What to do about Swine flu

A few years ago and the country was in the grip of Bird Flu Fever, so to speak. The Health sector was dusting off the plans from 1918 and sales of Geoffrey Rice’s excellent account of that earlier pandemic soared. It seemed like every organisation and business in the country was developing its own pandemic preparedness plan.

Now we’re seeing some of those plans in action, underlining the often overlooked fact that any virus is going to produce a different pattern of infection and different demands on health and other services.

One of the key features of New Zealand’s plan is the establishment of Community-Based Assessment Centres (CBACs). The idea of these is to provide facilities at a local level (handy to where people are), but separate from other health services, so that people with flu symptoms can be assessed and treated while minimising the risk of cross-infecting other people who may be particularly vulnerable (old, very young or immuno-compromised).

It’s a really sensible idea, and built directly from 1918 experience. At the time of writing some CBACs have been set up, while others are in preparation, and others not at all, suggesting the trigger mechanism needs some work.

So what do you do about controlling the spread of ordinary flu? Surely if I have common or garden flu (which, by the way, is still a potentially serious illness) then it’s a pretty undesirable thing for me to be transmitting that (or any other casually transmissible disease) to others in a primary care waiting room or retail pharmacy too?

We’re caught right now in precisely this situation. H1N1 flu has heightened concerns about the flu. The availability from today of Tamiflu from pharmacists without a prescription, but at a substantial cost, creates a real dilemma: it’s important that we don’t waste the nation’s stocks of Tamiflu on the worried well or to create stockpiling (with attendant risk that people will use sub-optimal doses at some point with the risk of encouraging drug-resistant strains), so we have set up rules to require pharmacists to eyeball patients and be satisfied that they actually have flu symptoms. But to do this patients with flu symptoms need to come into a pharmacy, bringing them into contact with others and potentially spreading the disease.

A solution isn’t obvious. The drug is available direct from pharmacies to relieve pressure on GPs dealing with the tide of Winter ailments, but maybe we need to go back to prescription-only access to Tamiflu, with separate clinic days in general practices for people with casually-transmissible disease symptoms.

Maybe we need to have district nurses visiting people with suspected flu in their own homes, able to diagnose, prescribe and dispense.

Maybe we should suspend the regular Winter direct access to Tamiflu programme while H1N1 is about. And maybe it’s time to initiate CBACs in all centres with suspected H1N1.

About Kevin Hague 163 Articles

Green Party Member of Parliament

78 Comments Posted

  1. Greetings,

    Recently in the news yesterday I’ve watched its already 33 countries are effected and more than 5000 people are already infected. Hope this will not increase more and the problems could immediately cure by some of the good health scientist and expert. By the way, if you are interested you may also read one of the posted article of Dr. Mercola on his site to know the systoms and other information about this virus, swine flu. Read Article >> Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

  2. But pig flesh is, apparently, very close to human flesh; think of it as a dry-run to get us ready for cannabalism! survival practice!

  3. The pork board want to get the name of the virus changed, because people are eating less pig flesh. So at least something good is coming out of the panic.

  4. it is the custom..nbp..

    when using others’ words..

    ..to indicate this by speech-marks..

    or are you claiming authorship..?


  5. I rang the swine flu hotline….all I got was crackling……….

    “Thank God Its Monday”

  6. Whatever it is most of you are on I hope it isn’t detectable or you will all be arrested.

    Yes the State can lock you up if you run about infecting people with a disease that is classed as notifiable.

    People who have TB & refuse treatment can be locked away for the protection of others.

    Frankly I think what is happening to the Honey Bees is far more important to the future of the whole world.
    Less people is good for the earth, less bees is not.
    If you are going to panic do it about something worth the effort.

  7. “For the first time a mucosally-delivered vaccine has been shown to significantly reduce the fertility of brushtail possums. A “bacterial ghost” vaccine, containing a possum egg coat protein called zona pellucida 2-N fused to the empty cell walls of dead bacteria, was administered through the mucosal surfaces of the eyes and nose and significantly reduced the number of eggs fertilised in vaccine-treated possums to only 59% compared with 90% for control animals. This is a key step towards development of orally delivered biological control for wild possum populations. Additional work has identified protocols to protect vaccine components from acid degradation in the stomach. New multi-epitope vaccines combining regions of both ZP3 and ZP2 antigens into a bacterial ghost delivery system have been developed in collaboration with the University of Vienna and are currently being tested for effects on possum immune response and fertility. Transgenic plants expressing possum ZP antigens, that were developed and grown in Australia, have been imported and are being evaluated for their effects on possums at approved containment facilities in New Zealand.


    point: shouldn’t have black and white position on GE?

