And now it’s here

Yes, H1N1 “Mexico” flu is in South Africa: from the Mail & Guardian of 18th June.

H1N1 flu virus in the country, the Department of Health said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the results of laboratory tests confirmed the case in the early hours of Thursday. [after apparently having shown signs of fever in Atlanta! – Ed R]

Hadebe said the patient, a 12-year-old child, arrived in South Africa from the United States on Sunday.

The child had flu-like symptoms and was admitted to a private hospital on Monday morning.

“The patient was kept in isolation and discharged after a few days in hospital. He is well and recovering in isolation at home,” he said.

“All contacts have been followed up and given necessary advice and treatment.”

The case was dealt with in accordance with the World Health Organisation and the health department guidelines, Hadebe said.

More details were not immediately available.

Last week, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a pandemic. – Sapa 

 Latest news on the global front from ProMED:

As of 07:00 GMT+2 today [22 Jun 2009], there have been a total of 52 160 cases with 231 deaths attributable to influenza A(H1N1) infection confirmed to WHO from 92 countries. New countries that have confirmed cases and reported to WHO since the last update (19 Jun 2009) include: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji and Slovenia.

In addition, according to newswires, new countries reporting cases since the release of the daily WHO summary include Antigua and Iran.

There are still newswires mentioning confirmation of 2 cases of H1N1 in Ethiopia, but official confirmation to WHO is still pending. In addition, there are newswires mentioning suspected cases in Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), but until there is mention of laboratory confirmation, these should be viewed as suspected cases and not confirmed cases. – Mod.MPP

So it’s in Africa for sure, and probably quite widespread.  In the Nature issue of the 11th June, Erika Check Hayden had this to say concerning the southern hemisphere flu season which is presently upon us:

People in poor nations already suffer from a higher incidence of conditions, such as malnutrition and HIV, that make them more vulnerable to the new virus. In addition, they are likely to be left out of the global scramble for a vaccine, which has already started as nations such as the United States and Britain rush to tie up vaccine contracts.

But perhaps the biggest global challenge is arriving now, as the Southern Hemisphere enters its flu season and swine flu threatens many of the least-ready countries. “In general, the developing countries are not prepared,” Oshitani says. The World Bank has released billions of dollars for preparedness in these regions, but many developing nations still do not have plans for dealing with a pandemic — and some that do have simply cut and pasted versions of plans from developed countries, which do not apply to poorer nations unable to afford vaccines and antivirals. 

Which is nothing new to readers of this blog…but alarming all over again.

Good news – potentially – comes from the realms of vaccine pharming: at the Plant-Based Vaccines and Antibodies meeting in Verona recently, Marc-Andre D’Aoust of Medicago Inc and Vidadi Yusibov of Fraunhofer USA detailed how they had managed to produce pilot batches of several grams of purified pandemic H1N1 HA protein from plants, in less than a month from obtaining the sequence.

I know I’d eat the plant directly, if it’d keep the flu away – but that’s just me.  Don’t try this at home…!

5 Responses to “And now it’s here”

  1. And now it’s here | swine flu pandemic Says:

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  2. Dorian McILROY Says:

    Don’t know if you’ve seen Science this week, but there’s an analysis of the start of the pandemic in Mexico. The authors reckon there are many more actual cases than the WHO lab-confirmed figures. They estimate a 0.4% case mortality rate. So if there are 1 billion people infected this year that makes …….


  3. H1N1 – view on a pandemic « ViroBlogy Says:

    […] culture; people (including us!) are investigating making recombinant subunit vaccines in plants (see here) – and there is at least the tantalising possibility that “universal vaccines” may […]

  4. Lassa, come home! « ViroBlogy Says:

    […] similar to previously reported work on Rift Valley fever VLPs made in insect cells, and HPAI and pandemic influenza HA-containing VLPs made in […]

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