May 31, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – A 15-year-old boy in West Java has become Indonesia’s latest avian flu fatality, according to news reports that cited local tests.Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today that in the remote North Sumatra village that witnessed a large family cluster of avian flu cases, no cases suggestive of H5N1 infection have been detected since May 22.The 15-year-old boy, who was from Tasikmalaya, West Java, was admitted to a hospital May 29 and died yesterday, according to a Reuters story today. If his death is confirmed by a WHO laboratory in Hong Kong, his will be the 49th case and 37th death in Indonesia. About two thirds of those cases have occurred this year.Government officials said that the teen had contact with infected poultry and that his own chickens died about 2 weeks ago, according to Reuters. In addition, the report said, the boy’s grandfather was a chicken farmer who had 40 chickens that died recently.The boy represents the third recent H5N1 fatality from West Java province. A 10-year-old girl and her 18-year-old brother died last week in Bandung, which is about 55 miles northwest of Tasikmalaya.Today’s WHO update on the case cluster in Kubu Simbelang village, Karo District, North Sumatra, states that 54 family members and other close contacts remain under home quarantine. In addition, investigators have been conducting house-to-house surveillance for flu-like symptoms throughout the 400 or so households in the village, and a surveillance command post was set up in the village last week.With all this monitoring in place, no new cases resembling avian flu have been identified in Kubu Simbelang over the last 9 days, the WHO reports. This finding is important, the agency says, because it indicates that the H5N1 strain has not spread beyond members of the single extended family.Today’s WHO update also provides further details on the history of the case cluster.As noted in previous reports, the original family member to fall ill was a 37-year-old woman who is considered the index case, though samples from her body were not collected before she was buried. According to today’s report, she started showing symptoms consistent with avian flu April 24 and died May 4.She sold fruit and chilies at a market stand about 50 feet (15 m) from a stand that sold live chickens, according to the WHO. She also kept a small flock of backyard chickens, which she allowed into the house at night. Three of these chickens reportedly died before she became ill. She also used chicken feces to fertilize her garden.The woman had one sister and three brothers. The sister and two of the brothers contracted H5N1, and one of the brothers is the only infected family member to survive.The family members who died of avian flu include the 37-year-old’s two teenaged sons, her sister’s 18-month-old girl, and a 10-year-old son of the brother who died.On April 29, according to today’s update, nine family members spent the night in the same small room as the index patient when she was severely ill and coughing heavily. Five to 6 days later, three family members experienced symptoms. These were her two teenaged sons and the surviving brother, who was from a village 6 miles away.The sister of the initial patient developed symptoms at the same time, as did the sister’s 18-month-old daughter. The sister, who lived in an adjacent house, cared for the index patient, accompanied by her young daughter.The 10-year-old boy lived next door to the 37-year-old woman and was a frequent visitor in her house. His father, the woman’s brother, was the final fatality (May 22) and had tended his son throughout his hospital stay from May 9 through May 13.The WHO report also says that a parallel agricultural investigation still has not detected H5N1 virus in about 80 samples from area animals and chicken fertilizer, meaning that the initial source of the outbreak remains unknown.See also:WHO’s Indonesia cluster updatehttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_05_31/en/index.html
Feb 23, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The nation’s largest public health group, the American Public Health Association (APHA), yesterday released recommendations aimed at strengthening existing federal strategies for pandemic preparedness and encouraging local officials and businesses to play key roles.At the top of its list are more resources for an overburdened public health workforce, which will play a key role in responding to a pandemic flu outbreak. Other recommendations in the APHA’s 16-page report range from expanding surge capacity in hospitals and public health labs to providing emergency medical coverage for people who are uninsured.Preparing for an influenza pandemic isn’t just the job of the public health sector, said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, the APHA executive director, in a press release yesterday. “The general public must be equipped with the proper resources to prepare themselves in the event of a flu pandemic,” he said. “The better we prepare now, the better our chances will be for protecting the health of Americans during an emergency.”Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonprofit public health advocacy group, lauded the APHA’s report, particularly its call for Congress to enact measures, such as scholarship and loan incentives, to bolster the public health workforce. “This is an excellent report that covers some of the critical pandemic preparation issues and places them appropriately in larger context,” he told CIDRAP News.Though isolation of flu patients and quarantine of exposed people are likely to play a limited role in the early stages of a pandemic, policymakers need to shore up laws and policies on isolation and quarantine, including who has authority to issue quarantine orders, the APHA report says. “These decisions should be made on the basis of scientific risk and use the least restrictive alternative.”The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with state and local officials, should develop national standards for sheltering in place, and the public should be urged to prepare to shelter at home for at least 2 weeks, according to the report.HHS and the US Department of Education should take the lead in developing national criteria for school closings in a pandemic and should make school districts aware of them, the report says.The APHA questions a component of the HHS antiviral stockpiling plan that encourages states to purchase antiviral medication with a 25% federal subsidy. According to a USA Today report on the antiviral subsidy program, written after the Aug 1, 2006, signup deadline, at least 43 states indicated they wanted to participate, though some said their ability to buy the drugs was uncertain. “The level of protection Americans receive should not be determined by where they live and the current fiscal position of their states,” the report says.Funding for national stockpiles of medical and lab supplies is inadequate, the document says. Besides items such as ventilators, syringes, and gloves, the medical stockpile should include equipment and medications needed to treat people who have chronic illnesses such as HIV and diabetes.In addition, the Food and Drug Administration should consider relaxing its limit on the amount of medicine that can be dispensed per prescription so that people with serious health problems can store enough medication to get them through an isolation or quarantine order during a pandemic, the APHA contends.Echoing the concerns of other health advocacy groups, such as TFAH, the APHA calls on Congress and HHS to establish an emergency Medicaid designation to encourage uninsured people to seek treatment more quickly if they have influenza symptoms. Other measures the APHA says would help ensure patients’ access to medical care during a pandemic include improving medical surge capacity—not only for flu patients, but also for those with other medical conditions.The APHA report places a strong emphasis on pandemic-related business and occupational health concerns. It urges businesses to consider paid sick-leave policies that encourage employees to stay home when they or their family members are contagious during a pandemic.Also, the group recommends including several other business-related provisions in the national pandemic plan, such as:Setting guidelines about work-related influenza exposure for use in workers’ compensation casesProviding financial support for employers who face extremely high costs for worker protectionRequiring employers to develop pandemic preparedness plansMandating employee training in prevention and exposure controlRecommending that workers in high-risk occupations wear respirators rather than surgical masksLike other groups, such as the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the APHA critiques current federal emergency response plans for designating the Department of Homeland Security as the lead agency in a flu pandemic, leaving HHS responsible only for “very traditional public health and medical issues.””Responding to a pandemic flu is much different than responding to a terrorist attack or hurricane,” the report says. “Therefore, public health officials—the Department of Health and Human Services—should have the formal authority to take the lead in the federal response to pandemic flu.”See also:Feb 22 APHA press releaseAPHA report: “Prescription for Pandemic Flu”http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/APHA+Prescription+for+Pandemic+Flu.htmFeb 1 CIDRAP News story “HHS ties pandemic mitigation advice to severity”Jan 25 CIDRAP News story “IDSA urges requiring flu shots for healthcare workers”
Regulation forcing Swiss pension funds to act almost like short-term investors is “absurd” and needs to be changed if negative rates persist, said Jean-Pierre Danthine, former vice-president of the Swiss central bank, at a conference in Geneva this week.Danthine, who is now at the Paris School of Economics and a visiting professor at Columbia University, delivered the opening speech at the CFA Society Switzerland conference, which had currency wars as its headline theme.His speech focused on the current economic situation, including the low to negative interest-rate environment, and the conditions for a return to more normal conditions.A delegate raised a question – acknowledged as somewhat rhetorical – about the implications of the current monetary policy environment for pension funds, highlighting the difficulty of applying a negative interest rate to the technical rate pension funds are supposed to use. Qualifying his response by saying he doubted it would be comprehensive, Danthine said “significant adjustments” would be needed if the period of negative rates was to last much longer or become more frequent in future.These are not only on the side of the central banks but in other areas such as pension fund regulation, in Switzerland and abroad, he said.“Pension funds have been subject to regulation that today forces them to behave almost like short-term investors,” he said.“That is absurd. Pension funds need to be able to take a long-term perspective. Regulation needs to adapt to that, and so there are significant changes needed.”A long-term perspective would be beneficial for the Swiss economy and future pensioners, he added, flagging investment abroad – and without hedging all foreign exchange positions – as an opportunity for Swiss pension funds.
