H1N1 weekly deaths increase, but spread of virus decreases
Posted Jan 09 2010 12:00am
This post now a Google News Link and on www.basilandspice.com.
Wonder what's going on with the H1N1 virus? If there's going to be a third wave of the epidemic this flu season, we should know soon. But the CDC is still not sure what lies in store for the rest of this winter.
The Centers for Disease Control closely monitor and analyze all data on H1N1, and do their best to make predictions. On their very thorough website, they posted their most recent H1N1 reports on January 4. As you can see, the report has mixed indicators of future trends for H1N1. It also has a lot of information about what you can do to protect yourself.
Number of deaths has increased The Jan 4 report says that, for the most recent week analyzed (Dec 20-26), the number of flu deaths increased over the preceding week. The number of deaths is now back above the "epidemic" threshold, after dipping below it for the first time in 11 weeks. Almost all of the influenza viruses identified this winter in the U.S. continue to be 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus, which is susceptible to the H1N1 vaccine now being widely offered to the public.
Doctor visits up; hospitalization rates steady For the week Dec 20-26, visits to doctors for flu-like symptoms increased over the previous week. Overall hospitalization rates for flu and its most dangerous complication (pneumonia) were unchanged from the previous week.
Antivirals still effective For persons very sick with H1N1 and pneumonia, the currently circulating H1N1 virus remains susceptible to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir "with rare exception."
Is the virus in decline? The number of states reporting widespread influenza activity decreased for the last week analyzed (Dec 20-26). In addition, the number of pediatric deaths has decreased, even though the total number of deaths increased.
Get the shot! The CDC continues to urge the public to get inoculated against H1N1. The shot or mist is offered widely at county health departments and doctors' offices. When I went to get a shot at my local county health department, the vaccine was free. There was a $15 administration fee, which is covered by insurance. The CDC has said repeatedly that widespread vaccination of the public can be a major factor in preventing a third wave of the disease. The vaccine will continue to be widely available through January.
Prevention To prevent infection in yourself and your children: get the vaccine, wash your hands frequently with soap or alcohol gel, avoid contact with those who are ill, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when out in public. And if you have flu-like symptoms, call or see your health care provider. Stay home at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.