As a consequence of confirmed cases of Swine Influenza A (swH1N1) in California, Texas, Kansas, and New York, on this date (2009-04-26) and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Charles E. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 247d, do hereby determine that a public health emergency exists nationwide involving Swine Influenza A that affects or has significant potential to affect national security.
Acting HHS Secretary Charles E. Johnson Source: http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/phe_swh1n1.html
The Mexican Flu and You
In the past 24 hours I've received dozens of e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers about the emerging Mexican Flu. Some news stories have included cryptic comments from heath officials, implying that the mechanism of infection makes this particular virus "very difficult to contain." This leads me to conclude that those infected have a long latency period during which they are infectious, yet, they do not display frank symptoms. This does not bode well for any hopes of containing the spread of the virus.
Then we hear a CDC official stating: "The swine flu virus contains four different gene segments representing both North American swine and avian influenza, human flu and a Eurasian swine flu." That strikes we as something very peculiar.
The disease is respiratory, and has one strong similarity to the 1918 Spanish Flu: "The majority were young adults between 25 and 45 years old," said one official under the condition of anonymity. Since, young and healthy people with strong immune systems are the most likely to succumb, this might indicate that the biggest killer is a cytokene storm--a collapse caused by the human immune system's over-reaction to a pathogen.
I strongly recommend that everyone reading this take the time to re-read my background article on flu self-quarantine and other precautions: Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic. The details that I give there are quite important. Pay special attention to my discussion of the shortage of hospital ventilators. If anyone in your family is immunosuppressed, consider yourselves on alert. Make your final preparations to hunker down, immediately.
In the next few days, there is a good chance of wholesale panic, including some well-publicized "runs" --probably first for hand sanitizer and face masks, and soon after for bottled water and groceries. Plan on it.
UPDATE: The BBC News web page Mexico flu: Your experiences has some updates posted from individuals in Mexico City.
To summarize, here are some key quotes from a recent article:
"This outbreak is particularly worrisome because deaths have happened in at least four different regions of Mexico, and because the victims have not been vulnerable infants and elderly."The most notorious flu pandemic, thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults."..."But it may be too late to contain the outbreak, given how widespread the known cases are. If the confirmed deaths are the first signs of a pandemic, then cases are probably incubating around the world by now, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a pandemic flu expert at the University of Minnesota."No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer."
Current statistics show a less than 10% lethality rate, but of course the first wave of flu victims are getting access to the best medical care available. If the contagion spreads, sheer numbers will quickly overwhelm hospital facilities--particularly the number of mechanical ventilators available. So the lethality rate may rise, even if there is not a viral mutation.
Here are the latest headlines on the flu, as well as some background pieces.
County's masterplan to deal with flu pandemic