August 12, 2009 11:00 AM
Sharyl Attkisson, CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton and NVIC's Barbara Loe Fisher discuss the possible dangers with the H1N1 vaccine.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.S. health officials said Friday they are discouraging the quick closure of schools where swine flu appears, a shift from recommendations in the spring that prompted many closures and disrupted the lives of many families.
“Closure of schools is rarely indicated,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He said local officials must weigh the options of closing a school, which can throw families off their normal routines and hamper education, against the need to stop what may be widespread flu in the school.
The updated school recommendations, which carry great weight with local and state education and health officials, come as some Georgia school systems resumed classes this week. Most of the state’s systems begin the 2009-2010 school year Monday.
While Georgia officials say many schools have put in place a line of defense against swine flu -- planning for increased sanitary education and practices and sending out preventative information to parents -- the officials acknowledge that important aspects of planning awaited these CDC recommendations.
State education and health officials said they agree that the closing of schools should be discouraged and that the decisions should be left to local school officials, with input from local health boards.
“The decision is best left up to the local officials, since they know their kids best,” said Matt Cardoza, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education.
The new CDC guidelines say, “The decision to dismiss students should be made locally and should balance the goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from influenza with the goal of minimizing social disruption.”
CDC officials say they expect a vaccine to be available for swine flu, also called novel H1N1, by mid-October.
Children with seasonal flu should not be given antivirals such as Tamiflu because harmful side effects outweigh relatively meager benefits, according to a study released on Monday.
Boxes of Tamiflu. Children with seasonal flu should not be given antivirals such as Tamiflu because harmful side effects outweigh relatively meager benefits, according to a study by British researchers.
In some children Tamiflu caused nausea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and other complications, researchers reported.
The study did not cover the current outbreak of swine flu, but its conclusions suggest that antivirals may not significantly reduce the length of illness or prevent complications in children infected with the new A(H1N1) virus, the researchers said.
Carl Henegan, a doctor at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and co-author of the study, said the current practice of giving Tamiflu for mild illness was "an inappropriate strategy."
"The downside of the harms outweigh the one-day reduction in symptomatic benefits," he said.
The research showed that antivirals oseltamivir and zanamivir shortened the duration of seasonal flu by up to a day and a half.
But the drugs had little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, increased ear infections or the need for antibiotics.
Tamiflu, the brand name for oseltamivir, was also linked to an increased risk of vomiting. Zanamivir is marketed under the name Relenza.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, comes 10 days after Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported that more than half of 248 students given Tamiflu after a classmate fell ill with swine flu suffered side-effects such as nausea, insomnia and nightmares.
Most of the students did not have the flu when they were given the drug.
POSTED: 3:53 pm EDT August 10, 2009
UPDATED: 3:56 pm EDT August 10, 2009
Egyptian health authorities are concerned about the risk that the H1N1 swine flu virus and the much deadlier H5N1 avian flu virus could combine with seasonal human influenza.
Speaking to KUNA, Egyptian Minister of Health Hatem Al-Gabali said the bird and swine flu pose the same source of danger to human health.
The minister has urged all citizens to be vigilant and take seriously preventative measures designed to limit the spread of avian flu that has now become endemic in Egypt.
He added that Egypt had reported a total of 82 avian flu human cases since the virus first surfaced in the country, including 27 deaths - the highest rate in the world.
The Egyptian government has set in motion a preventive plan to curb the disease ahead of the school year, scheduled to start on September 26.
To date, 329 swine flu cases have been detected in Egypt so far, with just only death.
case, while 236 have recovered, and the remaining cases are still receiving medication at hospital.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that while the H1N1 virus was stable and there was no sign of it mixing with avian flu or other influenza viruses it has warned that the influenza virus is highly unpredictable and has potential for mutation.
By Roger Runningen and Nicholas Johnston
Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama leaves today for a summit with his counterparts from Mexico and Canada as all three nations brace for a rebound of the deadly H1N1 swine flu, which may threaten cross-border commerce.
The two-day meeting in Guadalajara among Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to include talks on easing trade friction, dealing with the recession, battling drug crime and paving the way for climate talks later this year. A pressing topic is the return of the pandemic flu, which emerged in Mexico earlier this year.
“Everybody recognizes that H1N1 is going to be a challenge for all of us and there are going to be people getting sick in the fall and die,” John Brennan, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said.
Officials are concerned that a widespread outbreak of the H1N1 virus as the regular flu season gets under way in the Northern Hemisphere’s fall may disrupt airline schedules and slow cross-border imports and exports.
All three countries still are being battered by the recession, and economics defines the relationship among them. Canada and Mexico are the U.S.’s first- and third-largest trading partners, generating more than $950 billion of imports and exports last year. Canada and Mexico account for 28 percent of all U.S. trade.
At the North American Leaders Summit, Obama, 48, Calderon, 46, and Harper, 50, will focus on joint strategies for coordinating medical information, stockpiling vaccines and reviewing distribution plans to “minimize the impact and severity,” Brennan said at an Aug. 6 White House briefing.