June 11th 2009
While the U.N. Health Officials met in Geneva on Thursday to discuss the H1N1 virus the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a 2009 Swine flu pandemic.
This is the first such update in over 40 years – 41 years to be exact.
The severity of the virus world wide is rather moderate but the reason for the classification to pandemic is related to how quickly the virus has spread.
The Swine Flu was first diagnosed in Mexico in late April. It soon spread to neighboring countries and is now found in more then 70 countries and has affected more than 30,000 people.
The decision to update the classification does not appear to have been difficult and many feel that the U.S health officials have been acting as if a pandemic level has been around for weeks.
Fear continues to be a driving factor. Although the virus appears to be mild, there is much speculation and fear that the virus will become much more dangerous and a mutation, although unlikely, is still plausible. A second fear is that the current state of of this virus attack is only in round 1 and a second wave may be possible in mid summer or possibly as late as August.
WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan said “The World is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic in the 21st century“.
A total of 140 people have died as a direct result of the Swine flu. The seasonal flu may result 36,000 deaths in the United States and around 250,000 world wide. Recently Australia and Chile noted a large increase in symptomatic individuals. The Swine flu has spread rapidly across Europe and Japan.
A Current Gamble
A current recommendation to initiate a vaccine for the swine flu will now be taken to pharmaceutical companies. The decision to make a vaccine for swine flu may be at the expense of the regular seasonal flu. One company is typically unable to make both vaccines and therefore a gambling choice will be made.
This is the level that caused the pandemic status to be initiated. Pandemic is classified as an epidemic of sufficient level and has become global. The last pandemic was seen in 1968 in Hong Kong.
What to expect from here?
World wide awareness will continue to rise and the number of cases may double in the next few months. Some countries may devote an increased amount of funds to prepare and protect against the Swine flu.
Travel bans are unlikely and the hope is that fear does not cause rash panic.
Some countries have seen a deluge of individuals flooding emergency rooms and health clinics. Many countries will prepare for a potential second wave.
Check out http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/
Update: June 17th 2009
Utah has had an increase in the number of deaths related to Swine Flu – and recently seen in the Salt Lake Tribune that an overall 8 individuals have died as a result. http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12607907
New York continues to have a high number of deaths and are currently at 23. http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/longisland/ny-nyswin1712885390jun16,0,179533.story
Other states with deaths include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.