Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flu Surveillance Boosts Control, Treatment Options

Date:
October 19, 2009
Source:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Summary:
Tracking and understanding the patterns of H1N1's spread is crucial to keeping a big-picture look at the disease. Says one expert, "Back in 1918 and 1919 when we had the great flu epidemic, it took six months or more to spread across the world. The new H1N1 swine flu spread across the world in six weeks."

Because pandemics unfold in unpredictable ways, surveillance of travel-related illness is among the most powerful tools health officials and doctors can use to detect and respond to new pathogens like the novel H1N1 influenza, says the physician who heads the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Travelers' Clinic.

"Being able to track disease outbreaks in real time enables you to know, in real-time, what works and what doesn't work in terms of treatment," says David Freedman, M.D., director of the clinic.

Freedman is also co-director of GeoSentinel, a global online network of 48 travel- and tropical-medicine clinics spread across several continents. The network is a partnership between UAB, the International Society of Travel Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other groups – and an important part of that surveillance toolkit.

"GeoSentinel is showing us travelers and mobile populations getting the flu," Freedman says. "We are tracking which countries and places have intense enough transmission that they are then exporting flu and potentially seeding other countries.

"Today, if a GeoSentinel-linked doctor in Singapore has 10 infected patients and treats them a certain way that works well, that information can be disseminated on the same day, as well," he says.

The H1N1 flu virus was first identified in Mexico and quickly spread through human infection to more than 70 countries. H1N1 disease cases began immediately showing up as clickable dots on the GeoSentinel secure Web site in April of this year, Freedman says.

Unlike traditional surveillance maps, the GeoSentinel shows locations where someone got sick during travel, as opposed to where they live or where they may be recuperating.

Tracking and understanding the patterns of H1N1's spread remains crucial as more dots show up on the GeoSentinel map, Freedman says. Member clinics log on to the network and submit disease cases through a standardized Internet form, which links to global positioning. Qualified researchers, doctors and others use those reports for pandemic modeling and monitoring, and to gain a big-picture look at disease transmission.

"The most striking thing is how rapidly the swine flu spread," Freedman says. "Although the H1N1 virus is fairly mild compared to a lot of other novel flu viruses, it is very contagious. Back in 1918 and 1919 when we had the great flu epidemic, it took six months or more to spread across the world.

"The new H1N1 swine flu spread across the world in six weeks."

One important pattern to emerge through GeoSentinel monitoring was naming North America as the early source for spreading H1N1 person-to-person, Freedman says. The initial surveillance data was continuously shared with public-health groups, governmental agencies and doctors who needed to respond swiftly to the pathogen.

"With the speed of modern travel, and the fact that our countries draw visitors from a lot of different nationalities, the ingredients for a pandemic were there. Americans were top of the list for exporting this disease," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Flu Surveillance Boosts Control, Treatment Options." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014181433.htm>.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2009, October 19). Flu Surveillance Boosts Control, Treatment Options. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014181433.htm
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Flu Surveillance Boosts Control, Treatment Options." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014181433.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins