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The Mystery of Random Deaths in Previously Healthy People

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  • The Mystery of Random Deaths in Previously Healthy People

    Today 01:49 PM
    The Mystery of Random Deaths in Previously Healthy Peopleby
    Updated Today at 03:01 PM by indigo girl

    One in seven affected people in New Zealand required critical care. It is disturbing to realize that we do not know why. Prior existing health problems can explain some cases but there is simply no logical explanation for a disturbingly large percentage of the deaths. Was it the strength of their own immune systems that helped to kill them?

    Putting faith in innate good health, lifestlye choices, diet and remedial therapies is a reasonable coping strategy. People have to believe in something but, there simply are no guarantees that anything will protect people 24 hours a day. We have PPE at work. We practice good handwashing. We use the mitigation strategies such as social distancing to help slow down the spread of the disease. While all of this helps, we can still be unlucky.
    I cannot help but remember that perfectly healthy marathon running RN in California that died from swine flu. She was the picture of health. Why, did this happen to her?

    These fatal cases are occurring randomly, and we don't know why. This is reality.

    Originally Posted by
    Researchers are trying to determine why the H1N1 swine flu virus, much like the Spanish Flu of 1918, is lethal to a portion of young people in good health. The reason may involve a person’s genetics, or simply taking a deep breath just as a nearby infected person sneezes.

    “That’s a question we have to find the answer to,” said Nikki Shindo, a Geneva-based doctor who has led the World Health Organization’s investigation of swine flu patients since the virus was discovered in Mexico in April.

    Underlying conditions that can intensify the effects of flu include respiratory illnesses, especially asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and even pregnancy. About 25 percent to 50 percent of severe cases worldwide involve healthy young and middle-aged people like Robb, according to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

    It is a statistic that highlights how unpredictable the disease has turned out to be, said Ian Barr, deputy director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center for Influenza in Melbourne.

    “People are happy to dismiss serious cases among people with underlying conditions,” Barr said in an interview. “It’s a wake-up call when healthy people are struck down.”

    As many as 2 billion people, or 30 percent of the world’s population, may become infected by the new virus as it spreads globally, according to the WHO. Identifying those likely to recover without medical help, and those who may become severely ill will help prioritize vaccination and drug treatment.

    In Australia, the median age of people dying from seasonal flu is 83. With the H1N1 swine flu, it is 54 years, according to the government’s Aug. 28 influenza surveillance summary report. In New South Wales, Australia’s most-populous state, the majority of H1N1 patients in intensive-care units are 30 to 59 years old, the state government’s Sept. 9 weekly report notes.

    Global health experts are gathering this week in San Francisco at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the world’s biggest meeting of infectious disease specialists. Scientists at the conference are set to report on a study that sifted through blood test results from dozens of patients with complications in search of a common genetic cause.

    Bad luck may also play a role, Shindo said. Taking a deep breath or yawning immediately after an infected person nearby coughs or sneezes may enable large amounts of airborne viral particles to penetrate the lower lung, he said.

    “There have got to be some host factors that are involved in terms of explaining why there are these rare, lethal pneumonias and why some folks don’t handle the virus at all well and the vast majority have an uncomplicated illness,” said Frederick Hayden, professor of clinical virology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville.

    Doctors have not been able to explain why Robb almost died while his partner, Susanna Gillies, and their 5-year-old son both escaped uninfected, Gillies said in an interview.

    In New Zealand, about one in seven people hospitalized with H1N1 have needed intensive-care treatment, the Ministry of Health said in a Sept. 11 statement.

    In most cases, flu remains in the nose, throat and bronchi, where it causes a runny nose, sore throat and cough until the body’s immune systems eliminates it, usually within a week.

    The pandemic strain is more adept than seasonal flu at infiltrating the lower branches of the airway, where it can cause complications...including viral pneumonia, said Stephen Toovey, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal Free and University College Medical School.

    While the pandemic virus tightly latches onto cells in the upper respiratory tract like seasonal virus, it also attacks cells in the lungs, researchers at London’s Imperial College wrote in a study reported Sept. 10 in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

    In severe cases, influenza can damage the capillaries surrounding the tiny grape-like sacs, known as alveoli, where gas is exchanged through the blood. Damaged alveoli can bleed, causing pulmonary hemorrhage and blood clots.

    “What makes it go from the bronchus to the alveoli is the $64,000 question,” said John Nicholls, associate professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong, who has studied how cells interact with viruses like the H5N1 bird flu strain and SARS. Previous bouts of flu, particularly caused by strains similar to the H1N1 virus, may give some protection, he said.

    Inflammatory chemicals are produced by the immune system to fight the infection and repair the damage. An over-exuberant response can worsen the effect by filling the lungs with fluid and cause permanent scarring that restricts the lungs.

    “Pathologically, it’s identical to what happens with H5N1 infection,” known commonly as bird flu, said Shindo, the WHO doctor investigating case. “Pathologists say if they weren’t told it was H1N1 they would diagnose H5N1 as the cause.”
    Last edited by Pathfinder; September 13, 2009, 04:45 PM. Reason: title & link
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    -Nelson Mandela