The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

April 27, 2009

swine flu – influenza A (H1N1)



Worst yet to come Edmonton Sun –  Health officials are warning Albertans to brace for a boom in the number of people who will fall severely ill with H1N1 as the virus hits its peak.

Alberta hospitals feel flu pressure Vancouver Sun

Do see also


 H1N1 vaccine will arrive too late, scientists warn Toronto Star –   Swine flu is likely to reach its epidemic peak this fall a full month before Canada has vaccines to prevent it, a major new study shows. And they were right too…

Studies: Fighting swine flu may be more manageable The Associated Press

New York Times – U.S. News & World Report – CIDRAP  – Wikipedia: 2009 flu pandemic
all 4,378 news articles »

 The news media cannot seem to portray an accurate figure of the number of people hospitalized with Swine flu in Canada?

Public health officials seriously do claim that the coming flu season will see a surge of new cases of this bad bug and that now next millions will die. Many  people area already aware that they should wash their hands to avoid spreading the flu and need a reminder.. All the latest talk in the news media is about how Stephen Harper is spending five times more money, 34 million dollars and likely to his friends too,  promoting his infrastructure spending than on the public health campaign is also a  reminder people that Health Canada is already mailing out to various native communities body bags as well.  Many people rightfully do  think that more should be done to help the public avoid this terrible affliction but PM Stephen Harper as usual is  using his office to play political games instead of really looking  after the good welfare of us all. Doing now hypocritically in office what he in opposition bashed the others for doing too.  Unacceptable. Tell him I said so as well.

A survey of people hospitalized because of swine flu in California has found that obesity was almost as common in them as diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy, all conditions known to raise a person’s risk of complications from influenza. Previously healthy patients around the age of 40 have a high at risk of becoming severely ill with swine flu, a Canadian study suggests.While most seasonal flu viruses hit children and the elderly the hardest, swine flu is atypical in that its most virulent cases appear to occur amongst otherwise healthy adults, according to a study by the Canadian Critical Care Trial Group. “It’s worrisome” .  

In Canada, 71 people have died from the H1N1 virus, according to the latest numbers from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Nearly 1,400 Canadians have been hospitalized, 240 of whom were admitted to an intensive care unit, as of Aug. 8.2009  Earlier this week, the World Health Organization reported 1,799 deaths from the pandemic since the new virus was uncovered in April.

*Study bolsters evidence new H1N1  flu, swine flu, came from pigs.  The new H1N1 virus, which has caused the first pandemic of the 21st century, appears to have been circulating undetected among pigs for years, researchers reported on Thursday. Although health officials have been watching for new influenza viruses in humans, animal health regulators have missed the opportunity to check swine, the researchers reported. *Researchers say swine surveillance neglected   
We found that the common ancestor of the (new H1N1) outbreak and the closest related swine viruses existed between 9.2 and 17.2 years ago, depending on the genomic segment, hence the ancestors of the epidemic have been circulating undetected for about a decade,” they wrote. “Thus, this genomic structure may have been circulating in pigs for several years before emergence in humans,” they added.
  OTTAWA – June 6, 2009 Canada’s caseload of the new swine flu virus has topped the 2,000 mark. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the number of cases since April now stands at 2,115, including three deaths. Since Wednesday there have been 320 new cases reported, about half of those in Ontario. Ontario reported 184 new cases since Wednesday, pushing the provincial total to 1,078, more than twice as many as any other province. Quebec has had 437 cases. Saskatchewan has the third highest swine flu numbers at 179. Ontario also had a similar-sized spike in its total number of cases earlier this week, with 179 reported between Monday and Wednesday.  There is still a need to be vigilant.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Alta. — Arnold Van Ginkel says his flu-stricken Alberta hog farm and his livelihood are hanging in limbo while the government dithers over what to do with his 2,200 pigs.
 For the 37-year-old farmer, a Dutch immigrant, the solution is simple: destroy all the animals and compensate him for his loss. “I think they should depopulate the herd as soon as possible and give me compensation for the animals, give me compensation for the loss of income and everybody can go back to normal life,” Van Ginkel said Monday.” Money from a stingy, cheap Albertan Government? dream on.. they will sell the sick pigs first likely instead. 
Entire Alta. herd of 3,000 hogs culled due to lingering effects of swine flu Sun Jun 7, 7:09 PM  ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Alta. – A central Alberta pig farmer whose herd was infected with the new swine flu virus culled his entire herd last week, according to a news release issued by Alberta Pork on Sunday.  The farmer, Arnold Van Ginkel, said the virus was still present in his herd and the animals couldn’t be marketed because they were under quarantine and he was facing a problem with overcrowding.

