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PAKISTAN THINK TANK HEALTH ALERT: DOES PAKISTAN HAVE ENOUGH FLU VACCINE AND STRICT BORDER CONTROLS AND QUARANTINE FACILITIES

Pakistan has to be prepared for a possible Influenza Epidemic, which is currently sweeping the United States. Pakistan needs to check travelers arriving from US, Pakistan Immigration  see if they have fever or cough, or symptoms of flu. In an advanced nation like the United States, there are critical shortages of Flu vaccine. Nations, like Pakistan are totally unprepared. Flu can take the form of pandemic and spread globally and kill millions of people. Pakistan must take defensive measures and get vulnerable people, specifically, the very young and very old vaccinated against flu virus. Health professional, who visit our site, please alert Pakistan Health Authorities about the Clear and Present Danger of an Influenza Pandemic.590x174_01091720_2013-flu
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Safe Travel and the 2012-2013 Flu Season

Safe travel and the 2012-2013 Flu Season

 

There are over 1,500 microbes that are known sources of disease among the human population, and influenza is one of the most virulent among them.

Two of the more critical hallmarks that define the influenza virus are:

  1. Constantly evolving – the non-human, highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, or bird flu, is just one example of an influenza virus with pandemic potential. It’s a non-human virus, which means there is little to no immunity against it among people. Even though human infections are rare, if the virus were to evolve in a way that it could infect humans, and experts believe it’s capable of such evolution, it could result in a global pandemic.
  1. Easily transmitted – the flu is a highly contagious disease that is very easily transmitted from person to person (from as far as 6 feet away). While the first step to prevention is getting vaccinated, everyday precautions are also important.

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, the impact of influenza is relatively benign because the populations have developed a level of immunity to the virus. And yet, it is estimated that between 1 and 1.5 million people each year die of influenza or its related complications. As a result, influenza pandemics are considered to be one of the most serious threats to the welfare of the global population.

What is a flu pandemic?

pandemic is an epidemic of infection disease that spreads through human populations across a large area (sometimes worldwide). Over the last 300 years, there have been 10 major influenza pandemics. The Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, where 30% of the world’s population fell ill and between 50 and 100 million people died, is considered the most severe.

One important factor in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was the advances in modern transportation, which in the beginning of the 20th century offered a global advantage to the flu virus. The Spanish Flu virus was very quickly spread around the world by infected crew members and passengers on ships and trains.

How travelers contribute to the spread of flu

Recently, the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002-2003, the Bird Flu in 2008, and the Swine Flu in 2009 served to demonstrate the quick-spreading power of the influenza virus through the convenience and ubiquity of global air travel.

Travel can be a big contributor to the global spread of the flu for a number of reasons:

  1. Travers are typically crowded together in tight spaces like airport lounges, trains, and buses
  2. The virus can remain ‘live’ on surfaces such as door handles, tray tables, and seats for up to two hours
  3. Those who are already infected may not experience symptoms for up to two days – so a traveler can be contagious long before they feel ill and isolate themselves
  4. Once symptoms develop, there is often a ‘denial phase’ in which the infected individual will continue their travel, particularly if they are returning home

An infected individual at the ‘acceptance phase’ of the illness, is more likely to cancel outbound travel, but nearly all travelers will do the utmost, even breaking quarantine, to return home when they are sick.

The global transportation system is a major gateway that allows the virus to spread far faster at the global level than the regional level. Experts believe that the next influenza pandemic could be very severe and the widespread illness and absenteeism could cause cascading disruptions to our social and economic systems.

Important steps to prevent flu transmission

It’s important to understand that the flu is a global disease, so wherever you go this flu season protecting yourself and others is critical to staying healthy.

1. The first and number one prevention step is to get vaccinated.

During your trip, the following preventative steps are simply good health measures to take care of yourself and keep others well too:

  1. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water (or an alcohol-based solution if soap and water are unavailable)
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this is how germs spread easily
  4. Avoid close contact with others who are sick
  5. Travel only when you feel well and have no symptoms of illness
  6. Limit contact with others if you are sick

People at highest risk for serious flu complications
It’s important to recognize that not everyone gets the vaccine and some people are at a greater risk of having serious complications. Those include:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially kids younger than 2 years old
  • Adults age 65 or older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus), and others

Above all, the people at the highest risk for developing serious complications due to the flu are the ones also highly encouraged to get vaccinated.

Facts about Travel Insurance and the Flu

As flu season approaches, travelers often ask us whether their travel insurance protects them in case of the flu.

With your travel insurance plan, the illness must be disabling enough to make a reasonable person cancel their trip – and that illness must be verified by a medical doctor who must say you are too ill to travel.

