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Archive for March, 2010

News from Global Consulting and Global Medical Services

The Situation is Changing and so is the Blog

When we started this blog in 2009, we wanted to help people educate themselves about pandemic influenza.  As the journal approaches its first birthday (coming in April), the writing staff has looked back over a lot of stories covered this past year: from the first Canadian outbreaks in B.C. and Nova Scotia, through the public response and media coverage, to the controversy of a fast-tracked vaccine and the receding of the pandemic tide.  We’ve also taken a look ahead to try and catch a glimpse of what the future of H1N1 may hold.

Flu season is approaching in the southern hemisphere, as people there brace against the risk of a second pandemic wave.  But this year they have a vaccine to break the wave if it comes.  Outbreaks threaten in Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere as H1N1 continues to circulate, but not as aggressively as we saw in October.  The pandemic seems to be winding down. The virus may integrate into the regular flu cycle and become another feature of the seasonal influenza landscape.  For now, the risk has diminished.

At Global Consulting, we believe that some element of risk is inherent in life.  This is nothing to live in fear of.  At a personal level, life is risky and welcome to it.  On a larger scale, societal risk is unavoidable.  When we can rise to these challenges – if we are prepared – they make us better able to care for ourselves and those around us.  They can be opportunities for each of us to more fully realise our potential.

Global Consulting has

guarded against many more threats than H1N1.  We want to take this opportunity to widen the blog’s focus and offer you a more complete picture of what we do.  We’d like to invite you along to explore the latest developments around the world and some of the projects we’re working on in the fields of medical education, emergency medical care and emergency preparedness.  And of course, we’ll continue to keep an eye on H1N1 resurgence as we examine some of the indirect repercussions of the pandemic.

Stay tuned.

National News

Canadians trust their doctors, and have high expectations

At crunch-time, Canadians trust their public health officials to make tough decisions according to a poll conducted by the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.  The poll processed telephone responses from almost 560 random participants across the country. Other findings included strong support for the obligation of health care workers to accept facing elevated risks during a pandemic, and for Canada’s provision of assistance to poorer countries even if the assistance reduces resources for Canadians.  BioMed Central

International News

CDC reports H1N1 moves slowly except through children

A new study from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a study that finds the H1N1 virus spreads more slowly than the seasonal flu, and that this particular influenza strain disproportionately affects children who go on to further transmit the virus.  This last finding is in line with another study we reported on earlier.  The full report will be published in the April edition of the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.  BusinessWeek

Influenza B may be beginning to displace H1N1

Some East Asian and African nations are reporting increased Influenza B activity to the point where the virus is crowding out the pandemic H1N1 strain.  Surveillance information from the World Health Organization reports that Influenza B circulation is moving westward through Russia and Sweden.  Both countries say that the virus is now co-circulating with H1N1. Influenza B viruses in general cause less severe disease than influenza A, such as H1N1, and are associated illnesses in younger people.  University of Minnesota CIDRAP

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CBC News

The United Nations will rush supplies and support to Chile to help deal with the aftermath of last Saturday’s earthquake, a UN spokeswoman says.

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 700 people and damaged at least 500,000 homes, Chilean officials said.

UN humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the Associated Press that Chile made an official request for assistance Monday, two days after the quake struck about 325 kilometres south of the capital, Santiago.

In Santiago, people started returning to work Monday, but schools were closed. Meanwhile, rescue crews in Concepcion — a city about 115 kilometres from the epicentre of Saturday’s quake — were still searching for survivors.

Officials across Chile have struggled to assess the damage caused by the massive earthquake and the more than 100 aftershocks that have rumbled through the country since Saturday.

On Sunday, President Michelle Bachelet said Chile needs field hospitals and temporary bridges, water purification plants and damage assessment experts — as well as rescuers to help relieve exhausted workers.

“We are confronting an emergency without parallel in Chile’s history,” Bachelet said.

Thousands of people have been forced to move out of their homes into tents set up in parks and on grassy highway medians.

Read more at CBC.

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Pneumonia is worse when mixed with H1N1

Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered that the pandemic H1N1 flu virus has the intrinsic ability to cause more severe pneumonia than seasonal H1N1 flu. This ability is a measure of a flu virus’s pandemic potential. They found pandemic H1N1 caused a pneumonia in certain patients that was intermediate in severity between seasonal H1N1 and the highly pathogenic H5N1. University of Chicago Journal of Infectious Diseases

H1N1 Evolution

Scientists at the University of Hong Kong have isolated the first reported genetic reassortment of the H1N1 virus. The reassortment is a hybrid of the original swine flu and the human pandemic H1N1 virus. Reassortments occur when a single host is infected by more than one strain of virus, and the mixed virus particles assemble themselves into something new. The Chinese Department of Agriculture released a statement saying that the new virus does not pose a public health risk or food-safety issue. University of Minnesota CIDRAP

H1N1 Adds Risk to Pregnancy

An Australian study has found that pregnant women can be particularly vulnerable to H1N1 especially if the mothers are asthmatic, diabetic, or obese. However, effects of H1N1 on the fetus are less well understood. Doctors recommend flu shots for pregnant women, but many women are reluctant to receive immunizations or take drugs during pregnancy. The researchers note there is evidence that doctors’ lack of awareness may be “a major contributor, with good acceptance by mothers when the risks and benefits are explained.” Reuters

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