Pregnant women are at higher risk for A/H1N1 flu because pregnancy weakens a woman’s immune system, according to doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


WE ALL  CANNOT TRUST THE RCMP, or Stephen Harper, Lawyers, our politicians   ‘OTTAWA, CALGARY, TORONTO — Farmers debated culls and Canadian politicians dished out pork yesterday as pig producers faced a consumer-confidence crisis brought on by a new flu strain that has passed from swine to humans and back again.

“What is clear is that there is no concern about the safety of pork,” Jurgen Preugschas, chair of the Canadian Pork Council, said as MPs and staffers wolfed down pulled-pork sandwiches served by federal cabinet ministers in a courtyard of Parliament Hill’s East Block. Mr. Preugschas urged Canadian families to eat pork and help pig farmers who have seen their meagre profits whittled away by fears that the A/H1N1 virus could somehow be passed through the food chain. But the public-relations gesture that filled political bellies was undermined when a World Health Organization official was quoted by Reuters yesterday saying that meat from pigs infected with the new virus shouldn’t be consumed.’ 

In an e-mail exchange with The Globe and Mail, the director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases cautioned consumers against eating meat from sick or dead pigs infected with swine flu because the virus may survive the freezing process. “Almost all microorganisms, including most viruses, can to some degree survive freezing,” Jorgen Schlundt said. But Dr. Schlundt stressed that influenza viruses are not known to be transmissible to people through eating COOKED pork. “Heat treatments commonly used in cooking meat will readily inactivate any viruses potentially present in raw meat products,” he added.

 Jorgen Schlundt, director of the World Health Organisation’s Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases, said care must be taken to ensure that pigs and their meat were checked for all diseases, including the H1N1 virus that may be present in the blood of infected animals.

“Meat from sick pigs or pigs found dead should not be processed or used for human consumption under any circumstances,” he told Reuters.  It is possible for flu viruses such as the new H1N1 strain to survive the freezing process and be present in thawed meat, as well as in blood, the expert said. But he stressed that there was no risk of infection from eating or handling pork so long as normal precautions were adhered to.  “While it is possible for influenza viruses to survive the freezing process and be present on thawed meat, there are no data available on the survival of Influenza A/H1N1 on meat nor any data on the infectious dose for people,” he wrote in an email reply to questions from Reuters about risks from the respiratory secretions and blood of infected pigs.  Schlundt said it was still unclear whether and how long the virus, which is commonly known as swine flu but also contains human and avian flu pieces, would be present in the blood and meat-juices of animals which contracted it. “The likelihood of influenza viruses to be in the blood of an infected animal depends on the specific virus. Blood (and meat-juice) from influenza H1N1-infected pigs may potentially contain virus, but at present, this has not been established,” he said. The WHO has urged veterinarians, farm hands and slaughterhouse workers to exercise caution in their contact with pigs to avoid contamination until more is known about how it manifests in the animals.  “In general, we recommend that persons involved in activities where they could come in contact with large amounts of blood and secretions, such as those slaughtering/eviscerating pigs, wear appropriate protective equipment,” Schlundt said.



The World Health Organization said Friday it has confirmed 2,500 cases worldwide in 25 countries. Forty-four deaths have been confirmed in Mexico and two in the United States.  Briand, acting director of the global influenza program, said results from Mexico suggest there are two main groups of people who have died from swine flu.  Most were individuals with other underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes, tuberculosis or cardiovascular disease. However, some patients who died were otherwise healthy young people whose health quickly deteriorated after catching swine flu. Most such patients died from acute pneumonia

The microbes mutate easily and have morphed into dangerous strains. The most devastating pandemic began in 1918 and is estimated to have killed as many as 100 million people worldwide. So when reports emerged from Mexico of a new virus that most people might have no immunity against, and that appeared to be spreading easily from person to person, the world went on high alert. The current virus could mutate at any moment to become more lethal. The 1918 flu began with a mild spring wave, followed by a devastating return in the fall. “We’re dancing with this virus right now, and no one knows what will be the next step that the virus will take,” Osterholm said. “All of us have to understand that we are not done with this dance yet it – not by a long shot.”

World Health Organization announced that it will henceforth refer to this flu as influenza A (H1N1)   Canadian health officials  American officials changed their nomenclature  too. 

 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advice on protecting yourself against swine flu:
— Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue in the trash.
— Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are also effective.
— Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That’s a major route of entry into your body.
–Try to avoid close contact with sick people or those in close contact with sick people.
–The virus can remain on objects previously touched by infected people, so regular hand washing is very important.
— Influenza is thought to spread from the coughing or sneezing of infected people.
— If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them

With fears deepening Wednesday over the outbreak of swine flu  – influenza A (H1N1) around the world, at least 10 countries — from China to Russia to Ukraine to Ecuador — have established bans on the importing of all pork products, despite a declaration from the World Health Organization that the virus cannot be transmitted by eating COOKED pork. “There is no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products,” the W.H.O. said in a statement.  Swine flu has sickened at least 2,500 people in Mexico, and all 159 deaths believed attributable to the flu have occurred there. Outside Mexico, several countries reported new cases. The W.H.O. has documented 64 cases in the United States and six in Canada.

 EDMONTON – Alberta’s chief medical officer has finally confirmed two mild cases of swine flu – influenza A (H1N1) -one in Calgary and the other in the northern part of the province. Dr. Andre Corriveau says both individuals are male and contracted the influenza virus during recent travel to Mexico.  Neither man was hospitalized.  Corriveau says the Alberta cases are similar to ones in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and across the United States in that they are not severe. there are now 235 cases in Canada and one Albertan death that the Albertan goivernment had  took a long time to admit.  

Swine flu likely to worsen in Canada, says top health official   27 Apr 2009 …  Canadians,should,expect,to,see,more,severe,cases,of,swine,flu,-influenza A (H1N1) -including CBC News.  Simply because we are seeing mild cases so far does not mean we will not next.. PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM IT ALREADY. One person in Alberta apparently0swine

An outbreak that has killed more than 100 people in Mexico was caused by a new strain of swine influenza “that can attack anyone,” Mexico’s health minister said.  ,” Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos said on April 24. The outbreak, which Mexican authorities began reporting April 18, is being investigated by public health officials throughout North America. So far, cases in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico suggest human-to-human transmission of this new swine flu virus occurred. Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed that samples from Mexico were a new strain of swine flu – influenza A (H1N1).

In the meantime, the following is a summary of frequently asked questions about swine influenza – influenza A (H1N1)  prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What is swine influenza – influenza A (H1N1)
Swine influenza (swine flu) is caused by type A influenza virus and gives pigs the flu. Swine flu viruses cause regular outbreaks of flu in pigs but death is infrequent. The viruses may circulate among pigs throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.
Viral vocabulary
Epidemic: A disease that occurs in an unusually high number of individuals in a community at the same time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that to epidemiologists the terms “epidemic” and “outbreak” basically mean the same thing, and “outbreak” is often used to avoid sensationalism. The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “A disease outbreak is the occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season. An outbreak may occur in a restricted geographical area, or may extend over several countries. It may last for a few days or weeks, or for several years.” SARS was considered an epidemic in Canada.
Pandemic: A very widespread, often global, disease. According to the World Health Organization, “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.”
Endemic: A disease that is constantly present, usually in low numbers in a population.
How many swine flu viruses are there?
Like all flu viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian, human and swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort and new ones emerge that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. Right now, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.
Can humans catch swine flu?
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans NOT TILL NOW. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs, such as children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry.
There have been documented cases of one person spreading swine flu to others. In 1988, an outbreak of apparent swine flu infection in pigs in Wisconsin resulted in multiple human infections, and although no community outbreak resulted, there was antibody evidence of virus transmission from the patient to health care workers who had close contact with the patient.
Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
  Swine flu viruses are   transmitted by food. You cannot get swine flu from eating cooked  pork or pork products. But you can get swine flu from handling, eating  uncooked pork . You can get sick from putting uncooked or undercooked pork in your mouth, and you  can get thus get swine flu.
It’s also  possible to catch swine flu from eating fruits and vegetables imported from Mexico. Swine flu — like all influenza viruses — is generally not a food-borne illness UNLESS THE FLU IS ON THE SURFACE OF THE FRUIT WHERE IT CAN LIVE FOR 3-4 WEEKS TOO..
How common is swine flu infection in humans?
How does swine flu spread?
Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with swine flu viruses are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.
Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the flu virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What is known about human-to-human spread of swine flu –  influenza A (H1N1)  ?
In September 1988, a healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman was hospitalized for pneumonia and died eight days later. A swine H1N1 flu virus was detected. Four days before getting sick, she had visited a county fair swine exhibition where there was widespread flu-like illness among the pigs.
In follow-up studies, 76 per cent of swine exhibitors tested had antibody evidence of swine flu infection but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggest that one to three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection.
How are human infections with swine flu – influenza A (H1N1) diagnosed?
To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a respiratory specimen is ideally collected within the first four to five days of illness and sent to the CDC for testing.
What medications are available to treat humans with swine flu -influenza A (H1N1)?
Four antiviral drugs are licensed for use in the United States: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine flu viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent seven swine flu viruses isolated from humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. Right now, the CDC recommends oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine flu viruses. 


What are the   symptoms of swine flu – influenza A (H1N1) in humans?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Swine flu is caused by type A influenza virus and gives pigs the flu. Swine flu viruses cause regular outbreaks of flu in pigs but death is infrequent.
Right now, there are four main influenza type A swine flu viruses that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. Most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.
Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs, such as children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry. In addition, there have been documented cases of one person spreading swine flu to others
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. (Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  

What other examples of swine flu – influenza A (H1N1)  outbreaks are there?
The most well known outbreak of swine flu was 1976 one among soldiers in Fort Dix, N.J. The virus caused illnesses in at least four soldiers and one death; all were previously healthy. The virus was transmitted in close contact at a basic training camp. It was thought to have circulated for a month and disappeared. The source of the virus, the exact time of its introduction into Fort Dix and factors limiting its spread and duration are unknown. The outbreak may have been caused by introduction of an animal virus into a stressed human population in close contact during the winter.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Trunnell and his lawyer, Marc Rosenthal, do not claim that Smithfield purposely bred the virus, but rather that its Perote operation, which raises some 1 million pigs annually in close quarters, established the necessary conditions for the virus to arise. If Smithfield had taken better care of its farm, the petition claims, H1N1 might never have been introduced to the world.

“We think that the conditions down there are a recipe for disaster,” says Rosenthal. “This type of virus is more likely to evolve and mutate in this much filth and putrescence. It’s more than a mere coincidence that the first cases emerged right there in La Gloria, Mexico.”

H1N1 Virus: The First Legal Action Targets a Pig Farm

In an initial step toward what could be the first wrongful-death suit of its kind, Texas resident Steven Trunnell has filed a petition against Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, based in Virginia, and the owner of a massive pig farm in Perote, Mexico, near the village of La Gloria, where the earliest cases of the new H1N1 flu were detected.

Trunnell filed the petition in his home state on behalf of his late wife, Judy Dominguez Trunnell, the 33-year-old special-education teacher who on May 4 became the first U.S. resident to die of H1N1 flu. New viruses have emerged from animals to infect and kill humans for thousands of years, and while today’s factory-farming conditions may raise that risk,

Cooked pork is no threat but live pigs can get influenza as easily as people do and people, ( so wash your hands when you deal with uncooked pork)  and pigs can sometimes pass viruses back and forth. Gerardo Nava of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and colleagues reported that their genetic analysis also pointed to North American swine as a potential source of the new virus.


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