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Monday, 21 December 2009

Scientists discover natural swine flu defence

Scientists found that the virus-fighting proteins protected against swine flu when levels were increased.

When the proteins were removed the swine flu virus was able to multiply in the body unchecked.

The accidental discovery may help to explain why some people develop serious symptoms when they contract flu and others do not.

The protein, IFITM3, and although it appeared to be connected to the functioning of the immune system, how it worked and what it did had never been understood.

Professor Stephen Elledge, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, who led the research, said: "We've uncovered the first-line defence in how our bodies fight the flu virus.

"The protein is there to stop the flu. Every cell has a constitutive immune response that is ready for the virus. If we get rid of that, the virus has a heyday."

The findings, reported in the journal Cell, could pave the way to new kinds of antiviral treatment, say the scientists. However, it remains to be seen what the long-term side effects of boosting levels of the proteins might be.

The news comes as Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer, announced the latest swine flu figures showing a further drop in cases with an estimated 9,000 new diagnoses last week.

It is thought over 800,000 people have suffered symptoms of swine flu since it first emerged in England in April.

It appears that the second wave of the disease is coming to an end but he warned that it is not know what will happen in the New Year.

Sir Liam said the NHS had coped 'brilliantly' with swine flu this year.

The vaccination programme is also progressing with three million people out of the nine million in the first priority groups already immunised.

More than 100,000 pregnant women have so far been vaccinated, Prof David Salisbury, head of immunisation said, out of around 550,000 women who are pregnant at any one time in England.

Two thirds of local NHS organisations have now reached agreements with GPs to start vaccinating children aged between six months and five years.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Recall

Angie Drakulich PharmTech editor

As if the US community isn’t already paranoid enough about the H1N1 swine flu virus and its vaccine, this week, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group in France, recalled 800,000 prefilled vaccines.

The recall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), didn’t have to do with a safety issue (whew!) but rather, a potency problem. In post-shipping stability tests, a few lots of the vaccine did not reach the pre-specified potency limit. Specifically, three lots that had been distributed “had an antigen content that, while properly filled at the time of manufacturing, was later measured to be below pre-specified limits,” according to the CDC fact sheet. It is common to test for stability after a vaccine’s distribution to see how well the drug maintains its potency. Unfortunately, in this case, these particular lots did not measure up.

To make matters worse, the particular lots recalled were meant for children between the ages of 6 months and 35 months, one of the populations at particular risk for getting the swine flu. For many parents, the decision of whether or not to give their child a swine-flu vaccination has been a difficult one. The recall only adds to these parents’ mental debate.

Fortunately, CDC notes on its website that patients who already received the recalled vaccine should be fine—there is no medical danger involved and no further action is necessary. Although I have to wonder how well a vaccine whose potency is less than optimal will work if a vaccinated child is exposed to the virus.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Mysterious blue lights over Norway

A mysterious spiral of light has appeared in northern Norway one day before President Obama arrives to give his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo. The spiral has baffled experts who do not believe it is related to the Aurora Borealis. Speculation that it is a rocket launched by the Russian Northern Fleet has been denied by Russian authorities. Similarly the Norwegian military has claimed no knowledge of any rocket launches in the area. There has been speculation that it may be some exotic weapon system, the opening of a space-time portal, or even UFO activity. Obama’s arrival in Norway on December 10 to give his acceptance speech only adds to the mysterious appearance of the lights. Is it a pure coincidence or is it in some way related to Obama’s upcoming speech?

The object appeared on the morning of December 9 and has been photographed and filmed by thousands of Norwegians over a wide area ranging from Finnmark in the country’s north to Trondelang in the south. It is a giant spiral of green-blue light that appears directed towards a mountain. According to observers, a giant light spiral appeared and within seconds covered the entire sky. A green-blue beam of light then shot out from its center. Here is how Totto Eriksen, from Tromso, in northern Norway described it.

I was driving my daughter to school when this light spun and exploded in the sky. We saw it from the Inner Harbour in Tromso. It looked like a rocket that spun around and around - and then went diagonally across the heavens. It looked like the moon was coming over the mountain - but then turned into something totally different. People just stopped and stared on the pier - it was like something from a Hollywood movie.

The entire event lasted between two-three minutes before disappearing. Norway’s leading meteorologists are baffled, with most concluding it is some kind of rocket launch that went awry. Knut Jorgen Roed Odegaard, Norway's most celebrated astronomer, said:

This was seen over an exceptionally large area of the country - in all of north Norway and the Trondelag. My first thought was that it was a fireball meteor - but it lasted far too long. It may have been a missile from Russia - but I can't guarantee that is the answer. I rang the Air Traffic Control tower in Tromse. They said it was over in two minutes. To me, that is far too long for this to be an astronomical phenomenon. This spiral shape is unique. It is definitely not a variation of the aurora borealis - northern lights.

Obama’s December 10 Nobel Prize acceptance speech is expected to focus on international cooperation on the removal of nuclear weapons and promoting diplomatic solutions to global problems. Coming nine days after Obama’s announcement of a 30,000 troop surge for Afghanistan, it is expected that he will show his commitment to international diplomacy and cooperation. He may use the opportunity to launch a bold international initiative to achieve this end.

The appearance of the enormous light spiral in northern Norway may be a sheer coincidence and unrelated to his upcoming speech in Oslo. Alternatively, the mysterious spiral of light may be a sign from an unknown intelligence that Obama’s acceptance speech may be a catalyst for major global changes that lie ahead. With much speculation that the Obama administration is poised to make some kind of announcement concerning extraterrestrial life soon, the light may be sign for him to boldly go where no U.S. President has gone before.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Patented Six Months Before First Cases of Swine Flu

There are serious accusations that the swine flu virus which is infecting the world populations now, did not exist in the nature, but was constructed in the lab first. And somehow it fled to the outside world. Was this an accident or a deliberate attempt to cause an epidemic so that the swine flu vaccine could be sold which will bring its creators an estimated $ 49 billion this year?

The vaccine was patented six months before the first cases of swine flu appeared.

Apparently the related pharmacy industries and the WHO and U.N. which supported them are reported to the FBI.

If the swine flu epidemic is a deliberate attempt to sell swine flu vaccine, its creators must be tried in a world tribunal, just the same as they tried the Jugoslav leaders for mass murder or as they tried the WW2 criminals for genocide.

www.mercola.com recently published an article that the swine flu vaccine causes miscarriages in pregnant women.

Swedish Aftonbladet daily published a list of 52 side effects of the vaccine, some of them very scary. Three persons died of the vaccine in Sweden. Swedish authorities are very quiet about the side effects, not to scare the people.

A female cheerleader in the U.S.A. was paralyzed because of the vaccine.

Also Turkish Ministry of Health sent a memorandum to all the vaccination centers in Turkey about similar side effects. A Turkish doctor went into coma while being vaccinated.

Similar incidents were recorded in Switzerland.

172.000 doses of vaccines sent to Canada by GlaxoSmithKline were called back, as they can trigger lethal allergic reactions and Canadian authorities were advised not to use them. How much of them are already used is unclear.

The following article will bring to light many aspects of the swine flu and its vaccine.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

China Hit By Swine Flu Mutation

BEIJING – China has detected eight cases of swine flu mutation, a health official said Wednesday, amid longstanding concerns among scientists that the virus could change into a more dangerous form.

Last week, the World Health Organization said it was investigating samples of variant swine flu linked to two deaths in Norway.

But Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center, told the official Xinhua News Agency that the mutated swine flu virus found China has shown an "isolated" spread in the mainland, is not resistant to drugs and can be prevented by vaccines.

The report did not provide any more details, such as when the cases were detected and if they were linked to any deaths. Calls to the National Influenza Center rang unanswered while the Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions.

Swine flu has triggered a global pandemic, and scientists are worried that swine flu could mutate into a more dangerous or more infectious form or swap genes with seasonal or other types of flu.

On Friday, the WHO said it was looking into two deaths and one severe case linked to variant swine flu in Norway, after that country's Institute of Public Health announced that the mutation could possibly cause more severe disease because it infects tissue deeper in the airway than usual.

The same mutation has been found in both fatal and mild cases elsewhere, including in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, and the United States, said the WHO.

WHO's spokeswoman in Beijing, Vivian Tan, said the agency is aware of three such cases in China that occurred in June and July that were similar to the cases being investigated in Norway. Tan said WHO had no information on the cases mentioned in the Xinhua report Wednesday.

There is no evidence the mutated swine flu virus is circulating widely in the world, Tan said, but since it has been linked to deaths in Norway and elsewhere, investigators are focusing on whether this mutation could be a marker for more severe disease.

"We are concerned, but realize that influenza viruses, including A/H1N1, are relatively unstable and change easily, especially as they infect more people," Tan told The Associated Press. "Some mutations can have minimal effects on how a virus functions, while other mutations can create important changes with significant public health impact."

China's Health Ministry said Wednesday that 51 swine flu deaths were reported last week, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 104.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

New Swine Flu Resistant To Drugs

A form of swine flu that is resistant to antiviral drugs has begun spreading between hospital patients in Wales, health officials said.

A strain that appears resistant to Tamiflu, the most common treatment has infected five patients at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. All of them had serious underlying health conditions.

One patient apparently developed resistance to the antiviral drug and the strain was then passed on to others, the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) said. The case is thought to be the first time in Europe that a drug-resistant strain has passed between people.

Two of the five patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital, one is in critical care and two are being treated on the ward. Britain has bought enough doses of Tamiflu, which can shorten the duration of swine flu and reduce the risk of complications, for half of the population.

There have been several dozen reports around the world of people developing resistance to Tamiflu, but there has been only one case of person-to-person transmission of a Tamiflu-resistant strain, between two people at a summer camp in the United States.

The Department of Health said that it was taking the cases seriously, but added that the risk to the general population was low.

“The Tamiflu-resistant virus has emerged in a group of particularly vulnerable individuals . . . these patients are known to be at increased risk of developing resistance to the drug, a spokesman for the Department of Health said.

“Our strategy to offer antivirals to all patients with swine flu is the right one — to help prevent complications and reduce the severity of the illness.”

The NPHS said that the resistant strain did not appear more severe than the virus circulating since the spring. All patients have been tested and those with the resistant strain have been given other antivirals.

Dr Roland Salmon, director of the NPHS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, said: “The emergence of influenza A viruses that are resistant to Tamiflu is not unexpected in patients with serious underlying conditions and suppressed immune systems, who still test positive for the virus despite treatment.

“In this case, the resistant strain of swine flu does not appear to be any more severe than the swine flu virus that has been circulating since April. For the vast majority of people, Tamiflu has proved effective in reducing the severity of illness.

“Vaccination remains the most effective tool we have in preventing swine flu so I urge people identified as being at risk to look out for their invitation to be vaccinated by their GP surgery.”

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A DEADLY plague on the way - worse than swine flu

A DEADLY plague could sweep across Europe, doctors fear, after an outbreak of a virus in Ukraine plunged the country and its neighbours into a state of panic.

A cocktail of three flu viruses are reported to have mutated into a single pneumonic plague, which it is believed may be far more dangerous than swine flu. The death toll has reached 189 and more than 1 million people have been infected, most of them in the nine regions of Western Ukraine.

President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko has called in the World Health Organisation and a team of nine specialists are carrying out tests in Kiev and Lviv to identify the virus. Samples have been sent to London for analysis.

President Yushchenko said: “People are dying. The epidemic is killing doctors. This is absolutely inconceivable in the 21st Century.”

In a TV interview, the President added: “Unlike similar epidemics in other countries, three causes of serious viral infections came together simultaneously in Ukraine – two seasonal flus and the Californian flu

“Virologists conclude that this combination of infections may produce an even more aggressive new virus as a result of mutation.”

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been touring hospitals where victims are being treated and presidential elections in January could be cancelled .

Four men and one woman have died from the flu in Lviv, said emergency hospital chief doctor Myron Borysevych. Two of the dead patients were in the 22-35 age group, with two others over 60. He diagnosed the disease as viral pneumonia.


“We have sent the analyses to Kiev. We don’t believe it’s H1N1 swine flu. Neither do we know what kind of pneumonia it is.”

Universities, schools and kindergartens have been closed, public meetings have been banned and theatres shut. Last week several border crossings in the country were also closed.

Last night reports emerged of profiteering over face masks, which have sold out since the outbreak. There are also incidents of anti-virus medication being sold for exorbitant prices. A spokesman for the World Health Organisation said: “We do not have a time scale for the results of the tests in London, although some preliminary results have been obtained. I cannot tell you what they are.

“We did not have enough of the virus samples so we will have to grow some more before we can come to a conclusive decision about its nature.”

Neighbouring Poland has called on the EU to take action, fearing the mystery virus may spread westwards.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has written to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who holds the EU presidency, saying: “The character of this threat demands that rapid action be undertaken at the European Union level.”

Russia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania, countries that border Ukraine, have already launched health checks on Ukrainians entering their territory.

Slovakia has closed two of five border crossings.

A doctor in Western Ukraine who did not want to be named, said:” We have carried out post mortems on two victims and found their lungs are as black as charcoal.

“They look like they have been burned. It’s terrifying.”


Monday, 9 November 2009

WHO part of plague bioterrorism "exercise" in Europe a month before plague appeared

International Bioterrorism Tabletop Exercise

In September 2009, senior law enforcement officials, health care professionals and experts from international organizations joined their forces to confront a chilling crisis – the plague had just been unleashed on their countries by unknown evildoers.

A fictional scenario with a serious aim

Fortunately, this terrifying situation was a scenario under control, and the civilian authorities were all participants in a Tabletop Exercise on Preventing Bioterrorism hosted by INTERPOL. This exercise simulated a global bioterrorism attack and its aftermath. Participants in the Black Death scenario were faced with a fictional, intentional plague attack involving countries from their region, with the exercise designed to assist them in identifying critical co-operation and co-ordination issues which could hinder a quick and successful response to such an attack in real life.

The idea behind this exercise, the third in a series organized by INTERPOL, has been described by the Organization's Secretary General, Ronald K. Noble, as “helping focus our joint understanding of the role and responsibility of each of us – police, health care professionals, experts – in response to a bioterrorism incident, as well as identifying possible gaps or redundancies so that we can draw lessons from them.”

Inter-agency co-operation in Central and Eastern Europe

Organized by the INTERPOL Bioterrorism Unit, this third edition of the event took place from 29-30 September in Warsaw, Poland. Participants in the workshop numbered 27 from six Central and Eastern European countries (Belarus, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine), as well as 15 participants from international organizations such as Europol, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Control, the European Commission (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs and Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

A wide range of INTERPOL initiatives

The tabletop exercise is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by INTERPOL since the creation of its Bioterrorism Prevention programme. INTERPOL has worked ceaselessly since 2005 to heighten its member countries’ awareness of the dangers of bioterrorism and to enhance their preparedness for a bioterrorist attack. The Bioterrorism Prevention Programme has co-ordinated a series of events, starting with the Global Conference on Preventing Bioterrorism in March 2005; regional workshops in Africa, South America, Europe and Asia; train-the-trainer sessions all over the world; and practical tabletop exercises such as the one outlined above.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Tom Cruise - dead

About an hour ago rumours started circulating the internet that Tom Cruise died of a heart attack today on a return trip from Japan - we will bring you comfirmed news as it appears. At the moment however this appears to be another hoax.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Martial Law In The Ukraine as President Announces Arrests of Opponents of Forced H1N1 Vaccination and Quaranties

The Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko has issued a statement strongly suggesting that the government is preparing to carry out mass forced vaccinations with the untested swine flu jab.

In a statement posted on the government website, Yushchenko announced a crack down on political protests and orders for the arrest of public health officials who have opposed mass "swine flu“ vaccinations and quarantines.

"I instruct the Government and the Ministry of Health to immediately start preventive and promotional work in areas where there is no epidemic, targeting primarily the special risk groups,“ he said.

"This means that medical aid must be urgently reinforced by emergency, critical care treatment. It is generally known that the only way to prevent any infection is vaccination,“ he said.

Yushchenko said he had ordered key medical officials who allowed political protests against the government to continue in the city of Kiev to be arrested under the pretext that they were jeopardising public health.

"I have addressed the Prosecutor General of Ukraine with the request to institute criminal charges of negligence committed by first of all the Chief Sanitary Inspector, Kyiv City Sanitarian and the officials, who, despite having daily information on the epidemic situation in the country, neglected it in pursuit of political dividends and ambition,“ he said.

Furthermore, he strongly suggested that democracy in the Ukraine was about to be uprooted and replaced by military rule under a special "interdepartmental commission“ that follows orders from WHO and the UN.

"We must change the system. We must change the entire system of government in Ukraine,“ Yushchenko said.

"Back in April of 2009 I addressed the Government with the request to establish a special interdepartmental commission on fighting the spread of flu viruses, to finance the establishment of Flu Center and to take all measures to protect the country against flu. That included providing adequate availability of medicines, facemasks and all other necessaries. "

This "interdepartmental commission“ to tackle pandemic flus appears to be subordinated to WHO and the UN under provisions in the International Health Regulations 2005.

In addition, he said he had issued a ban on all medicines to treat infections and will allow the use only of toxic and untested swine flu jabs mandated by WHO: the "vaccines“ are classified as bioweapons by EU and US authorities.

"I demand the Government to immediately cancel the existing order of registration of medical supplies, including vaccines.

Studying this issue by the National Security and Defense Council shown that this procedure has allowed various dealers to bring to Ukraine dubious medicines, which are not recognized by the WHO or other national institutions,“ he said.

In addtion, he said that anyone who did not follow the government’s orders on the pandemic would be arrested.

"Failure to comply with its orders will immediately result in application to the law enforcement authorities,“ he said.

Yushchenko amended the national pandemic plan on October 30th to increase the power of the secret services and police in the event of a pandemic emergency.

In his statement, Yuschenko maintains that the "swine flu“ virus may have mutated into something more virulent. Indeed, a WHO affiliated scientist, Professor Bruno Lina, has been actively looking for a gene to make the H1N1 virus more lethal in a laboratory in Lyon.

The implementation of the emergency comes amid allegations that the government, WHO and the pharmaceutical company, Baxter, were involved in the deliberate release of a pneumonic plague pathogen in order to create chaos and confusion and justify a coup d’etat.

This is the statement by Yushchenko on his website:


November 4, 2009

Dear fellow citizens!

I address you in performance of my constitutional duty under the Article 106 of the Basic Law of the state.

The reason is the emergency epidemic situation in the country.

Infections of viral origin, including the A/H1N1 flu, are rapidly spreading across Ukraine.

