Archive for the ‘Influenza’ Category

Tamiflu: What you MUST know as swine flu threatens to strike

The Government has announced that stocks of drugs – known as antivirals – to fight the imminent threat of a swine flu pandemic are being built up to cover more than 50million people – or 80 per cent of the country’s population.

The UK is already widely recognised as one of the best prepared countries in the world, according to the Government. Previous flu pandemics have infected between 25 to 35 per cent of the population.

The key drug in fighting the disease is Tamiflu and it has, according to Health Secretary Alan Johnson, already proved effective on patients in Mexico.

Fear: Tourists in Garibaldi Square in Mexico City wear face masks to try to protect themselves from the swine flu virus

Fear: Tourists in Garibaldi Square in Mexico City wear face masks to try to protect themselves from the swine flu virus

Demand for Tamiflu – manufactured by Swiss drugs company Roche – is soaring. Pharmacists have warned that their supplies, which are separate from the Government stockpile, may not last, with demand in some areas up 1,000 per cent.

Meanwhile, many people are sufficiently worried by the outbreak of swine flu to seek their own supplies online, and not always from reputable sites.

So what do you need to know about Tamiflu? Here, with the help of leading experts, we set the record straight.

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Swine Flu: Pictures, Questions and Answers

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John Lauerman (Bloomberg)– Swine flu, a virus that normally infects pigs, has been detected in people in Mexico, the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, and the U.K. Health officials around the world are checking to see whether infections have occurred in their countries, and readying measures to prevent its spread.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about swine flu. The information is drawn from the data released by the World Health Organization in Geneva and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Q: What is swine flu? A: Influenza is a virus that infects people, birds, pigs and other animals such as ferrets. Swine flu, or swine influenza, is a form of the virus that normally infects pigs. There are many forms of flu, and the different varieties have the ability to exchange genes with one another. The form of flu that originated in Mexico is a genetic mixture of viruses that have been seen in pigs, birds and people. It’s being called a swine flu because the overall structure of the virus is of the type that affects pigs, said Keiji Fukuda, a WHO official.

Q: How do people catch swine flu? A: Studies are still ongoing on how this particular swine flu is transmitted. Flu is generally transmitted through the respiratory tract. Droplets of infected body fluids can carry flu when people cough or sneeze. Studies indicate that masks called N95 respirators that, when properly used, filter germs from the breath and hamper the spread of flu. Neither contact with pigs nor eating pork has been linked to the spread of the flu, Fukuda said today. Still, health researchers are working to establish that the virus is spreading from person-to-person.

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Swine Flu Strategy Update

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David R. Kotok co-founded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its Chief Investment Officer since inception. He holds a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in Organizational Dynamics from The School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Kotok’s articles and financial market commentary have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to CNBC programs. Mr. Kotok is also a member of the National Business Economics Issues Council (NBEIC), the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), the Philadelphia Council for Business Economics (PCBE), and the Philadelphia Financial Economists Group (PFEG).

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U.S. lines up vaccine makers to fight swine flu

Swine FluFederal health authorities, busily assessing the scope of the swine flu outbreak, are preparing in case a vaccine is needed to stem the spread of the disease that has sickened more than 100 in the United States and killed a 22-month-old boy in Texas.

The development of a vaccine is a long, painstaking, fairly crude process that typically involves growing the virus in millions of chicken eggs. It would be months before the first person could be inoculated. Still, scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with vaccine makers to begin the process and in coming weeks make the call: Should vaccine production be ramped up in time for the traditional flu season this fall? If it’s not, will people be at risk for a deadlier version of the virus that could hit once the weather gets cold again? Read the rest of this entry »

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So Many Advances in Medicine, So Many Yet to Come