jm + flu   5

Is America Ready for a Global Pandemic? - The Atlantic
The egg-based [vaccine manufacture] system depends on chickens, which are themselves vulnerable to flu. And since viruses can mutate within the eggs, the resulting vaccines don’t always match the strains that are circulating. But vaccine makers have few incentives to use anything else. Switching to a different process would cost billions, and why bother? Flu vaccines are low-margin products, which only about 45 percent of Americans get in a normal year. So when demand soars during a pandemic, the supply is not set to cope.

American hospitals, which often operate unnervingly close to full capacity, likewise struggled with the surge of patients. Pediatric units were hit especially hard by H1N1, and staff became exhausted from continuously caring for sick children. Hospitals almost ran out of the life-support units that sustain people whose lungs and hearts start to fail. The health-care system didn’t break, but it came too close for comfort—especially for what turned out to be a training-wheels pandemic. The 2009 H1N1 strain killed merely 0.03 percent of those it infected; by contrast, the 1918 strain had killed 1 to 3 percent, and the H7N9 strain currently circulating in China has a fatality rate of 40 percent.

That the U.S. could be so ill-prepared for flu, of all things, should be deeply concerning. The country has a dedicated surveillance web, antiviral drugs, and an infrastructure for making and deploying flu vaccines. None of that exists for the majority of other emerging infectious diseases.
vaccines  health  diseases  h1n1  flu  pandemics  future  scary 
june 2018 by jm
Boost your immunity: Cold and flu treatments suppress innate immune system
The next time you feel a cold coming on, maybe what you really want is just a little teensy bit of innate immune suppression, not an immunity boost. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and antihistamines should help you feel better. Meanwhile, sit back while your acquired B and T cells do the rest. And if you aren't yet sick, stay up-to-date on your vaccines, including the yearly influenza vaccine. Most importantly, practice vigorous hand washing — after all, the skin is also a component of your natural defenses and one that actually can be enhanced by good hygiene. Take care of yourself by keeping a balanced diet, maintaining good sleep habits, and minimizing stress. These are interventions that have been shown to help keep your immune system at its best. These alone can "boost" your odds of staving off an infection this cold season.
immunity  health  immune-system  colds  b-cells  t-cells  flu 
january 2018 by jm
Cold, Cough, Flu: Best Medicines For Your Symptoms - Iodine
'Find the best cold & flu meds for your symptoms' -- actually pretty useful, although of course the US-only brandnames aren't available over here...
cold  flu  winter  sickness  medicine  symptoms  coughs  treatment 
december 2014 by jm
Why Google Flu Trends Can't Track the Flu (Yet)
It's admittedly hard for outsiders to analyze Google Flu Trends, because the company doesn't make public the specific search terms it uses as raw data, or the particular algorithm it uses to convert the frequency of these terms into flu assessments. But the researchers did their best to infer the terms by using Google Correlate, a service that allows you to look at the rates of particular search terms over time. When the researchers did this for a variety of flu-related queries over the past few years, they found that a couple key searches (those for flu treatments, and those asking how to differentiate the flu from the cold) tracked more closely with Google Flu Trends' estimates than with actual flu rates, especially when Google overestimated the prevalence of the ailment. These particular searches, it seems, could be a huge part of the inaccuracy problem.

There's another good reason to suspect this might be the case. In 2011, as part of one of its regular search algorithm tweaks, Google began recommending related search terms for many queries (including listing a search for flu treatments after someone Googled many flu-related terms) and in 2012, the company began providing potential diagnoses in response to symptoms in searches (including listing both "flu" and "cold" after a search that included the phrase "sore throat," for instance, perhaps prompting a user to search for how to distinguish between the two). These tweaks, the researchers argue, likely artificially drove up the rates of the searches they identified as responsible for Google's overestimates.


via Boing Boing
google  flu  trends  feedback  side-effects  colds  health  google-flu-trends 
march 2014 by jm
Irish College of General Practitioners' advice on H1N1
promises to be frequently updated if/when anything might happen. certainly better advice for Irish sufferers than the useless PR spooge put out by the HSE -- as usual
ireland  hse  icgp  medical  h1n1  flu  disease  pandemic 
august 2009 by jm

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