My fake basbeball team impacted by swine flu scare

At some point a few years ago video games were replaced by fantasy sports as my free time diversion of choice. I’m not really into cycling, but I love fantasy baseball and fantasy football (referred to by Dani as fake baseball and football).

This is a bit of a hectic time of year, the fantasy baseball trade deadline is looming in both of my leagues and football research is gearing up. Some infectious disease news is impacting my trade plans as the Texas Rangers (one of the American League’s surprising teams) have one confirmed case of H1N1/swine flu in the clubhouse (Vicente Padilla) and potentially 3 more including one of my catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Infectious diseases like influenza and norovirus are often transferred between teammates on major sports teams.

Not good news. I was hoping to make a run for the final playoff spot in one of my leagues and not having Salty for a week or so might eliminate all hope for me.

From CBS sportsline:

News: Texas C Jarrod Saltalamacchia sat out again on Saturday against the Royals with the flu. It was the second straight game he missed with the illness and he remains questionable for the series finale with the Royals on Sunday.
Analysis: Salty is hitting .242 this season with seven homers and 30 RBI. His teammate Vicente Padilla has come down with swine flu and it’s not known if he also has that illness. 

H1N1=wash your hands

Doug introduced me to Google Alerts a few weeks ago and my email inbox hasn’t been the same since. I get approximately 50-100 email hits on handwashing everyday. Most of them are relevant to washing hands, but some are about handwashing clothes and dishes.

The reason for sharing my numerous emails: wash your hands.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced raising the alert level to phase 6, the pandemic phase. The severity of the virus, H1N1, is moderate, claims the WHO. Across the world there are newly suspected cases of so-called swine flu. In the US alone, there have been 17,800 confirmed cases, 1600 hospitalized, and 44 deaths; all are attributed to H1N1 flu.

Every reported case in the news or other blogs is typically accompanied with a campaign for their readers to wash their hands. I, of course, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to inform BarfBlog readers to do the same.

Handwashing can reduce sickness by an estimated 25%. Hands should be washed before and after handling food, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, and blowing ones nose. Also, people should avoid touching their face (eyes, nose, and mouth) to reduce their risk.

Mayor Ray Nagin quarantined over H1N1 connection

FOX8 New Orleans is reporting what might be the first celebrity quarantine due to H1N1 (the virus formerly known as swine flu). Mayor Nagin was reportedly on a flight to China with someone who was displaying symptoms and is suspected to have the virus.

According to officials, the passenger is undergoing quarantine and treatment. Mayor Nagin, his wife, and one member of his Executive Protection Unit is also being held in quarantine in Shanghai in order to keep them symptom free.

The mayor is not displaying any symptoms of the virus and is being treated with great courtesy from Chinese officials.

US waits to react to flu discovery in Canadian pigs

As a backlog of state and federal lab test results reached the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the total number of confirmed cases of H1N1 in the US climbed to 244 in 34 states, the Associated Press reported this weekend.

The Globe and Mail reported numbers from the World Health Organization, stating, “Canada, for its part, has tallied 101 cases in seven provinces.”

When news broke that a Canadian swine herd was found suffering from a flu thought to be H1N1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement assuring that, “this detection does not change the situation here in the United States.”

The statement continued:

“Today’s discovery will not impact our borders or trading with Canada. As prescribed by the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines, any trade restrictions must be based on science so at this time, we are awaiting confirmatory test results before considering any action."

Additionally, while the CDC works on a H1N1 vaccine for humans, the USDA announced it is trying to develop a vaccine for swine. But that’s just standard protocol when a new virus appears.

It seems they’re taking no rash action until there’s evidence to suggest it’s necessary. That sounds like a wise use of resources to me.

The World Health Organization is similarly waiting for evidence before sounding the alert to a pandemic. As reported by the New York Times,

“The World Health Organization announced an increase in the number of confirmed cases of swine flu on Saturday, but said there was no evidence of sustained spread in communities outside North America, which would fit the definition of a pandemic.”

“Dr. Michael J. Ryan, the director of the World Health Organization global alert and response team, said in a teleconference from Geneva, ‘We have to expect that Phase 6 (the level of a pandemic) will be reached. We have to hope that it is not.’”

The public should be made aware of existing risks and what’s being done to manage them. But, there is no good reason to waste resources pretending to manage imaginary risks.

Act on what you know and seek out what you don’t–for the good of the public.

Flu in Canadian swine

Someone finally found the H1N1 swine flu in pigs.

After I bashed them for allotting resources for hog surveillance when little evidence for such a need existed, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization is now applauding Canada for spotting the flu in a herd of Alberta swine.

However, a person—not other swine—sickened the pigs. reports that a carpenter at an Alberta hog farm went to work on April 14 after a visit to Mexico and may have brought the H1N1 flu with him. Within a couple weeks, about a tenth of the 2,200-hog operation showed signs of the flu.

The affected hogs were quarantined and all are recovering or have already recovered. Only one other person who has had contact with the pigs shares signs of illness.

Across Canada, however, reports that another 15 cases of H1N1 flu were confirmed last week, bringing the country’s total to 34. One case was a student at Beairsto Elementary School, which responded by closing for a week.

Additionally, the story reports,

“The federal government will launch a public awareness campaign Friday to inform Canadians about the swine flu as the number of cases in Canada climbed to 34 and the number of worldwide cases surpassed 270.”

I hope these messages for the public contain more information than “you can’t get the flu from food,” which is about all I’ve heard so far.

In a press release in the US, the director of science and technology for the National Pork Producers Council, Dr. Jennifer Greiner, was quoted as saying,

"People cannot get the flu from eating or handling pork. The flu is a respiratory illness, it’s not a food-borne illness."

Then can someone please explain to their country how to manage these respiratory risks?

Let’s talk more about what the risks are than what they aren’t.