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Published:September 12th, 2009 17:45 EST
Swine Flu Watch

Swine Flu Watch

By Nkechi Mogekwu


For many, the month of September marks the beginning of the school year, and among other things,  flu shot season. But the Fall of 2009 has brought along with it not just the flu, but the H1N1  flu strain. According to the World Health Organization, this particular strain has never circulated between humans before and has claimed the lives of an estimated 400 people in the United States. It is expected to rise and come in varieties.

With the cautionary measures used to slow the spread of this particular flu, it does not put minds at ease to find out that heads of states like Costa Rican president Oscar Arias  contracted the flu.  President of Columbia, Alvaro Uribe  also contracted the virus after a meeting with South American leaders in Argentina. Columbia already has 621 cases of swine flu.

This begs the question of not if,  but rather, when news headlines of this sort would spread to other countries about their respective leaders. So far,  South America is the only continent that has had to endure such discouraging news.  It can also be assumed that the world`s leaders  have taken strict cautionary measures after the recent news of their counterparts.

The fear is no different in Asia where Chinese health officials have estimated that tens of millions of people are  to contract the flu this fall. Considering that the origin of the flu was from the Americas and the estimates are that high in Asia , one only suspects the  90,000 deaths estimated for the USA will rise.

During all of this however, the state of distribution of the vaccine may be another hurdle to face, especially in the African continent. Not much talk has been heard over the spread in Africa until recently when a 22-year old student in South Africa tested positive for the disease and died a week later. This would put a new strain on the African continent.

This is dire news for a continent that has yet to properly handle diseases of the other disease including malaria and HIV. The spread of the H1N1 virus may prove to much to handle and the  questions remain on how ready  and prepared the continent would be in combating this flu.

Considering, according to WHO, that most people have little or no immunity to this new virus and knowing that the symptoms of the virus are almost identical to that of the seasonal flu, this strain makes it harder for people to distinguish between the regular flu and H1N1. Most of the world can have a sigh of relief as it has been noted that the virus should be curbed after one vaccine shot and not two as previously thought, and with the vaccine slated for release mid September, and the effects of the  drug working in a  matter of days.

In the mean time, it is still advised to use the same measure to protect one`s self: covering the  mouth or face when sneezing or coughing, preferably with the elbow and not the hand; and to always wash hands after using the bathroom. One is also advised to stay home to prevent spreading the flu he or she feels better.