Since March 2009 after the H1N1, also know as Swine Flu, caused its first illness in Mexico, the virus has spread to more than 70 countries. Speading to the United States, the first reported patient was confirmed on April 15, 2009 and has since spread to over 27,717 Americans with 127 deaths as of June 25, 2009 (CDC). According to the CDC, “On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza A (H1N1) Virus. A Pase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is underway.”
Over the past few weeks, the number of infected humans has been increasing. Although the number has been rising, “…many of the cases reportedly had links to travel or were localized outbreaks without community spread. The WHO designation of pandemic alert Phase 6 reflects the fact that there are now ongoing community level outbreaks in multiple parts of the world.” (CDC)
The raising to Phase 6 by the WHO reflects the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness casued by the virus. Because the H1N1 virus is a new virus, many have little or no immunity to fight it, and illness may be more. There is currently no vaccine to protect against the H1N1 virus.
Although most in the United States who have become ill from the virus have recovered without medical treatement, the CDC does anticipate more cases occuring, more hospitalizations, and more deaths in the coming weeks. Most people have turned to medical masks to help protect themselves while traveling, or when in heavily populated areas.
Every individual has the ability to lessen the risk for themselves and others from contracting this virus. Some things as simple as washing your hands often, throwing your used tissues away, and avoiding sick people, may seem like small everyday hygiene tasks, but are surprisingly not practiced by many. For more ways to protect yourself and others click here.