Beware the Flu, Part Three

Flu season is in full, deadly swing in the U.S., with terrible stories popping up; like this 6-year-old child who died soon after paramedics told her parents that trouble breathing was a common symptom of the flu and to keep her hydrated. Her parents also want people to know that their daughter did not receive a flu vaccine and they are encouraging children to be vaccinated. While this year’s flu vaccine is not a perfect match, it can still reduce the severity of the symptoms.

The flu is so rampant it led to a misdiagnosis for this woman, who actually has necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh eating bacterial infection. The woman is expected to survive, but doctors had to remove 30% of the skin on the left side of her body.

Hospitals in California have had to set up giant medical tents intended for major disasters to handle the influx of patients.

“It’s like trying to surf a tsunami,” said Dr. Brian Johnston, an emergency medicine doctor at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights. “Maybe the wave has crested, one hopes.”

Another complication to this year’s flu is that many of the IV saline bags used to treat flu patients are made in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Hospitals have resorted to two other methods: the “IV push” in which a nurse directly injects the drugs into an IV line (time consuming), and using “an old-fashioned system known as a buretrol device”, also time consuming because many younger nurses need to be trained in this outdated method.

There are only a handful of manufacturers in the US, and one of them – Baxter International – has all of its mini-bag factories in Puerto Rico…Though the federal government has worked with Baxter to get the plants back online, and to allow it to import IV fluids from abroad, serious shortages persist.

Earlier:
Beware the Flu
Beware the Flu, Part Two

1,893 cases of Influenza A (H1N1) Infection World-wide

Updates:

“Although very few Americans have developed serious swine flu complications, those who have are surprisingly young, United States health officials said Wednesday.

Across the United States, the number of confirmed cases rose to 642 in 41 states, up from 408 on Tuesday. Illinois now has the most confirmed cases, with 122, surpassing New York with 97.

Dr. Besser said that might be because Illinois was testing more. He said that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, on a visit to the C.D.C. earlier, had been asked by a reporter why New York had been surpassed, and had answered: “You want 200 more cases? We’ll test 200 more people.”

At a W.H.O. news conference, Marie-Paule Kieny, chief of the W.H.O.’s vaccine research initiative, estimated that the world’s vaccine makers had the capacity to make a maximum of 1.2 billion doses of a new H1N1 vaccine within six months after getting a seed vaccine, which the C.D.C. is now working on.”

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Look to the South

So the H1N1 virus is not a big deal anymore, right?  Not according to this article, which has some pretty scary things to say.

“The Southern Hemisphere has been mostly spared in the swine flu epidemic. That could change when winter starts in coming weeks with no vaccine in place, leaving half the planet out in the cold.

Experts fear public health systems could be overwhelmed — especially if swine flu and regular flu collide in major urban populations.

“You have this risk of an additional virus that could essentially cause two outbreaks at once,” Dr. Jon Andrus said at the Pan American Health Organization’s headquarters in Washington.

There’s also a chance that the two flus could collide and mutate into a new strain that is more contagious and dangerous.

“We have a concern there might be some sort of reassortment and that’s something we’ll be paying special attention to,” World Health Organization spokesman Dick Thompson said in Geneva.

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