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Medicine News

WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level 557

Posted by samzenpus
from the everybody-panic dept.
Solarch writes "Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, the WHO raised the pandemic threat level for H1N1 "swine flu" to 5. Global media outlets(such as CNN, Fox News, and the BBC) preempted normal broadcast coverage and immediately published stories on their websites. To clarify, the WHO's elevation is mainly a sign to governments that the virus is spreading quickly and that steps should be taken on a governmental level to stage supplies and medicines to combat a possible pandemic. Unfortunately, broadcast coverage focused on phrases like 'pandemic imminent' (CNN marquee). In other news, patient zero, the medical term for the initial human vector of a disease, has been tentatively identified in Mexico."
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WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level

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  • I dunno? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:16PM (#27765785)
    Who does raise the swine flu threat level?
  • Please let it be!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by happy_place (632005) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:18PM (#27765813) Homepage
    I get the feeling that Media outlets are DESPERATELY Hoping that this will be a Pandemic... as if they're bored or really really really like human suffering... oh wait, what's that saying about if it bleeds it's frontpage news? Sigh. --Ray PS> Would hate to die of Swine Flu, just because of what it's called... and all that it would imply if I caught it...
  • The who (Score:5, Funny)

    by thedogcow (694111) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:20PM (#27765835)

    ""Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, the WHO raised the pandemic threat level for H1N1 "swine flu" to 5."

    Wow. I knew they had good music but I did not know Peter Townshend was in charge of changing pandemic threat levels.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:22PM (#27765859) Journal
    I read an article a couple days ago, apparently there was a swine flu outbreak in 1976, and the US was quite proactive in stopping it, encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The problem came when more people died from the vaccine than from the flu. So the correct path of action is not always clear, how far should you go to try to prevent this? Wall Street Journal has an interesting article dealing with these issues.

    As for me, being young and healthy, looks like I'm about to roll one of my d20 [slashdot.org]. Whatever happens happens, I'll enjoy it to the end.
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:36PM (#27766017)

      I read an article a couple days ago, apparently there was a swine flu outbreak in 1976, and the US was quite proactive in stopping it, encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The problem came when more people died from the vaccine than from the flu.

      That's not really the right comparison to judge a "problem" with the course of action. It would clearly be, in retrospect, the wrong decision if more people died of the vaccine than would have been expected to have died from the flu had the vaccination not been carried out, but the fact that more people died of the vaccine than died of the flu when the vaccination was carried out does not appear to be a valid basis, on its own, for criticism.

      Otherwise, a vaccination program that prevented all deaths from a disease (even if, unchecked, it would have been expected to kill billions) would be the wrong decision if even one person died from the vaccine, a result that is clearly ludicrous.

  • by V50 (248015) * on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:28PM (#27765931) Journal

    Bah, we all should know this "swine flu" is actually a well orchestrated distraction from our real threat.

    ZOMBIES!

    Fear not the Swine Flu pandemic. Fear instead the imminent Zombie pandemic.

    Unless of course this is just phase 1...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Unless of course this is just phase 1...

      Yeah, I'm afraid you have - Pink Eye. I'd give you topical medicine, but I don't wanna touch ya.

  • by night_flyer (453866) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:42PM (#27766063) Homepage

    in the US alone there are An estimated 100,000 hospitalizations and about 20,000 deaths occur each year from the plain old flu or its complications... so what is the big deal?

    • by et764 (837202) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:58PM (#27766289)

      From what I've read the fears over this one are that so far it is killing a lot higher percentage than the flu normally kills. This flu also seems to kill a disproportionate number of people in the 20-50 age rage. Normally flu deaths are mostly confined to infants and the elderly.

      From a pure numbers standpoint it's not so bad. What's scary is the similarity to earlier flu pandemics. No one's really sure how bad this may get, so people are taking extra precautions.

  • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:42PM (#27766077) Homepage Journal

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/egypt-orders-slaughter-of-all-pigs-over-swine-flu-1676090.html [independent.co.uk]

    Egypt began slaughtering the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country Wednesday as a precautionary measure against the spread of swine flu... Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza told reporters that farmers would be allowed to sell the pork meat so there would be no need for compensation.

