Sep 4, 2009Britain scales back flu death projectionThe British government scaled back its projection of how many novel H1N1 deaths could occur, The Times of London reported today. In July it predicted 65,000 fatalities in a worst-case-scenario, but now the National Health Service (NHS) says fatalities could range between 3,000 and 19,000. Officials lowered the estimate because the symptoms of the virus are mild for most patients. The NHS’s chief medical officer said case numbers have not risen in Scotland, where school resumed 3 weeks ago.http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/Swine_flu/article6820841.eceSep 4 Times storyTiered epidemic plans could improve responseResponses to the novel H1N1 virus outbreak might be seen as alarmist, because many pandemic plans accounted for only a worst-case scenario, Peter Doshi, a doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in the British Medical Journal yesterday. Calibrated responses based on four types of risk assessments that take into account disease distribution and severity could build public trust and engage the public’s attention to warning messages, he wrote.http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/bmj-wtp090309.phpSep 3 British Medical Journal press releaseUninsured New Jersey residents to get free pandemic flu vaccineIn announcing new measures to curb the fall wave of pandemic flu, New Jersey officials said yesterday that the state will provide free novel H1N1 vaccine to the 1.3 million uninsured people. The free vaccines will be offered though public health clinics located in all New Jersey counties. Other response measures include a public education campaign, working with school districts to keep schools open, and partnering with districts to establish a voluntary vaccination program.Lung tissue in some fatal cases resembles H5N1 infectionPathologic investigation of lung tissue from patients who have died of pandemic H1N1 infections resembles that in those dying from H5N1 avian influenza, a scientist who has studied about 70 fatal cases told the Canadian Press. Dr Sherif Zaki, a pathologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the level of lung damage makes it difficult to oxygenate patients. About a third of the patients had bacterial coinfections, and about 90% had underlying conditions such as obesity.Doctors reverse severe infection with experimental IV antiviralA 22-year-old woman with pandemic H1N1 infection and chemotherapy-induced immune compromise recovered from a severe infection after treatment with an experimental intravenous version of zanamivir, her doctors reported today in The Lancet. She had not responded to oseltamivir or nebulized zanamivir alongside antibiotics, hydrocortisone, and mechanical ventilation. Her doctors combined IV zanamivir with corticosteroids, which is controversial but is used in some respiratory distress cases.http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)61528-2/fulltextSep 4 Lancet reportWHO: flu activity increasing in many tropical regionsIn its weekly pandemic update today, the World Health Organization (WHO) said flu activity is widespread and increasing in many tropical regions of South and Southeast Asia as well as South America. Though flu activity is past its seasonal peak in some parts of the southern hemisphere, parts of Australia and South America are seeing sustained circulation. Japan is experiencing an early start to its flu season. The global number of deaths is at least 2,837, mostly from WHO’s Americas-region countries.http://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_09_04/en/index.htmlWHO pandemic update 64
WASHINGTON – A small branch of a South American religious sect may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a ritual intended to connect with God, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday. In its first religious-freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said the government cannot hinder religious practices without proof of a compelling need to do so. “This is a very important decision for minority religious freedom in this country,” said lawyer John Boyd, representing about 130 U.S. members of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal who live in New Mexico, California and Colorado. The tea, which contains an illegal drug known as dimethyltryptamine or DMT, is considered sacred to members of the sect, which has a blend of Christian beliefs and South American traditions. Members believe they can understand God only by drinking the tea, which is consumed twice a month at four-hour ceremonies. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant A trial judge found the government’s evidence that the drug is harmful equal in weight to information provided by the sect that its method of using the tea is not. Roberts, in writing the opinion for the court, said the government had failed to prove that federal drug laws should outweigh the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Congress passed in 1993 to prohibit burdening a person’s exercise of religion. The Bush administration had argued that using the drug in the tea not only violates a federal narcotics law but also a treaty in which the United States promised to block the importation of drugs including DMT. Religious groups of various faiths, along with civil-liberties organizations, filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the sect. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!