NATIONAL CHENG KUNG UNIVERSITY, TAINAN, TAIWAN
BANYAN
Volume 9 Issue 1 - May 27, 2009
Commentary
President Lai Recommends to Combat Fear of the H1N1 Flu with Knowledge and Good Habits
Article Digest
JrJung Lyu
Gauge Capability Studies for Attribute Data
Hua-Fen Hsu
Dinuclear Oxovanadium(IV) Thiolate Complexes with Ferromagnetically Coupled Interaction between Vanadium Centers
Jiunn-Der Liao
Nano-indentation at the surface contact level: applying a harmonic frequency for measuring contact stiffness of self-assembled monolayers adsorbed on Au
Yu-Chen Lin
Audit Partner Tenure, Audit Firm Tenure, and Discretionary Accruals: Does Long Auditor Tenure Impair Earnings Quality?
Article Digest
Cheng-Liang Huang
High-Dielectric-Constant and Low-Loss Microwave Dielectric in the (1-x)Nd(Zn1/2Ti1/2)O3-xSrTiO3 System with a Zero Temperature Coefficient of Resonant Frequency
News Release
News
Groundbreaking for NCKU Green Magic School
News
Circuits and Systems Technology Feast in Taipei
Banyan Forum
Opportunities
Activities
Editorial Group
President Lai Recommends to Combat Fear of the H1N1 Flu with Knowledge and Good Habits


NCKU President Michael Ming-Chiao Lai (left) gave a lecture entitled From SARS, Avian Flu to the H1N1 Flu. Dr. Chyi-Her Lin (right), Dean of the College of Medicine, hosted the lecture.
Pandemic, or pandemic flu, in some ways similar to the H1N1 flu (swine flu), caused by a "quadruple reassortant" virus, as called by scientists, which has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes, is, perhaps, one of the least wanted ways for humans to be reminded how we share a common fate with our brothers and sisters on other continents and how related we are with our animal co-inhabitants. Being infected or not, as you can tell from the masks on people's faces used for protection, you know fear is spreading.

Globally: heightened alertness and international unity called
On May 22nd, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan warned that countries should be ready for more serious H1N1 flu infections and more lives to be lost. Especially in the southern hemisphere, where winter is beginning, the virus could mix with seasonal influenza to mutate in "unpredictable ways." According to the WHO's latest tally, 11,000 people in 42 countries have been infected by this strain and 86 lives have been hence lost. Infections in Japan, Spain and Britain are 294, 113 and 112 cases each, respectively. The virus which is air-borne like the common flu is also continuing to pop up in new countries.

"This is a subtle, sneaky virus," Chan said. "We have clues, many clues, but very few firm conclusions." In most patients, the symptoms are mild but the spreading might lead to more serious infections.

"From a global perspective, this is still pretty early in the spread of this virus," said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General, in a May 22nd news briefing. "We are in an evolving situation."

In WHO's guidelines, a pandemic is defined solely on the basis of the pattern of its spread, and not on the symptoms a virus causes. Currently the H1N1 flu is at pandemic alert level Phase 5, which means sustained human to human transmission has been confirmed, with widespread community outbreaks in at least two regions. Currently the WHO has no plan to go to Phase 6, which means a pandemic is underway. However, in terms of preparedness measures taken, Chan stressed there is little real difference between the WHO's current pandemic alert level of 5 and the highest of 6.

Britain, Japan and other nations said the pandemic alarm could trigger unnecessary panic, and have urged the WHO to change the way it decides to declare a pandemic – not just on how fast it is spreading, but also to consider how deadly the virus is. As a matter of fact, the United Nations (UN) health agency has been criticized as unduly raised the alarm to Phase 5. But Chan said that "the decision to declare an influenza pandemic is a responsibility and a duty that I take very, very seriously," and added that "I will consider all the scientific information available. I will be advised by the emergency committee."

On the positive side, Dr. Chan reported that the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history, because of preparations made for avian flu outbreaks over the past years.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his call for international unity on the swine flu outbreak. "This really requires the whole international community’s cooperation, and I count on the leadership and commitment of not only the Council member States, but the whole international community," he said.

Locally: the 6th case confirmed in Taiwan
Locally here in Taiwan, until May 22nd, the 6th case of influenza A (H1N1) infected patient is confirmed by the Central Epidemics Command Center (CECC) in Tapei. The patient is the 5-year-old daughter of the 4th confirmed patient, a 30-year-old Taiwanese woman. Both of them returned to Taiwan on May 20th from Manila on Phillippine Airlines flight RP896.

The girl's school — the affiliated kindergarten of Guangfu Elementary School, Zhonghe City of Taipei County, will be closed until May 29th. During this week-long period, the elementary school's 1,489 faculty members and students are advised to observe their health. The kindergarten's 119 teachers, staff members and students should confine themselves to their homes and take anti-flu medicine for 10 days, according to Shih Wen-yi, CECC's spokesperson.

Shih also said that medication will be given to people who have had direct contact with confirmed H1N1 patients without first conducting tests. Until May 22nd, the epidemic alert in Taiwan is at the second stage of yellow, suggesting that only imported cases have been reported. 

Symptoms, Transmission and Treatment of the H1N1 Flu
Most people lack immunity to this virus, but some health official said that the flu appears only slightly more contagious than the seasonal flu, which causes an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people to lose their lives worldwide each year. Many experts have been questioning whether the new strain of flu is deadlier than normal seasonal flu as evidence shown that the virus has continued to spread without causing deaths or even larger numbers of hospitalization.

The virus is airborne. By touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching one's mouth or nose is also possible to become infected. It is advised to wash hands frequently and avoid surfaces that might be contaminated.

Copyright National Cheng Kung University