The emergency is evident in the scale of the epidemic: the speed and the geography of its spreading, rapid progress of the illness and the exceptional number of deaths.

People are dying. The epidemic is killing doctors. This is absolutely unprecedented and inconceivable in the XXI century.

All the limits have been exceeded - even those under the Constitution that determine my actions as the President.

Therefore I am motivated by the most important: the security of your life and your health.

Therefore I give clear and frank assessment of the situation. And you should know that.

We have special risk factors that aggravate the epidemic in Ukraine.

The conclusions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, my numerous consultations with national and international experts show that.

First. Unlike similar epidemics in other countries, three pathogens of viral infections came to Ukraine at the same time: two of them are seasonal flu and the third is the A/H1N1.

According to virologists, such a combination of infections due to mutation may produce a new, even more aggressive virus.

That's why I have addressed the United Nations with the request to conduct a virologic examination in Ukraine and to establish the appropriate laboratory in order to take timely preventive measures.

Second. The A/H1N1 virus is easily mutating. It has travelled across half of the globe before coming to Ukraine.

This means that the virus has become particularly pathogenic.

This means that medical aid must be urgently reinforced by emergency, critical care treatment.

The third risk factor. It is generally known that the only way to prevent any infection is vaccination.

Due to unprofessional and highly disorganized vaccination against measles and rubella in Ukraine the practice of vaccination is compromised in essence.

According to the estimates of the Minister of Health approximately 58% of citizens are vaccinated today in Ukraine with the effective level being 90% and higher.

People have stopped getting vaccinated against extremely dangerous infections: tuberculosis, diphtheria, etc.

This led to high risk of A/H1N1 infection spread, when the virus came to Ukraine and made impossible preventive vaccination against both strains of seasonal flu.

All this made general epidemic situation in Ukraine even more complicated.

As the President I ask you, dear fellow citizens, to reconsider your attitude to vaccination and do it if necessary, but only, I emphasize it - only after consultation with the doctor.

At the same time I instruct the Government and the Ministry of Health to immediately start preventive and promotional work in areas where there is no epidemic, targeting primarily the special risk groups.

I demand the Government to immediately cancel the existing order of registration of medical supplies, including vaccines.

Studying this issue by the National Security and Defense Council shown that this procedure has allowed various dealers to bring to Ukraine dubious medicines, which are not recognized by the WHO or other national institutions.

Under my direction the Security Service is investigating the issue.

The fourth factor. In reality it is the Reactor 4.

I mean the epidemic, rapid spread of viral infections in the west of the country. The Government, the leadership of the Parliament and the opposition were all aware of that already in early October.

The first and the most effective preventive measure is avoiding large gatherings of people.

Ignoring this principle, hundreds of thousands of people from different regions were brought to Kyiv; from both the areas struck by the epidemic, and those where there was no evidence of this epidemic.

This greatly increased the risk of infection.

I emphasize: it was a well-known thing. And it was ignored by the Chairman of the Parliament, by the opposition leader and, first of all, by the Prime Minister. And Chief Sanitary Inspector, together with his subordinates in the regions, including those in the city of Kiev ignored their professional duty.

This directly reminds of the May Day demonstration in Kiev, held shortly after the accident at Chernobyl NPP.

This is a display of criminal irresponsibility of politicians and complete indifference towards the people.

Let me cite one example. On October 20 the epidemic of flu was declared in Ternopil with schools and kindergartens closed for quarantine. "From October 21 secondary and primary schools are closed due to the growing rate of flu and ARD sickness”. This was the order of local authorities.

As of October 20 the rate of ARD in Ternopil was 172.9 cases per 10 thousand people with epidemiological threshold for the city being 160 patients per 10 thousand people. In other words - all services of the country responsible for monitoring the figure were informed and knew about the situation.

However, not a single Sanitary Inspector has banned either the movement of people, nor their gathering, including those in Kiev on October 24, when people have gathered at the central square.

I would like to remind you, my dear, that on October 24, 2009 10 deaths were known to have occurred in Ternopil region itself and 6 deaths were reported in Lviv region. And in 7 days after the abovementioned gathering Kyiv turned out in the situation, when the rate of sickness demanded the announcement of flu epidemic. This is the behavior of the great politicians. The neglect of elementary means of prevention of a disease in any country in the world, by any society. Because they must conduct a show, they have concerts, because they were paid for and 130 million have already been spent.

In that, dear Ukrainians, I see not only moral but also criminal liability.

I have addressed the Prosecutor General of Ukraine with the request to institute criminal charges of negligence committed by first of all the Chief Sanitary Inspector, Kyiv City Sanitarian and the officials, who, despite having daily information on the epidemic situation in the country, neglected it in pursuit of political dividends and ambition.

Now, the only principle of organizing preventive measures at the national scale should be as follows:

We treat the West and defend East, Center, North and South of Ukraine amain.

I now rely solely on the professionalism of our doctors. Today they are the true heroes of our nation.

I once again demand the Government to comply with the order the National Security and Defense Council to resolve the issue of wages for our doctors in this difficult period for the country.

The fifth factor.

Dear fellow citizens, the key threat that is aggravating the situation is chaos in the system of healthcare and protection of lives of people.

Today we must recognize that Ukraine does not have a single healthcare system. Prevention of any infection, including through vaccination, the localization and overcoming the consequences of epidemics is the responsibility of the State Sanitary-Epidemiological Service of Ukraine.

The Service is headed by the Chief Sanitary Inspector. He is appointed by the Prime Minister.

The current Constitution after alterations in 2004 makes the Government solely responsible for conducting state healthcare policy.

The practice of using the power, as evident today, is a failure.

To the executive power, which is not subordinate to the President, I have suggested the holistic healthcare reforms plan and a set of instructions and recommendations that would help create the optimal model of the system for years to come. My remarks were presented as the groundless interference in Government’s work and as the unfounded criticism.

Back in April of 2009 I addressed the Government with the request to establish a special interdepartmental commission on fighting the spread of flu viruses, to finance the establishment of Flu Center and to take all measures to protect the country against flu. That included providing adequate availability of medicines, facemasks and all other necessaries.

Partial implementation of the instructions has its consequences.

They were not ignoring me – they were ignoring the people, the citizens. It is clear why. Because Ukraine still has unfair system of healthcare - one is for the power, the other is for the people.

We must change the system. We must change the entire system of government in Ukraine.

But now, in this moment there is no time for waiting or remonstrance.

National Security and Defense Council should become the center of decision-making.

Failure to comply with its orders will immediately result in application to the law enforcement authorities.

I remind all the responsible persons and draw attention to all of my orders, made in Lviv four days ago. In three days the deadline for compliance with these orders expires.

With my decree I put Minister of Health and Chief Sanitary Inspector of Ukraine into the Council for National Security and Defense.

I am conscious of my responsibility.

I express deep condolences to the families and relatives of those who have died.

I express my deep appreciation to doctors, who are saving our people risking their own lives. I am moved by this sacrifice. Such a commitment means that the epidemic will be stopped.

I appeal to all of you, dear fellow citizens, to show solidarity, mutual support, and strictly adhere to all the safety regulations regarding protection of your health and lives.

For not a single moment you will be left alone by the state.


Mutation fears grow with swine flu outbreak

More than 80 people have died in Ukraine in the last two weeks and there have been 450,000 cases of respiratory illness.

The World Health Organisation has sent an emergency team to monitor the epidemic and says it assumes most of the illness in the country has been caused by H1N1 swine flu.

The Ukrainian government has closed schools and universities for three weeks, and many public events have been banned.

President Viktor Yushchenko said experts fear the simultaneous existence of three types of flu viruses within the country "may lead to the emergence of an even more aggressive new virus".

The WHO team of nine experts dispatched samples from infected patients for examination at the World Influenza Centre at Mill Hill, in London.

"Many questions remain to be answered," the organisation said in a statement.

"The outbreak in Ukraine may be indicative of how the virus can behave in the northern hemisphere during the winter season, particularly in health care settings typically found in Eastern Europe."

The epidemic is concentrated in the west of the country, which has borders with four European Union states, but a growing number of cases are being reported in the capital Kiev.

The European Union is working closely with health experts in Ukraine, and member states are preparing to provide logistical and medical support if required.

Swine Flu

Austria, Hungary and Slovenia have already said they will send disinfectants, vaccines and respirators.

Slovakia has closed two of its five border crossings with Ukraine, against WHO advice, in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

Ukrainians have complained of their struggle to access medical supplies, and many pharmacies have sold out of face masks as people try to protect their families from infection.

However, with elections in January there is concern that President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who are fierce rivals, are making political capital out of the outbreak.


Saturday, 31 October 2009

Number of victims to unknown virus growing! State of emergency to be imposed in Ukraine?

Yesterday, on October 29 some media reported that allegedly in the Ternopil Region cases of ill people with typhus were registered, and that militarized detachments limited entrance and departure from the territory of the Ternopil Region. However, the Public Relations Center of the Ministry of Emergencies in the Ternopil Region denied information about it.

Yesterday, on October 29 the chief physician of the regional sanitary-epidemiological station Halyna Hrynchuk assured that Kyiv Region is ready for prophylaxis and treatment of influenza, reported Yulia Makoveeva, MIGnews.com.ua correspondent.

In the Ternopil Region 25 percents of infectiologists who worked with patients with acute respiratory viral infections are ill, the chairman of the Association of infectiologists of Ukraine Mykhaylo Andreychin reported yesterday, on October 29 at a press conference.