  8. greatglobalist..

    have you met d4j yet..?

    y’know..!..kindrid spirits..and all that..

    (you could shout at each other across your respective chasms..)


  9. All the modern sicknesses have stemmed out from bureacratic behavior!
    Corruption and Nepotism being the main weapon of social merit destruction so the science warns them because these loathsome post ww2 bureacracies must be treated like defeated Samurai!

    They average highest in these desieses and their ‘slips’ where they mark the money or item of use they want go to state and state marks it to the former financiers!

    Heart Attacks!
    and Now the SWINE FLU…SWINE is a animal that cannot even be handled by just a stick!

  10. phil u Says:
    May 3rd, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    > and as for this h1ni bullsh*t..?
    > the make-up of this ’swine-flu’ is one part human virus..one part avian virus..
    > ..and six parts pig-flu viruses..
    > ..maths never was my strongest subject..
    > ..but to me that adds up to swine-flu..

    It adds up to a virus that developed in a situation of close contact between humans, pigs and birds. Pigs crammed in with other pigs is clearly not sufficient to lead to the human flu and bird flu genes getting into it.

    Of course, pig flu could have become more virulent in a battery pig farm, but the exchanging of genes with human flu and bird flu seems less likely to have happened there.

  11. and as for this h1ni bullsh*t..?

    the make-up of this ‘swine-flu’ is one part human virus..one part avian virus..

    ..and six parts pig-flu viruses..

    ..maths never was my strongest subject..

    ..but to me that adds up to swine-flu..

    pork producers be damned..!


  12. “.. Kevin Hague Says:
    May 1st, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    As others have suggested, the particular worry about H1N1 is the mortality that appears to be associated with it in Mexico. There is a huge amount of work going into attempting to figure out what is causing the more debilitating infection there, and so getting a better idea as to whether the relatively mild infections to date elsewhere might become more serious in the future…”

    kevin hague..are you seriously telling us you have no idea it is the factory-farming of pigs that is causing these virus mutations..?

    maybe you should start your (much-needed) reading here..



  13. turnip28: The state exists to balance the rights of the people. Sometimes, the state needs to act to protect the rights of some people from others. The state has to balance the right of someone to not be arbitrarily deprived of life by the actions of others, against the right of a small number of people to have freedom of movement / association with the public for a short amount of time.

    Sometimes, the state has to act now on imperfect information. The arrest, detention, and remand in custody of people considered a risk to society is one example of this, as is mandatory quarantine of contagious infections.

    However, there are several safeguards that may be missing. Firstly, there should always be process to review the threat (where the state is required to prove the risk justifies the action) and allow judicial oversight into whether or not a person’s detention is lawful. The current Health Act lacks sufficient provisions for this.

    I also think we should also think about compensation in the case that the state detains someone. The criteria should not be whether or not the state was wrong to do it, without the benefit of hindsight, but whether, with the benefit of hindsight, it appears that the person deliberately caused the state to think it was proper to detain them. Under these criteria, anyone who was convicted of a crime would automatically be ineligible for compensation for their proper detention, as would anyone who confessed to a crime they didn’t commit so as to get compensation, or deliberately caught a disease,

  14. The biggest evil and joke (greater than that of corporate dominance) is the fiction of Democracy as the catalyst for good government. Any fool can see that it’s false, no less a con-job tha the banking cartel financed communism and fascism was.

  15. As an exercise in how gullable the public and the MSM are, the swineflu scandal is right up there.

    As Don says, it is in the interest of the Tamiflu manufacturers to on sell the close to expiry date stocks (and at $8 per pill not a bad earner).

    So “invent” an pandamic.

    Note that the one fatality due to the Swineflu in the USA was actually a Mexican infant bought to the USA for treatment. Not a resident USA citizen.

    And how come only Tamiflu is listed as the medicine to be subscribed.

    Nobody else makes a flu medicine?

    Flu is not a disease, it is an illness (but can lead to complications if the person has other ailments or conditions).

    Easly fixed with rest, some lemon and single malt whisky.

    Am suprised that the Greens have fallen for this lark.

    The fact that only Tamiflu was the answer to an mainly new strain of flu (and we have hundreds of flu strains floating past our faces every day) should have sent the believers of “big corporates are evil”, members of the Green party into a questioning attitude.

  16. This really has been a particularly venal thread on a serious topic.

    First up – no-one is compulsorily quarantined or isolated at present. It is all voluntary. Most people respond reasonably well to requests to avoid spreading a disease.

    Secondly – there is a real balancing act between insufficient action and over-reaction. This is the reality of an uncertain world. There is no other alternative. It is all about adaptive management.

    Thirdly – I fail to see why someone who chooses to go around trying to infect people is doing a different sort of harm to other criminals. Restraint of “liberty” is not black and white – it is every changing shades of grey. Property rights, liberty etc are social constructs and their boundaries are social norms. Unless of course you want to invoke God….

    Fourthly – no-one knows how this disease will evolve. So public health officials are trying to make the best use of public resources to protect the community. If things wind down so will the measures but if things get worse at least we have the systems in place.

  17. I truly don’t think any of us should worry about this bunkum !
    There’s a greater danger out there than this Swine Flu………Alcohol !
    Ya huh !!

    We can’t walk around worrying about every breath we take ! If we get sick, we’re sick ! Go to the Doctor/Hospital whatever ! But don’t combine this NEW worry, with all of the other many worry’s all over everywhere ! It won’t help !
    What it will do, is give us all Ulcer’s !


  18. Are we still worried about anthrax?

    “One of the terror scenarios discussed widely by the Administration was a possible release of a deadly smallpox attack that would devastate the American population.”

    “The scare around smallpox and what to do was curiously similar then as it is today against Bird Flu pandemics. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at that time ordered members of the Armed Forces to be inoculated against smallpox, an inoculation with horrendous side-effects. Rumsfeld’s smallpox package also included ordering Pentagon stockpiling of a drug named Vistide, supposedly to minimize side-effects of smallpox infection should it occur.

    “The Bush Administration had made repeated attempts to convince the public and above all, the health and medical profession to go with mass inoculation against smallpox. In 2002 the CDC and certain high Administration officials were calling for pre-emptive smallpox inoculation of broad sectors of the population against threat of terrorists unleashing the pox. The Government began stockpiling hundreds of millions of smallpox vaccine doses. It also stockpiled Vistide. ”

    “With every official statement by members of the Administration, population panic regarding smallpox threats grew. Fear was driving the debate. Yet the reality was that, contrary to what was being said, smallpox was not a highly contagious disease. As Dr. Kuritsky, MD, director of the National Immunization Program and Early Smallpox Response and Planning at the CDC put it, ‘Smallpox has a slow transmission and is not highly contagious.’”

    Vistide is made by Gilead.

    Are we still worried about Avian Flu?

    “Mr. Bush went on to stress, ‘At this point, we do not have evidence that a pandemic is imminent. Most of the people in Southeast Asia who got sick were handling infected birds. And while the avian flu virus has spread from Asia to Europe, there are no reports of infected birds, animals, or people in the United States. Even if the virus does eventually appear on our shores in birds, that does not mean people in our country will be infected. Avian flu is still primarily an animal disease. And as of now, unless people come into direct, sustained contact with infected birds, it is unlikely they will come down with avian flu.’

    “Despite the admission of absence of a clear and present danger to the American public, the President called on Congress to immediately pass a new $7.1 billion in emergency funding to prepare for that not-imminent, not-pandemic, possible-in-the-future danger. The speech was an exercise in the Administration’s now-famous ‘pre-emptive war,’ this one against Avian Flu. As with the other pre-emptive wars, there is a multiple agenda—one might say, killing two birds with one stone, were it not so tasteless.

    “Prominent among the President’s list of emergency measures was a call for Congress to appropriate another $1 billion explicitly for Tamiflu.”

    Now Swine flu?

    “The ominous name of the flu alone was enough to touch off civilian fear of an epidemic. And government doctors knew from tests hastily conducted at Dix after Lewis’ death that 500 soldiers had caught swine flu without falling ill.

    “Any flu able to reach that many people so fast was capable of becoming another worldwide plague, the doctors warned, raising these questions:

    “Does America mobilize for mass inoculations in time to have everybody ready for the next flu season? Or should the country wait to see if the new virus would, as they often do, get stronger to hit harder in the second year?

