toll stabilising [Link]
UPDATE: Commonly prescribed drugs such as Tamiful are found to be effective against the disease[Link] and several sources reported that they have been used successfully. The main concern is the death of young health men resembling the deaths during the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918 due to cytokine storm an over-reaction of the immune system. But when the bug got out of Mexico behaved more like any other influenza virus - highly infectious but not fatal. Guys stay calm okay - this storm will soon pass. [Swine flu mysteries : Why only deaths in Mexico?]
The WHO raised the pandemic alert level to 4 yesterday. But if you read the statement from WHO, once a new disease shows human to human transmission, the alert level is raised. The WHO has to play it safe and exercise "an abundance of caution". It is also probably correct to 'overreact' given this is a new virus. The newswires and TV news has been 'bombarding' us with new cases reported - confirm and unconfirmed. The fear among people has been mounting. But is this fear rational? A number of people refuse to eat pork although there is no proof and is unlikely the disease can be transmitted by eating pork - viruses are easily killed (more easily killed than bacteria) simply by heating food ...no virus can survive frying. If you're not eating pork raw, it should be completely safe.
Given the avalanche of fear evoking bad news surrounding the swine flu, I would like to bring your attention to the article below. It describes the what happened to 4 students in Nova Scotia who contracted the swine flu. They suffered from no worse than normal flu-like symptoms and then recovered. In fact in almost all cases outside Mexico, the symptoms have been mild and nobody has died. The normal flu which sweeps seasonally through the world every year kills thousands because it infects millions of people - statistically some of them are too weak to handle it. Even chicken pox can lead to death in some cases due to complications. Scientists are now trying to figure out what happened in Mexico where 150+ people died from the flu - did the virus mutate to a milder form? Were there 2 strain of viruses and only 1 survive to infect others? In the coming days, we will probably know whether this flu is just like the common cold that makes its rounds every year or something more sinister. To put some perspective into this consider the fact that 36,000 people die from flu-related symptoms each year in the United States based on official figures from the US CDC[Link 1 Link2]. There is no framing in the reporting of the swine flu and that causes a lot of panic and fear.
My own gut feel is that this 'panic-monium' we are seeing will begin to subside soon. However, one should take the precautions just in case - good hand washing, stay at home if you get sick, no unnecessary travel to Mexico.
N.S. students with swine flu recovered: officials
Last Updated: Monday, April 27, 2009 7:35 PM AT
Students wearing face masks gather on the campus of King's-Edgehill School on Monday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)The four Nova Scotia students who contracted swine flu have recovered, though 27 others with flu-like symptoms remain in isolation, school officials say.
Joe Seagram, headmaster of King's Edgehill private school in Windsor, provided the update Monday, a day after the four cases were confirmed.
Seagram said some parents were keeping their children home and attendance was lower than normal, though he didn't give any numbers.
"I suspect it will pick up as people are reassured by the news. I'm hoping that things will get back to normal as the week progresses," Seagram told reporters.
The four confirmed cases of swine flu at the school in Windsor were among the first in Canada. Compared to Mexico, where nearly 150 people are suspected to have died from the outbreak, the cases were relatively mild.
Seagram said none of the students who were confirmed to have the virus were hospitalized. He said three of them, and a number of others who had flu symptoms, have been cleared to return to class.
Dr. Mark Kasimirski, the school's physician, said he heard the fourth student, who is in Halifax, has also recovered.
Still, 27 students remain isolated from other students, while two staff members are at home, Seagram said.
Seagram said the students who remain in isolation are together in a central residence. They can watch TV, go online and interact with each other, but they've been told to remain behind closed doors.
"These are smart kids who are very responsible," Seagram said.
Public health officials suspect the virus was spread by students after a school trip to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula earlier this month. Of the four students confirmed with the virus, only one was on the trip.
Seagram said no one thought it was the swine flu at first, particularly because the students were sick outside the incubation period and the outbreak in Mexico was in a different region.
Seagram said he got the test results confirming swine flu on Sunday morning.
He said he's pleased with the way the school has handled the matter. Public health officials are notified for any form of the flu, he added, noting the only thing the school is doing differently now is swabbing students twice for testing instead of only once.
Classes are running as usual, though attendance has dropped.
"We're all operating on a day-to-day basis and we're all trying to figure out what really our comfort levels are," Seagram said.
Seagram said his two children are still going to class.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer, said there have been no other confirmed cases of swine flu in Nova Scotia, but public health officials continue to monitor the situation closely.
"This is a very fluid situation which is changing rapidly," Strang said late Monday afternoon.
In an interview with CBC News earlier in the day, Strang said he had heard reports of a rush of patients with influenza symptoms at the emergency room at Hants Community Hospital.
However, Kasimirski, who's also the hospital's chief of staff, said he believes most of those flu cases are unrelated to the swine flu cases at King's Edgehill.
Eva Lake, 76, who lives in the Windsor area, said she's not afraid, though she'll be washing her hands more frequently.
"It's too bad it's here in Nova Scotia, but I guess we can't escape it," Lake said. "I don't go out a lot, so hopefully, I don't run into anyone with it."