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WHO Declares H1N1's Spread Officially a Pandemic 368

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-you-see-pandemic-in-concert-with-sepultura? dept.
juggledean writes "The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global flu pandemic after holding an emergency meeting, according to reports. It means the swine flu virus is spreading in at least two regions of the world with rising cases being seen in the UK, Australia, Japan and Chile." Whether it's called a pandemic or not, there's a hopeful note in the story about H1N1's spread: "...there were people who believed we might be in a kind of apocalyptic situation and what we're really seeing now with H1N1 is that in most cases the disease is self-limiting."
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WHO Declares H1N1's Spread Officially a Pandemic

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  • Obvious (Score:5, Funny)

    by smcn (87571) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:38PM (#28296689)

    WHO Declares H1N1's Spread Officially a Pandemic

    I don't know, I'm asking YOU!

  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:38PM (#28296695)

    ... and I DON'T KNOW is on third.

    Let's just get that out of the way first and foremost.

  • "H1N1" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plus_M (1188595) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:41PM (#28296737)
    I admit I'm not the most knowledgeable about this topic, but I *do* know that H1N1 is not a very specific name [wikipedia.org] for this influenza strain. In the past, we have named influenza outbreaks such as these after their country of origin (see Spanish Flu, Hong Kong Flu, Asian Flu), and in light of this I think a more appropriate name would be "Mexican Flu".
    • Re:"H1N1" (Score:5, Funny)

      by TinBromide (921574) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:42PM (#28296745)
      I want it to be called swine flu again. That way bacon will be super cheap again.
      • I want it to be called swine flu again. That way bacon will be super cheap again.

        That's genius! I live in a small town, so the supermarket's always out of the bacon I like.

        *Logs in to facbeook, and starts spamming about swine flu to local friends and family in a gloomy tone*
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I will do my best to support you; occasionally my local Grocery Outlet gets a case or two of some no-nitrate/nitrite bacon, I can only imagine driving down the demand in the primary market will increase the supply at my local one...

    • Re:"H1N1" (Score:5, Informative)

      by werfu (1487909) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:46PM (#28296811)
      Naming it Mexican flu wouldn't not be right, because, for now, the strain is not higly virulent and doesn't kill really much. The WHO as declared it pandemic, but it's more in a move to try to stop the viral spread and help reduce the chance of a mutation. If the virus mutate and mix with H5N1, then we could be in serious trouble. And even then, lets just hope it doesn't mix with something even more deadly.
    • > I *do* know that H1N1 is not a very specific name ...
      > in light of this I think a more appropriate name would be "Mexican Flu".

      DOES NOT COMPUTE

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Here in Belgium it's called Mexican flu.
    • I say we call it the "Wrath of Chan" [photobucket.com]

      Chhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Publikwerks (885730)
        Ricardo Montalbán did hail from Mexico, died, and like a month later, bam, h1n1! Swine flu should be renamed "The Wrath of Khan"!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Indeed it would be appropriate, although human idiocy knows no bounds. H1N1 is a neutral, politically correct, idiocy-avoiding name. There you have the Egyptian Government culling a ridiculous number of swine, just to show that the government was doing something, but hey, its "Swine Flu", swines must die! , Not to mention the Chinese Government confining Mexican Tourists -healthy Mexican Tourists, mind you- just because they were Mexican.

      The reasoning was similar, "Hey, its the Mexican Flu, let's quarantine

    • Yeah, I bought some spare ribs for $0.58/lb the other day, and boneless pork chops for $1.38/lb. I haven't seen these prices in a very long time. Bring on the swine flu. I don't suppose we can have a bovine plague?
  • by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:47PM (#28296827)
    For years, and years in the United States we fought forest fires in an absolute manner. When you see a fire, put it out completely, ASAP. And slowly fuel that should have burned built up. Until eventually the fires that did break out were so intense that they couldn't fight them anymore. Now that the world population is approaching 7 billion, am I the only one who finds this analogy terrifying?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Its the worst in California with all the lawyers masquerading as environmentalists.