    “Thus was born what would become known to some medical historians as a fiasco and to others as perhaps the finest hour of America’s public health bureaucracy.”

    Oops – my mistake – that was about the 1976 ‘pandemic’. I am sure we all remember that.

    Anyway – this is more recent:

    “Public health emergency declared in U.S.; millions of doses of Tamiflu from federal stockpile being delivered to states; U.S. buying more anti-flu drugs to replenish stockpile. CDC also shipping test kits to state labs so states can do their own testing.”

    Tamiflu is made by Gilead.

    Gee – I wonder who owns Gilead?

    “As we also noted, US Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, was Chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences from 1997 until early 2001 when he became Defense Secretary. Rumsfeld had been on the board of Gilead since 1988, some thirteen years.”

    “Since early 2001 when Rumsfeld left the board of Gilead Sciences to become Defense Secretary, Gilead’s stock price has gone from around $7 per share to just a hair above $50 a share today. The future price direction? The stratosphere, especially since the President made it an explicit goal of the US ‘flu defense pre-emptive war’ on November 1. Gilead, which signed over the world marketing rights to Hoffmann-LaRoche, gets 10% of every dose of Tamiflu sold. Gilead is presently in a legal battle to retake 100% marketing control as well.

    “From $7 to $50 translates into a neat 720% profit for Mr. Rumsfeld’s Gilead stock holdings since he went to Washington four-and-a-half years ago. Since the start of the carefully orchestrated current Bird Flu hysteria this March, Rummy’s Gilead stocks have gained a neat 56% alone.

    “That might explain why, instead of dumping his shares as one might expect from an honest government official wanting to avoid a conflict of interest, he instead opted to buy another $18 million worth. Curiously, the Secretary waited until October 26, 2005 before issuing an official Department of Defense press statement that he had ‘recused’ himself from involvement in any future Pentagon decisions involving Gilead Sciences. By then, of course, the horse had long burst out of the barn door and the price of Gilead was racing at full gallop as the Pentagon and the Administration had already decided to stockpile millions of doses of Tamiflu.”

    “The Secretary of Defense, the man who allegedly supported the use of contrived intelligence to justify the war on Iraq, who oversaw billions of dollars in Pentagon no-bid contracts to Bechtel and Halliburton corporations, is now poised to reap huge gains for a flu panic his Administration has done everything it can to promote.”

    Of course, this is all history – such things could not possibly still be happening now, could they?

    Yeah. Sure. In the immortal words of George W, “fool me once, shame on — [pauses] – shame on you. Fool me — I can’t get fooled again.”

    Or, to paraphrase the Who (not the WHO) ‘meet the new flu, same as the old flu’

    BTW – does anyone want to start a sweepstake on how long it will take before we are told the only way to beat this ‘pandemic’ is to privatize our hospitals?


  19. Begins with a sty in the eye, followed by crackling in the ears, normal activities are soon cur-tailed …

  20. Why focus on the fat, pick on the plump, lambast the lardy, BluePeter? Piled-on some pounds yourself, have you?

  21. I don’t know that D4J is extreme jarbury, more lost .
    We could shower him with ‘green love’ everytime he visits Frogblog: stimulate his joy-gland, massage his empathy-organ and soothe his crimped and wizzened soul. He’d thank us for it, you can be sure. I’m up for it. Come to me, D4J. B mine 2nite.

  22. D4J said:
    Sorry I just sprayed myself with fly spray.

    Those aerosol cans are awful complicated to use D4J!
    Remember, point the nozzle away from yourself!

    (That D4J! What a dunce!)

  23. BLiP:

    Am I assume that the arbitrary removal of comments from this blog that:

    Beg your pardon.

  24. The idea of the “vulnerable” (aged) receiving home visits rather than visit the doctor in winter while they have the flu has some merit. This problem will grow as the population ages (and could also involve bringing in food for the bed ridden who cannot shop).

    The problem of those with the human flu visiting clinics can be overstated -as staff would have been vaccinated for this.

    And the way to prevent public infection is to increase human flu vaccination take up rates (make it free and subsidise the visit).

  25. Am I assume that the arbitrary removal of comments from this blog that:

    1: No swearing

    . . . fair nuff.


    2: It is okay to talk about what a woman is wearing but not what a man is wearing

    . . . ssup wid dat?