"One fourth of doctors had such a disease or they are ill with it now. Fortunately, they are recovering now and soon again be able to work", - said Mykhaylo Andreychin.

Yesterday, on October 29 in Morshyn, Lviv Region a doctor from a local hospital, who contacted with patients with viral infection and visited them, died, is reported by the Deputy Chief of the Health protection department in the Lviv Region Iryna Mykytchak. According to her, a 56-year-old woman "had been previously diagnosed with pneumonia," UNIAN reports.

The medical facilities in the Lviv region have medicines for treatment of influenza and acute respiratory infections for the three-day supply, is said in the summary of information of the General Directorate of Health Protection in the Lviv Regional at the State regional Administration, UNIAN reported.

Because of the mass acute respiratory infections residents of the Lviv Region began to buy up antiviral drugs and flu masks. Yesterday, on October 29 the Lviv residents could not purchase masks. Consequently, the director general of the Lviv regional pharmaceutical corporation Nelia Byk appealed to all residents of the region with the request not to buy drugs without the need, Glavred cites the Ministry’s report as saying.

Ministry of Health recommends using the methods of traditional and alternative medicine for prevention of acute respiratory viral diseases, including influenza, Ukrainian News cites the report of the Ministry as saying.

According to experts of Ministry of Health, filling nutrition, conditioning to the cold and frequent airing of premises are effective during the period of active disease. Also, the Ministry recommends using general health-improving and tonic immunomodulatory drugs. In addition, the Ministry recommends frequent hand washing and cover a nose and mouth with a handkerchief when coughing and sneezing.

The number of people suffering from unknown virus in Ukraine is growing. According to the latest data of Ministry of Health, 30 deaths of flu and acute respiratory viral diseases have been recorded, starting from October, 19, in the Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv Regions. In particular, from October, 19 and until 04:00 p.m. on October 29 6 deaths have been recorded in the Ivano-Frankivsk Region, 12 - in the Lviv Region (including 1 child) and 12 - in the Ternopil Region. As of 04:00 p.m. on October 29 the number of people sick with influenza and acute respiratory viral infections in these regions has reached 37, 923 people, 951 out of them have been hospitalized.

11:04 a.m. The information has been received that 3 people died from complicated pneumonia for the last 3 days in Chernivtsi. In total, during the last day the number of people sick with acute respiratory vital infections in Chernivtsi increased from 2,623 to 4,053 people. Only in 8 cases influenza was diagnosed.

According to the doctors, now in Chernivtsi unidentified viral infection is being observed. The first results of virological studies that will identify the virus, will be ready only in two weeks.

Also, three people died in the Rivne Region, and one person- in Transcarpathia.

In total, according to unconfirmed reports, 37 people died.

In connection with this anti-epidemic measures are introduced at the Lviv railway.

A spokesman for the chairman of the Lviv regional state administration Olha Kulyk also reported that "Lviv airport and Lviv Customs are under control”.

The Ternopil Regional Council decided to hold an extraordinary session on October 30. MPs will start the meeting at 02:00 p.m. today.

The emergency antiepidemic and antiepizootic Committee will be gathered today in the Cabinet of Ministers, declared First Deputy Prime Minister Olexander Turchynov in the air of 5 Kanal.

In addition, commenting on the growth of drug prices, he appealed to owners of pharmacies: "Stop be a parasite on the problems of citizens and do not play with the prices because we will have to answer for it. We are not joking, and we will act fairly tightly."

Olexander Turchynov also said that the leadership of the Ternopil Regional Health Protection Department "waited for a few weeks, did not informed the center and only after they had realized they would not cope with the situation, attended the press conference, instead of immediately informing Kyiv”.

Poland is keeping an eye on the situation with a possible virus epidemic in Ukraine. But while the State Sanitary Inspectorate of the country (GIS) does not see reasons to limit or close traffic on the common border. According to the GIS, the inspection has instructed its offices in Rzeszow and Lublin strengthen sanitary control at checkpoints on the common border, as well as monitor the current situation. In addition, the service should inform travelers about the possible threat of the epidemic and prevent the need to immediately contact a doctor in case of symptoms appearing.

GIS representative noted that from October 31 to November 3 the number of Poles crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border, will increase because many people will visit the cemeteries in Ukraine.

Member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Health Lilia Hrihorovich (Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense faction) is convinced of the necessity to declare the state of emergency in five regions of Ukraine.

MP of the Verkhovna Rada from the Party of Regions faction, deputy chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Health Viktor Korzh says that the Ministry of Health is not ready to struggle against flu and acute respiratory viral infections epidemic.

Director of the Ukrainian Center for influenza and respiratory infections, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Olexander Hrynevich is convinced that Ukraine needs a massive vaccination against influenza in connection with a high incidence of acute respiratory infections. By reports of Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, Ukrainian News, Ukrainskaya pravda

As a reminder, October 28 flu epidemic in the Ternopil Region, which had appeared a week ago, mowed down nearly 10,000 of residents. Moreover - unknown virus has already killed seven people. Ministry of Health has confirmed 20 deaths from pneumonia in Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv Regions.

A closed meeting has been held in Ivano-Frankivsk, at which participants agreed that epidemic of the so-called "pneumonic plague" is being spread throughout Ukraine. But the problem is its form is unknown, it is ATYPICAL nobody knows how to treat it.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Obama declares national emergency on swine flu

President Obama Saturday declared the H1N1 flu a national emergency, clearing the way for legal waivers to allow hospitals and doctors offices to better handle a surge of new patients.

The proclamation will grant Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius the power to authorize the waivers as individual medical facilities request them, officials said.

It says that Obama does "hereby find and proclaim that, given that the rapid increase in illness across the Nation may overburden health care resources and that the temporary waiver of certain standard Federal requirements may be warranted in order to enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the United States constitutes a national emergency."

White House officials downplayed the dramatic-sounding language, saying the president's action was not prompted by a new assessment of the dangers posed to the public by the flu.

Instead, officials said the action provides greater flexibility for hospitals which may suddenly find themselves confronted with a surge of new patients as the virus sweeps through their communities.

"The H1N1 is moving rapidly, as expected. By the time regions or healthcare systems recognize they are becoming overburdened, they need to implement disaster plans quickly," White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said Saturday.

The waivers authorized by the president's actions still require individual requests by the hospitals, Cherlin said.

"Adding a potential delay while waiting for a National Emergency Declaration is not in the best interest of the public, particularly if this step can be done proactively as we are doing here," he said.

If granted a waiver, hospitals would be freed from some regulations that guide their behavior during normal day-to-day operations. Cherlin provided the following example:

"Requirements under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act would prohibit hospitals from certain rapid triage or sorting activities and prevent the establishment of off-site, alternate care facilities that could off-load emergency department demand," he said.

Public health experts praised the move, saying it was an important precautionary step that could help hospitals and other first responders care for large numbers of sick people as the outbreak continues.

"We know a number of hospitals are already experiencing high but manageable loads. It's not a stretch to imagine that hospitals could be strained," said Jennifer Nuzzo of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity. "It's a just a precautionary move so if need be we can focus on the care of patients rather than focus on administrative hurdles. In disasters, you often don't have the time or luxury to keep the paperwork in order. You want hospitals focusing on patients."

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Death after swine flu vaccine and more reports flooding in

Yesterday 30 people had been reporting to the authorities in Sweden that they experienced such severe side effects that they felt the need to contact a hospital. Today the number is 140. The swedish newspaper Expressen is the only one in Sweden reporting on these cases and as usual this is most likely only the tip of a rather large iceberg. UPDATE: According to Dagens Nyheter, the number of reported side effects are now a few hours later 190. 1 person dies after the injection but "no direct relation with the injection has been established". The biggest medical scandal in the history of Sweden has just started.

Even so, Annika Linde, director of The Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI) manages to spin this into something positive by stating "The vaccine has more side effects than the normal flu vaccine. It is a sign that proves that it gives an effective protection."

Thousands of Swedes have been vaccinated so far and the reports of side effects are "flooding in" to The Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI). Annika Linde: "It is obviously so that the vaccine against the swine flu results in more side effects than the normal flu vaccines. That is because the swine flu vaccine contains adjuvants, shark liver oil, which triggers the immune defense to respond. That also results in that the protection against the virus becomes better."

Several severe cases of allergic reactions are reported to the unit for medicinal safety. "So far the reported side effects are not unexpected", says Gunilla Sjölin Forsberg. This unit has now asked some of the many units that vaccinate to report side effects to better get a grip on the situation. This statement alone is shocking since according to normal practice, all side effects should automatically be reported - right?

A nurse who took the shot on wednesday last week is still feeling sick. She got high fever and shivers from the swine flu shot. "-I was shaking in my whole body. It was so sever that I could not even hold a glass of water in my hand.", Lotta Lindström says.

"- I am now thinking about what it is I have been injected with. I really was affected. It feels really unpleasant."

De blev sjuka av vaccinet - Hälsa - Expressen.se

Maria Strindlund is not so sure she made the right choice to tae the shot. She also got a severe fever and shivering reaction. "- Since I work as a nurse, I decided it was the best thing to do.", she says. At first she felt nothing from the vaccinaton, but a few hours later the side effects kicked in. "- I got a extreme pain in my arm. I could no longer lift it." The came the fever and the shivering. " _ I was lying in bed shivering and was feeling very cold and stood in a hot shower to get warm." She says many colleguse who also took the vaccine have had similar reactons. She has been taking many vaccines in the past without any reactions whatsoever.

