Public Health

The Latest: No 'Emergency" Meetings Planned At WHO

Good morning.

Among the stories making headlines already today:

— Reuters — No "Emergency Committee" Meetings Planned: "The World Health Organization has not currently scheduled any meetings of its emergency committee, spokesman Thomas Abraham said today. The emergency committee can recommend to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan whether to change the WHO's pandemic alert level, which was raised on Wednesday to phase 5 on a 6-point scale, indicating a flu pandemic is imminent."

The Washington Post — "Many States Do Not Meet Readiness Standards": "More than two dozen states, including Maryland, as well as the District, have not stocked enough of the emergency supplies of antiviral medications considered necessary to treat victims of swine flu should the outbreak become a full-blown crisis, according to federal records."

The New York Times — Americans' Daily Lives Are Changing: "Around the nation, drugstores have sold out of surgical masks. Schools have closed, sports games have been called off, and doctors' offices — and their phone lines — are jammed. The truly anxious confess that they are trying to avoid touching elevator buttons, library books and the knobs on bathroom sinks. As the number of confirmed swine flu cases in this country continued to rise to over 100 on Thursday, precautions over the illness — many of which appeared to be overreactions — were beginning to affect the daily lives of tens of thousands of people, even in states where the flu has yet to be found."

— NPR.org — Researchers Are Piecing Together The Flu's Profile: "Scientists are beginning to answer some basic biological questions about the new swine flu virus. But they still don't know enough to predict whether the virus poses a major threat to public health, or just a minor one. One reason for the uncertainty is that it's still unclear whether this virus is a type that kills a lot of the people it infects."

The Wall Street Journal — Origin Might Be In California, Not Mexico: "A picture is now emerging of how U.S. and Mexican officials, with a key assist from a Canadian government lab, first realized they faced a new type of disease and began racing to isolate its earliest origins. Until recently, Mexico was widely assumed to be ground zero. Now, however, some California doctors are questioning that. The four earliest confirmed cases are divided evenly between California and Mexico. In fact, it appears two children in California got sick in late March, several days before the first two known Mexico cases in early April."

— BBC News — It May Be A "Fairly Mild Strain," But Might Evolve Into Something Else: "Preliminary analysis of the swine flu virus suggests it is a fairly mild strain, scientists say. It is believed that a further mutation would be needed in order for the H1N1 virus to cause the mass deaths that have been estimated by some. But at this point, it is impossible to predict with any accuracy how the virus will continue to evolve."

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