WHO reports more severe swine flu
The World Health Organization declared that a new severe form of swine flu is infecting healthy, young people and is attacking the lungs directly. Several countries are reporting that nearly 15 percent of the patients affected by swine flu need intensive care.
This new form of the H1N1 virus is far more severe than the seasonal influenza virus and can cause respiratory failure. Unlike previous cases, young and healthy people are getting infected by this virus and require extra, specialized care that can prove to be very expensive. WHO is warning countries in the northern hemisphere to be prepared for a second round of the pandemic and it also believes that the number of swine flu cases in tropical countries will soon increase.
Imaging exposes many to radiation
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, at least four million Americans below 65 years of age are exposed to high levels of radiation because of medical imaging tests each year. Around 400,000 of these patients receive doses of radiation that are higher than the permitted radiation levels for nuclear power plant workers or others working with radioactive materials.
Such imaging tests are generally prescribed by doctors to check for the accumulation of plaque in the blood and to check how well the heart pumps blood. The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that the number of patients undergoing CT scans has increased four times over the period of 10 years from 1995 to 2005. In light of these new findings, doctors believe that soon there will be many more cases of cancer in the country.
Source: The New York Times
West Nile virus migrates to Europe
Scientists have discovered the harmful West Nile virus for the first time in mosquitoes in Switzerland. Aedes japonicus has colonized an area of 540 square miles in central Switzerland. The mosquito was previously found in Japan, Korea, China, North America, France, and Belgium. However, this is the first time that the mosquito has been found in Switzerland.
The mosquito is capable of transmitting Japanese encephalitis and the West Nile virus, both of which can cause serious harm to humans and are potentially fatal. Last year, the West Nile virus killed 44 people in the United States alone.
Source: Associated Press
H1N1 deaths highest in Brazil
A total of 557 people have died because of swine flu in Brazil. This is the highest number of deaths recorded anywhere in the world. Nearly 1800 people have died across the world because of the disease and 522 have died in the United States.
As of now, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and the United States have the most cases of swine flu. Argentina has the highest swine flu mortality rate — which is calculated by considering the total population of the country and the number of deaths — while Brazil has the seventh highest and the United States the 13th highest.