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April 29, 2009

H1N1 Swine Influenza (Flu)

The human swine flu outbreak caused by novel influenza (H1N1) virus continues to grow in the United States and internationally. On June 11, 2009 the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6. A Phase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is underway.

The WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus. However, because H1N1 is a new virus, many people may have little or no immunity against it. Therefore, CDC anticipates that the number of H1N1 flu cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue to grow in the coming days and weeks. Also, H1N1 could cause significant illness in the fall and winter during the U.S. influenza season.

CDC has activated its emergency operations center to coordinate the agency’s emergency response. CDC ’s goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by this swine influenza virus. CDC continues to issue interim guidance daily on the website and through health alert network notices. CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has released one-quarter of its antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to help states respond to the outbreak. The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. CDC has developed a precise PCR diagnostic test to detect H1N1 virus. Additionally, CDC has prepared a candidate vaccine virus and provided it to industry for the production of a vaccine - though this will likely require several months.

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

There are everyday actions people can take 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.

*Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school for 7 days or until you are symptom-free for 24 hours; also, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

World Health Organization (WHO) Disease Outbreak News: http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/

Also, the CDC website is constantly updated with valuable information:http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/

Posted by handh at April 29, 2009 12:09 AM