If you cannot be examined by a medical doctor before you cancel your trip, some travel insurance plans allow you a 72-hour window to accomplish the examination, but the result must still be the same: the physician must certify that you are too ill to travel.

As proof of the loss, you will be expected to show the physician’s report, so be sure to get a couple of copies.

 

 

590x174_01091720_2013-fluFlu widespread in 47 of 50 United States, but eases off in some areas

The flu is rapidly spreading across the nation, widespread in all but three states: California, Mississippi and Hawaii. But there’s a tiny bit of good news — it’s backing off a bit. It may have already peaked in some parts, like the Southern states.

 

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
 
<br />
	Dr Meeta Khan, wears a face mask as she examines a respiratory patient at the Rush University Hospital emergency department, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in Chicago. Flu season in the U.S. has hit early and, in some places, hard. But whether this will be considered a bad season by the time it has run its course in the spring remains to be seen. <br />

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP

Dr. Meeta Khan of Chicago tends to a respiratory patient at the Rush University Hospital emergency department on Thursday.

NEW YORK — Flu is now widespread in all but three states as the nation grapples with an earlier-than-normal season. But there was one bit of good news Friday: The number of hard-hit areas declined.

The flu season in the U.S. got under way a month early, in December, driven by a strain that tends to make people sicker. That led to worries that it might be a bad season, following one of the mildest flu seasons in recent memory.

The latest numbers do show that the flu surpassed an “epidemic” threshold last week. That is based on deaths from pneumonia and influenza in 122 U.S. cities. However, it’s not unusual — the epidemic level varies at different times of the year, and it was breached earlier this flu season, in October and November.

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And there’s a hint that the flu season may already have peaked in some spots, like in the South. Still, officials there and elsewhere are bracing for more sickness.

In Ohio, administrators at Miami University are anxious that a bug that hit employees will spread to students when they return to the Oxford campus next week.

“Everybody’s been sick. It’s miserable,” said Ritter Hoy, a spokeswoman for the 17,000-student school.

Despite the early start, health officials say it’s not too late to get a flu shot. The vaccine is considered a good — though not perfect — protection against getting really sick from the flu.

Flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday. The only states without widespread flu were California, Mississippi and Hawaii.

The number of hard-hit states fell to 24 from 29, where larger numbers of people were treated for flu-like illness. Now off that list: Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina in the South, the first region hit this flu season.

Recent flu reports included holiday weeks when some doctor’s offices were closed, so it will probably take a couple more weeks to get a better picture, CDC officials said Friday. Experts say so far say the season looks moderate.

“Only time will tell how moderate or severe this flu season will be,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Friday in a teleconference with reporters.

The government doesn’t keep a running tally of adult deaths from the flu, but estimates that it kills about 24,000 people in an average year. Nationally, 20 children have died from the flu this season.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months or older. Since the swine flu epidemic in 2009, vaccination rates have increased in the U.S., but more than half of Americans haven’t gotten this year’s vaccine.

Nearly 130 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed this year, and at least 112 million have been used. Vaccine is still available, but supplies may have run low in some locations, officials said.

To find a shot, “you may have to call a couple places,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, who tracks the flu in Iowa.

In midtown Manhattan, Hyrmete Sciuto got a flu shot Friday at a drugstore. She skipped it in recent years, but news reports about the flu this week worried her.

During her commute from Edgewater, N.J., by ferry and bus, “I have people coughing in my face,” she said. “I didn’t want to risk it this year.”

The vaccine is no guarantee, though, that you won’t get sick. On Friday, CDC officials said a recent study of more than 1,100 people has concluded the current flu vaccine is 62 percent effective. That means the average vaccinated person is 62 percent less likely to get a case of flu that sends them to the doctor, compared to people who don’t get the vaccine. That’s in line with other years.

The vaccine is reformulated annually, and this year’s is a good match to the viruses going around.

The flu’s early arrival coincided with spikes in flu-like illnesses caused by other bugs, including a new norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, or what is commonly known as “stomach flu.” Those illnesses likely are part of the heavy traffic in hospital and clinic waiting rooms, CDC officials said.

Europeans also are suffering an early flu season, though a milder strain predominates there. China, Japan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Algeria and the Republic of Congo have also reported increasing flu.

Flu usually peaks in midwinter. Symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, head and body aches and fatigue. Some people also suffer vomiting and diarrhea, and some develop pneumonia or other severe complications.

Most people with flu have a mild illness. But people with severe symptoms should see a doctor. They may be given antiviral drugs or other medications to ease symptoms.

Some shortages have been reported for children’s liquid Tamiflu, a prescription medicine used to treat flu. But health officials say adult Tamiflu pills are available, and pharmacists can convert those to doses for children.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/flu-spreads-u-s-eases-areas-article-1.1238794#ixzz2HpFePDs7

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