H1N1 Flu Pandemic: Is it over?

August 12, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

It started with a bang and ended with nary a whimper. It didn’t even make the headlines. On Tuesday, August 10, 2010, the World health Organization (WHO) declared end to 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. And nobody cheered or paid any attention. The declaration came from the WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan and was based on “strong indications that influenza, worldwide, is transitioning toward seasonal patterns of transmission.

“The world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. “ – WHO

The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course. After all the scare and the hype of last year’s swine epidemic that turned into a so-called pandemic that didn’t materialize, many people felt let down and cheated. Pharma companies made millions of bucks from the H1N1 vaccines. And that is just the vaccines ordered and administered for the high-risk populations. Nobody knows how many more doses have been stockpiled by governments.

Was it all for nothing? Is the swine flu really gone?

Unfortunately not. It is still circulating around. But it is not causing widespread infections anymore that it has been stripped of its scary status as a pandemic blue.

According to a press release of the US Department of Health and Social Services:

“This does not mean that the H1N1 virus has disappeared.  Rather, it means current influenza outbreaks including those primarily caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus, show an intensity similar to that seen during seasonal epidemics. Pandemics, like the viruses that cause them, are unpredictable.  WHO noted that continued vigilance is extremely important, and it is likely that the virus will continue to cause serious disease in younger age groups and pregnant women, at least in the immediate post-pandemic period.”

I am one of those who took the H1N1 pandemic threat seriously. I fought to have myself and my two kids vaccinated. Do I feel let down and cheated? No, I don’t. Because I know that although I and my family were lucky enough to escape the swine flu, there were those who weren’t so lucky and experienced it – some with serious consequences.

Did it ever occur to you that the pandemic may not have materialized because all the so-called “hype” and “unnecessary” measures actually kept the pandemic at bay and saved countless of lives?

The pandemic flu did not materialize. I don’t feel disappointed. I am grateful.

Did we learn something from the H1N1 pandemic?

I am sure we all did, from the government leaders, international policy makers, scientists and health experts, doctors and other health care providers, to us simple people

We shouldn’t think of last year’s flu pandemic as something similar to “crying wolf”. We shouldn’t become complacent, indifferent and disbelieving just because “only” hundreds instead of thousands died of the swine flu.

Yes, I believe the threat of a pandemic is still real.  I just hope we make use of the lessons we learned last year when the next epidemic knocks at our door.

Flu updates, October 26

October 26, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

swine_fluObama declares swine flu a national emergency

US President Barack Obama has declared the swine flu epidemic a national emergency. The declaration will make it easier for U.S. medical facilities to handle a surge in flu patients by allowing the waiver of some requirements of Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health insurance programs as needed.

Swine flu vaccine met with a big dose of skepticism

Not everyone welcomes the H1N1 vaccine with open arms. Many people are sceptical about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and the skeptics, including some healthcare professionals who are opposed to the mandatory vaccinations in their line of work. A September survey by Consumer Reports revealed that

  • 51% of parents are agreeable to giving the shorts to their kids.
  • 40% of adults are certain they will get the shots.

NYC Schools to Start Offering Swine Flu Shots

Meanwhile, New York City is not seemed to be fazed by the scepticism surrounding the H1N1 vaccine. The city will start offering flu shots or nasal sprays at the public primary schools this week. Private schools are also welcome to participate. Older kids in middle and high schools will have to wait till November or December for vaccination. School nurses will administer the vaccine.

H1N1 in turkeys poses ‘minimal’ human risk: official

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, many people are already planning the holiday menus. However, there are concerns over about the safety of the turkey that will end up on the family table. In Canada, there was a reported incident of a swine flu outbreak in Ontario, CBC Canada reports. Health officials however, declared that the birds in the said farm were not meant for eating but only for egg production and there poses “minimal” risk to humans.

Doctors Told to Give Flu Medicine Promptly

US health officials warned doctors not to wait for the results of flu tests before prescribing flu medications. The lab tests would take time and people with high risk factors, e.g. children under 2, pregnant women, and those with underlying condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease should be treated promptly.

Get H1N1 vaccine: health minister

Country leaders are urging their people to get the vaccine. And to set a good example, many heads of states and other leaders have got the vaccine. Canada’s health ministers Leona Aglukkaq is appealing to the public, especially those who are at high risk, to accept the vaccine. Canada is said to have entered the 2nd wave of H1N1 infections.

What’s the latest in health care, May 22

May 22, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

doctors1The long weekend on our side (most of Europe) started last Thursday. The US long weekend goes on till Monday. Enjoy the extra free time.  But first, your health care updates for this weekend…

What’s the latest update on the H1N1 (swine) flu?

PCR test kit for H1N1 flu
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has developed a PCR diagnostic test kit to detect this novel H1N1 virus in patients suspected to have the flu. The test kit has been distributed test kits to all American states and territories. According to the CDC

The test kits are being shipped internationally as well. This will allow states and other countries to test for this new virus. This increase in testing will likely result in an increase in the number of confirmed cases of illness reported. This, combined with ongoing monitoring through Flu View should provide a fuller picture of the burden of disease in the United States over time.

Where to get your updates

Useful resources to get and access information of the H1N1 flu – fast!

What’s the latest updates from the World Health Organization (WHO)

Power of public health lies in strong health systems
Today was the 62nd World Health Assembly and Director-General Dr Margaret Chan emphasized to the delegates of the Assembly that

“The strength of a country’s health system will make the biggest difference in sickness and survival during an influenza pandemic.”

Current novel H1N1 count globally

  • 11,168 confirmed cases in 42 countries around the world,
  • 86 deaths in only four countries – Mexico, the United States, Canada and Costa Rica.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.