Pandemic Influenza - H1N1 (Human Swine Flu)
Are We at More Risk in 2009 than in 1919?
Pandemic is defined as an epidemic of infectious disease that spread throughout populations of a large region, such as a continent or even worldwide (Wikipedia). According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic can start when three conditions are met:
- Emergence of a disease new to a population.
- Agents infect humans, causing serious illness.
- Agents spread easily and sustainably among humans.
Over the last two centuries, there have been many pandemics such as Cholera, Influenza, Typhus, Hiv and Aids, Smallpox, Tubercolosis, Leprosy, Yellow Fever, Ebola Virus, Malaria, SARS. These result in the death of millions of people. Influenza pandemic was first recorded in 1520, recurring every ten to thirty years. (Wikipedia) It is for this reason why it has been said that an influenza pandemic is not a matter of if it will happen, but rather when.
Since 1852, the world has seen the Asiatic Flu of 1889-1890; The Spanish Flu of 1918-1919; The Asian Flu of 1957-1958; The Hong Kong Flu of 1968-1969; The Avian Flu of 2004-2005, endemic to birds and gets transferred to human and now The Swine Flu with origins in Mexico. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en
WHO, Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response are constantly monitoring influenza pandemic which is currenlty at a level 6 of 6. A level 6 means widespread transmission from person to person, and urgent measures are required to combat the spread of the infection. With vaccine just being developed to treat the swine flu strain, authorities are dependent on reducing human contact to fight the spread of the virus. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en
Over the last two centuries, the devastation of pandemic influenza has affected the world's populations through loss of millions of lives. The announcement of the most recent Swine Flu pandemic has caused fear and stress. No one is immune from it, even though one can take steps to minimize the risk. Modern medical advancement in the treatment of infectious diseases, are countered by the speed at which humans and cargo travel from one country to another. The globalization of international markets, and increase in air travel have created much wealth, but at the price of increasing the risk of spreading infectious diseases at faster rate than the eighteen and ninteen centuries. http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
Symptoms of Swine Flu
Symptoms are reported to be mild and similar to flu symptoms. They include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, fatigue, muscle pain, headache,vomitting and diarrhea. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/20061101/swine-flu-faq
What Can you Do to Minimize your Risk of Swine Flu?
You should keep yourself informed about what is happening. See updates on alerts on the World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/csr/alertresponse/en/ and http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/. The CDC recommends that you should wash your hands regularly, avoid close contact, stay home when sick, avoid touching you eyes, nose and mouth and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm?s_cid=swineFlu_outbreak_internal_003
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