July 24, 2009 | Mark Paradies

Swine Flu Update from Dennis Osmer

Dennis Osmer is a TapRooT® Instructor from Georgia. He also is a Health, Safety & Emergency Management Consultant who advises companies on pandemic preparation.

Below are the latest e-mails from Dennis about the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus and 2009 USA flu shots.

Dear Friends —

This novel H1N1 is not going away from the northern hemisphere and the activities in the southern hemisphere are off scale.


The US now has 40,617 cases, with 263 deaths, in 55 states & territories (http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm) — keep in mind that WHO & CDC only report cases that are confirmed in approved laboratories and in many areas, routine testing has been reduced — actural cases are much higher.

WHO has announced that the H1N1 influenza pandemic has “spread internationally with unprecedented speed” and that further international spread is unstoppable — they have stopped publishing laboratory confirmed case numbers as it’s become almost unmanageable, and will shift focus to mitigation.


Several cases on Tamiflu resistant swine flu have been reported, but these are isolated.

Britain has launched a unique phone service to supply antivirals — using this phone service, individuals will get a reference number that can be used at a pharmacy to collect the medication.


CDC & HHS have announced priorities for vaccination (when available)

   – students & staff in schools (K-12)

   – children & staff in child care centers

   – pregnant women

   – non-elderly adults (age < 65) with medical conditions

   – health care workers and emergency personnel

Vaccine production has hit a snag — 2 manufactures (Novartis & Baxter) report that yields are 30 to 50% of seasonal flu production — while initial batches may be available in mid October, full quantities could be significantly delayed — some clinical studies have begun on individual vaccines & the combination of the swine flu & seasonal flu vaccinations — the US government has granted liability immunity to all vaccine manufacturers for the H1N1 vaccine.

While there may be some vaccination available by mid October (more likely November), there won’t be enough for all — it’s likely that vaccinations for the general public won’t be available till February or so.



The flu activity in New Zealand has reached a 12 year high point, and the season hasn’t peaked yet.


Argentina had been reluctant to implement school closings, etc. — now that elections are over, they are extending winter vacation (up to a month) and urging people to avoid crowds — however, this is late, and may not have a positive effect — Argentina only trails the US & Mexico for the highest number of flu related deaths (137) — last week, over 5,000 surgeries were postponed to free-up hospital beds.


According to WHO, Mexico deserves thanks for its forceful, costly, and very public response — the closure of multiple public facilities, effectively imposed social distancing — this slowed the spread, while giving the rest of the world an early warning.


While the mortality is lower than seasonal flu, research is showing that the novel H1N1 causes more serious lung disease than seasonal flu strains — the virus can replicate at airway temperatures — seasonal flu typically infects the throat & upper respiratory passages, but the novel H1N1 also attaches to the lower part of the respiratory system — it reproduces internally (lungs, throat, etc.) at a higher rate than seasonal flu — it can cause severe respiratory illness, profound lung damage and even death in patients with no underlying medical conditions — in some locations, ventilator availability is becoming an issue — there appears to be a sub-population of relatively young people who very rapidly develop sever illness with this virus, requiring intensive ventilator support.

Transmission around the globe is not slowing — places where people are close together are a special concern (summer camps, prisons, academies, athletic events, cruse ships, etc.) — H1N1 is the dominant strain in the southern hemisphere now, and it’s anticipated that it will be the dominant strain in the northern hemisphere in the fall — the expected infected rate is 30% (seasonal flu is typically < 20%) for the next wave.


The lack of mass media attention is a concern — the White House has made an announcement & is proceeding with “behind the scene preparations” — they are expecting a very bad flu season this fall — the outbreak seems to be accelerating in the southern hemisphere and likely foretells what will happen in the northern hemisphere this fall — given that vaccinations may not be widely available till next spring, we will need to depend on non-pharmaceuticals interventions(handwashing, social distancing, masks, etc.).

I urge you to prepare.

Stay Safe & Best Regards


Dennis Osmer

Environment, Health, Safety, & Emergency Management



And here is his update on flu shots for the USA this autumn…

Dear Friends —

Vaccine for seasonal flu approved in the United States.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has approved a vaccine for the 2009-2010 influenza season. Authorities have made it clear that this vaccine will not provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus. However, health experts say that it is still important for individuals in the “at risk groups” to receive the latest seasonal flu vaccine. Each year experts from key organizations study the influenza virus from samples collected from around the world. They also analyze the global flu trends to identify which strain should be included in the seasonal vaccine for the new season. Click here to view the FDA press release.

Don’t be confused — this is the official, bureacuratic announcement that the standard seasonal flu vaccine has been released — the more critical swine H1N1 vaccine is still some time away — nevertheless, you should plan on getting the standard seasonal flu vaccination as soon as available (should be September for most communities in the US).

Best Regards


Dennis Osmer

Environment, Health, Safety, & Emergency Management



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