The swine flu genie, now officially out of the bottle as a WHO-certified global pandemic, has left a trail of mostly non-lethal misery (so far) stretching across 145-and-counting countries.
- In the U.K., experts predict there could be as many as a 100,000 cases per day by August – which would also dash hopes for an economic recovery any time soon, according to a new study.
- In Argentina, flat-footed bureaucrats are in the cross-hairs for taking too long to implement protective measures. Now Argentine pigs are sick, too.
- In Saudi Arabia, where nary a pig dares wander, officials are bracing for millions of devout Muslims planning hajj trips this November, advising the old, young, pregnant and those with chronic conditions to reschedule.
- In the U.S., a new survey suggests that obesity doubles the risk for serious flu complications. Exactly why this is so is a bit of mystery, but a mouse study may provide a clue. Fat mice produce elevated amounts of leptin, a hormone involved in immune response. Researchers theorize that the mice became desensitized to leptin, so their immune systems don’t kick into gear fast enough. When their immune systems finally do kick in, they go into overdrive with a “cytokine storm” – a defense so strong, it kills the host.
At the other end of the spectrum in the developing word are the nearly one billion chronically hungry weakened by malnutrition. Now factor in air pollution, which has long been known to exacerbate respiratory illnesses in general, and it is really not too much of stretch to say that almost everyone suffers from some kind of complicating underlying condition. To put it in medical terms, co-morbidities are probably the rule, not the exception. (more…)
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