1. Joined
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    25 Apr '09 09:44
    Mexico flu outbreak kills dozens
    - --------------------------------
    Dozens of people have died and hundreds of others have been infected in a viral outbreak in Mexico suspected to have been caused by a strain of swine flu. WHO thinks the virus may be behind 60 deaths in Mexico since mid-March [2009]. Mexican authorities have closed schools in affected areas and a vaccination campaign is being launched. Seven non-fatal cases of a new form of swine flu have also been confirmed in the southern United States.

    A WHO spokesman said 12 out of 18 samples taken from the Mexican victims showed they died from a virus with the same genetic structure as the one found in the US. WHO would convene an emergency meeting in the "very near future" to determine whether the event constituted a "public health event of international concern", Gregory Hartl told Reuters news agency. The White House said it was following the US outbreak -- in California and Texas -- closely.

    WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said "unusual end-of-season influenza
    activity" was noticed in Mexico starting from the end of March [2009].
    Fifty-seven people had died in Mexico City from flu-like symptoms, she
    said, and another 3 in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico. There are around 800 suspected cases, she said.

    Health minister Jose Angel Cordova said the virus had "mutated from pigs and then at some point was transmitted to humans". The strain of flu had been confirmed in at least 16 deaths, with 44 others being tested, the government said. It urged people to take preventative measures such as not shaking hands or sharing crockery. All schools and universities in the capital and in nearby Mexico State have been closed, the BBC's Stephen Gibbs reports from Mexico City.

    In the US, experts say the 7 people who fell ill across two states were
    suffering from a new form of swine flu that combined pig, bird, and human viruses. CDC said none of the 7 victims had been in contact with pigs, which is how people usually catch swine flu. CDC spokeswoman Anne Schuchat said that officials did not yet know how widely the virus had spread. But she pointed out that all 7 victims had recovered. "So far this is not looking like very very severe influenza," she said.

    While the world has been worried over the past few years about the impact of a pandemic originating from avian flu, the WHO say that swine flu has been implicated in the emergence of two of the last century's influenza pandemics, reports BBC science reporter Matt McGrath. Pigs can serve as a mixing vessel for both human and avian viruses that could combine to create a more virulent strain, our reporter adds.
  2. Joined
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    25 Apr '09 10:16
    I fear it is just a matter of time before one of these viruses mutates and threatens to cause a pandemic that would wipe out most of the human population across the globe.
    I just hope that people in high places behind the scenes are really taking this threat as seriously as I do.
  3. Joined
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    25 Apr '09 20:35
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    I fear it is just a matter of time before one of these viruses mutates and threatens to cause a pandemic that would wipe out most of the human population across the globe.
    I just hope that people in high places behind the scenes are really taking this threat as seriously as I do.
    It sounds like most healthy people will not be at risk of death from this flu. It would be just like getting the regular flu, only people with weak immunity would be at risk. Natural selection persists.

    Another reason to eat healthy and exercise. Only 60 people have died from this strain of flu, more people die from other strains of flu every year.
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    25 Apr '09 20:50
    Originally posted by mlprior
    It sounds like most healthy people will not be at risk of death from this flu. It would be just like getting the regular flu, only people with weak immunity would be at risk. Natural selection persists.

    Another reason to eat healthy and exercise. Only 60 people have died from this strain of flu, more people die from other strains of flu every year.
    Sorry to neglect to make this clear from my last post but when I said “…one of these viruses..” I don’t mean one of this particular strain of virus but rather one of ANY type of virus (thus including not only other kinds of flue virus but the ebola virus and any other type of virus capable of causing a pandemic. Of course, there are also certain species of bacteria capable of doing this).
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    25 Apr '09 22:18
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    Sorry to neglect to make this clear from my last post but when I said “…one of these viruses..” I don’t mean one of this particular strain of virus but rather one of ANY type of virus (thus including not only other kinds of flue virus but the ebola virus and any other type of virus capable of causing a pandemic. Of course, there are also certain species of bacteria capable of doing this).
    I doubt people in high places will take too much precaution, after all, they will be protected above all others.
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    26 Apr '09 09:31
    It is important to remember the 1918 Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people in less than one year which to put in context is considerably more than all HIV-1 deaths since this pandemic began in the 80s.

    The presently circulating human strain of influenza A, subtype H1N1 became resistant to the main stockpiled antiviral, the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir (OTV, Tamiflu) in earlier 2008 and this mutation (H275Y in N1 gene nomenclature) has now fixed in '09 in the northern hemisphere flu season to ~100%. Tamiflu was stockpiled by many countries as preparation for the next influenza pandemic.

