H1N1 Emergency

H1N1 Flu Emergency Declared

President Obama has announced an H1N1 Emergency for the United States.

The declaration allows hospitals to relax certain rules to accommodate what promises to be record numbers of H1N1 cases. So far 20,000 people have been hospitalized with suspected H1N1, and about 1000 people have died, with another 2400 deaths "probably associated", whatever that means.

Governor Scwharzenegger has handed out 25 million respirators, n95 filter masks which have been shown to reduce inhalation of flu in aerosols from sneezing and coughing people. It should be noted that some experts think the masks work partly by preventing people from touching their mouths and faces with contaminated fingers.

These developments coupled with news of a shortage of H1N1 vaccine implies that the virus is reaching dangerous epidemic levels.

Though so far H1N1 hasn’t proven to be a terrible killer, there is some concern that it might turn more deadly as it mutates and "reassorts" with other flu varieties. One study, done on ferrets, indicates that H1N1 doesn’t seem likely to become more deadly. Read the report yourself HERE

Still, it might become more deadly; indications are that rapid spread from person to person can increase the likelihood of a virus turning deadly.

Even if H1N1 doesn’t become more dealy, it adds to the burden of season flu, and might swamp local medical facilities. Seasonal flu tends to kill older people; H1N1 kills the young. Between the two a really bad flu year will accumulate deaths quickly.

While we’re all waiting for the vaccine, we can do our part to prevent spread, and so reduce the likelihood of a more deadly version.

  1. Wash your hands or use alcohol based sanitizers often; avoid touching your face or eyes.
  2. Sneeze into the bend of your arm; if you or our children are sick, stay home!
  3. When someone near you sneezes or coughs, hold your breath and close your eyes for a few seconds; longer if they sneezed at you. The trail of particles of virus bearing droplets of mucus and saliva can extend over 10 feet in moving air.
  4. Get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, eat well.
  5. Avoid large gatherings in small places, more likely to occur as winter approaches.


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