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FLU PANDEMIC – Stay Home or Go To Work Sick? With Updates

April 26, 2009

usmap13When tiny terrorists come knocking, can you afford to stay home when you get the flu?  Do you have insurance?  Is your job secure?  Is your boss sympathetic to the larger picture of workplace health and it’s effect on PUBLIC HEALTH? The United States is talking about declaring a Public Health Emergency … will that make you stay home, if you have one?  Will you loose your job?  This is where the Federal Government must set solid guidelines for all Public Health issues, like it or not. OR, we can all move to Nebraska!

Where is Homeland Security?  If potential Pandemic is at the doorstep, the condition of the “Homeland” seems obvious.  The sad state of US health care availability, thanks to prior administration policies of health care for the privileged, has come back to bite us in the ass.  collins Thank you Susan Collins and Chuck Schumer who shot down Pandemic preparedness! Collins said she raised concerns over provisions that would do little to stimulate the economy, citing spending to upgrade facilities and information technology at the State Department, addressing pandemic flu spending and boosting cybersecurity. She called on such measures to go through the regular appropriations process, and she said the president acknowledged that some provisions added by lawmakers “do not really belong in the bill.”

And Collins wasn’t the only one who raised that point. Schouten also reports that  chuckschumer Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in February, as the Senate neared final approval of the stimulus bill, noted that “all those little porky things,” including flu pandemic money, had been removed from the package.

Christian Science Monitor: Swine flu as pork: Congress cut flu money from stimulus bill – Obama wanted $850 million for pandemic preparedness. Congress said no.

This is an H1N1 strain of influenza A. (Credit: Dr. E. Palmer; R.E. Bates)

This is an H1N1 strain of influenza A. (Credit: Dr. E. Palmer; R.E. Bates)

For the USA, the decision to make sick employees stay home is ultimately left to the employer.  Federal employees have guidance from federal agencies who make the rules for workplace safety.  But, small business has no official guidance and can rely solely on its own common sense and ethics.  This is not always a good arrangement, especially with workers paranoid about loosing their jobs.   Some other countries have made preemptive arrangements for addressing outbreaks, but it is unclear exactly what the US plans to enforce.  Emphasis lies on the “recommendations” from agencies like CDC and HHS.  It is left to states and counties for actions.  Is this really practical when the issue has no borders or political divides?  The paranoia in North America has spread like its own pandemic … economic paranoia, employment paranoia, inadequate health resources paranoia and now a tiny terrorist called ‘VIRUS’ has caused paranoia to become a PLURAL!

CDC: Swine flu viruses in U.S. and Mexico match

  • Swine flu found in U.S. is same that killed at least 68 in Mexico
  • The latest U.S. case of swine flu occurred in California, the CDC says
  • Eight cases of the strain of swine flu have been confirmed in humans in the U.S.

Mexico warns no kissing as 81 dead in swine flu outbreak

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  • WHO warns countries to look out for “unusual” outbreaks of flu
  • New Zealand quarantines 22 students, 3 teachers with swine flu symptoms
  • Officials urge Mexicans to avoid large crowds, kissing in greeting

Mexico flu sparks worldwide fear

Mexican authorities have taken drastic measures to contain a new strain of the swine flu virus that has killed 81 and prompted fears of a global pandemic. People are being urged to stay at home and maintain strict personal hygiene. Many schools, public buildings, bars and restaurants have been closed.

    The Mexican government, which has faced criticism for what some see as a slow reaction to this outbreak, is now taking an increasingly hard line to try to contain the virus, says the BBC’s Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City.  Public buildings have been closed and hundreds of public events suspended.

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has announced emergency measures to deal with the situation.  They include powers to isolate individuals suspected of having the virus without fear of legal repercussions.

SNAP ANALYSIS-New swine flu likely widespread, experts say … the new strain of H1N1 has the potential to become a pandemic strain because it does spread easily and does cause serious disease.

pandemic_home01

Texas family quarantined after son contracts swine flu

  • Texas teen is one of eight in U.S. diagnosed with swine flu
  • Teen’s family ordered to stay away from public
  • Dozens in Mexico have died from same strain of swine flu found in U.S.
  • Officials say new strain has resisted some antiviral drugs

CDC Advisory:  Swine Influenza (Flu)

HHS Swine Flu Investigation

Federal Response Stages

State and Local Government Planning & Response Activities

Workplace Planning

Not all of the employment laws referenced apply to all employers or all employees, particularly state and local government agencies.  For information on whether a particular employer or employee is covered by a law, please use the links provided for more detailed information.  This information is not intended for federal agencies or federal employees — they should contact the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for guidance.  As an overall matter, employers should be guided in their relationship with their employees not only by federal employment law, but by their own employee handbooks, manuals, and contracts (including bargaining agreements),  and by any applicable state or local laws.

