The Relentless Advance of the Influenza A H1N1 Virus the Pandemic of 2009?
Eric LaMont Gregory
In February of this year hundreds of residents of La Gloria, Mexico began coming down with unusually virulent flu-like symptoms. State health officials visited the small Mexican town of 3000 inhabitants and found almost 500 people ill with the flu. Tests revealed that they were suffering from a strain of the flu designated H3N2, these tests in light of the fact that the first confirmed fatality to the H1N1 virus came from La Gloria, are subject to re-examination.
On the 6th of April a team of Washington State based bio-surveillance analysts reported to the CDC and the WHO that there was an unusually high spike in the occurrence of upper respiratory illness in La Gloria. It would be 18 days later, 24 April before CDC officials would raise the alarm. By this time the flu epidemic had taken hold in nearby Mexico City where to this date there have been some 160 deaths, with 2500 people hospitalized with severe cases of respiratory disease.
The new strain is an apparent viral subunit reassortment of four strains of influenza A virus subtype H1N1. Analysis at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the four component strains as one endemic in humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in pigs (swine).There are over 300 schools now closed in the United States and new confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu being reported by the hour, from Massachusetts to Milwaukee.On 10 January 2006, this author in an article published in the Middletown Journal ‘Will ‘fortress America’ beat avian flu?, proposed a scenario that a flu epidemic might follow.
The CDC reported that during the 2007-08 flu seasons, 10.9 percent of influenza A H1N1 viruses tested in the United States were resistant to oseltamivir. However, oseltamivir can be used to treat the other influenza subtype circulating in the US this year H3N2, Antiviral medication is effective only when started within 48 hours of illness onset. Best estimates are that the flu outbreak in La Gloria, Mexico had been building for some 50 days before the extent of the problem became evident, this would make the onset of the outbreak about the first of February 2009.
March 30 - Week 1
First confirmed cases of H1N1 in the U.S. were in Southern California and near Guadalupe County, Texas, and by the end of week 5 cases had rose to 141 and 286 as of 11am Eastern Daylight Time on the 1st and 4th of May, respectively. This may prove to be a straight line progression growth pattern with the number of cases doubling every few days.
May 5 - Week 6
At the end of week eight there were 5,764 confirmed cases of the H1N1 influenza in the United States. Illinois and Wisconsin having 794 and 766 cases respectively. This accounts for 27% of all cases confirmed in the US. When Texas (556), Califirnia (553), Arizona (488), Washington State (411), and New York Sate are add, these seven states account for two-thirds (3,852) of all cases of the H1N1 flu in the USA. The progression line continues on an direct climb with no anticipated curvature calculable. What we are witnessing is one of the basic truisms of disease spread, that is, disease travels with migration. A question arose at a CDC press conference.
The CDC chief executive was asked to confirm that the new flu virus is composed of four flu strains, 1 strain endemic in humans, 1 endemic in birds, and 2 endemic in pigs. The chief executive confirmed that the four strains identified were all present in the new H1N1 flu virus. The next question caught the chief executive off-gaurd. Was this virus made in a laboratory, or was it manufactured in nature? While that is a good question, a question that might help guide oyr approach to containing the virus that has not been answered is - how common is it to have two or more varieties of the influenza virus in circulation ijn the same season at the same time? That answer to that question will elucidate whether H1N1 was manufactured in a laboratory, or in nature.
May 25 - Week 9June 15 - Week 12 July 13 - Week 16