  26. We should round up all the fatties and ship them off to “Fatty Camps” its all for the common good remember!!!

  27. Won’t anyone think of the fatties!

    One person dead from Swine Flu in the US. Meanwhile another 5,769 people have died from obesity in the past week.

  28. Ah! Mr Turnip. A person suspected of homicide is ‘quarantined, is he not, awaiting trial? Yes? No?

  29. Turnip28

    You can’t play this game of picking and choosing how the state may intefer this really is black and white.

    I’ve been convinced by the “homicidal maniac” proposition. I still object, however, that the state is not liable to compensate after the event for what otherwise would be illegal acts.

  30. dad4what?

    I sincerely hope that this blog has been sufficiently fumigated as you all know what filthy diseases lurk in a fetid swamp where frogs thrive.


  31. And also the person hasn’t killed anyone have they Greenfly and may not you can’t prove it. Are you also advocating if we found a gene that said their was a 10% chance that the person with said gene could became a homicidal criminal, would you be advocating say imprisoning everyone with that gene, never find yourself on a slippery slope as sometime in the future you will slide.

    In a free society the only power the state has is to ask its citizens to volunteerly quarantine themselfs, the same is true with regard to fighting a war. Any other scenario involves you accepting that the state owns you.

    Do you support the states right to conscript its citizens in a time of war Greenfly and force them to fight. If you don’t support conscription what do you base this on isn’t it for the common good after all.

    You can’t play this game of picking and choosing how the state may intefer this really is black and white.

  32. I sincerely hope that this blog has been sufficiently fumigated as you all know what filthy diseases lurk in a fetid swamp where frogs thrive.

  33. And the state must first prove that the dangerous homicidal criminal is actually a dangerous homicidal criminal, of course you left that out didn’t you greenfly.

  34. turnip said:
    neither does the state have the right to quarantine its citizens in time of a flu outbreak.

    Now turnip. The State does, I’m sure you’ll agree, have the right to ‘quarantine’ dangerous homicidal criminals, yes?
    If there was a person carrying a disease that threatened the lives of others, oughtn’t the State have the right (and the responsibility) to quarantine them? If not, why not?

  35. Isn’t Tony Ryal doing a marvellous job. His out there and soothing assurances and announcement of an array of local provisioning has been nothing short of magesterial. The results have been great, too: wall to wall media coverage. I’ve seen journalists gasping as they scamper from one “command centre” to another, completely ignoring other, more important, stories.

  36. # turnip28 Says:
    May 1st, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    > So maybe little old NZ should think before comrade Hague comes knocking on everyone’s doors and by force of arms(I thought the greens oppossed violence) starts jabbing needles in peoples arms.

    Turnip, did Kevin actually say anything about turning up at people’s doors and forcibly sticking needles into people’s arms? I can’t find any evidence of him saying any such thing.

    Maybe you hallucinated it.

  37. Spoken like a true statist, you have absolutely no right Kevin none whats so ever to impose your state control over individual citizens.

    What is more if you are going to act you must have evidence, which so far you don’t have. If the police knocked on your door and forced entry into your home(without a warrant) based on the MSM reporting that you were making drugs I take it that you would side with the NZ police.

    Just as the state does not have a right to conscript its citizens in time of war neither does the state have the right to quarantine its citizens in time of a flu outbreak. You do not own the people they are not your pawns or slaves to be pushed around at your own whim.

    If this really was a major Flu pandemic you would be dead, look at how quickly and easily it spread. The fact which you need to accept is the government can not always protect us from all the risks that exist in the world and we the people need to accept that and move on with our lifes, of course most people would rather give up freedom so as to accept security from the government, those who do this deserve neither.


    And here is congressman Ron Paul, Please don’t watch him as his ideas about freedom and liberty could infect you. You have probably never meet anyone in NZ who actually stands for liberty and freedom so listening to him could cause some type of cardic arrest, you have been warned.


    Lets see Ron Paul a US congressman + doctor or Kevin Hague and you are a doctor of what exactly??? Just who are we going to listen to.

    This is the same argument that the Bush-Bama Idiot used to justify spending trillions of dollars and destroying the US economy. In fact it is the argument that all politicians use when faced with a crisis, they have to act, they have to do something, but one thing they can never do is not act and sometimes not acting is actually the best thing to do. No this is not hindsight talking it is in fact a lack of foresight on your part, during a crisis the first thing you need to do is not panic, all i am seeing from every county is panic.

