THE NEW FORTY Programming interruption - special message for pregnant women
The regular programming on this blog is being interrupted today to provide important information. Tomorrow, the normal programming will return filled with all its typical pertinence and irreverence (... Posted on 10/3/09 at 5:35 AM
HEALTHBEAT Pandemic flu: new version of an old threat
There was a time, in the 1960s and 1970s, when public health experts had high hopes that perhaps humanity had conquered infectious diseases.
It was an era when new, effective vaccines and antibi... Posted on 4/28/09 at 10:25 AM
The official estimate for North Dakota was 1,378 deaths from the 1918 flu. But in a 2007 story, the Bismarck Tribune applied the national mortality rate to North Dakota and came up with 3,235. A 2009 publication of the State Health Department claims that 5,100 died.
Manitoba’s finance minister for the past decade is Canada’s newest premier.
Greg Selinger is to be sworn in at a ceremony Monday after winning the support of delegates at the provincial NDP’s leadership convention Saturday. He replaces Gary Doer, the party’s leader for 21 years, who stepped down to become Canada’s new ambassador to the U.S.
When the new flu began to spread, because it was called swine flu, many people were concerned about catching it from hogs. But now, some are concerned that swine may get sick from flu-infected people, especially at local and state fairs.
The Minnesota Department of Health said the number of cases of swine flu in the state have more than doubled during the past week.
On Thursday, there were 221 confirmed cases of swine flu in Minnesota. That’s up from 96 cases a week ago.
Swine flu becomes first pandemic in 41 years The World Health Organization told its member nations it was declaring a swine flu pandemic Thursday — the first global flu epidemic in 41 years — as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere. U.S. officials said today they've taken an early aggressive approach and the WHO announcement won't change how it's been dealing with the issue. The WHO designation is based on geographic spread and not on the nature of the disease, U.S. officials said.
WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said the disease has reached 64 countries and infected 18,965 people, causing 117 deaths. WHO is now debating whether to add a second measure that indicates how dangerous the virus is — rather than just how widespread — after several countries raised concerns that declaring a global pandemic could cause mass confusion and panic even though it is still unclear how dangerous the virus will be.
If the swine flu now frightening much of the world does reach the level of a pandemic and if it reaches the Red River Valley — life might not change at all. “We suffer from too much information,” said Dr. Jeff Ryan, an expert on epidemic diseases. And too much information, he said, is causing people to think too much about swine flu and scare themselves.
Traffic is picking up again, cafes are reopening and cleanup crews are getting universities ready to resume classes. Mexico City has some of its customary bustle back, and the president promises life is returning to normal after a five-day shutdown to contain the spread of swine flu.
Mexican officials lowered their flu alert level in the capital today and said they will allow cafes, museums and libraries to reopen this week. World health officials weighed raising their pandemic alert to the highest level.
The swine flu outbreak has caused worldwide anxiety. But there’s one thing we don’t need to be anxious about: We are not facing a pandemic. As flu virologists have always defined them, pandemics involve totally new viruses to which no one has any immunity, allowing them to spread rapidly and destructively.
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