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WHO says prepare for second round of H1N1

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

The World Health Organization is warning the Northern hemisphere to prepare for a second round of H1N1 influenza. Looking at H1N1 outbreaks in other countries has led the WHO to “conclusions about how the influenza pandemic might evolve in the coming months.” Speculation about H1N1 flu in other parts of the world suggests H1N1 will produce a second round of pandemic illness

Seasonal flu has taken a back seat to H1N1 influenza. According to the World Health Organization, “Evidence from multiple outbreak sites demonstrates that the H1N1 pandemic virus has rapidly established itself and is now the dominant influenza strain in most parts of the world. The pandemic will persist in the coming months as the virus continues to move through susceptible populations.”

The virus, so far, has shown no signs of mutation. Deaths from H1N1 are still being reported, but the number of cases is small. Most cases of H1N1 influenza are mild.

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An area of concern, according to the WHO, are reports from clinicians around the world of severe respiratory illness in otherwise healthy, young individuals, leading to hospitalization from respiratory failure. Should respiratory symptoms surge, hospital intensive care units could become overburdened.

Susceptibility to H1N1 influenza is associated with obesity, pregnancy, compromised immunity, diabetes, and existing respiratory ailments. The WHO estimates that over 220 million people suffer from diabetes, and 230 million have asthma, making the impact of H1N1 significant.

Risk of H1N1 deaths has been higher among minorities and indigenous populations, though the reasons are not clear. The WHO suggests that H1N1 influenza could have a more devastating impact on developing parts of the world, but remain manageable in affluent countries.

World Health Organization