Maria, 27: "Fick fruktansvärt ont" - Hälsa - Expressen.se

Rebecka Andersson was the first person to get the shot in Sweden. She became feverish and felt sick to her stomach from the shot. " - I lost all energy", she says. "-I am normally never sick so I understood it must be the vaccine." Her class mates was vaccinated at the same time and she states that five out of nineteen also got sick from the swine flu vaccine.

Rebecka, 32: "Jag blev orkeslös" - Hälsa - Expressen.se

Lotta Lindström, a nurse, states that she got the shot a week ago and still is not well. "- It feels very worrying", she says. "- I did not sleep anything the night after the shot since the pain in my arm was so severe." The day after, at work, the fever came. She later had headaches. She still today, a week after the shot feels sick.

Lotta, 49: "Jag sov inte något på natten" - Hälsa - Expressen.se

Another nurse, Jennely, could hardly walk five meters after she got sick from the "swine flu" vaccination. She was completely healthy when she got the shot but the day after she had 39 degrees centigrade fever (102.2 F). "- I could hardly walk the five meters I had to the bathroom", she says. The fever lasted for three days. sevreal of her colugueges at work had similar experiences. "- I know of at least ten that got fever , we are about 80 people at my workplace."


"Swine Flu" in Canadian turkeys

"Swine Flu" in Canadian turkeys 21 Oct 2009
The novel H1N1 virus has been reported in a flock of breeder turkey hens in Ontario, Canada. A decreased production of turkey hatching eggs was detected, which led to the confirmation.

Turkey Farmers of Canada reports that the producer has voluntarily quarantined his flock, and that the unhealthy birds will not go to market.

While health officials declined to name the farm involved, it is being reported that the infected birds belonged to Hybrid Turkeys, a Kitchener, Ontario-based breeder.

Ontario's chief veterinarian, Dr. Deb Stark, says the transmission of the H1N1 virus most likely involved human to bird transmission, reports the Digital Journal.

Monday, 19 October 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Locations: Where to get the H1N1 vaccine?

H1N1 Vaccine Locations: Where to get the H1N1 vaccine?
Oct 19, 2009
Written By: Mary Wea Morales

After USDA confirms H1N1 is positive in Minnesota pigs, a lot of people in the United States got panicked. Now people are looking and searching in the internet about the whereabouts to buy or get an H1N1 vaccine. People are very eager to know the location of where to avail the vaccine for H1N1.

After USDA confirms H1N1 is positive in Minnesota pigs, a lot of people in the United States got panicked. Now people are looking and searching in the internet about the whereabouts to buy or get an H1N1 vaccine. People are very eager to know the location of where to avail the vaccine for H1N1. There are a lot of gossips about this but we should be sure to get the right information about where to avail the H1N1 Vaccine.

It was reported that the vaccine for the H1N1 virus has been released. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government has purchased 250 million H1N1 vaccine doses.

250 million will be dispersed throughout the United States. The H1N1 vaccine can be given at the same time with other vaccines.

The St. Louis County Department of Health, among other health departments, is in the process of setting up public vaccination sites. The exact location of where to get or avail these H1N1 vaccine will soon be announced. So stay tuned for more updates.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Judge puts temporary stop to mandatory H1N1 Swine Flu vaccine

On October 16th, a judge in New York State suspended a health regulation requiring health care workers – and volunteers – to receive mandatory H1N1 swine flu vaccinations.

Why Were Health Care Workers Being Required to Receive the Swine Flu Vaccine?

The New York State Health Department and the state's health commissioner, Dr. Richard F. Daines, imposed the rule in an effort to assure the health and safety of hospital patients, whose immune systems are already compromised, and are thus at higher risk for swine flu and severe swine flu symptoms.

Hospitals and other organizations have interpreted the regulation, which required vaccination by November 30th, as grounds to fire workers and turn away volunteers who do not comply.

What Does the Suspension of the Mandatory Vaccination Regulation Mean?

Justice Thomas J. McNamara of the State Supreme Court issued the temporary suspension until a second hearing on October 30th, where it will either be removed again or made permanent.

In effect, the regulation, or lack there of, will probably make little difference to patients; hospitals will still offer the vaccines to employees, and most would receive them anyway. But there are a few who are unsure of the safety of the vaccines, especially for those workers who are pregnant. And there are more who are simply uncomfortable with the idea of being required to receive the swine flu vaccine, regardless of their personal choice. Patricia Finn, a lawyer in a separate but related case, told the New York Times, that this is their primary concern; "[vaccination is] not like getting your teeth cleaned," she claims, "it’s pretty serious. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Should you get the H1N1 Vaccine? Growing fears ...find out.

Should I get the new H1N1 vaccine?

Are there any downsides or risks associated with the new swine flu vaccine? With many people asking that question, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions - along with some less frequently asked ones. This article will help the reader to make an informed decision about the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated.
Just in time for the flu season, the H1N1 vaccine has started to ship around the world. With mixed messages and conflicting advice running rampant, many people find themselves unsure as to whether or not they should get vaccinated. The swine flu has claimed more than 5,000 lives as of early October, but the vaccine itself is not without risk. We have summarized the necessary facts and commonly asked question regarding the H1N1 vaccine. Should I get the H1N1 vaccine?

Are all vaccines created equal?

No. There are two types of H1N1 vaccines: the old-fashioned needle-injection and the nasal spray. The injection, often refered to as a "shot", contains fragments of the killed H1N1 inflenza virus. The nasal spray, which most children would surely prefer, actually contains a weakened virus.

Does it matter which one I get?

Yes. While the nasal spray may be preferable to children over an old-fashioned injection, experts warn that certain group of people should avoid the nasal spray. Young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened or compromised immune systems are advised against getting the nasal spray. The spray, which actually contains a weakened but living virus, could potentially be strong enough to result in serious health complications.

Are they safe?

We're not really sure. Officials at the National Institute of Health claim there are "no serious side effects," aside from redness and swelling at the site of injection - but we have been digging a bit deeper and found other facts to be aware of. A source at the NIH admitted that the vaccine(s) were one of the fastest human vaccines in development, according to CBS correspondent Sharyl Atkinson. In order to get these vaccines to market so quickly, the United States government granted "liability protection" to swine flu vaccine manufacturers. This protection allowed the drug companies to fast-track production by adding unlicensed components, some of which have been shown to cause autoimmunity in animals. In other words, you might be taking a vaccine has been licensed without normal safety regulations - and if you suffer adverse reactions, the drug manufacturer is immune from legal liability.

Aside from being rushed-to-market, are there any unsafe ingredients I should know about?

Some shots will contain the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, which some believe to be harmful to children. The CDC claims there is no evidence of this. However, a US Congressional Report on Mercury in Medicine, released in 2003, claimed that there is a link between thimerosal and the development of autism, along with other brain development disorders. Additionally, some vaccines use squalene, an immune adjuvent that causes the immune system to react in a powerful and unnatural way. The purpose is to reduce the amount of vaccine needed per dose. The American Journal of Pathology published a study in 2000 which cited a possible link between adjuvants and arthritis and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Critics claim the use of adjuvants was another unsafe result of the vaccine being rushed out the door.

Are they safe for my children?

Again, we don't know. Many of these vaccines were tested on a few hundred healthy children. It is unclear how children with certain allergies or health conditions might react, as they haven't been thoroughly tested.

What if I'm pregnant?

Pregnant women are 6 times as likely to die if they are infected with the swine flu, so most experts advise pregnant women to take the vaccine. Pregnant women should only take the injection, not the nasal spray.

What does the CDC say?

The CDC lists 5 group of people who should get the H1N1 vaccine:
1) Pregnant women
2) Caregivers and people who come into contact with children younger than 6 months of age
3) Everyone between 6 months and 24 years old
4) People between 25 and 64 years old who have existing medical conditions
5) Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel

So what's the bottom line? Should I take it or not?

Well, the World Health Organisation claims that 30-50% of people infected with influenza have mild or no symptoms at all. On the other hand, serious health complications, including death, have been occuring in 1% of swine flu patients. If you fall into one of the 5 groups advised by the CDC, you should probably give stronger consideration to getting vaccinated. But everyone's situation is different. There's a risk associated with getting the vaccine, and there's a risk associated with not getting it. Our advice is to educate yourself as much as possible and make an informed decision, based on your age, your medical history, and the general strength of your immune system.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

Swine Flu Taking A Deadly Turn

WASHINGTON, DC (Associated Press) - A top federal health official is calling the latest numbers on the spread of H1N1 flu "very sobering."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the new swine flu strain is striking the U.S. early and hard. They say this virus is different from regular winter flu because it strikes the young far more than the old.

Since September, the deaths of 43 children have been reported -- including 11 during the past week.

The CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat (SHU'-kit) says that's a startling number because in some past winters, the CDC has counted 40 or 50 child deaths for the entire flu season. And no one knows how long this swine flu outbreak will last.

The World Health Organization also warns that -- in contrast to regular winter flu -- swine flu can sometimes cause a very severe viral pneumonia in otherwise healthy young adults.

Meanwhile, the federal government warns that swine-flu vaccine supplies will become more scarce than expected through October. Manufacturer delays mean flu-shot clinics in some parts of the country may have to be postponed.

Federal health officials say, however, that enough vaccine will eventually be available for everyone who wants it.

