Surging flu cases may herald tough season in England

first_imgDec 24, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – While the US influenza season has started slowly, cases are surging in England, raising concern that the country could have its toughest season since 1999-2000.In England and Wales last week, about 68.5 people per 100,000 saw a general practitioner for influenza-like illness (ILI), a 73% increase over the 39.5 per 100,000 the week before, according to the latest weekly report from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). A BBC News report said the number also is73% higher than the same week a year ago.Dr. Douglas Fleming, director of the RCGP Research Unit in Birmingham, said the increase was significant, according to BBC News. “In the past 10 years, the only substantial outbreak was in 1999-2000,” he said. “I think we could be looking at something that approaches that this year.”The RCGP report says ILI visit rates of 30 to 100 per 100,000 population per week are “usual when influenza viruses are circulating,” rates above 100 are above average, and rates exceeding 200 are “exceptional.” The RCGP data are drawn from about 85 general practitioner clinics around the country, representing an at-risk population of about 840,000.ILI rates rose in all age-groups and regions in the week of Dec 15 to 21, the RCGP report says. The highest rates were seen among 15- to 44-year-olds, with 79.7 cases per 100,000, and 45- to 64-year-olds, with 75.6 cases. The 65-and-older group had 44.7 cases per 100,000, which was more than double the 18 cases seen the week before.The BBC report said experts believe the unusually cold weather might have contributed to the surge in cases.British public health officials define a flu epidemic as an ILI rate of 200 per 100,000, according to the BBC story. The last time that happened in England was in 1989-90, the report said.”That one caught everyone a bit off guard but there’s been a big push on flu vaccination since then,” virologist John Oxford of Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry in London told the BBC.Oxford and others quoted in the story urged people to get a flu shot if they haven’t done so yet.David Salisbury, director of immunization at the UK Department of Health, told the BBC, “We have had a very unusual run of winters with almost no flu, so we should not be surprised that here is a winter with more flu. It is very difficult to predict what makes the change winter to winter.”In contrast to the situation in England, flu activity in the United States has remained low so far this season, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued Dec 19. The report, for the week that ended Dec 13, said only three states—Texas, Virginia, and Hawaii—were reporting local flu activity. Thirty-six states reported sporadic cases and 11 states were reporting none.Google Flu Trends, a Web site that estimates US flu activity from the volume of Internet searches for flu information, currently shows “moderate” activity only in Hawaii, Maryland, and Virginia, with the rest of the country having low activity.See also: CDC flu surveillance updatehttp://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/Google Flu Trendshttp://www.google.org/flutrends/last_img read more

Clippers relish role as underdogs against the Golden State Warriors

first_imgThe Clippers will take their first crack at an upset of epic proportions on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series at Oracle Arena, where they’ll be greeted by the top-seeded Golden State Warriors. After finishing the regular season a relatively mortal 57-25, Golden State begins the playoffs as the odds-on favorite to win its fourth NBA title in five seasons.The surprising, eighth-seeded Clippers (48-34) have yet to win a title, but those within the organization, with its ambitions of landing star free-agents this summer and competing for championships soon, believe every additional step now is taking them in the right direction.This season has already been a success, which the Clippers acknowledge, even if they’d rather not focus on that right now.“You want to push that out of your mind,” said starting forward Danilo Gallinari, who will make his first playoff appearance since 2012, when he played for the Denver Nuggets. “You get to this point and it doesn’t make any sense to get to the playoffs and just lose in the first round and then you’re out. You want to be focused, you want to win, you want to go to the end. That’s the reason why you make it to the playoffs.“It’s great to be here and of course nobody thought that we could be here but now we here, we want to play.” PLAYA VISTA — Somewhere between David’s upset over Goliath and Denver’s shocking first-round takedown of the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, that’s where you’d file a Clippers first-round series victory over the Golden State Warriors.“I think it’s bigger honestly (than 1994); Golden State is one of the greatest teams ever to be assembled,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before practice Friday.Still, “someone’s gonna beat them,” Rivers said. “It’s gonna happen. Either it’s gonna be another team or they’ll implode themselves, but I just know 10 years from now, they’ll not still be winning. Someone’s gonna do it.“You gotta go in thinking it’s us.” The teams’ play, in some respects, is relatively even.They’re two of the league’s top scoring squads. The Warriors rank second in the NBA with an average of 117.7 points per game, not all that far in front of the Clippers’ fifth-ranked 115.1 – figures that reflect the fact that both teams are top eight or better in key shooting categories.Golden State shoots 47.1 percent from the field, the best in the league. The Clippers make 49.1 percent of their shots, seventh in the NBA.From behind the arc, the Clippers make their shots at a 38.8 percent clip (second); the Warriors hit 3s at 38.5 percent rate (third). And from the free-throw line, the Warriors are 80.1 percent shooters (fifth) and the Clippers are 79.2 percent foul shooters (eighth).They also rebound at a similar rate: Golden State grabs 46.2 boards per game and the Clippers get 45.5 per contest. They even turn over the ball about equally often, with the Warriors losing it 14.3 times per game and the Clippers 14.5.Still, in key ways, the Warriors have Goliath-esque advantages. Take their ball movement, for example; it’s the best.The Warriors average 29.4 assists per game, No. 1 in the league. The Clippers’ 24 assists per game ranks 18th.And so the Clippers will be tasked with trying to interrupt the Warriors’ wicked transition game.“Listen, they do what they do and they do it well,” Rivers said. “We have to try to guard it as hard as we can guard it. We have to be as physical as we can be without losing who we are and losing our principles.”They’ll pick their poison, preferring for center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Draymond Green to get looks at the basket before sharpshooters Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant.“I don’t think we need an analytical staff to tell you that if Steph, Klay and Durant are taking the bulk of the shots, it’s probably not gonna turn out well for you,” Rivers said. “Anytime you can limit any one of those three from taking a shot, it’s a good thing.”The Clippers will do their best to respond to Golden State’s inevitable scoring barrages with runs of their own: “The game of basketball is a game of runs, that’s all it is,” Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell said. “It’s about who’s run can go the longest.”Rivers said his gladly overworked coaching staff has spotted some things that could benefit the Clippers in their labored evaluation of the teams’ four meetings this year (the last three of which were won by the Warriors).“Of course,” Rivers said. “Same with them. I’m sure they see things they’re gonna try to take advantage of.”The key, Clippers rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said, sounding wise beyond his 20 years, will be hanging tough.“They’re obviously really talented and they come at you for 48 minutes,” he said. “So (it’s about) withstanding their talent level and their energy level for 40 minutes.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more