Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pandemic H1N1 virus globally..How did it HAPPEN suddenly???

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At this time, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

More than 1,100 people worldwide have died from swine flu since it emerged in Mexico and the U.S. in April, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

As of July 31, the total number of victims killed by the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, stood at 1,154 -- an increase of 338 since WHO's previous update on July 27.

The virus has spread around the world with unprecedented speed, spreading as widely in six weeks as common influenza viruses spread in the six months, according to WHO.

WHO data showed the total number of laboratory confirmed cases at 162,380, but the number could be higher since individual cases no longer have to be tested or reported.

The total number of countries and territories reporting at least one case of infection now stands at 168, with new cases reported in Azerbaijan, Gabon, Grenada, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Monaco, Nauru, Swaziland and Suriname.

In the United States, federal health officials are worried about the upcoming flu season.

They say nearly 160 million Americans may need to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus, but it won't be as simple as a single shot. On Tuesday, British-based pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline announced it had signed contracts with nine governments to provide 96 million doses of a H1N1 vaccine and was in ongoing discussions with governments to provide further supplies.

GlaxoSmithKline has already signed deals worth $250 million in total to provide 195 million doses and plans to donate 50 million doses to the World Health Organization.

It started in the US and it has spread all over the world. It is big business for the pharmaceutical companies. We have never heard before of a common flu virus mutating to something like this. First time we are hearing of H1N1..makes me wonder......
Peace !

Note: As at July, I understand that in Malaysia, the number of reported H1N1 cases stands at 326...which to me is very high considering that we have a small population relative to countries like India which is reported to have 340 cases.

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