BossKitty has brought attention to the consequences US Health Care disparity before.  The issue is, the uninsured become liabilities when a contagion erupts.  Without medical attention, the US has guaranteed a health crisis that effects the whole population, except the privileged who can pay for treatments anywhere in the world. Check out previous opinions:

Austin American Statesman Update: School to close, other flu precautions recommended

The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued the following news release:

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced today that Byron Steele High School in Cibolo will temporarily close effective immediately as public health and school officials work to keep swine influenza from spreading.

Swine flu was confirmed earlier this month in two students from the school, and a third student is listed as a probable case with confirmatory lab test results pending. The original two have recovered, and the third is recovering. The school is part of the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District in Guadalupe County near San Antonio.

This is a welcome development to protect children.  School systems are connected with health consequences for students and teachers. It will be interesting to see how many school districts across the country will follow suit, at least the ones in high risk areas.  But, what about crowded places like work, malls, grocery stores and public events.  This will have its own economic impact across the country.  There is no ONE to blame for this short term crisis, but there is always that ignorance and greed that paved the way to where we find ourselves today.

whoInformation on swine influenza 26 April 2009 — WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic.

27 April 2009 — The Emergency Committee,  confirmed outbreaks of A/H1N1 swine influenza in the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. The Committee also considered reports of possible spread to additional countries. On the advice of the Committee, the WHO Director-General has raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from the current phase 3 to phase 4.   phase4

In nature, influenza viruses circulate continuously among animals, especially birds. Even though such viruses might theoretically develop into pandemic viruses, in Phase 1 no viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.

In Phase 2 an animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat.

In Phase 3, an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Limited human-to-human transmission may occur under some circumstances, for example, when there is close contact between an infected person and an unprotected caregiver. However, limited transmission under such restricted circumstances does not indicate that the virus has gained the level of transmissibility among humans necessary to cause a pandemic.

Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic. Any country that suspects or has verified such an event should urgently consult with WHO so that the situation can be jointly assessed and a decision made by the affected country if implementation of a rapid pandemic containment operation is warranted. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.

Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.

Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5. Designation of this phase will indicate that a global pandemic is under way.

During the post-peak period, pandemic disease levels in most countries with adequate surveillance will have dropped below peak observed levels. The post-peak period signifies that pandemic activity appears to be decreasing; however, it is uncertain if additional waves will occur and countries will need to be prepared for a second wave.

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22 Comments
  1. Kim permalink
    November 18, 2009 6:18 am

    I had the flu, called in sick for 2 days, had a dr note and still got fired!

  2. May 1, 2009 6:57 am

    Yes Sanaseni, there will always be those who take advantage of the opportunity to veg out for a while. I really do believe the majority of workers are too paranoid to risk missing work for no reason. The infrastructure will suffer from the paranoia of cities who make whole departments stay home. The news media has taken the whole issue to a manic level by taking conflicting views to increase their ratings. This guarantees that both the paranoid and the complacent are served.
    Most people are still working because they don’t know they are sick. This is the epidemiology of the spread.

  3. sanaseni permalink
    May 1, 2009 6:02 am

    I wonder how many are actually staying home? How many are just sleeping all day for laziness or playing the new game on the PS3 for fun? When are we starting to feel the people missing work and seeing the infrastructure suffering?

  4. Pandemic II permalink
    April 28, 2009 3:19 pm

    Maybe I’ll go to Madagascar. Should be safe there. A +1 Interwebs to the first person to “get” this reference!

  5. bassguy permalink
    April 26, 2009 11:07 pm

    A reliable source from Mexico City has stated that the cartels are responsible for the outbreak. Spreading a mutated virus from the air by helicopter to weaken the Calderon administration

  6. April 26, 2009 5:14 pm

    Ooooh, good point Jimmy. That is so logical, it hurts. Any medicine isle in a drug store or grocery store will attract sick people, or those exposed to sick people. The chicken soup isle will be the next most popular destination for the sick. Stores are going to cringe at the thought of decontaminating those isles on a regular basis, but it may be necessary some day.

  7. jimmy mraz permalink
    April 26, 2009 3:52 pm

    The only thing I can think of was I walked through a CVS store a few days before I got the scratchy throat,

    I remember I walked through the cough meds isle. Its the best I can do.

    This is the reason I hate to see cold meds in supermarkets that sell food, I can’t walk by without thinking thats were the virus hangs out.

  8. April 26, 2009 3:44 pm

    Thank you Jimmy, very glad you seem to be recovering. Do you remember how you caught it? Some people are over reacting because they feel they or their children are high risk. The health insurance issue for America is a big problem. Being from the UK, at least there is something available for you. You must be familiar with America’s controversy about “Socialized Medicine”. Whether or not this particular flu is deadly is a matter of who has weakened health issues. Did your diagnosis specify you had the H1N1 version? There are so many versions of flu active right now. I do believe the big problem we must address is that any contagion can cross any border at any time and Health Care for most Americans is in shambles.

