Swine flu sweeping world at 'unprecedented speed': WHO

Jul 17, 2009

Swine flu has swept the globe at "unprecedented speed," the World Health Organisation said Friday, as a study warned the pandemic could tip the world into deflation and delay the economic recovery.

The WHO said it would stop giving figures on the numbers infected by the A(H1N1) virus to allow countries to channel resources into close monitoring of unexpected developments and patterns in the spread of the disease.

Argentina, meanwhile, issued a nationwide alert after pigs were confirmed to have the swine , health authorities said.

"We have detected clinical cases of the A(H1N1) influenza in a pig farm in Buenos Aires province, they have been confirmed by laboratory tests," the national farm and food standards agency said.

In Brazil, the number of deaths from swine flu nearly tripled to 11, including the first person shown to have caught the virus spontaneously within the country.

The increased tally given by Health Minister Jose Gomes late Thursday added seven to the four fatalities previously given.

The WHO said in an information note on its website the had "spread internationally with unprecedented speed."

"In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks."

The Geneva-based health agency said the counting of all individual cases was no longer essential to assess the risk from swine flu.

"WHO will continue to request that these countries report the first confirmed cases and, as far as feasible, provide weekly aggregated case numbers and descriptive epidemiology of the early cases," it added.

While it eased its overall reporting requirement, the WHO called on all countries to "closely monitor unusual events," such as possible clusters of severe or fatal infections, or unusual patterns that might be associated with worsening disease.

In Britain, a study by Oxford Economics -- a forecasting consultancy whose clients include multinational corporations and government -- said recovery could be delayed by a couple of years due to the swine flu pandemic.

"Although so far the social and economic impacts have been very small, if infection rates were to rise much further, significant costs could be expected," it said.

Comparing the outbreak to the 2003 SARS crisis, it said that outbreak had occurred at a time of strong economic growth. Both consumption and growth had returned as soon as the epidemic was considered under control.

"This time around, such a sharp rebound is unlikely," it said.

"There is a risk that swine flu tips the United Kingdom and the world economy into deflation. This is because the pandemic would hit at a time when businesses and banks are still reeling from the economic crisis."

On Thursday, England's chief medical officer Liam Donaldson said that in a worst case scenario, around one in three Britons could be infected and 65,000 could die.

The WHO policy shift was partly motivated by the "mildness of symptoms in the overwhelming majority of patients, who usually recover, even without medical treatment, within a week of the onset of symptoms."

In some countries, the investigation and laboratory testing of all cases had absorbed huge resources, leaving health systems with little capacity to monitor severe cases or exceptional events that might mark an increase in the virulence of .

In the last table released by the WHO on July 6, the health agency had recorded 94,512 laboratory-confirmed cases in 136 countries and territories since April, including 429 deaths.

(c) 2009 AFP

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Velanarris
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 18, 2009
This just in, influenza spreads easily.

Now the question is, why would we consider swine flu to be progressing at an "unprecedented rate" when the typical seasonal flu makes a world wide sweep in as little as a week?

More sensationalism about a non-issue.
daveib6
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 18, 2009
What's more, the death rate of this strain of influenza is no more deadly than any other strain. Typically, only those with compromised imune systems succume to the desease, just like any other strain that exists today accross the world. Why don't we ever see any comparisons of current world wide death rates of all influenza compared to H1N1? Because then it wouldn't be so sensational! This is nothing more than sensationalized propagandizing.
Teller
5 / 5 (1) Jul 18, 2009
when the typical seasonal flu makes a world wide sweep in as little as a week?

More sensationalism about a non-issue.

Didnt they just say the typical flu goes arround the world in 6 months compared to the H1N1 strain in 6 weeks. Whered you get this one week sweep idea?
docknowledge
not rated yet Jul 18, 2009
Quote ""In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks."

Is this the virus itself? Or increased world social contact? Or worsening health standards? Or, heh, heh, maybe the methods being used to restrict it?
smiffy
not rated yet Jul 19, 2009
Is this the virus itself? Or increased world social contact? Or worsening health standards? Or, heh, heh, maybe the methods being used to restrict it?
It's the virus itself. I can't imagine that health standards or social contact has changed much recently. As for the containment methods having the opposite effect, that's just mischievous.
Velanarris
not rated yet Jul 19, 2009
when the typical seasonal flu makes a world wide sweep in as little as a week?

More sensationalism about a non-issue.


Didnt they just say the typical flu goes arround the world in 6 months compared to the H1N1 strain in 6 weeks. Whered you get this one week sweep idea?

Past precedent. The 1976 outbreak was "the fastest acting flu" and spread worldwide within two weeks. Avian flu spread within a week and a half.

Maybe the more benign flus appear to take siz months because people just "tough it out" but this is hardly the "unprecedented fast flu" that they say it is.
ChiRaven
not rated yet Jul 19, 2009
I think the question posed by this article is, is this year's flu season, whether you choose to consider it an extraordinary event or not (and WHO definitely does) going to be severe enough to have a significant global economic impact. The epidemiological models seem to indicate that it is at least as likely to have a major impact as the SARS event earlier in this decade, and that's bad news in our current economy.
smiffy
not rated yet Jul 20, 2009
"In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks."
Past precedent. The 1976 outbreak was "the fastest acting flu" and spread worldwide within two weeks. Avian flu spread within a week and a half.

Apparently those two outbreaks were not declared pandemics.

" The swine flu has escalated into the world's first influenza pandemic in 40 years, the World Health Organization declared Thursday, after infecting tens of thousands of people in 74 countries."
http://www.physor...710.html

Accusing the World Health Organization of being liars is a new conspiracy theory to me. Do you have any ideas what the folk at WHO get out of behaving so wickedly? In the employ of the pharmaceuticals? Maybe delighting in spreading fear and chaos? Hoping to get a bigger budget?
Velanarris
not rated yet Jul 20, 2009
Accusing the World Health Organization of being liars is a new conspiracy theory to me. Do you have any ideas what the folk at WHO get out of behaving so wickedly? In the employ of the pharmaceuticals? Maybe delighting in spreading fear and chaos? Hoping to get a bigger budget?
The WHO has been a fear monger since their inception. Take a look at the malthusian view they were promoting as little as a decade ago.

To your first point, what are the criteria for a declared pandemic?
A pandemic (from Greek %u03C0%u1FB6%u03BD pan "all" %u03B4%u1FC6%u03BC%u03BF%u03C2 demos "people") is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics exclude seasonal flu.
Ok, so every seasonal flu, regardless of how devastating, is not a pandemic. Only the irregular flus are.

So would the avian flu be considered a pandemic according to the WHO? No, and the answer as to why is because human to human infection wasn't proven.

So if it can be transmitted by birds to humans, but not from human to human it isn''t a pandemic, regardless of the fact it quickly spread across more continents and countries than swine flu has. Interesting...