Why are the schools closing and other good H1N1 links...

Over at DailyKos, DemfromCT has an excellent post explaining why it may be beneficial for schools to close temporarily, even if they only have one confirmed case of swine influenza: H1N1: Why Do Schools Close, And When Do They Open?

DarkSyde also has one up on the basic biology and evolution of the flu.

Nick Kristof discusses our lack of attention to public health and what it means in the event of a pandemic in today's NY Times.

[Updated: and via the comment theads, this post which further discusses what I mentioned here regarding testing--and how the confirmed cases are only the tip of the iceberg (complete with diagram!).

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Hi Tara,
Betwixt you and 'Effect Measure' I feel concerned but less worried. I am 54 years old and have Sarcoidosis. If I get a cold or flu I get Pneumonia. My immune system just loves to work overtime with ANY insults. That this has less risk of a Cytokine Cascade and that old farts like myself (born in 1955) might have a little experiential immunity enhances my getting through this. I might be respiratory compromised, but in the expression of symptoms, I expect if exposed it hacchhs a survivable effect on me. I am greatly concerned though about younger health care workers. Other than an e-mail my hospital is not reinforcing any more than basic precautions. Icchh.

By Ken Mareld (not verified) on 03 May 2009 #permalink

When the Pres. says we have no immunity to this flu bec. it is "new" - is this correct? It is my understanding that every year the flu is "new" in that it has mutated - which is why, as I have read, the flu vaccine is always out of date.

Am I right or wrong?


This particular flu is really new.. so new that only 60+ year olds are likely to have anything approaching natural immunity. NIH is currently working to define that better. But the working assumption is: no immunity for most of the population.

So far, things look mild, and that's a good thing. More data is needed to be confident about it, and monitoring is called for right through next flu season.

Off-topic, sorry...Tara, I'm looking for a website that has a table showing the complications/death rates from preventable childhood diseases (measles, mumps, etc) versus those from vaccinations. I had it on my old computer and now I can't find it and really need it as two friends are thinking they won't vaccinate their child.

I thought I might have found that table here. Are you able to help? Thanks. Again, sorry for the off-topic. dj

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 04 May 2009 #permalink

There are probably other good sites for explaining the origins of the 2009 H1N1 viruses, but this one:
is the best I have seen so far. Maybe too technical for some people.

As to Ellen's question above: every virus is "new" to some degree. It's like every human is a bit different from every other human (except identical twins) but we are all clearly human. Different strains of flu have evolved over time to be as different as humans are from dogs or cats, and yet they can still reassort to make new hybrid forms. The reasons why some of the different flu strains reassort with each other more or less easily are not yet understood. We observe more reassortments in birds than in humans or swine, but think of the diversity of birds (thousands of different species) vs. swine or humans (each just one species of mammals).

The annual flu vaccine is not "out of date" it is always carefully selected to cover the viruses currently circulating in humans, which change about 1% per year or less. The problem is that it is not "ahead of its time"; we can't know in advance what virus strains will be circulating in humans next year. It now seems quite likely that the new H1N1 virus will be one of the flu strains circulating in humans next year, and so a vaccine is already being worked on. But flu vaccine is made by growing flu virus in chicken embryos, and so far this new H1N1 virus doesn't seem to grow very well in the chicken eggs, so that may delay production a bit. The virus grown in the chicken eggs is completely in activated in producing the vaccine, it is not a "live attenuated" vaccine.

According to me, Schools shouldn't close because of swine influenza. Alright, People interactive in schools. And This increases risk of be swine influenza. But if they mask, They will be safe. My idea is this