Swine flu kills 11 children in past week

Swine flu is causing unprecedented illness for so early in the fall -- including a worrisome count of child deaths -- and the government warned Friday that vaccine supplies will be even more scarce than expected through this month.

Federal health officials said 11 more children have died in the past week because of the virus.

Manufacturer delays mean 28 million to 30 million doses, at most, will be spread around the country by the end of the month. That means flu-immunization clinics in some parts of the country may have to be postponed.

Meanwhile, preliminary tests show three pigs in Minnesota may have contracted the swine flu virus, making them the first potential U.S. cases in swine, agricultural officials said. They stressed that he finding does not threaten food safety.


Friday, 16 October 2009

Swine flu detected in pigs in Minnesota

CHICAGO: Pigs in the state of Minnesota may have become infected with swine flu, officials said on Friday, citing preliminary tests taken at a state fair.

If the initial results are confirmed it would be the first case of the pandemic virus detected in US hogs.

"We currently are testing the Minnesota samples to determine if this is 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

"I want to remind people that they cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products."

The pigs sampled at the fair showed no sign of illness and were apparently healthy, the agriculture department said.

However an outbreak of swine flu occurred in a group of children housed in a dormitory at the fair around the same time the tests were conducted from August 26 through September 1.

"Information available at this time would suggest the children were not sickened by contact with the fair pigs," the agriculture department said.

Final test results are expected in a few days.

At least 4,735 people have died from swine flu infections since the A(H1N1) virus was uncovered in April, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

This is an increase of 210 fatal cases from a week ago when 4,525 deaths were recorded, the UN health agency said in its weekly update of the pandemic.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

U.S. could potentially use controversial adjuvants in swine flu vaccine

The World Health Organization estimates that a worldwide production capacity of 3 billion doses of pandemic H1N1 vaccines will be used to prevent the outbreak and spread of the 2009 H1N1 flu, or "swine flu," as it is better known. This ambitious plan for widespread vaccine use, albeit inadequate for a total population of 6.8 billion people, has drawn criticism regarding the vaccine's safety, and the use and potential use of vaccine adjuvants.

In the alternative health community, chiropractor Ginger Mills, DC, of Redwood City, is concerned that adjuvants, especially squalene, will be added to vaccines used in the U.S., should the number of cases rise. "Squalene is an oil that is found in olives and in certain other foods, and is perfectly healthy when you ingest it — but when injected into the bloodstream, it can have adverse effects."

Adjuvants enhance or "supercharge" the immune response, reduce the number of vaccines needed, and allow supplies to last longer. Currently, aluminum salts are the only approved vaccine adjuvants for use in the United States. The use of adjuvants has been suspected, but not confirmed, in the development of illnesses in Gulf War veterans who may have received squalene-containing anthrax vaccines.

However, the current stock of U.S. swine flu vaccines does not contain adjuvants, according to Anne Schuchat, MD, in an informational video produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Schuchat does acknowledge that there is an emergency provision to use them — should the pandemic accelerate.

Adjuvants are being used in swine flu vaccines in countries outside of the United States, including Canada, Europe and Australia. However, even though Canada is using an adjuvanted vaccine, it has also ordered 1.8 million doses of the unadjuvanted vaccine for use in pregnant women and children under the age of 3.

Maine physician Meryl Nass, MD, has written widely on the use of vaccines. "If novel adjuvants do get added (in the U.S.) — only if conditions change — it would preclude the quick licensure process that took place for the licensed H1N1 vaccines. Recipients would need to sign an informed consent for an experimental product," said Nass. "I do not believe they would be 'secretly' added."

The World Health Organization has tried to allay concerns about the vaccine and states that clinical trials suggest this vaccine is as safe as the seasonal influenza vaccines, and that most countries have vaccine monitoring systems in place. Without specifically addressing the use of adjuvants, WHO states that any vaccine side effects are expected to be of short-term duration, such as injection site soreness, swelling and redness, and possibly, headache, fever and muscle aches. However, WHO also has a disclaimer that "even very large clinical trials will not be able to identify possible rare events that can occur when pandemic vaccines are administered to many millions of people."

With a pivotal and profitable role played by the pharmaceutical industry in vaccine production, Nass suggests that there is a lack of "unconflicted data" available about adjuvants. "Nearly all of the MF59 (adjuvant) data were derived from the manufacturer of MF59, for example," said Nass. "It is more the lack of reliable data, and gives the impression that something is being hidden. Those of us who are familiar with the subject are concerned that if these adjuvants were used en masse, we would face some bad outcomes. The FDA has been sitting on them for 10 years, and usually, that means that the FDA is aware of significant problems."

Nass testified before Congress in 2001 that the FDA needed to make a decision on the safety of adjuvants, so manufacturers could know whether they could include them in vaccines or not. "It seems that the FDA and the manufacturers have been waiting for a pandemic to solve the problem for them," said Nass. "It was going to be avian flu — an adjuvanted vaccine for H5N1 avian flu was approved in many countries, but the disease never spread person to person. Then swine flu came along, and Glaxo and Novartis got another bite at the cherry. You see, once these adjuvants get into licensed products in the U.S., they will become part of all sorts of novel vaccines for cancer and non-infectious diseases, whose antigens are waiting in the wings."

The adjuvant question may not be answered in this pandemic go-round either. In the latest CDC FluView assessment of influenza activity in the United States, there is swine flu activity in 26 states — but many of the cases are mild and are not included in the count. The U.S. government has ordered 195 million vaccines that will be distributed through coordination with states and distribution centers.

While the official influenza season began Oct. 4, cases of swine flu appeared earlier — even in a number of pandemic experts themselves. And when it becomes personal, the use of a vaccine may seem like a good idea.

Author of "The Coming Plague," Laurie Garrett wrote in Newsweek about her September bout with swine flu, and described its symptoms as "days of semi-delirium, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and stomach twisting."

Another pandemic expert and Google executive, Larry Brilliant, led the WHO team that was responsible for smallpox eradication in Southeast Asia and India. Brilliant, a physician and epidemiologist, is now president of the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, and recently became one of the expected 100 million Americans to develop the swine flu.

"But while I was never sick enough to consider going to see my doctor or going to an ER, I would not wish this disease on anyone and I certainly would have preferred a vaccination to this teeth-rattling bug," wrote Brilliant on Huffington Post.

"Most poignantly, even though I tried to stay isolated, I infected one of my children who also spent a lousy sweat-soaked, teeth-chattering week dancing with the swine. No loving parent would ever want to spread this disease to his or her kids. If the sole reason to get vaccinated were to prevent my spreading this disease to my family and community, that alone would make getting vaccinated an easy choice for me."


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Swine Flu to-do ( and not to-do ) run down

Swine flu vaccines are rolling out this month -- finally. Health-care workers in Indiana and Tennessee were the first to get the nose-spray version, while New Yorkers clamoring for the H1N1 vaccine finally had their chance too.
People with flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches, stuffy nose, and chills, should stay home.

However, the onslaught of information about H1N1 -- be it playground rumors, employer signs telling you to cover your cough, memos from your kids' school, or scary-sounding news reports -- is making it pretty hard to figure out what you should be doing right now.

Although some people have already been vaccinated, it could be weeks -- depending on your age and risk factors -- before you even get a chance at the shot (or spray). So now what?

Sometimes it feels like you have two choices. A: Wring your hands endlessly about something over which you have no control. Or, B: Tune out the static and pretend this is all just a horrible dream. (Call it the ignore-the-whole-sorry-mess-until-my-neighbor-is-sick approach.)

Well, guess what? There are a few things you should -- and should not -- be doing at the moment. Here's your guide.

Look up local flu outbreaks.

If you're getting most of your news from the Internet -- and about 40 percent of people say they do -- you may not be up on H1N1 activity in your community.

Take the time to check local flu activity on the online version of your local newspaper (remember those?) or health department, or check out Web sites like Google Flu Trends (though keep in mind that this map is based on search trends and could be skewed if lots of healthy people are searching for information). There's also FluTrends, which is produced by Rhiza Labs, and includes past cases and current activity, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) weekly flu update.

If your city or state is a bit of a hot spot, you may need to focus on some of these to-do points sooner than others. The good news is that some of the hardest hit areas in spring -- like New York -- don't seem to have that many H1N1 cases at the moment. (Experts estimate that up to 1 million New Yorkers may have had H1N1 in the spring, which would protect against subsequent infections.)
Don't Miss

* To fight flu, arm your immune system with diet, rest
* To vaccinate or not? Some wary on H1N1 choice
* H1N1: Fighting swine flu

Don't panic.

For most people, an H1N1 infection is generally mild and can be cured with time, bed rest, and fluids. The virus is serious, though -- particularly for those in high-risk groups. So far this year, 28 pregnant women have died of H1N1, and 76 children died in the spring. "At least two-thirds of [the children] had underlying conditions, which we recognize as putting them at increased risk for complications," says Dr. Nathan Litman, the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, in New York City. High-risk people, whether adults or children, tend to have chronic heart or lung conditions (including asthma), weakened immune systems due to disease or chemotherapy treatment, or diabetes.

That said, H1N1 will feel like seasonal flu for most people. "I'd say at the present time the swine flu looks no more serious than the routine seasonal influenza," says Litman.

Stay home.

Are you sick right now? Say, with flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches, stuffy nose, and chills? Sorry, but it's quite possible you already have swine flu. Experts say that flu activity is higher-than-normal for this time of year and almost all of it is due to H1N1. If you (or your child) are not in a high-risk group, it's best to stay put.

