Jun 17, 2009

H1N1 Virus Still Unpredictable

News that a Wisconsin adolescent died from H1N1 has health authorities on edge, though the virus strain is not as lethal as the normal seasonal flu bugs that hit the world every flu season.

But read between the lines of public health announcements and one perceives worry that the strain could become worse.

The world, with Wisconsin being a model state, has never been as prepared for the surveillance and treatment of a pandemic, but if H1N1 mutates into a more lethal virus, lots of unknowns follow.

On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. A Phase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is underway. ...

WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus.

This virus strain mutates of course and it evolves in unpredictable ways with unpredictable traits, and the fear is that it could mutate into a more deadly and aggressive strain that provokes the human immune system in a manner like the 1918 Spanish Flu.

Is this remotely possible? What are the odds? Reading the CDC and WHO sites, one won't find epidemiological odds makers on the capacity of a virus to become more lethal. Such is the nature of evolution.

No one serious is debating evolution now; instead watching how this strain evolves, and using science and rational public health messages to ward off a bad situation.

From the WHO - What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

Stay informed. This website will be updated regularly as information becomes available.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

Take everyday actions to stay healthy.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

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