      Honestly the best thing for the environment is the CONSERVATIONISTS rather than the environmentalists who live in LA or San Francisco and take weekend trips to the napa valley to "be one with nature", nevermind the fact that the "No tree should be cut ever, no brush should be cleared ever" policy they screech and sue for has cost millions of dollars of taxpayer money (the money California spends fighting the yearly fires caus

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      For years, and years in the United States we fought forest fires in an absolute manner. When you see a fire, put it out completely, ASAP. And slowly fuel that should have burned built up. Until eventually the fires that did break out were so intense that they couldn't fight them anymore. Now that the world population is approaching 7 billion, am I the only one who finds this analogy terrifying?

      If we left our dead to rot at our feet, I might be concerned. Yes, I know, we're the fuel, and viruses the fire; but we're like dry brush and tinder that can move, wet itself down when it sees fire in the distance, build firewalls, make back-fires, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pebble (99243)

      Yes you are...

      Because when we save an infant or an elderly person from the flu they don't wait for the next flu to come around. They either grow up and get a better immune system or they eventually die of something else.

      We don't have a backlog of pensioners and infants who didn't die of the flu before just waiting until the flu comes round again so they can die of it, They don't pile up like dry old logs and brush.

  • ...Mike Jones
  • Symptoms (Score:5, Funny)

    by WillKemp (1338605) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:52PM (#28296919) Homepage
    You can tell if you've got swine flu, because you come out in rashers.
  • by JustASlashDotGuy (905444) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:54PM (#28296969)

    Don't know if this is just a sick coincidence but....

    2007 - Chinese year of the Chicken - Bird Flu Pandemic devastates parts of Asia
    2008 - Chinese year of the Horse - Equine Influenza decimates Australian racing
    2009 - Chinese year of the Pig - Swine Flu Pandemic kills hundreds of pigs around the globe.

    Has any one else noticed this?

    It gets worse........

    next year......

    2010 - Chinese year of the Cock - what could possibly go wrong?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 11, 2009 @01:56PM (#28296995)

    Douches,

    Pandemics refer to a disease's spread, not its severity.

    The common cold is also a pandemic.

  • Whether it's called a pandemic or not, [...] we might be in a kind of apocalyptic situation and what we're really seeing now with H1N1 is that in most cases the disease is [...]."

    Fun with selective editing!

  • Jumping the gun (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) *
    Compared to REAL pandemics like the black death [wikipedia.org], the 1918 flu pandemic [wikipedia.org], etc. they are REALLY screaming wolf on this one. I think WHO is more interested in covering their asses than giving useful information. If they're not careful, they're going to set off a panic like the "pandemic" of 1976 [wikipedia.org] (that led to more deaths from the inoculations than the disease).
    • by kenp2002 (545495)

      wasn't the black plague an epidemic?

    • Re:Jumping the gun (Score:5, Informative)

      by Neon Aardvark (967388) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @02:24PM (#28297515) Homepage

      Er, the 1918 flu pandemic started as a mild but very infectious disease. Then, come autumn, it killed more people than WW1. And mostly young people at that.

      Furthermore, maybe you should look up what the word "pandemic" actually means. They're using it correctly. You're not.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        The 1918 pandemic happened during a time when sanitation (particularly in the cities, where it was most prevalent) and medical knowledge of disease were complete shit compared to the developed world of today, during a war that had exposed millions of people worldwide to even more unsanitary conditions, in close quarters. This little disease outbreak (and likely no disease outbreak ever again) can compare to that, because our circumstances are too different (outside of the 3rd world, at least). And, idiot, t
        • Re:Jumping the gun (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Neon Aardvark (967388) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @03:00PM (#28298147) Homepage

          The vast majority of infection and death happened after WW1, so you're wrong about that.

          Another difference from those times to now is air travel, which can see infection spread vastly quicker.

          Regarding the meaning of the word "pandemic", I'll take the technical description of people working in that field, thanks very much, and not yours.

          The reason I stated that your definition of the word was wrong was not the mentioned of the Black Death, but the "REAL" (sic, in caps) qualifier, suggesting that in your head you have a cut-off death toll for your special definition of the word. This was sorta the point of your post.

          But aside from the ad hominems, caps and lack of logic, keep it up, you're doing great.

  • by greenguy (162630) <estebandido.gmail@com> on Thursday June 11, 2009 @02:04PM (#28297135) Homepage Journal

    ... and the nurses spend a lot of time rolling their eyes about this. Or as one of the doctors put it, "Replace 'H1N1' with 'bad cold.'"