If a child is 2 or older "and has no risk factors for complications and has fever, runny nose, or cough, the best thing to do is to stay home," says Litman. "Plenty of fluids, Tylenol, Motrin, or Advil for fever, and it should run its course on its own." Health.com: How to call in sick without jeopardizing your job

If a child has difficulty breathing, is unable to take fluids, or starts to be less responsive, or after appearing to recover from the influenza develops a fever and starts coughing again, then see a doctor.

If you are pregnant and have flu symptoms, it might be best to call your doctor before going in to see him or her, says Litman. Health.com: 8 Ways swine flu is changing society

"They may want to set up a separate location to be seen or separate times to see sick patients," he says. "You don't want the pregnant woman with influenza who is coughing and sneezing to go into the room with pregnant women who are well and just there to get routine prenatal care."

Understand the risks.

While the symptoms of H1N1 may be no different from seasonal flu, there are some key differences. H1N1 may be easier to catch than regular flu, and younger people may be more likely to come down with it than older people.

"From what I've seen, I actually believe it to be more contagious," says Litman. Often with the seasonal flu that's circulating, a percentage of the population has some immunity to it. With H1N1, it looks like most people -- other than the elderly -- have no immunity to it, and that may be why it appears more contagious, he says.

People who are older than 60 may have been exposed to a swine-flu-like virus in the distant past, which is giving them an edge with this pandemic. That's not to say they can't get sick, but "many of them appear to have immunity from a prior infection with a similar virus or cross reactions with a similar virus that help protect them against the swine flu," says Litman.

Get a seasonal flu shot. The regular seasonal flu shots are available now, and it makes sense to "get the jab" (as the Brits say). While most flu cases happening right now are caused by H1N1, "in two months or three months it may be the regular seasonal flu and we should be prepared for that," says Litman. "Since that vaccine is currently available, I recommend that everyone considered a risk group receive the seasonal flu vaccine." Seasonal flu can be just as dangerous as H1N1; about 36,000 people die, including about 80 children, of seasonal flu every year.

Get a pneumonia vaccine.

What, another shot? For the vaccine wary, this might just feel like one too many pinpricks. However, the pneumonia vaccine, a shot that can help prevent any illness caused by certain types of pneumococcus bacteria, including meningitis and ear infections, may be a good idea too.

The CDC has analyzed H1N1-related deaths and found many people who died had dual infections, including some with pneumococcus. The good news is that if you're up-to-date on your child's vaccines, they probably already have it. Approved in 2001 and called Prevnar, it's routinely given to children.

Another vaccine, Pneumovax, is available for adults, and is recommended for the elderly and those at high risk of infections.

Wash your hands.

Just about every expert is chanting a "wash your hands" mantra. And, in fact, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol rub can help. However, when it comes to flu, just keep in mind that hand-washing may fall into the "can't hurt and may help" category. Because flu virus can hitch a ride on airborne water droplets, you can inhale the virus and get sick even if you wear gloves 24-7 or scrub-in like a brain surgeon. But again, flu viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. So, yes, wash up. Plus, good hygiene can protect you from other germs, like pneumococcus, which could make a simple case of flu much worse when added into the mix. Health.com: 10 Ways you may be putting yourself at risk for swine flu

Don't stock up on face masks or Tamiflu.

If you're the type of person who hoarded cans of soup and bottled water in 1999 just in case the world ended in 2000, it can be tempting to grab a box of surgical masks "just in case." The CDC and most experts say that's not a recommended or a proven way to prevent infection, although some studies suggest that they can be helpful in homes with a flu-infected family member or when used by hospital workers in place of a N95 respirator.

And while it may seem perfectly harmless to stockpile antiviral drugs, it isn't. If Tamiflu is gathering dust in your medicine cabinet, then people who truly need it may find the pharmacies are fresh out. And the surest route to a drug-resistant flu virus is having people taking it "just in case" or for symptoms that would go away on their own.

Get a swine flu vaccine -- really.

Or at least seriously consider it. Lots of people are not crazy about vaccines in general, and fully one-third of parents say they're going to skip them for their child, according to an AP poll. Understandable. Taking something that could cause side effects, when you feel (or your child feels) perfectly healthy is tough. But keep in mind that if you're thinking about waiting until swine flu is in full force in your community, it may be too late. It can take several weeks after vaccination before your immune system ramps up to full-protection mode. Health.com: Home treatment for flu

If you or your child is perfectly healthy, you can get the nose-spray version, which contains a weakened, but not killed, virus. Unfortunately, if you're in a high-risk group, you may have to wait a bit for the version with killed virus, which is given in shot form. Those should be available in mid- to late-October.

While mulling over your options, try not to think of large federal agencies as faceless giants trying to impose vaccines on you. In fact, such agencies are staffed by scientists and doctors who are trying to protect the public.

"Each year approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of children between 5 and 19 years of age get influenza, that not only keeps them out of school for a few days, but they are also the epicenter of the epidemic -- they spread it to household contacts, other school contacts, and high-risk people in the community, like the elderly -- their grandparents," says Litman. "For their benefit and for the benefit of others, it's wise to get both the seasonal flu vaccine and swine flu vaccine."

Don't let the past haunt you. Although the 2009 virus has been tagged with the unfortunate moniker swine flu (just like the 1976 version), there is a world of difference between the two. For one, they are different viruses. And if you were alive in 1976, you were probably digging the bicentennial, groovy pants, and platform shoes, but your chances of getting swine flu were pretty much nil. (There were roughly 200 cases in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the virus never spread.) Health.com Swine flu in perspective: Pandemic scares throughout history

Fast forward to 2009, which is truly a pandemic -- there have been more than 340,000 confirmed cases worldwide and nearly 44,000 confirmed and probable cases in the U.S. alone. (The CDC estimates that more than 1 million people have contracted swine flu, but that their cases weren't recorded because they didn't seek treatment.) And the '76 version did have a problem with side effects, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare condition in which the immune system attacks nerves, resulting in weakness and even paralysis (although most people eventually recover).

However, the vaccine production used in the 1970s now looks as outdated as your striped bell-bottoms and rockin' sideburns.

"Over the years there have been several improvements in vaccine manufacturing," says Dr. Claudia Vellozzi, the assistant director of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office. "That certainly plays a role in improved vaccine safety now, compared to 1976."
Health Library

* MayoClinic.com: Swine flu (H1N1 flu)

Of the 30 to 40 million people vaccinated for swine flu in 1976, about 1 in 100,000 did develop GBS. However, current research suggests there is little to no GBS risk associated with seasonal flu vaccine.

"There have been one or two studies that showed that if there is a risk, it's very small, or about one in 1,000,000 additional cases of GBS would be attributable to the flu vaccine -- but most studies have not supported any association," she says. (There are 2,000 to 3,000 GBS cases in the U.S. every year, unrelated to vaccines, says Vellozzi. The cause is unknown, but it can be triggered by infections.)

"In terms of our current vaccine, we expect to have a similar safety profile as our seasonal flu vaccine, which has a good track record," she says.

Be prepared.

If you do want to get an H1N1 flu shot, it's best to be patient. It may take weeks before everyone who wants one can get it. In the meantime, think about what you will do if you or a family member does get sick.

"Get immunized, wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose if you're sneezing or coughing, stay home if you're sick, and if any warning signs come up -- difficulty breathing, not responsive as usual, unable to take fluids, or after a day or two of the fever coming down and having more fever and cough again -- see the doctor," says Litman

Monday, 12 October 2009

Growing evidence Swine Flu was made in a lab then released (video)

There has been growing evidence now for some time that the Swine Flu virus H1N1 is a created pandemic , should this effect the steps you take when considering vaccinations and medication the gov are insitant that we take? Watch the video below.

Michael Jackson's This Is It leaked

A snippet of the new Michael Jackson song, "This Is It," was apparently leaked online before its planned release on the late singer's Web site early Monday.
Interest has been running high in "This Is It" -- the song, the two-disc album and the movie.

Interest has been running high in "This Is It" -- the song, the two-disc album and the movie.

About 45 seconds of the song made the rounds online Sunday.

Jackson's song was released on Michaeljackson.com about midnight Monday. It will be followed by a two-disc album on October 26. One of the albums is named after the song.

The album "This Is It" features music that inspired the film "Michael Jackson's This Is It," which is scheduled for release October 28.

The album's first disc features some of Jackson's biggest hits, arranged in sequence as they appear in the film. The disc ends with "This Is It," which includes backup vocals by The Jacksons.

Disc two offers previously unreleased versions of some of the artist's classic tracks.

The song will play at the close of the film, which will feature Jackson's career highlights and last rehearsals, his publicists said. (CNN)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Swine Flu Proof business suit now on the market

A Japanese company claims to have created a swine flu-proof suit that reportedly shields the wearer from the deadly bug.

The business suits, which come in a range of colours and styles, are coated with titanium dioxide which reportedly breaks down the H1N1 virus when it comes into contact with the suit.

The chemical reacts to light and has also been used in cosmetics, toothpaste and sunscreen.

There have been more than 340,000 confirmed cases of swine flu and 4100 deaths around the world since the global outbreak was identified in April.

A total of 183 deaths have been recorded in Australia and 18 people have died in Japan after contracting the virus.

The Haruyama Trading Co has manufactured 50,000 of the suits, which will sell for about $650 each.

A medium grey, charcoal, navy and grey pinstripe designs will hit Japanese stores today.


Friday, 9 October 2009

US officials combat public's rejection of swine flu vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dispatched swine flu "mythbusters" across the United States to correct what it says are rumors and misconceptions about the H1N1 virus and the new swine flu vaccine reaching American clinics this week.

Their task won't be easy. Despite a US vaccination regimen that public health officials widely regard as a success, a distrust of government scientists in general and of vaccinations in particular pervades large swaths of America, according to recent polls.

The vaccine is opposed, moreover, by naturopaths and even a well-known epidemiologist, Tom Jefferson, who has deemed H1N1 "not a major threat."

"[T]here are a lot of rumors out there and we're trying to address them, that we're expecting a very good safety track record for H1N1 vaccine," said Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at a news conference Friday.

While the share of people concerned about swine flu has jumped from 38 percent in June to 52 percent now, 41 percent of respondents still say they definitely will not get the flu shot, according to a recent Harvard Opinion Research poll. A Consumer Reports poll found that two-thirds of US parents have reservations about giving the vaccine to their children.

In response, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has mounted a public relations offensive to try to ease fears about the vaccine. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the rounds of morning TV shows and also appeared Friday at Dodge Park Elementary School in Landover, Md., to help administer the vaccine to school kids.

One message in the $3 billion campaign to get nearly half of all Americans inoculated: "A decision not to get vaccinated isn't a decision that is risk-free, but a decision to take on a different set of risks," Glen Nowak, a CDC spokesman, told the Monitor.

CDC director Thomas Frieden at a press conference this week addressed what he considered the top three misconceptions:

•Swine flu isn't a mild illness as many people believe, he said, "but can knock you out for a day or two or three" and can, for some, be fatal.

•Fears that the vaccine is unsafe, experimental, and that corners were cut in its production are untrue, Mr. Frieden asserts. "My children will get it, and other public health and societal leaders will get it and have their families get it."

•Many Americans believe the vaccine is arriving too late to be effective. But Frieden says, "We don't know what the long flu season is going to hold."

This week, the Monitor reported that a heated debate has emerged about individuals' rights and responsibilities in deciding whether to receive the vaccine.

The debate is reflected in Facebook pages and chat rooms that are lighting up with the question, "Should I get it?"

Reports of neurological side effects among some vaccine recipients during the 1976 swine flu outbreak hardened some Americans against flu vaccines, even though health officials say those risks are minimal today.

These days, skeptics have much bigger stages, namely cable TV and the Internet, on which to air their doubts. Fox News' Glenn Beck has devoted hours this week to asking whether people should get the vaccine, and why the World Health Organization, "Big Pharma," and the government are hyping a pandemic that seems less virulent than officials had predicted.

Jennifer Edmondson of Appleton, Wis., the mother of a 13-year-old, reflects a more common concern. "The flu caused by H1N1, in general, has been found to be no more dangerous than other types of flu," she writes in an e-mail. "My reluctance is not based on any distrust of our federal government, [but] rather, on my analysis of the necessity of the shot."


Swine flu vaccine: Is it ethical to say no?


Swine Flu Event Shows Mass Vaccine Rejection

A U.S. government media event to promote H1N1 school vaccinations on Friday included VIPs, cute kids and a phalanx of television cameras -- but only one in five children at the school had proper parental consent to get immunized.

"This school was ready to go," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared after touring a makeshift vaccination clinic in the cafeteria at Dodge Park Elementary School, near Washington.

But 80 percent of the student body were ineligible for vaccinations due to missing paperwork during the day-long swine flu clinic.

Federal officials did not want to discuss the turnout. It underscored the challenge facing the U.S. government's $6.4 billion immunization effort which involves the widespread use of schools as vaccine clinics for the first time in a generation.

H1N1 poses a greater danger of severe illness and death for children and young people than seasonal flu, which is particularly dangerous for the elderly.

Only about 20 percent of U.S. children get vaccinated against seasonal flu in a typical year. Some parents, including many at Dodge Park Elementary, are holding back on H1N1 vaccination because of worries about the newness of the vaccine -- concerns that health officials say are unfounded.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that 76 U.S. children have died from H1N1 since April, with widespread swine flu in 37 states.

Most victims had underlying disease but 20 to 30 percent were healthy before they contracted swine flu.

This death toll compares with 46 to 88 pediatric deaths for entire flu seasons over the past three years, the CDC said.


Dodge Park is among the first schools in the United States to serve as a clinic for student vaccinations as the government rolls out up to 250 million doses of vaccine by year end.

There will be some 90,000 vaccination sites nationwide including doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals and stores.

Federal officials have cautioned that the early weeks of the immunization program could be bumpy as state and local health departments cope with the strain.

One problem at Dodge Park was bureaucratic. Dozens of children could not get immunized because their parents submitted incomplete consent forms, officials said.

Another was that the only vaccine on offer was AstraZeneca (AZN.L) unit MedImmune's nasal spray, which is unsuitable for children with underlying conditions such as asthma. Injectable vaccine is due to become available next week.

But school officials said the main barrier was the safety concern.

"Many parents are not comfortable with it. They'd like to see more testing," school nurse Irene Campbell explained after helping to immunize 107 students out of a student body of 510.

Popular safety concerns are frustrating for public health officials, who say clinical trials show the new vaccine to be as safe and effective as seasonal flu vaccinations.

"It's very safe. Although the virus is new, the vaccine is not new. It's made exactly the way seasonal flu is made year in and year out," Sebelius said.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Backstreet Boys cancel tour Brian Littrell diagnosed with Swine Flu

The Backstreet Boys have cancelled several promotional appearances in New York after member Brian Littrell has been diagnosed with swine flu, the band said in a statement Monday.

The singer and his bandmates, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and AJ McLean, and touring crew were prescribed Tamiflu as a preventative measure while Littrell, 34, recovers.

The group was scheduled to appear at New York's Hard Rock Café on Monday for the NYC PINKTOBER event. The Backstreet Boys, who are due to release their seventh album, This Is Us, on Tuesday, were also scheduled to perform their new single "Straight Through My Heart" on CBS's The Early Show that same day.

"We were really looking forward to spending time with our closest fans and friends in NYC and take part of PINKTOBER, an unbelievable and important program" Littrell says in a statement. "I hope we can come back soon and do everything we can to help."

No other details about the Backstreet Boys' promotional schedule were available.

Elite Fashion Photographer Irving Penn, Dead

Irving Penn, a grand master of American fashion photography whose "less is more" aesthetic, combined with a startling sensuality, defined a visual style that he applied to designer dresses and fleshy nudes, famous artists and tribal chiefs, cigarette butts and cosmetics jars, has died. He was 92.

Many of Penn's now-famous photographs are owned by leading art museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, which in 1996 obtained the photographer's archive of 134 master and vintage prints plus proof sheets, correspondence and other documents. Most recently, a selection of his photographs was on view in "The Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today," an exhibit at the Art Institute that closed Sept. 20. Penn died Wednesday at his apartment in New York City, said his brother, film director Arthur Penn. The cause was not given.

Penn started contributing to Vogue in 1943 and became one of the first commercial photographers to cross the chasm that separated commercial and art photography until the 1970s. He did so, in part, by using the same technique no matter what he photographed -- isolating his subject, allowing for scarcely a prop and building a work of graphic perfection through his printing process.

Critics considered the results to be icons, not just images, each one greater than the person or the object in the frame.

"In Penn's photographs, generations of brilliant artists and lovely young women are endowed with dignity for their enduring moment," wrote fashion critic Kennedy Fraser in a 2007 Vogue magazine tribute to Penn when he was 90.

He was a purist who mistrusted perfect beauty, which brought an engaging tension to his fashion photographs as well as his still lifes and portraits. One of his best-known shots for Vogue magazine in the 1950s shows an impeccably dressed model glancing sideways through a veil that covers her face, as if she isn't ready for her close-up.

In another famous shot, this one from the 1990s, bright red lips drip with gooey chocolate. Suddenly, the dessert world's favorite food looks very unappealing.

Penn's most familiar photographs are the cosmetics ads he shot for Clinique that have appeared in magazines since 1968. Each image is a balancing act of face cream jars, astringent bottles and bars of soap that threatens to collapse.

Despite an obvious appreciation for the art and craft of a beautifully made dress, Penn strained against the unreachable world it represents. To escape it, or contest it perhaps, in the late 1960s he started photographing crushed cigarette butts and street debris.

Some reviewers found Penn's cigarette butts pretentious when they were displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in 1975. Many questioned whether anything by a fashion photographer belonged in an art museum. A similar debate stewed during an exhibit of Penn's photos of urban debris at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1977.

Far-sighted reviewers, however, praised Penn's ability to turn discarded objects into art. "Each distinct, dirty, torn and ragged reject has been carefully selected, isolated, enlarged and transmuted from a cultural throwaway into a haunting iconic artifact," an Art News review concluded in 1977.

Penn stayed above the fray and photographed what he wanted. Hells Angels in leather and chrome and famouswriters received the same painstaking treatment.

"He didn't worry about questions of art versus commerce," said Colin Westerbeck, former photography curator at the Art Institute of Chicago. "Photography is a mass medium available to anyone. A few geniuses, like Irving Penn, redeem it," Westerbeck said in a 2003 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Besides his brother, Penn is survived by a son, Tom, and a stepdaughter, Mia Fonssagrives-Solow. Tribune staff contributed to this report.