2011年11月29日火曜日

wake-up call


Illustrated by Kazuhiro Kawakita

“Wake up!”は「起きろ!」で、callは「電話のコール」。カタカナ読みは「ウエイカップ・コール」。ホテルのモーニングコールのこと。“Will you give me a wake-up call at six?”(6時にモーニングコールをお願いします)などという。転じて、危険などを知らせるsign(予兆)やwarning(警告)の意味で比喩的に使う。
メキシコから発生した新型インフルエンザについて、タイム誌(2009年5月18日号)は“How to Prepare for a Pandemic”(世界的大流行にいかに備えるか)の記事を掲載。その中で、コロンビア大学にある米防災センター(NCDP)のアーウィン・リドリナー所長は“We should look at this as a wake-up call, not one more snooze alarm.”と語った。snoozeは「居眠り」でalarmは「目覚まし」。目覚まし時計で、もうちょっと寝るため一時的にベルの音を止めるスイッチをsnooze buttonと呼ぶ。つまり「今回の出来事は、単なる目覚まし時計の〝まどろみ〟用ベルの一回ではなく、『起きろ!』という警鐘だ」。
同誌は、「H1N1ウイルスはいずれ終息するかもしれない。だが、地球規模の警告システムを強化しなければ、新しい病気が常にわれわれを脅かすことになるだろう」と警告する。つまり、今回のインフルエンザは幸いに「弱毒性」で、重症に陥るケースは少ないが、今後、もっと毒性の強い感染症の流行に備える必要がある、という。将来の流行には、“H1N1 could return next winter in a more lethal form―just as the virus that caused the catastrophic 1918 pandemic did.”(1918年に「スペイン風邪」の大流行の原因となったウイルスとちょうど同じように、H1N1がより致死的な形で今冬戻ってくる)との可能性も含まれると指摘する。
ところで、スタンフォード大学フーバー研究所のヘンリー・ミラー博士も、シカゴ・トリビューン(2009年5月8日付)に“The Flu Leaves Us With a Wake-Up Call”(インフルエンザはわれわれに警鐘を残す)との論文を寄稿した。だが、その内容は少し違う。WHO(世界保健機関)が、今回のケースで警戒を「レベル5」まで引き上げたのは、現実のデータを無視したものだ、という。その結果、各国の政府や国民に、不必要な休校措置や抗インフル薬のネットでの売買を助長するなど、無用の混乱を巻き起こしている、と批判した。新型よりも通常の“seasonal flu”(季節性のインフルエンザ)の方が、被害の可能性が大きく、ワクチンをはじめ十分な備えが必要であると指摘する。
ミラー博士によると、今回の流行は、別の意味でのwake-up callになる。なぜなら、“It could make us think critically about who will be entrusted with public health policy decisions in the future.”(将来の公衆衛生の政策決定で、誰を信用すべきかをわれわれに考えさせるものだ)。The Sankei Shimbun (June 1 2009)

PS: 2009年の豚インフルは世界的な騒ぎを引き起こしたことは記憶に新しい。だが、グローバル化の時代だけに、新たな感染症の脅威は去らない。

New swine flu virus alarms health officials

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three cases of a new flu virus have been confirmed. These originated in pigs but apparently spread from person to person, in three Iowa children.

According to Arnold Monto, a flu expert and professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, there is no reason to fear the beginning of a new pandemic. He said, “I don't think this is anything to worry about for the moment… We have known that swine viruses get into humans occasionally, transmit for a generation or two and then stop. The issue is whether there will be sustained transmission (from person to person) - and that nearly never happens.”

The CDC has counted a total of 18 cases of this new virus, an influenza A strain known as S-OtrH3N2, in two years. That suggests that it's not spreading quickly or easily, explained William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Schaffner added that that flu viruses mutate and swap genes all the time. Infectious disease experts may only be noticing these new viruses because of better technology, he said.

The children, who live in rural Webster and Hamilton counties, did not become seriously ill, said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. “We have pretty good evidence of person-to-person spread,” Quinlisk said. “None of the children or anyone around them had exposure to swine, turkeys or other sources.”

In the new cases, it appears that one of the children transmitted the flu to the other two, and none of them had any animal exposure, Quinlisk said. She declined to identify the children or their ages, saying only they were younger than 18. No further cases have been identified in the past week, she said.

The H1N1 swine flu pandemic began in 2009 after flu viruses mutated to create a new strain that humans had never encountered before, leaving everyone vulnerable to infection. Although the H1N1 pandemic proved to be relatively mild, doctors fear new flu strains because of their lethal history. In 1918, a new flu strain killed more than 20 million people.

All three of the Iowa children had mild illness, the CDC reports. The virus also seems treatable with standard anti-viral drugs, Schaffner noted. The 10 cases of H3N2 in 2011 also have been spread throughout the USA - in Pennsylvania, Maine, Indiana and Iowa - which doesn't indicate a disease “cluster” or outbreak, Schaffner further added.

“People need to be most concerned about the regular, everyday seasonal flu,” Quinlisk said. CDC officials have asked states across the country to be vigilant in looking for it, said Dr. Joe Bresee, the agency's influenza and epidemiology branch chief.

The current seasonal flu vaccine being offered by doctors and clinics was not developed to protect against the H3N2 virus. It contains some antigens similar to a flu virus that circulated in the 1990s, so some people who had the flu then or were vaccinated could have some immunity, but it's not clear how much, Quinlisk said. The Iowa children apparently had not been vaccinated, she added.

The best prevention for the new flu, as with any flu, is to wash hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes and limit spread of germs by staying home when one is sick, health officials said.
News medicl Net (November 28, 2011)