WHO declares first 21st century flu pandemic 2009.06.11 15:41:39 Worldwide The World Health Organization declared the first flu pandemic of the 21st century on Thursday, Sweden’s health ministry said. The health ministry said the United Nations agency was raising its pandemic flu alert to the top phase 6 on a six-point scale, indicating the first influenza pandemic since 1968 is under way. “Today… the Minister for Elderly Care and Public Health Maria Larsson has called a press conference following a decision by the WHO to raise the pandemic level to six for the influenza A H1N1 virus,” the ministry said in a statement. WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan was due to give a news conference on the influenza (A) H1N1 pandemic at 1600 GMT, following a meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee of flu experts, and WHO spokesmen declined to comment before that. The move will trigger heightened health measures in the WHO’s 193 member states as authorities brace for the worldwide spread of the virus that has so far caused mainly mild illness. The move to phase 6 reflects the fact that the disease, widely known as swine flu, was spreading geographically, but not necessarily indicate how virulent it is. “Phase 6, if we call a phase 6, doesn’t mean anything concerning severity, it is concerning geographic spread … Pandemic means global, but it doesn’t have any connotation of severity or mildness,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said. “In fact, what we are seeing with this virus so far is overwhelmingly to date mild disease. So we would think that this event is really a moderate event for the time being, because the numbers are high but the disease is overwhelmingly mild,” he told Reuters Television before the committee meeting. David Heymann, a former top WHO official now chairing Britain’s Health Protection Agency, said that countries had tried to contain the virus through measures including school closures during the previous phase 5. This has extended the precious time needed to prepare for a full-blown pandemic. “During phase 5, the government and people in the U.K. have had the time to prepare for a pandemic — this has hopefully decreased any surprise and concern that might be associated with a WHO announcement of phase 6, if one is made,” he told Reuters. As it spreads in humans, science cannot predict what course the virus will take, the disease it causes and the age groups infected, Heymann said. “The severity of that disease, the effectiveness of antiviral drugs and the stability of the virus must all be watched closely,” he added. A pandemic could cause enormous disruption to business as workers stay home because they are sick or to look after family members and authorities restrict gatherings of large numbers of people or movement of people or goods. World markets shrugged off the possibility of a pandemic, as investors focused on possible global economic recovery.
Level 6 may be coming – newest update on this topic from the RSOE:
WHO set to declare level 6 swine flu pandemic — first time since 1968
2009.06.11 15:13:00 Worldwide
As the death toll climbs, the World Health Organization is set to declare a swine flu pandemic, a move that could prompt fast-track production of preventive vaccines. The declaration of a global epidemic was expected Thursday as WHO officials huddled in an emergency session in Geneva in the wake of 141 swine flu deaths worldwide, including 12 in New York City. “It is likely in light of sustained community transmission in countries outside of North America – most notably in Australia – that level 6 will be declared,” Scotland’s Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told Scottish lawmakers. If WHO moves from level 5 to level 6 on its pandemic alert scale, it would be the first flu pandemic declared since the Hong Kong flu killed an estimated 1 million people in 1968.
On Wednesday, WHO reported 27,737 cases worldwide, most of them mild and requiring no treatment. WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan says she believes a pandemic is under way, but was seeking proof that the H1N1 strain is spreading rapidly from person to person outside the Americas before declaring a global epidemic. The world is better prepared than ever for a pandemic, with stockpiles of antiviral drugs like Roche’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza, experts said. Sanofi Pasteur and other major pharmaceutical companies have been working on a swine flu vaccine since last month, when WHO gave them a “seed stock” of the virus created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It could take up to six months before large amounts of a swine flu vaccine are available, GlaxoSmithKline spokesman Stephen Rea said. On Wednesday, city officials reported three more swine flu deaths, bringing the death toll to 12. The City Council scheduled an oversight hearing for Thursday on the H1N1 virus. The Health Department estimated that more than 500,000 city residents may have been sickened by the virus. The highest incidence is in Queens, where the outbreak began in April. Ordinary flu kills about 250,000 to 500,000 people each year. Without vaccines, the H1N1 flu strain could return to the northern hemisphere in a far more virulent form in winter, cause widespread sickness and death, mass work absences, and major disruption to trade, some experts fear. The World Bank estimated last year that a serious pandemic could cost $3 trillion and cut global gross domestic product by nearly 5%.
I came across this organic chocolate at a little store in our area, and I was so impressed with (1… the taste! Dreamy, silky chocolate that melts in your mouth!! And (2… the company’s life goals — that I had to share it with all of you. The company is Terra Nostra Organic, and their website is http://www.terranostrachocolate.com. They believe in giving back to the community, using an ideal called “Equi Trade,” which is a form of social giving, as I have read from their site.
This is truly chocolate with heart.
The following is from their website FAQ’s, and below that, from their profile (both are linked, just click to go there):
Terra Nostra means “Our Earth” in Latin. We named the company Terra Nostra because it encompasses our overall company belief – to nurture and preserve our earth as best we can.
I love that!
This from their profile:
Terra Nostra chocolates currently outsell all other organic chocolate in the United States. Karlo is a no-nonsense entrepreneur and dedicated chocolatier. He is also an active member of the global chocolate community through a unique form of social giving called Equi-Trade (now called Equal Trade Alliance). Equal Trade was developed and nurtured to help those growers in countries where fairness is sometimes forgotten. With the increased exposure to child labor paired with the birth of Karlo’s children, is what inspired the Equal Trade initiative. The parent company provides funding for Equal Trade. This funding will be through economic growth projects throughout the world. These projects are in areas where Terra Nostra’s raw materials are sourced and in the regions where Terra Nostra’s chocolate creations are consumed and enjoyed.
You can shop their yummy selections here.
Received this from the RSOE Pandemic Monitoring System this morning:
A Canberra researcher reckons the swine flu virus could have been created inadvertently by scientists working with eggs to grow new viruses and test new vaccines. Retired Australian National University virologist Adrian Gibbs was quoted Thursday by the website ScienceInsider as suggesting that a laboratory accident may have created the virus now sweeping the world.
Influenza specialists at the World Health Organization are examining the theory that swine flu – a mix of genetic material from pigs, birds and human beings – is an escapee from a research laboratory. “I bumped into an advertisement for an influenza vaccine for pigs that contained three different viruses,” Gibbs told ScienceInsider. “Not killing off the virus could explain the whole thing very neatly, but it’s only one of several possibilities.” Gibbs, who contributed to the research that produced the drug Tamiflu used to treat influenza cases, said he was ready to be proved wrong. “Scientists are trained to be iconoclasts, not to believe what they are told,” he said. “And they don’t believe until they have really had a good go at it.”
Here are the links:
Found this optimistic, from the RSOE monitoring system:
Swine flu pales compared to other viruses: experts
2009.05.06 14:02:13 Worldwide
The A(H1N1) virus behind the swine flu outbreak pales in comparison with fearsome pathogens that kill millions of people worldwide each year, experts said. Seasonal flu strikes 57,000 to 96,000 people a week in the world, leaving in its wake 4,800 to 9,600 dead, according to the World Health Organization. In comparison, the A(H1N1) virus has infected 1,085 people and killed 26 worldwide in the past 10 days, the WHO said.
“This infection is behaving like what we call a seasonal flu, like a more typical, conventional influenza outbreak,” said James Nataro, an epidemiologist at the University of Maryland. “It’s not behaving like the influenza pandemic of 1918.” The 1918-19 pandemic of “Spanish flu,” described as the biggest plague of the 20th century, killed between 20 and 50 million people. The number of cases and deaths attributed to A(H1N1) remains low compared to those registered every year as a result of seasonal flu, the physician said, noting the moderate virulence of the virus. “So right now, we are trying to maintain some cautious optimism in the face of a frenzy of activity,” Nataro told AFP.
Click text for source link : (AP) — HONOLULU – Gov. Linda Lingle says the World Health Organization is considering raising the pandemic alert level to phase 6, the highest level indicating a global outbreak of the swine flu.
Lingle says the possible move was discussed Friday on a conference call with federal and state health officials.
She says it is not an indication that the outbreak is more severe, or more people are getting sick or dying. It means the geographic distribution of the virus has widened.
Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, Hawaii’s adjutant general and head of state civil defense, says the alert level could be changed this weekend.
WHO officials Thursday said there were no indications in the past day that would prompt the U.N. body to raise the alert further.
What concerns me is the discrepancy in numbers that we have heard, and what is the actual threat level of this? Different scientists are saying different things – some say it’s not as bad as we are hearing… others say it is as bad or worse. The thing is… if Level 6 happens, what amounts to martial law could happen very easily. If you don’t know what that means, a quick google search will let you know, as well as the link below. Some things are for our benefit, I understand that, but … if things are being told wrongly… I have to question… why? and the next question is obvious – if things are *not* as bad as we are hearing… then why the need for level 6? Here is a link that I found interesting. Whether you agree or disagree, it is worth reading. Click the link below for the full article from prisonplanet.com:
Imposing a level 6 would give governments around the world a perfect excuse to impose martial law, even though many scientists believe the H1N1 virus is no more of a threat than seasonal flu.
On Thursday, Fox News ran a segment on how declaration of a pandemic might result in a loss of constitutional rights. “If it becomes a pandemic, you could lose some simple rights — like going to the movies,” said host Steve Doocy, who completely understated the issue.
Here’s what Fox and the corporate media are not telling you — the government has a wide palette of dictatorial options ready to go: Executive Order 12919 (would put the United States under total martial law and military dictatorship), Executive Order 12656 (allows the government to increase domestic intelligence and surveillance of U.S. citizens and would restrict the freedom of movement within the United States and grant the government the right to isolate large groups of civilians), Executive Order 11921 (allows FEMA to “develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency”), and a blizzard of additional EOs allowing federal seizure of all communications media in the US, seizure of all electric power, fuels, minerals, public and private, seizure of all food supplies and resources, public and private and all farms and equipment, seizure of all means of transportation, including cars, trucks, or vehicles of any kind and total control over all highways, seaports and water ways, and ominously seizure of American people for work forces under federal supervision, including the splitting up of families if the government so desires. This last one is detailed in the Army’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program document.