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Published:September 8th, 2009 10:36 EST
The Current Status of Swine Flu H1N1 Virus

The Current Status of Swine Flu H1N1 Virus

By Yasmin Esack

C OLOMBIAN PRESIDENT Alvaro Uribe has swine flu, a H1N1 Virus and so does President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica according to a Reuters report of August 2009 and quoted in The Washington Post. Also according to a report in Health News, Sept 7th 2009, Ecuador`s head of security, John Merino died of the same virus after ailing for some 28 days.   So far, forty-four persons have died from the swine flu in Ecuador and thirty four in Colombia. There is an increase cases in Argentina. In other news Hindustan Times of Europe, in a July commentary, said wife of Britain`s former Prime Minister Mrs. Cherie Blair has also contacted the dreaded flu.

The UN World Health Organization, the WHO has stated there have been 2,840 swine flu deaths worldwide and 250, 000 confirmed cases. This figure may well be higher as many cases are unreported.

Since May of this year the predominance of H1N1 swine flu, a virus transmitted by birds and thought to have originated in Mexico, as the number one item on news desks worldwide has fizzled somewhat. Gone are the scenes of face masked citizens hopping on buses, trains in large cities.  But, WHO warns bitterly about complacency and predicts an upsurge of the virus in the near future.

What are the WHO`s guidelines? Early detection and treatment of the virus, for one. Then, there is the bigger issue of vaccination. BBC`s Health Reporter Nick Triggle discusses the broader issues of a vaccination program. While the UK plans to vaccinate 13 million of its people, the general practitioners are asking for more money to administer the treatments. Then to, the vaccine will not be ready till sometime later this year. Further, doctors are skeptical about side effects to children. The vaccine will be administered first to those persons who are ill as well as pregnant women on a priority scale.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by Influenza type a, that infects pigs. The incidence of the disease is reported in 210 countries and deaths in 39 of them. The CDC in Atlanta said in June that the US had more than one million cases of swine flu, based on surveys by health officials.

A BBC August interview with Sir William Donaldson, UK`s Chief Medical Officer, suggests that swine flu cases are on a downward trend in Europe. Interestingly enough, Sir Donaldson mentions an upsurge in cases in Latin America. This may be due to a lack of anti viral treatment. The rate of spread is increasing in Mexico as well.

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