    Yes, it's killed a number of people. But not as many (in the same timespan) as, say, cars, or industrial accidents, or smoking, or cancer, or heart disease, or drug violence, or drugs themselves, or the US military, or suicide, or old age, or AIDS, or plane crashes, or....

  • Weakens Pandemic (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @02:05PM (#28297161)
    I think this completely diminishes the "severity" of a pandemic.

    In the technical sense it is a disease that is widespread and uncontained; but if this is the benchmark then the common cold and normal flu ought to be raised to this level too, because they have the same wide spreadness and are most dangerous to the same classes of people, the elderly, children and those with immune issues. Every single year the "poultry (normal)" flu kills many, many more people in the exact same way and in the exact same circumstances.

    This is only getting attention because of the media hype. The left wants more money to expand government to deal with it, and the right wants money to build a fence to keep things like this from coming from Mexico into the US, and the media is psyched because it's new, has political tie-ins, and came when the meltdown was becoming old-news.

    Not only that, are we really surprised? Pigs are biologically similar enough to humans that we use pig organs for some transplants. Having infections that cross the species barrier in this way seem blatantly obvious.
    • No one is surprised that a pig specific flu strain can leap to humans. Absolutely no one who knows anything about viruses, so it's kinda odd that you even try to make that point.

      This is a very infectious novel flu virus which is spreading during summer in America and Europe (unusually). A disease which mutates rapidly. A disease to which very few have any immunity from catching. Thus far, it's not looking too different from how the 1918 flu pandemic started. And that killed tens of millions of healthy young

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @02:14PM (#28297355) Homepage Journal

    Is it a pandemic in the disease spread methodology? Yes.

    Is it killing millions of people each year? No.

    Is it killing thousands of people each year? No.

    Is it killing slightly more than any typical flu does? Yes.

    Solution? Wash your hands with hot water (not scalding) and non-antibiotic soap (e.g. Ivory hand soap). Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, using a sleeve if you have no tissue.

    That literally cuts the infection rate dramatically.

    Now, if you don't mind, I'm going back to my medical research.

  • In all of the planning that's been going on in my public health work, the big worry is that this will repeat the pattern of the 1918 pandemic: - The disease shows up in a weak form in the spring, makes some people mildly ill, kills some people who are traditionally susceptible to influenza (very young, elderly, and people with chronic disease) - The disease mostly disappears through the summer--not entirely, but becomes much less common - The disease shows up again in the fall in a new, much more virulent f
  • it IS a pandemic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [erauqssemitelcric]> on Thursday June 11, 2009 @02:31PM (#28297631) Homepage Journal

    just not particularly lethal

    in 1918, the same thing happened: the flu appeared in the spring, outside its usual pattern of appearing in the fall, and then percolated all summer, just below the radar, expanding stealthily but inevitable everywhere

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol12no01/05-0979.htm [cdc.gov]

    then (in the northern hemisphere, it would explode in the cold months of the spring in the southern hemisphere) the flu exploded in the fall, and killed millions that winter. this is inevitable with flu because the flu virus actually survives in cold air for a longer period of time

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/health/05flu.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print&oref=login [nytimes.com]

    so the summer months deaden its spread (really, just slow down its spread) so that it spreads stealthily but inevitably, while the winter months allow it to flourish and explode, seemingly everywhere at the same time (because the summer months allowed to actually go everywhere, just in small little clusters everywhere)

    its also important to note that flu in 1918 killed at a very low rate, like under 1% of its victims. whatever strain dominates this winter, will be the real issue. will it have a 0.0003% mortality rate? or a 0.3% mortality rate? we're talking about the difference of tens of millions of lives in that difference, and no one knows what that mortality rate will be, since its such tiny little variations and random chance of one mutation dominating or another at work here

    so beware false alarmism, and beware false complacency. this virus is a genuine unknown quantity. it really could kill a lot this winter, it could really completely fizzle out. both anyone freaking out, or completely blase and lackadaisacal about the whole thing, are fooling themselves

    an unknown is an unknown is an unknown. neither false complacency or false alarmism is an appropriate response to that

  • This means I have to get the goddamn vaccine shot on Monday when my vacation ends as I work as a nurse.
  • Most of them, do not cover pandemic cases.

    Check your insurance contract.

    Cheers!

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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