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items tagged with influenza

H1N1: Despite the Media Frenzy, There’s Little Reason to Panic
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2009-10-15 12:05:07

If you're torn about how worried to be about the H1N1 flu virus, you're not alone.

Consider: "I think the hysteria of H1N1 concerns me the most." That's Paul M. Bolger, medical director for emergency medicine at Trinity Regional Health System.

"Let's say it's equivalent to a seasonal flu" in terms of symptom severity and mortality, countered Louis M. Katz, the medical director of the Scott County Health Department, an infectious-diseases specialist, and the executive vice president for medical affairs of the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. "Multiply 30[,000] or 40,000 [typical annual deaths in the United States from seasonal influenza] times five or six, or three or four, in terms of number of deaths. It's a big deal. It's a huge deal. Both from the standpoint of what we call morbidity and mortality - illness and death - and from the impact on societal operations and infrastructure."

This is a worst-case scenario, right? "No, it's what's going to happen," Katz said.

These aren't really contradictory; they're just different perspectives. But they express the general realities about H1N1 that appear to be in conflict: Our brief experience with this new strain of influenza suggests that its symptoms are generally less severe than the seasonal flu's and that its death rate is comparable, but because there's virtually no immunity in people under 60, it has the potential to affect a greater percentage of the population and cause widespread problems.


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