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Swine Flu info

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Swine Flu info

Post by Sonshine on Thu May 07, 2009 11:10 pm

Got this from a pandemic newsletter I recieve.

The following article is from AC360's News and Commentary site. We are posting it here in its entirety because it is a well reasoned analysis of the H1N1 Influenza scare and offers intelligent suggestions for where we need to go from here...

Get ready for pandemic

Stephen Flynn and Irwin Redlener

AC360° Contributors

We may have dodged a bullet - for now. If the strain of Swine Flu virus that is currently circulating the United States remains mild, our plans and capabilities for responding to a nationwide health care crisis will not be put to the test. That is a good thing because if our pandemic preparedness were to undergo a stress test today, it would fail.

Because panic can lead to misdirected energies that result in harmful outcomes, the Obama Administration and local leaders like New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg deserve high marks for providing a measured and reassuring tone in the face of the initial fear and uncertainty surrounding the H1N1 outbreak.

But now the hard work must begin.

President Obama needs to quickly seize upon this crisis to mobilize state and local governments and everyday Americans to better prepare our hospitals, communities, and homes for the task of protecting and saving lives during a virulent pandemic.

The sobering reality is that we have been living on borrowed time. Lethal, new, non-seasonal influenza outbreaks typically strike three to four times a century and we are overdue.

The H1N1 virus has all the microbial evolutionary attributes for producing our millennium's first deadly pandemic: it is a new virus compounded from several distinct strains for which people have no natural immunity; it is transmissible among humans; and, it has caused fatalities in unexpected age groups.

The relatively mild form of the virus we are seeing now could mutate in the upcoming flu season in the southern hemisphere. Then we could see it back in our own communities next winter in a more virulent form.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a full-blown pandemic would result in approximately 90 million Americans become ill, and depending on the flu's potency, with anywhere from 865,000 to 9,900,000 requiring hospitalization. To put that number into context, consider that the entire inventory of staffed hospital beds within the United States is 970,000 and virtually all of them are currently occupied.

We are simply not prepared for this kind of outbreak:

· The emergency health care system is incapable of managing the surge of millions of "worried-well" and sick.

· Most of our communities do not have tested plans for the timely distribution of antivirals, vaccines, or protective equipment.

· Within many state and local jurisdictions, confusion remains over who will be in charge during a major medical emergency.

· There is no consistency among states on vaccine prioritization or the best infection-control polices.

· At the family level, too few of us have drawn up emergency plans or stocked up on essential supplies at our homes.

In short, our national leaders would be doing us a disservice if they fail to channel the recent public anxiety over Mexican Swine flu into a national campaign to improve our preparedness.

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