  38. As others have commented, nothing much has happened yet. But if it does, then a swine flu pandemic could kill millions of people.

    What nobody has mentioned yet, but what seems blindingly obvious, is that that swine flu is cused by close proximity of humans to unhealthy pigs. The sort that exist in factory farms for example.

    So pig flesh eaters must accept a large part of the blame for the deaths from this disease. I hope that the managers of the Smithfield factory farm in Mexico where the epidemic was tracked down to will be charged with mass murder, but with the lust for animal flesh ubiquitous in the so-called “devleoped” world, I have no real hopes of justice being done in that direction.

  39. Comrade Hague:

    I’m not surprised you are defending Tony Ryal’s handling of the situation – didn’t you love the pink shirt and tie?


    Don’t you think the Government’s reaction has been as equally hysterical?

  40. Mass hysteria….

    “Scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza — at least in its current form — isn’t shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.

    In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.”

    The MSM sucks.

  41. What the hell are you talking about turnip28? Kevin, nor the Greens as far as I can tell, have said anything about sticking needles into anyone. Talk about hysteria! That’s the ‘H’ word i’d use to describe you!

  42. Turnip – I don’t see how it’s possible to judge whether or not the response has been excessive until we see how the infection unfolds – by which time it will be too late if, instead, the response has been inadequate. Are you really arguing that we should not have a pandemic plan, or that we should have activated it yet? I would be interested to find out more about the US events you mention. Forgive me though, if I prefer a scientific journal to You Tube – are you able to offer a reference? (And I’m ignoring your needle comments!)

    BLiP – the powers of Medical Officers of Health (senior doctors appointed by the Director of Public Health) have been pretty sweeping since the Health Act (1953 as I recall) which is still the framework today (or at least until the Government advances the Public Health Bill). The question we have is whether someone should have these coercive powers to control epidemics. We have to balance risk to the public health against civil liberties.

  43. The hypocrite green party opposses GMA crops but has no problem sticking needles into NZ’rs.

  44. Before you guys leap off the deep end please try some science.

    Nobody has a clue how many people have died from this and how many people have actually been infected. The numbers coming out of WHO have not been confirmed.

    What we are seeing is mass media hype on a massive massive scale.

    Ron Paul, the smartest man in washington has a wonderful video on youtube where he tells everyone who has lost their minds because they have been watching CNN or MSNBC or FOX. Ron Paul was 1 of only 2 congressmen who voted in 1975 against vacinating the US people against swine flu. Both he and the other guy who voted against the bill were doctors everyone else in congress were trial lawyers. So who was right the 2 doctors of course and who was wrong well the trial lawyers, go figure right the trial lawyers were wrong on a health issue and the doctors were right. End result in the 70’s 1 person died from the swine flu and 25 people died from the drugs, clap clap for the stupid state solutions.

    So maybe little old NZ should think before comrade Hague comes knocking on everyone’s doors and by force of arms(I thought the greens oppossed violence) starts jabbing needles in peoples arms.

  45. The Regulations the Government has put in place in relation to the swine flu outbreak are draconian. In effect, low level public officials have sweeping powers including the ability to enter a person’s home without warrant and remove children from their parent’s arms. And, there is no recourse after the fact should it prove to be that the action taken was unnecessary.

    Yes, yes, yes – the legislation was passed by the Labour Government, but do public servants require these powers now? I think not.

  46. Jarbury, I’m not 100% sure, but I think that the 7 deaths (12 now I think) in Mexico are those confirmed to have died from the H1N1 infection. Testing is continuing on samples from the others who have died, with the expectation that these will also be confirmed.

    What particularly interests me is to know whether they also had some other co-infection that could explain the increased virulence.

  47. Caraca, the pandemic planning undertaken in NZ usually did suggest that CBAC’s should be at or co-located with existing healthcare services. In a town with multiple general practices, for example, one option is to designate one of them for this purpose only. In some other places, CBAC’s would be in the same building, but with separate entrances, waiting rooms, treatment facilities etc.

    In 1918 it did seem possible to get people to behave in quite different ways (for example, one of the places that was used for community-based treatment was the tote at racecourses). However, maybe people were more compliant in 1918!

