Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said on May 4 that the virus it now officially designates as "novel H1N1 flu" has been confirmed in six more states since the previous day, there were signs that the severity of the illness is less than initially feared.
While it is still too early to claim that the swine flu outbreak is being overblown, events are beginning to suggest that may prove to be the case. As of Wednesday, the numbers of people seeking flu treatment in Mexico had dwindled markedly, and the death rate has nearly vanished; only one new death was announced on Wednesday by Mexican authorities.
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.
The world watched warily on April 27, as cases of swine flu that first emerged in Mexico in recent weeks in near-epidemic proportions started surfacing in other nations. Mexican officials said the flu strain may have sickened 1,614 people since April 13. Officials were awaiting the results of laboratory tests to confirm how many of 149 suspected flu-related deaths were in fact caused by the illness. So far, at least 22 deaths in the nation of 111 million people have been attributed to swine flu.
In early March, veterans’ groups got wind of a plan by the Obama administration to charge veterans’ private health insurance companies for service-related injuries. “Currently,” according to CNN.com, “veterans’ private insurance is only charged when they receive health care from the VA for medical issues that are not related to service injuries, like the flu.” Veterans are worried that the proposed plan would cause their private insurance rates to skyrocket and quickly max out their private insurance.
If they had been designing a health system from scratch, the change agents assuming power in January would have done things differently. Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy would have given us a Single Payer for medical care, as in Canada and Britain (and Cuba and North Korea) and (according to national healthcare promoters) "the rest of the industrialized world."
ITEM: In an article entitled "5 Myths About Our Ailing Health-Care System" in the Washington Post for November 23, 2008, Shannon Brownlee and Ezekiel Emanuel write that the United States lags behind "many developed countries on virtually every health statistic you can name. Life expectancy at birth? We rank near the bottom of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, just ahead of Cuba and way behind Japan, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada, countries whose governments (gasp!) pay for the lion's share of health care."
New research, published in the medical journal Nature, suggests that scientists have for the first time come to a better and more thorough understanding of the genetic basis for cancer. The research may point to new and more effective treatments in the future.
ITEM: The New York Times for October 6 reported: "More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive better insurance coverage for mental health treatments because of a new law that, for the first time, requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses. The requirement, included in the economic bailout bill that President Bush signed on Friday, is the result of 12 years of passionate advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and addiction disorders. They described the new law as a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness."