Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Cases of Swine Flu Inch Up

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Information posted on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on April 28 confirmed a total of 64 human cases of swine flu across the country. The count was up from 40 confirmed cases the previous day. New York leads the nation with 45 cases (attributed to students at a Queens, New York, high school who had spent spring break in Cancun, Mexico), California had10 cases, Texas 6 cases, Kansas 2 cases, and Ohio 1 case.

Further information posted by the CDC stated:

CDC has activated its emergency operations center to coordinate the agency's emergency response. CDC 's goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by this swine influenza virus. Yesterday, CDC issued a travel warning recommending that people avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. CDC continues to issue interim guidance daily on the website and through health alert network notices. CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is releasing one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak. The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated guidance and new information as it becomes available.

Some of the information posted on the CDC website is good, practical advice, which would apply to just about any communicable disease:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

However, if past actions are any indicator, our federal government will use this domestic crises to usher in excessive measures that are counterproductive. Back in 1976, after an army recruit died from what was thought to be a case of swine flu, Congress appropriated tens of millions of dollars for a program to develop a vaccine and set up a liability program to reimburse vaccine makers in case the vaccine itself caused problems. Only two members of the House voted against the measure, and perhaps not coincidentally, both were medical doctors. One was Dr. Larry McDonald, a Democrat from Georgia who was lost aboard the Korean airliner shot down by the Soviets in 1983. The other was Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican who still represents Texas in Congress.

Watch and hear Dr. Paul's comments on the current swine flu crisis:

In an article posted online on April 27 entitled "World Unnerved by Spread of Swine Flu" we concluded:

This is not to minimize the potential health danger of the flu that currently has struck many individuals in Mexico. However, a combination of common sense, consultation with competent private medical professionals, and — where appropriate — the imposition of local quarantines by city and state health officials, is most certainly a preferable option than federally mandated inoculation programs. Federal involvement almost always increases costs while decreasing the quality of healthcare.

Photo: AP Images

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