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My take on H1N1 December 6, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

I read a post on MyChemical Journey that reminded me that I have a viewpoint on H1N1.


Unlike that blogger’s father, I believe H1N1 is a real virus that many people have gotten with serious consequences. As serious as the dire warnings of early summer and the continued media coverage? No, not even close. H1N1 is proving to be an average influenza strain so far. The number of serious illnesses from it and deaths attributed to it are only a fraction of the annual average of the various seasonal flus. It has no terrible symptoms, such as the severe aches that can be part of suffering through some strains of flu.

That it could spread so quickly is only a reflection that this is the first virus outbreak in which there has been ready worldwide access to the DNA testing to clearly follow any viral spreading. The bird and swine flus of earlier years could not be, the instrumentation was not cheap and universal. With that in mind, ascribing illness and deaths to H1N1 is more accurate. Even recently, anyone dying of pneumonia would not have had the root cause identified – the virus that started the problem leading to the pneumonia. Now that can be done and has been. That does not mean that H1N1 is more virulent or deadly. It only means that epidemiologists can assign causes better.

In reading reports of the 1919 Spanish flu outbreak, virulence and quick spreading would make H1N1 a tame beast. In an age where travel by ship or by train were the main ways people carried illnesses globally, yje Spanish fle spread rapidly. Virologists are afraid of that sort of strain. Thus, the crying of Wolf! this summer. But people get skeptical and gaded when there is not really a wolf.



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