  9. jimmy mraz permalink
    April 26, 2009 3:40 pm

    Food & Drink I had to recover from flu.
    cup of hot tea every 30 min’s is the secret.

    sore throat started the flu, so as soon as I felt it this is what I did,

    Day 1: sprayed zicam in mouth, all bran & banana, 4 Vitamin juices, tin vegetable soup, small piece of chicken covered in tabasco, cup of hot tea every 30 min’s

    Day 2 : sprayed Zicam in mouth, all bran & banana, 4 Vitamin juices, Indian curry with there hottest spice, vidaloo, cup of hot tea every 30 min’s

    Day 3 : Zicam Pray, all bran & banana, 4 Vitamin juices, turkey chilli with habanero. cup of hot tea every 30 min’s

    Day 4 Virus all gone just mucus coming out,but back to feeling normal, had bagel cream cheese and panini as of 2:30 pm.

  10. jimmy mraz permalink
    April 26, 2009 3:26 pm

    I just recovered from it, Very mild flu just drank tea every 30 mins, eat normal had spicy hot food and some vitamin drinks.

    This is day 4 its gone just mucus, Im in san diego. I had a tight neck on day 2 but it started with a sore throat. Iv had worse Flu this was very weak, Im young 33 and healthy and had no problem dealing with it, stayed home watching videos now. feel real good today. Iv never had a flu jab, Im from UK white and this was easy to get over, the worse part of my health was the panic. If you are real sick like shaking go to the hospital, I had a small sweat on day 2 but could have been normal bed night sweat, no one outside Mexico has had bad reactions 2 people in scotland has mild swine flu and recovered they were in mexico on holiday. seems its just mexicans that are having a problem with this flu.

    everyone else should stop the panic this was a weak flu virus or I have very good genes.

  11. April 26, 2009 2:53 pm

    Welcome back Proud, thanks for seeing the end results from so many self serving decisions made by past administrations.

    Thank you Gonut,the disparity of priorities should be obvious. The fact there are priorities at all tells us that there will always be someone else at the front of the line for health attention. One day its Avian Flu, next day its kids, now its Swine Flu again. Remember Hanta Virus, Legionnaires and Mad Cow? If medical care was universal, we should not have to choose who gets treated or protected first.

    Rob, illegals may be a factor bringing Swine Flu across the border, but its very doubtful. Many cross border transmissions for any disease come from public transportation travelers. Only after illegals have planted themselves, the jobs they have seldom offer health care. They rely on family shamans and shade tree medicos. By denying anyone basic health care, the whole country puts itself at risk. Politics aside, no matter who you are, if you are infected and cannot be treated, you become your own Typhoid Mary.

  12. Rob permalink
    April 26, 2009 2:19 pm

    Let’s keep letting illegals into the country, not only do they depress wages, bring drug violence to our communities, but can now spread diseases and death. Thank you to the US Chamber of Commerce for bringing all of this to us.

  13. gonut permalink
    April 26, 2009 2:18 pm

    How SAD! They declare an emergency because of 20 sick people with flu, but stay silent for millions of children who get permanently ill after administering vaccines. Is this another big “pharma campaign” to push for more flu vaccines?

  14. proudprogressive permalink
    April 26, 2009 1:10 pm

    Another absolutely fabulous post BK ! Connecting the dots, the questions, that give rise to more questions and the ramifications all very deep subjects. When we as a nation have public health policies and human service policies under a capitalistic philosophy that conflates that economic system with freedom , we put all people at risk – lets hope that not only are we living through the greatest economic robber baron period and depression since that “bad mood” called the “great” depression, that we don’t also experience something as devastating as the 1918 flu – it truly could happen and happen very very fast – we are so much more mobile nowadays –

    and sadly, leaving so many without access to health care will put those lucky enough to have health care access just as vulnerable – public health , socialized YES SOCIALIZED MEDICINE is good for everybody. imo. But the Greed and the corruption of our governing elected officials will find a way to rationalize this potential catastrophe away – just like they have with borrowing obscence sums of money to “fix” the economy when all they have not even really fixed are the people who ought to be being held accountable for the lack of fudiciary responsibility – and thank you Bill Clinton admin , Neo liberals are as dangerous to humanity as Neo Cons same beast..

    and oh to bring back a phrase from the early days of the HIV epidemic …viruses don’t discriminate…we fuck with nature, factory farm, live out of balance, mess with the rain forest, pillage the earth – we get back some instant Karma.

    in the meantime – as serious as this is, its not really time to bash the idiots , its time to hope that this virus gets contained and we do not suffer the loss of what could potentially be millions of lives..history shows it happens..and could be happening again as we type. Silly humans, when will we ever learn ? There are other economic models , there is a better way.

    Thanks again for the go to coverage.

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