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How Swine Flu Spread Globally

Frequently I find something in the literature that is absolutely fascinating. It often has to do with health related research and the way it is visualized and communicated. Today, I want to share with you just such results!

In recent months we have been deluged with news about the H1N1 influenza pandemic. You may have wondered, did it really start in Mexico, and how did it spread globally so quickly? Flu viruses continually mutate as they multiply. By analyzing these mutations, scientists can develop a family tree and model how and when the disease spreads!

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School Has Started--and so has Flu Season

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure--especially when it comes to the flu.

Now that school has started the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released updated guidelines to help reduce the spread and severity of influenza in early childhood school programs. In summary these include:

  • Children and staff in target vaccination groups should be immunized.
  • Those with flu-like illness should stay home until they've been without fever for 24 hours (without using fever-reducing medications).
  • Child care providers should check staff members' and children's health daily, and separate sick individuals from others until they can be sent home.

If influenza severity increases, additional strategies include:

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Update: CDC H1N1 School Recommendations

CDC releases updated school guidelines for schools (K-12).

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released updated H1N1 guidelines for schools (K-12) during the coming academic year.

If the virus show the same severity as last spring the advice is:

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Severe H1N1 Risk may be Higher in Obese Patients.

Obese patients may be at risk for severe H1N1 influenza A.

MMWR reports nine of ten Michigan patients admitted to intensive care with confirmed novel H1N1 influenza were obese (BMI, 30 or above) and seven of those were severely obese (BMI, 40 or above). Three of these died. All ten patients had acute respiratory distress and were placed on mechanical ventilation. The authors warn there may be the potential for severe complications from novel influenza A infection, especially in those who are severely obese.

PositiveTip: Stay physically active and eat only what you need to maintain your ideal weight. This is the best way to stay healthy.

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WHO Declares H1N1 Flu Pandemic

World now at the start of 2009 influenza pandemic--first one since 1968.

Last Thursday, June 11, the World Health Organization declared the new influenza A H1N1 (formerly known as swine flu) a pandemic. This novel virus strain has not previously circulated in the human population. Although declared as "moderate", the speed at which it has spread, and the potential for a much more virulent form to develop spurred this declaration. No restrictions on travel or border closures have been declared.

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Early Reflections on H1N1 "Swine Flu"

The recent H1N1 flu pandemic scare is more benign than feared, but could come back with a vengeance.

An early review of the recent influenza A H1N1 scare suggests this virus is more transmissible and lethal than the typical seasonal flu viruses. This is the conclusion of a team of epidemiologists who analyzed the recent outbreak of H1N1 in Mexico. They presented several interesting, but tentative observations:

Are You Ready for H1N1 Flu--or Another Variant?

A sneeze releases millions of germ particles into the air.

During the past week we have heard a lot about the "Swine Flu", now dubbed H1N1. Near paranoia gripped the public and some media for a time. Doomsayers were prognosticating this was going to be "it" for the world we know! We now know that H1N1 responds well to two of the antiviral agents, and also most people who get it get well on their own. Rationale reason seems to be setting in at this time now.

Should we just breathe a collective "Whew, that was close one," and go on with our lives as usual? Or should we grip the edge of our seats waiting for this to get worse, or a more virulent strain to come along in the future?

The characteristics of influenza virus are: