T Nation

A New Pandemic



Travel advisory warns of severe respiratory illness in Mexico
20 die from severe respiratory illness in Mexico
Last Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 9:57 PM ET Comments170Recommend327CBC News
There's no reason for Canadians to change plans to travel to Mexico, Dr. Allison McGeer says. (CBC)Canadians who have recently returned from Mexico should be on alert for flu-like symptoms that could be connected to a severe respiratory illness, federal health officials said Thursday in issuing a travel advisory.

A severe respiratory illness appears to have infected 137 people in south and central areas of Mexico, with cases concentrated in Mexico City and three other areas, including 20 deaths, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

In the United States, health officials in Texas and California were scrambling this week to deal with a new strain of swine flu, which has been diagnosed in seven people.

The states share a border with Mexico not far from a town where two deaths were reported.

The U.S. cases are unusual, because it appears none of the patients had contact with pigs, and the virus is one that health officials have never seen before.

No cases of this swine flu have yet been found in Canada. The country's national laboratory in Winnipeg is analyzing 51 samples from Mexico to determine if any of them are swine flu and are linked to the U.S. cases. Results are expected in two days.

New virus raises spectre of pandemic
If the link is made, it may signal the emergence of a new pandemic virus, infection control specialist Dr. Michael Gardam, told CBC News in an interview Thursday night.

"It certainly is suspicious that you have a new strain of swine flu showing up just north of the Mexican border, and you have an outbreak of cases south in Mexico," he said.

"We already have the Americans talking about the H1N1 strain, which is a new strain they haven't seen before .? If you had evidence that this strain was also in Mexico, you would have further evidence that something new has shown up which has the ability to go person-to-person and has crossed borders as well."

However, there is no reason to panic, said Gardam.

"A pandemic virus basically means a virus that is going to affect a large proportion of the population. It doesn't mean they're going to get necessarily all that sick."

In Canada, the travel advisory includes the same advice given to all travellers ? to get a flu shot and take precautions such as covering coughs and staying home when sick ? but also adds locations in Mexico where cases of a severe respiratory illness have occurred.

The agency has also warned medical officials across the country to be on the lookout for patients with severe respiratory problems.

However, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq also stressed that there is no reason for Canadians to panic.

"Canadians aren't threatened by this situation," Aglukkaq said, "but we need to work with our partners to monitor the situation carefully because it is a concern to us."

Public health officials in Ontario have monitored about 10 people who recently returned from Mexico, with the numbers changing by the hour.

"We haven't had any that have been directly tied," said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's acting chief medical officer of health. "We will continue to look, any case that has any remote possibility of connection, we want to see if we can connect those dots correctly."

Cause of illness unknown
"We are not sure where this is in Mexico, but it's not the tourist area," said Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

The deaths were mostly men between the ages of 25 and 44, according to an advisory sent out by federal health authorities.

Hundreds of people have also reportedly been hospitalized and health-care workers have also been infected.

Officials said there are not yet any reports of the illness outside Mexico.

Alberto Lozano, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa, said doctors in his country are on top of the outbreak.

"This is pretty serious situation. But on the other hand, it is not an epidemic, so preventive measures have been taken to reduce the risk of contagion in Mexico."

The cause of the illness has not been confirmed. Mexican health officials said samples so far have tested positive for influenza A and B.

The working hypothesis is that the cases could be a late-season surge in seasonal influenza, said McGeer, noting most of the illnesses in Mexico have not been serious and there has been nothing new in the last five or six days.

People infected with the virus initially suffer flu-like symptoms that include:

Sore throat.
Muscle and joint pain.
Shortness of breath.
The illness may elevate to a severe respiratory illness within about five days.

Testing samples
Anyone who has returned from Mexico within the last two weeks and is suffering similar symptoms is asked to contact a physician.

"Until somebody tells us we don't have to worry anymore, these are viruses we want to collect," said McGeer.

"What we do want to do is identify if there's some new virus, and the way to do that is for people to get a test if they get a respiratory illness, but it's only in the first few days after you've come back."

Mexican health authorities said that many of those diagnosed with the illness have had to be put on ventilators.

There's no reason for Canadians to change their plans to travel to Mexico, McGeer said.

Public health officials in Canada advise travellers to ensure their vaccinations are up to date before flying, to be careful about washing their hands, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when feeling sick.


is all over the news here. 8 people got it in the US and have recovered. They are putting numbers here at 60 dead and 1,000 infected though they still haven't tested to be sure that it is the same thing they have.

So far seems to be pretty much confined to DF where they have closed schools and public buildings, though with 20 million people in the city it could be bad.

No cases reported so far in my state Guanajuato.


Yeah, we're excited.

I've had some that I thought would be "the one" over the years but they've all eventually fizzled out on me.

I'm hoping this is The Big One, though. Got my fingers crossed. See y'all in Vegas later this year.

Well, a few of y'all anyways.


What a disaster it would be if there's a sizable outbreak in mexico city....that's a frightening thought. I hope not.


I'm hoping that the press building it up so much will help to contain things however you can't help thinking that it only takes one contageus person visiting DF and bringing it back for it to spread.

I know of at least 5 friends and workmates who were supposed to be heading to DF for the weekend.

The really concerning thing is that it is healthy 20 - 40 year old people who are getting sick.


Yeah, but also within the city itself it could spread like wildfire with all those people livingly so densely together. Like tinder to a spark.

re: young, especially males being the most susceptible - that was true of the 1918 virus too, apparently.


Mexico?s Calderon Declares Emergency Amid Swine Flu Outbreak

By Thomas Black

April 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an emergency in his country?s swine flu outbreak, giving him powers to order quarantines and suspend public events.

Authorities have canceled school at all levels in Mexico City and the state of Mexico until further notice, and the government has shut most public and government activities in the area. The emergency decree, published today in the state gazette, gives the president authority to take more action.

?The federal government under my charge will not hesitate a moment to take all, all the measures necessary to respond with efficiency and opportunity to this respiratory epidemic,? Calderon said today during a speech to inaugurate a hospital in the southern state of Oaxaca.

At least 20 deaths in Mexico from the disease are confirmed, Health Minister Jose Cordova said yesterday. The strain is a variant of H1N1 swine influenza that has also sickened at least eight people in California and Texas. As many as 68 deaths may be attributed to the virus in Mexico, and about 1,000 people in the Mexico City area are showing symptoms of the illness, Cordoba said.

Obama?s Visit

The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama?s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico?s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn?t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not.

The Mexican government is distributing breathing masks to curtail the disease?s spread. There is no vaccine against the new strain of swine flu, health authorities said.

Museums, theaters and other venues in the Mexico City area, where large crowds gather, have shut down voluntarily and concerts and other events canceled to help contain the disease. Two professional soccer games will be played tomorrow in different Mexico City stadiums without any fans, El Universal newspaper reported. Catholic masses will be held, the newspaper said, although church officials urged worshipers to wear breath masks and to avoid contact.

Schools will likely remain closed next week, Calderon said in the Oaxaca speech. The decree allows Calderon to regulate transportation, enter any home or building for inspection, order quarantines and assign any task to all federal, state and local authorities as well as health professionals to combat the disease.

?The health of Mexicans is a cause that we?re defending with unity and responsibility,? Calderon said. ?I know that although it?s a grave problem, a serious problem, we?re going to overcome it.?

Normal Airport Operations

Mexico City?s international airport, which handles about 70,000 passengers each day, is operating normally, said Victor Mejia, a spokesman. Passengers are given a questionnaire asking if they have flu symptoms and recommending they cancel their trip and see a doctor if they do. The measures are voluntary, Mejia said, and no case of swine flu in airport passengers, workers or visitors has been confirmed.

Authorities throughout Central America have issued alerts to prevent the outbreak from spreading. Guatemala ordered tighter control yesterday of its northern border with Mexico, according to EFE. Gerberth Morales, who?s heading the Guatemala government?s response, said no cases of swine flu have been reported in his country, the Spanish news agency reported.

Brazil is intensifying vigilance in ports, airports and borders to check travelers? health, luggage, aircrafts and ships in a preventive action against the outbreak in Mexico, the Agency for Sanitary Vigilance said on its Web site.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Monterrey at tblack@bloomberg.net



LOL! I loved that book. King is a deeply religious guy.

If this is the big one, I choose Boulder; got a vacation home out that way. Anyway, who is John Galt?






CDC says too late to contain U.S. flu outbreak 24 Apr 2009
Source: Reuters
WASHINGTON, April 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it was too late to contain the swine flu outbreak in the United States.

CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser told reporters in a telephone briefing it was likely too late to try to contain the outbreak, by vaccinating, treating or isolating people.

"There are things that we see that suggest that containment is not very likely," he said.




We have two disasters, both occurring in the beginning of an untried president's administration, both of which will require massive and rapid expansion of government powers to contain (with the overwhelming approval of the citizenry), and both seemingly inspired by Steven King novels.

The Bush administration liked The Running Man. The current administration clearly prefers The Stand.

I'm going to start calling this flu virus "Captain Trips."


All this time I've been fuckin around with stupid birds and getting nowhere.

This whole pig thing was just a very fortunate accident, really.


Ain't seen The Stand, but I remember V for Vendetta...


Same principle.

And if you're wondering why humans are so susceptible to swine flu, this evolutionary chart should explain things.


Real literary crowd here.


Nice Varquanir! All animals are equal, some are more equal than others.


Looks like they found the source of the outbreak:


So Randall, now I'm curious. Do you only post when new strains of flu start spreading?

Or will you also post on other non-flu related threads that afford an opportunity to inject quotes from Stephen King novels?

Shall there be truth between us, as two men? Not as friends, but as equals? There is an offer you will get rarely.

Only equals speak the truth, that's my thought on't. Friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of regard. How tiresome!


Wasn't this supposed to hold off until Dec 21, 2012 or is that something else altogether?