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H1N1

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Obesity Increases Risk of H1N1 Virus

Obesity increases susceptible and mortality to H1N1 virus.

In the 2009 H1N1 pandemic medical science recognized that obesity increased the risk of contracting the virus. Tests on vaccinated obese individuals showed immunecell function at only 70% compared to normal weight individuals. Death rates in obese and morbidly obese H1N1 patients were 3 and 7.6 times the rate of normal weight patients. Research in obese mice showed a 25% mortality rate compared to zero in lean mice with similar immune deficiencies as found in humans.

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Household Transmission of 2009 H1N1 Flu

Household transmission of 2009 H1N1 highest in those under 18 years old.

While many "top" issues could be listed, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic has received enormous press in both the medical and lay press. This epidemic has taught us a great deal. As of this date, there have been fewer deaths than from previous flu pandemics--and that is the good news! A new analysis of household transmissibility of H1N1 showed that persons 18 years of age or younger were twice as susceptible as those 19-50 years of age; and those 50 or older were even less susceptible. Most transmissions occurred fairly quickly.

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It's Easy to Avoid the Swine Flu Email Scam--Don't Respond!

Fraudulent emails now claiming CDC requires registration for State Vaccination Program.

Wouldn't you know it, now there is an email phishing scam that references a supposed CDC sponsored State Vaccination Program for the H1N1 flu. The message requests everyone over 18 create a Vaccination Profile at cdc.gov and provides a link to create such profile. Users who click on this link place themselves at risk of having malicious code downloaded to their computer. CDC has no such program, and this is a scam.

PositiveTip: Always use extreme caution when entering personal information on the web. Be 100% certain the request is legitimate and the site can be trusted.

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Does Hand Washing and Face Masks Prevent H1N1 Spread at Home?

Hand hygiene and face masks may reduce household influenza virus transmission when implemented early.

Does hand hygiene and wearing surgical face masks prevent household transmission of 2009 H1N1 influenza? A new Hong Kong study found that indeed these measures when implemented early after symptom onset seemed to curtail transmission to other members of the family. The control group received healthy dietary and lifestyle advice. Another group were educated by a visiting nurse on hand hygiene. The third group was educated on hand hygiene and the importance of correctly wearing a surgical face mask during the home visit. The greatest benefit was observed in the group who washed their hands and wore masks.

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Obesity a Risk Factor for 2009 H1N1 Flu?

Obesity emerging as a likely risk factor of severity for the H1N1 influenza.

So far there have been only 4500 deaths from the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. This is about 2% of the 250,000 that are seen worldwide each year from the seasonal flu. This is encouraging news, but the flue season is just getting underway. In a recent US study 45% of confirmed cases admitted to the hospital were obese. An Australian and New Zealand study reported that 29% who were admitted to an ICU had a BMI of 35 or higher (very obese).

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President Obama Declares a National Emergency

President Obama gives more flexibility to healthcare institutions to care for those with the flu.

Saturday, October 24 President Obama signed a national emergency declaration for the H1N1 flu pandemic. What does this all mean? With more than 20,000 Americans hospitalized last week, this declaration gives greater flexibility to hospitals and nursing homes to care for an unusual influx of patients. In general public health officials have praised this move. You can find a wealth of information on the flu at Flu.gov.

PositiveTip: When possible stay away from crowds, wash you hands frequently, avoid rubbing you eyes and nose, get plenty of rest, and eat healthfully--to help ward off the virus.

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Surgical Masks as Efficient as N95 Respirators Against Influenza

Save some money: Use standard surgical surgical masks to protect against the flu.

Influenza is transmitted by coughing or sneezing very tiny particles that may be inhaled at short-range by another person. Using a personal respiratory device may be effective in limiting the spread of the disease, especially in health care workers. New research has shown the standard surgical mask compared with the N95 respirator (NIOSH certified to filter at least 95% of airborne particles) to be as efficient in protecting health care workers in hospital settings. The standard surgical mask is less expensive and more readily available.

PositiveTip: If you need extra protection against getting the flu, use a standard surgical mask.

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The 2009 Pandemic Flu Continues

Uncharacteristically high summer rates of H1N1 may presage a bad winter flu season!

FLU UPDATE: Between April and August 2009 more than one million cases of the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) flu occurred in the US, an uncharacteristically high number. Does this presage a bad winter flu season? No one really knows. Fortunately, the death rates have been lower than expected. Until an H1N1 vaccine arrives, here are the major preventive measures available:

  • Vaccination against seasonal strains.
  • Self-quarantine until 24 hours after fever abates.
  • Following respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
  • Use of antivirals for persons at high risk for complications.

PositiveTip: Don't underestimate the effectiveness of a healthy lifestyle (good diet, physical activity, adequate rest) in maintaining a strong immune system.

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H1N1 Flu Vaccines Now Approved by FDA

Vaccines for 2009 H1N1 flu now approved--will take four weeks for initial distribution.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved four vaccines against the 2009 H1N1 influenza A. Several recent studies indicate most healthy adults will need only one dose. Guidelines for optimal dosing for children have yet to be determined. Distribution of the first lots in the United States will take about 4 weeks.

PositiveTip: Healthy living, good personal hygiene, and vaccination when available are important tools to fight pandemic. Don't forget the power of prayer, too.

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H1N1 May Yet Be More Virulent Than the Seasonal Flu

Animal models show the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) may be more virulent than the seasonal flu.

Animal models demonstrate that the pandemic flu virus replicates faster and damages lungs more than the seasonal flu. Japanese researchers tested this in mouse and ferret models. Both species have been good predictors of human flu infection. In the United States so far, experience in humans has not been more severe. However, the influenza A (H1N1) surfaced and spread in late spring and summer. Flu viruses are more virulent and spread more rapidly in cold, dry air. The worst may be yet to come.

PositiveTip: Make healthy choices to support your immune system, practice good personal hygiene, and get your flu shot.