  48. The thing is Kevin that one day we get reports that 151 people have died of Swine Flu in Mexico (potentially a concern, if they were people unlikely to have died anyway) but the next day we hear only 7 of those deaths were actually Swine Flue and the rest were normal flu. So one day it seems like a real concern but the next day it seems like a media beat-up.

    Even Kiwiblog is confused. David Farrar is saying that Nick Smith has bird flu!

  49. As others have suggested, the particular worry about H1N1 is the mortality that appears to be associated with it in Mexico. There is a huge amount of work going into attempting to figure out what is causing the more debilitating infection there, and so getting a better idea as to whether the relatively mild infections to date elsewhere might become more serious in the future.

    As you say, Jarbury and Blue Peter, people do die of flu every day – this family of viruses is a serious health problem in the world. But the bigger risk (actually a certainty, but with uncertain timing) is that the world will experience more pandemics of influenza type illnesses that cause much higher mortality. This doesn’t look like it, but could become it.

    Health authorities therefore face a difficult balancing act here: they need people to keep calm and sensible, with a realistic perpective on risk, while at the same time preparing to cope with the worst realistic scenario. For example, suggestion that the response has been over the top would certainly change if new infections started to be seen in NZ with the Mexican characteristics. On the other hand, some people don’t think the response has been fast enough or vigorous enough.

  50. Government heath agencies have confirmed a widespread Wine Flu outbreak as a nation of drinkers wait anxiously for further information to be released.

    Thought to have started as an adverse reaction to the pandemic of substandard wine offers flooding the New Zealand market, Wine Flu is a fast acting virus that makes sufferers unable to stomach cheap, nasty wine again.

    Symptoms of Wine Flu include cold sweats, hangovers and nausea but a Government Official reassured drinkers by announcing that simple steps can be taken to stop the spread of the virus.

    “Sufferers must refrain from buying cheap, low quality wine and switch to cheap good wine immediately. We recommend http://www.knockedofflabourpartypartywine.org.nz as a source of an immediate antidote. Anyone who does not have Internet access should contact their local hospital for a Wine Flu inoculation, tailored specifically for their wine tastes.”

  51. What’s the big deal?

    People die of the flu every day – healthy people, too.

    The question is:

    Are we seeing more healthy people die of this flu than other types of flu? Are are those numbers significant?

    The media reporting on this issue has been absolutely shocking. A prime example of why TVNZ should be sold off. What public good is it serving? If anything, I’d regard their coverage as disinformation.

    So why am I paying for it?

  52. Whether we like it or not, pharmacists in NZ have the ability to prescribe medication and pharmacies are where people who need medical attention in NZ gravitate to when they are ill.

    The only thing that makes sense in a pre-pandemic situation is to locate the CBAC’s you speak of existing at medical facilities or at the pharmacies themselves, or next door.

    It is insane to try and change habitual behaviour of large populations when they are under stress. I know this because I have planned for and responded to pandemics across two continents and three cultures.

    Cost is an issue that needs addressing, and so is the idea of making it available without a prescription, which will inevitably lead to misuse.

    What a shambles!

  53. Look this is all a big fuss about nothing. If you get Swine ‘Flu, just smoke heavily, take a salt bath … and you’ll be cured.

  54. “and was shown to knock off otherwise healthy and fit people I would start getting worried.”

    Actually, that is exactly what it is doing which is the concern. There is certainly something to be worried about.
    The other possibility is that the current virus could mutate further, and become much more pathogenic to humans.

  55. What I don’t get is that swine flu doesn’t sound particularly dangerous – in that it kills a very low percentage of people that get infected by it. Sure it spread like crazy, but so does normal flu and so do colds, surely we wouldn’t be getting in a panic over a “cold epidemic”?

    Between 500,000 and 1 million people die each year from normal flu – so I imagine that in the time we’ve had this freak out over swine flu a heck of a lot more people have died from normal flu than from swine flu. So what’s the panic about (I ask again)?

    If swine flu had a higher kill rate, and was shown to knock off otherwise healthy and fit people I would start getting worried. The only sign of that possibly being the case was Radio NZ’s interview with a NZer in Mexico who said it was “really nasty” when he had it. I’m yet to be convinced this isn’t a giant case of scaremongering by a bored media.

  56. >>bringing them into contact with others and potentially spreading the disease.

    Internet/Mail order.

    >>Maybe we need to have district nurses visiting people with suspected flu in their own homes, able to diagnose, prescribe and dispense.

    Paid for by whom, I wonder?

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