Should we be so quick to dispense Tamiflu?


As the Swine Flu progresses to Level 5 on the 6 point WHO Pandemic scale, in New Zealand they have decided to sell Tamiflu from Pharmacies to anyone that goes in and shows symptoms, without having to see a doctor. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not, because it is likely that the majority of people who buy and use it won’t have the virus.

The biggest concern being expressed about this is that mass use of vaccines can encourage viruses to mutate and evolve into strains which resist vaccines and antibiotics. It seems to me that as it travels around the world it will evolve anyway, but why give it a helping hand. I just hope that there isn’t a rush on it so that people who do need it can’t get it. Tonight’s TV News did say that there was only a small increase in demand for Tamiflu. 

It’s funny watching the news on CNN and other international (read American) TV channels, who seem to almost forget about New Zealand, because early on we were one of the countries that had early exposure in fairly large numbers. Even in the last couple of days, more people have gone into quarantine, now around 500, and we are now in a situation where we actually know people who are in quarantine. It’s no longer 6 points removed.

Mexico is obviously the place that is mostly in the news, and lets hope that their plans for a 5 day national shut down will help contain things until people are no longer contagious.

According to the Google Swine Flu map, the density of infection in the countries where they have confirmed cases, is growing fast. Spain is one of the biggest outside of the US and Mexico for obvious reasons. Switzerland and The Netherlands are the latest countries to get hit.

I was watching the news last night and they were saying that they were lucky that it is spring because viruses don’t spread as much when it is warm, but of course down here in New Zealand it is cooling down and we are heading into the flu season, so it could be potentially worse here. 

Please participate in my poll. Do you know anyone who has been quarantined? It would be really interesting to see how this progresses. The feeling of it won’t happen to me may dissapear as we get to a point where we either know someone or are only 1 place removed. 

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

The Swine Flu isn’t going away any time soon


So the story continues. It seems a long time ago (Monday of this week!) when I asked the question, Is the Swine Flu going to be a pandemic? Well on level 4 indicating a significant increased risk of a pandemic, a global outbreak of a serious disease.  It isn’t yet a Pandemic, but it doesn’t show any signs of abating. As it appears that secondary transmission of human to human may now be occurring, a Reuters story says that they may soon raise to Level 5.

Another Reuters story also mentions that many countries have imposed a ban on US pork imports, this could lead to similar bans on pork exports from all countries where Swine Flu has been confirmed. This is despite WHO announcing that you can not catch A/N1H1  Swine Flu from eating pork, and in fact there is no evidence of pigs in Mexico or the USA being sick. There is conjecture that they may have captured the virus from Asian birds, possibly imported into Mexico, but the mystery is if the pigs aren’t sick, how is it that humans have caught it from them. It’s no wonder that conspiracy theories abound, while we have no real answers. A team of WHO specialists are now in Mexico trying to unravel this mystery.

On Tuesday I commented that Swine Flu is a bit close to home as New Zealand is one of the early significant areas where Swine Flu was strongly suspected to exist. This was confirmed yesterday and 360 odd passengers on Air New Zealand Flight 1 from Los Angeles were asked to quarantine themselves.

On Wednesday I blogged about how to get Swine Flu and within 24 hours most large corporates had emailed their staff with instructions about personal hygiene and how to minimise the risk of infection. Whether people are concerned or not is difficult to gauge and I suspect a lot of people are still thinking, this wil never happen to me. Despite this 2 hours ago the number of confirmed infected was increased to 14 and the suspect list includes an additional 56  people according to New Zealand’s TV3 News.

According to the Google Swine Flu Map the Kiwi’s affected are spread from Auckland in the North Island to Otago deep into the South Island. They of course had to use confined public transport to get there, so it is likely they may have spread the virus further.

One question I have is why have people died in Mexico but not in other countries. It also seems that the symptoms have been worse for people in Mexico. One theory is that it is attenuating as it spreads from one person to the other and weakening in the process. This could explain why the people in Mexico, including expats, have suffered far more than people in other countries, although this ios contraindicated by the fact that most if not all of those in New Zealand contracted the virus whilst personally in Mexico. There have been a very small number of people suspected to have Swine Flu who had not been to Mexico, but had been on flights together with people who have been confirmed as having Swine Flu. I have yet to hear of anyone who has been confirmed with the virus who were noton a flight with people who had been to Mexico or hadn’t been to Mexico themselves.

There are still some unsolved mysteries and it is the secondary nature of the spread of this virus that holds the greatest risk of a pandemic.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

And please do leave a comment!

How to get or spread Swine Flu


It was interesting to note that after my blog, Swine Flu is a bit close to home, where I pointed out that Air New Zealand were not telling the full story about how germs can spread on a plane by saying that the filters in their air conditioning system were very good at killing 99.9% of bugs and virus material, that there was a story in this morning’s NZ Herald, pointing out that even wearing a face mask only stops around 50% of contaminant material from entering the surrounding air. They also said that health officials are trying to track down the 367 passengers on the flight which brought the Kiwi students home after their trip to Mexico.

I can understand concerns within the airlines, because people contracting Swine Flu simply by contamination from fellow passengers could stop a lot of people from flying when they don’t have to which could be a commercial disaster.

Some time ago I wrote a blog called wash your hands after you do your business. On a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles to New Zealand, most people are likely to use the conveniences a couple of times during the flight. Several of them will not wash their hands after they have done their business and will then use the door handle to make their exit. The next person that comes along who does wash their hands, will find possibly end up with contamination from the previous user. Now they sit down and pick up their book or newspaper, lick their finger to wet it and turn the page, or finger a pen and put it in your mouth and guess what, they are now at risk from not one, but several people who had poor hygiene habits. That’s of course only one example. Maybe you shake hands with someone on the flight, or are sitting next to someone and you pass their tray from them to the cabin crew after they have had a meal. The opportunities are endless and the risks are many. There is no easy answer to this unfortunately.

Meanwhile if you have a look at the Google Swine Flu Map, you will see that it has now progressed to Sydney and since the flight that brought the Kiwi Students back arrived, there are now suspected outbreaks throughout NZ, confirming that no matter how good the ventilation system is on the plane, it can’t stop viruses from spreading.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)