    Yeah, what's the price of pork in a vastly flooded market. Other stories on the subject report riots by the pig farmers and also note that the WHO says that you can't catch it from eating pork. This is more a case of the non-pork eating religious majority using this as an excuse to crap on the pork eating religious minority (and 'unclean' pig farmers.)

  • Who? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Yeef (978352) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:42PM (#27766083) Homepage
    The Stonecutters! [youtube.com]
  • From a Hot Zone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mathx314 (1365325) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:45PM (#27766113)

    Allow me to explain my bias before embarking on this rant: I currently attend University of Delaware. At present there are 10 unconfirmed cases among the student body. Not a big number (total student number is ~13,000), but diseases do have a tendency to spread quickly among student populations.

    What bothers me about this isn't that people are overreacting, which they are to a large extent. I don't feel the need to wander around with a surgical mask and I'm right in the middle of a hot zone. Rather, what bothers me is that people are underreacting. There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction that says that swine flu won't cause any sort of devastation; that it's not something to worry about.

    The fact of the matter is that while they're probably right, there's no reason not to take simple precautions. So long as this is going on, I'll make sure to was my hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, to try to avoid sick people, and to go to health services if I start showing flu-like symptoms. On the other hand, I hear plenty of people at school saying that they don't care, that if they get it it's "just the flu." I see a lot of people here on /. saying that this is just a media circus and just for drug companies to capitalize on. Maybe you guys are right, but what if you aren't?

    As I said, I'm biased since I'm in a hot zone, but I'd rather be safe about this than contract it.

  • Swine Flu (Score:5, Funny)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:46PM (#27766125)
    It's the Aporkalypse!
  • For example, Madagascar has just closed its seaport. And here I was, so close, to winning :(
  • by oldhack (1037484) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:46PM (#27766135)
    Damn Congress, we told them to cut the pork, and the jerks bring the plague on the House instead.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @06:48PM (#27766157) Homepage Journal
    There are basically 3 regimes of Case Fatality Rate separated by about a factor of 10 each:

    1) more than 1%
    2) .1% to 1%
    3) less than .1%

    We still don't know which range we're dealing with and, uh, like, it matters.

    All it would take is to focus on a standard sample like Mexico City hospital interns, process their swabs STAT and count the deaths so far.

    Seriously, folks, where are the adults?

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @08:22PM (#27767095) Journal
    And all organic.

    As a bonus, it's "green". Anyone who succumbs to this will naturally reduce their carbon footprint.
  • by akpoff (683177) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @08:44PM (#27767273) Homepage

    The Dr and Rose appear on a spaceship cunningly disguised as a planet only to find there's a mysterious disease that's killing spectacularly low numbers of people who all happen to live in the same city. Normally he wouldn't worry about it but Rose manages to get infected so the Dr raises the threat level to OMG. He works night and day to find a cure only to be forced to infect himself, die from the disease, but not really as his seemingly magic, but really explainable in materialistic terms, Time Lord powers cause him to regenerate in the form of Tom Baker.

    He draws some of his own blood with his sonic screwdriver and, treats Rose, who makes a full recovery. As a gesture of good will, and for the episode to end on a relative high note (despite Tom Baker's haggard appearance), he takes the TARDIS into a low "earth" orbit and sprays the serum into the jet stream, thus curing and inoculating most of the world. The Dr and Rose leave for better times.

    Just moments later the Vogons appear and destroy the world to make way for hyperspace bypass.

  • by Ozric (30691) <ozric&tampabay,rr,com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @09:14PM (#27767459)

    On the bright side, due to the colossal stupidity of the public, pork prices are droping.

    In down times it is good to have some cheap meat products at the store.

    Pork, its what's for dinner. :)

  • by st0rmshad0w (412661) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @09:19PM (#27767497)

    Swine flu is a horrible name.

    I'm going to call it "bacon lung".

    Everything's better with bacon.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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