The Blues came through what could have been a stern examination at Everton and took a giant step towards finishing firstIt wasn’t a Fat Lady singing at the end. It was blokes. Big London blokes. “We’re gonna win the league,” the Chelsea supporters bellowed from the cramped away section at rickety old Goodison Park.Their team had just inflicted upon Everton only their second home defeat of the season and their heaviest loss since the 5-0 drubbing handed out to them in November by Antonio Conte’s men.Maradona’s girlfriend repeats Hand of GodThat win came fifth in a sequence of 13 in succession, a run that earned Chelsea 39 points out of 39. That run had put the crucial momentum behind Chelsea this season and handed them the initiative in the title race. They’ve never surrendered it.Their form has been less superhuman since then. They dropped points in five of their next 13 fixtures but the gap had become insurmountable.Conte maintained his focus on the tasks at hand after dismissing Everton. No title was won on Merseyside he insisted but the manner in which Chelsea celebrated after this tidy win said otherwise. The players and staff spent a good couple of minutes among their fans at the final whistle. Thibaut Courtois and Gary Cahill handed their match-worn shirts to a pair of lucky recipients.Conte himself conducted the fans’ songs. He pumped his arms all the way from his waist to the top of his head, exuding not only relief but real satisfaction. He jumped on the back of his goalkeeper in exultation. He shook each one of his players’ hands and gave them all a strong, warm hug.Wenger’s time at Arsenal must endThis might be a small step in their season – one game out of 38 – but it felt like a giant leap in terms of securing Chelsea’s inevitable league win. This was a big week for Chelsea. They had an FA Cup semi-final against Spurs, a home league game on Tuesday against Southampton and this test at Everton, one of the most difficult away grounds in the country. Chelsea sailed through. In the context of the setback they suffered against Manchester United a couple of weeks ago that achievement is all the more impressive.It doesn’t matter what Tottenham do from here on in. If Chelsea win three out of their remaining four games then they will be champions. This title has had less to do with irresistible football than it has had to do with the relentless consistency imbued in the side through diligent and passionate coaching. Even if Chelsea are occasionally workmanlike there are moments of unadulterated genius that carry them through in difficult times. Everton were doing well here – with Idrissa Gueye man-marking Eden Hazard out of the game for long spells – but Pedro conjured a goal that perhaps only a World Cup and Champions League winner could.Pedro typifies the turnaround brought to West London by Conte. He was a big player going nowhere under Jose Mourinho, as indeed were many of his colleagues. In Conte he has found a coach who demands he hits his potential every single time he crosses the white line. Very soon he will have a Premier League title to show for it.Superior Liverpool deserve CL spotThe third goal featured intricate, quick football from Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa before finish was provided by Willian. Costa demonstrated his class on a day he couldn’t score with touches, intelligence and attitude that far outranked Romelu Lukaku, a centre-forward with designs of one day leading the Chelsea line.Fabregas and Willian began the day on the bench but Chelsea lose nothing when those two are swapped in for players like Hazard or Pedro. Conte’s demands are exceedingly high for those players in his chosen “13”. Hunger, desire and teamwork are evident even in the substitutes. They all have had a part to play in this unstoppable success. In a few short matches Conte will have matched the achievements of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti in winning the title in his first season at Stamford Bridge and has already won the hearts of the supporters in a way not seen since Mourinho’s first spell here in 2004. It’s hard to believe he only started working here in July. The imprint he’s left makes it feel like he’s been around forever; the link he’s forged with the club’s supporters makes it appear that he’s always been a bedrock of their successes.“Antonio, Antonio, Antonio,” those Chelsea fans sang and a few of them probably have their commemorative tattoos already.They love him, they sing his name with gusto. In their eyes they are back where they belong. They are London’s best club despite the best efforts of Spurs and the kings of the King’s Road are kings of the Premier League once again.Conte has straightened Chelsea out, reinvigorated their players and turned them back into champions.
The U.S. Embassy on Sunday confirmed that the crash killed U.S. citizen Jesus Morales Robles, 66, of Los Angeles. Among the surviving passengers was Juan Antonio Quezada de la Cruz, who lives in Riverside and was traveling with seven family members to attend his father’s funeral in Guadalajara. A sister and a 1-year-old nephew died in the crash, he said. Quezada de la Cruz said several of his family members traveled from Phoenix to Tijuana, where they took a flight bound for Guadalajara. The Nayarit prosecutor’s office reported 17 dead: 13 men, three women and a 1-year-old child. The bus driver was among the injured. Mexican authorities said four of the injured, including Quezada de la Cruz, were from Los Angeles and Riverside, but did not give hometowns for the dead. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Olga R. Rodriguez THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MEXICO CITY – A Los Angeles man and members of a family traveling to Mexico from the U.S. for a funeral were among at least 17 passengers who died in a bus crash in Mexico over the weekend. The bus was carrying 35 passengers from the resort city of Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara when it went off a mountain road Saturday, bus company and government officials said.