    Amazingly, this drug resistance arose in the absence of drug selection so positive selection does not apply for RNA orthomyxoviruses that lack the 3' to 5' exonuclease proof-reading from the human DNA polymerase and so genetic (stochastic) drift is more relevant for these agents.

    Fortunately, it appears the new recombinant "Mexican" swine influenza A (H1N1) virus did not acquire this drug resistance mutation in the present outbreak and so infected patients are treatable with OTV. If it had then we would be down to zanamvir (which has limitations - it cannot be used in under 7 year olds, poor bioavailability and is NOT stockpiled) and the as yet unapproved peramivir so we would be unable to treat infected patients. It is a very worrying turn of events and underscores the requirement for new antivirals but in the interim, surveillance and epidemiology.
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    27 Apr '09 02:56
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    I fear it is just a matter of time before one of these viruses mutates and threatens to cause a pandemic that would wipe out most of the human population across the globe.
    I just hope that people in high places behind the scenes are really taking this threat as seriously as I do.
    Significant comment. 'Flu is potentially far more dangerous than HIV.
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    27 Apr '09 03:38
    Originally posted by znsho
    Significant comment. 'Flu is potentially far more dangerous than HIV.
    True, but at least you can recover from Influenza.
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    27 Apr '09 09:051 edit
    Originally posted by mlprior
    True, but at least you can recover from Influenza.
    Here is a sobering thought; what if a strain of HIV mutated so that it spreads like the common cold?
    -I had once seriously considered this possibility but, fortunately, there is no evidence the closely related SID virus that infects Green Monkeys and which HIV almost certainly evolved from ever spread like the common cold so I guess the chances of this happening are remote. But what if it DID happen? Yikes!
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    28 Apr '09 04:00
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    Here is a sobering thought; what if a strain of HIV mutated so that it spreads like the common cold?
    -I had once seriously considered this possibility but, fortunately, there is no evidence the closely related SID virus that infects Green Monkeys and which HIV almost certainly evolved from ever spread like the common cold so I guess the chances of this happening are remote. But what if it DID happen? Yikes!
    I supposed we could all move to Canada!
  11. Cape Town
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    28 Apr '09 06:05
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    I fear it is just a matter of time before one of these viruses mutates and threatens to cause a pandemic that would wipe out most of the human population across the globe.
    I just hope that people in high places behind the scenes are really taking this threat as seriously as I do.
    For a disease to be successful it must not kill too quickly such that it fails to spread. This is a complex equation as different transmission methods affect it.
    However I would think that for a flu to spread it must kill only a certain percentage of its victims - this is because it kills relatively fast. AIDS on the other hand kills much slower and thus can spread much further even with a higher death rate.
    So although I fully agree that it is just a matter of time before we get another nasty worldwide flu I doubt that it will kill more than 30% of its victims and still manage to spread. I suspect this is one reason why ebola does not get very far.
    I also think we are better prepared for such events but as is usual, the poorest parts of the world would suffer the most.
  12. Cape Town
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    28 Apr '09 08:55
    The post that was quoted here has been removed
    I am not sure who you are referring to or what your actual complaint is.
    Can you tell us what killer epidemic you are experiencing?
    As for me, I have lived much of my life in an area with a killer epidemic (AIDS) and have lost many friends to it.
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    28 Apr '09 09:011 edit
    The post that was quoted here has been removed
    …For the 'natural selection' and 'isolate and DESTROY' comments here, and in general for all the COLD HEARTED idiots speaking out of ignorance,…
    ..…
    (my emphasis)

    Are you implying that anyone here merely mentioning the words “natural selection” and “isolate and DESTROY” must be “COLD HEARTED”?
    -if so, nobody so far in this thread said they actually AGREE with a “isolate and DESTROY” policy and I fail to see any logical reason why anyone merely mentioning the words “natural selection” must be ‘cold hearted’ and what have these words got to do with “ignorance“?
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    28 Apr '09 20:53
    Originally posted by mlprior
    True, but at least you can recover from Influenza.
    Not necessarily. Do you not know what happened in 1918?
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    28 Apr '09 20:55
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    Here is a sobering thought; what if a strain of HIV mutated so that it spreads like the common cold?
    -I had once seriously considered this possibility but, fortunately, there is no evidence the closely related SID virus that infects Green Monkeys and which HIV almost certainly evolved from ever spread like the common cold so I guess the chances of this happening are remote. But what if it DID happen? Yikes!
    More soberring is the possibility of a virulent 'flu strain forming able to infect and kill many different types of cell in the body, not just repirartory tract cells.
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