More confirmed influenza cases in the United States

This Dark Daily follows up the special ALERT distributed last Friday afternoon about the emergence of a new strain of influenza in Mexico. The following day, Saturday, the World Health Organization  issued a statement declaring that the new strain of flu virus is “a public health emergency of international concern.” Medical laboratories should be informed about these events.

In the United States, on Sunday the Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in the United States. At the same time, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano downplayed this declaration, characterizing it as a “standard operating procedure.” The clearer truth of the situation was acknowledged by Richard Besser, M.D. Acting Chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who told the press that “We do think this will continue to spread but we are taking aggressive actions to minimize the impact on people’s health.”

These are just two of the many remarkable developments. In the 48 hours since the first Dark Daily ALERT, the running total of deaths attributed to the A/H1N1 influenza virus in Mexico has climbed regularly, as has the total number of confirmed cases. For example, at one point on Sunday, the Associated Press  said that Mexican health authorities were reporting 1,614 suspected cases of swine flu that included 103 deaths. It is likely that, whenever you read this Dark Daily e-briefing, there will news of a greater number of swine flu cases in Mexico.

Even as Mexico reports growing number of cases, the same is true internationally. From New Zealand and Australia to France and Spain, countries were identifying suspected or confirmed cases of the new strain of influenza, usually involving travelers from Mexico who showed similar symptoms. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC)  in the United States posted statistics on the growing number of confirmed cases here in this country. This table below is from the CDC Web site. 

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection

State

# of laboratory
confirmed cases

California

7 cases

Kansas

2 cases

New York City

8 cases

Ohio

1 case

Texas

2 cases

TOTAL COUNT

20 cases

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
 

As of April 26, 2009 9:00 AM ET

See: World Health Organization for more.

Veratect, Inc., a company in Kirkland, Washington, that tracks health issues globally, disclosed to its clients on Saturday and Sunday that Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, and the countries of Spain, Scotland, France, and Israel had identified either confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu.

flu_outbreak_map_ap_4-26-09

Figure 1

The Associated Press prepared this map to show where confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu have been found in North America.

These are reasons why, clinical lab directors and pathologists should take active steps to educate laboratory staff about these events and to prepare their laboratories to serve the specific needs of their communities. As the comments of the CDC’s Dr. Besser indicate, public health officials expect the number of suspected and confirmed cases to increase. 

It is recommended that you forward this e-briefing to colleagues and other medical professionals who should be alerted to this important and fast-breaking story.

Editor’s Note: If readers would like to submit information about developments in their community or nation on this subject, please send that to: rmichel@darkreport.com. As appropriate, we can establish circulate relevant knowledge to the Dark Daily community of clinical laboratory managers, pathologists, and Ph.D.s.

Related Information:
World govts race to contain swine flu outbreak

WHO Statement on Swine Flu as of 25 April 2008 

Fears grow over spread of swine flu; US declares health emergency

IMPORTANT ALERT for All Clinical Laboratories: New Influenza-Like Disease in Mexico Is Being Watched by Health Agencies Worldwide

Pan American Health Organization flu page

World Health Organization swine flu page

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swine flu page

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