Swine Flu Fears Traveling Faster Than The Virus
I wonder why?
"in case world health authorities decide that people indeed need to be vaccinated sometime next fall."
This flu has proven, thus far, to be less fatal than the unnamed flu that humans contract during the winter season and mandatory vaccinations are not required, yet, world health authorities may DECIDE that people indeed need to be vaccinated against the Swine flu sometime next fall.
Ex-CDC head recalls '76 swine flu outbreak - CNN.com
"Federal officials urged widespread vaccinations after swine flu broke out among soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, killing one of the 14 diagnosed with the illness. But the program was suspended after at least 25 people died from vaccine reactions. Other estimates put the death toll at 32 people, while about 500 others later suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, which damages nerves and can lead to paralysis."
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The man who led the response to the 1976 swine flu outbreak is defending the vaccination campaign that led to more deaths than the disease, but says he's sorry for the people killed or sickened.
Dr. David Sencer says with today's knowledge, officials' 1976 recommendations would have been different.
Federal officials urged widespread vaccinations after swine flu broke out among soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, killing one of the 14 diagnosed with the illness. But the program was suspended after at least 25 people died from vaccine reactions. Other estimates put the death toll at 32 people, while about 500 others later suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, which damages nerves and can lead to paralysis.
The results cost Dr. David Sencer his job as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was fired in 1977, after 11 years on the job. Now 84 and retired, he said this week that health officials "acted on the best knowledge that we had and believed that we were doing the right thing."
But he added, "We know a lot more about viruses than we did then."
"If we were faced with what we had in 1976 today, where it was limited only to Fort Dix, we probably would not have recommended a universal vaccination until we saw spread outside of Fort Dix," he said.
In the aftermath, the government was criticized for pushing Americans to get unnecessary vaccinations. "But we also have to feel if we didn't do something and swine flu spread, more people would have died," Sencer said.
Asked about those hurt by the vaccine, he said, "If you're not sorry, you're not a human being." But he said the government paid settlements to those hurt, "So that we tried to make at least reparations in that standpoint."
Sencer said officials were worried about a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu outbreak that killed an estimated 21 million people worldwide. The vaccination campaign, which featured televised ads showing how an epidemic could spread rapidly, led to 43 million people receiving flu shots.
Then-President Gerald Ford was photographed receiving his shot, and Sencer said he took the vaccine.
The pictures of Ford getting vaccinated, Sencer said, injected a measure of politics into the situation that he said the Obama administration has so far avoided in its response to the current outbreak.
"I think we tried to stay out of the politics, and the politicians kept getting in our way," he said.
This time, he said, the government has let scientists and physicians take the lead in battling the H1N1 strain that emerged in Mexico in April and has been confirmed in at least nine other countries, according to the World Health Organization.
US moving closer to swine flu vaccine - Yahoo! News
US moving closer to swine flu vaccine
Swine Flu Fears Traveling Faster Than The Virus
CBS 2 New York AP –
By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard
Fri May 22, 2009 6:15 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Inching closer to a swine flu vaccine, the government is beginning to analyze two candidates for the key ingredient to brew one.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to deliver one or both to vaccine manufacturers by the end of next week so scientists can begin the months-long process of producing shots.
Friday, the government set aside $1 billion for crucial testing of the first pilot doses and stockpiling of key vaccine ingredients — starting in case world health authorities decide that people indeed need to be vaccinated sometime next fall. The stockpile will allow for quick production of shots to protect health workers and other people at high-risk from flu.
Also on Friday, CDC scientists unveiled the most detailed genetic examination yet of the novel virus, finding that the new swine flu may have been circulating undetected in pigs for years.
That report, in the journal Science, still fails to solve the bigger mystery of when and where the virus made the jump to people and what genetic change allowed it to start spreading so rapidly. The virus was first detected last month, and at least 42 countries now have confirmed it in more than 11,000 people. At least 85 people have died from it.
The confirmed cases don't represent anywhere near the full scope of the outbreak: For every reported case of swine flu, there may be 20 people sickened with it, said CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat — more than 100,000 people in the U.S. There are signs that it is declining in parts of the country, although school-related outbreaks in New York City and elsewhere have led to the closings of about 60 schools affecting 42,000 students, Schuchat said.
The candidate vaccine viruses the CDC has begun analyzing contain a mix of genes from the new swine flu virus itself with components of other viruses that allow them to grow better in the eggs that manufacturers use to produce vaccine. If one or both prove usable, manufacturers could begin producing pilot lots for testing this summer to see if the shots are safe, trigger immune protection and require one dose or two.
Influenza is a master of evolution, a quick-change artist that can rapidly swap genes to create new strains. Birds are the ultimate origin of influenza viruses, said CDC flu chief Nancy Cox, a senior author of the gene paper in Science.
But Type A flu viruses have long circulated in pigs, too, dating to when the infamous 1918 pandemic strain was introduced to swine. All three global flu epidemics of the past century passed on traits to ancestors of this new flu. Among those ancestors was a triple-strain, or "triple reassortant," as scientists call it — part pig, part bird, part human — that first hit U.S. pig farms in 1998. Others are traced to pig viruses in Europe and Asia.
In fact, viruses with genes that most resemble the new swine flu — known scientifically as part of the H1N1 influenza family — were identified 10 years ago. And a human case in Thailand in 2005 was found to share genes from both the North American and Eurasian swine flu lineages, but not in the exact never-before-seen genetic combination that this new flu contains, Cox said.
Pig populations around the world need to be more closely monitored for emerging influenza viruses, the CDC-led team concluded. The researchers have asked veterinarian colleagues around the world to check their freezers for samples from pigs or other animals that might help narrow down how the new flu made the species jump to people. It could have involved yet another intermediate animal host, Cox noted.
On the good side, the 51 virus samples from Mexico and the U.S. that the team analyzed were all very similar, in both their genetic characteristics and the way they interact with immune-system cells. That makes hunting a usable vaccine easier, Cox said.
On the Net:
Science: Science/AAAS | Scientific research, news and career information