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Posted by on Sep 3, 2009 in Epidemiology, Health care, Infectious diseases, Media

Today’s H1N1 Press Conference From the CDC: NOT Live Blogged

Today’s H1N1 Press Conference From the CDC: NOT Live Blogged


Just to be different.

Dr. Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted this week’s broadcasted press conference on the status of the novel H1N1 epidemic in the United States.

Points made.

  • The bad news: Novel H1N1 virus is here and spreading, and notably, infection didn’t abate during the summer (“very usual”). Expect to see more cases in the coming months.
  • The good news: The virus has not mutated, as yet, to become more deadly; and so far, antiviral-resistant strains of H1N1 have not been observed. (See Addendum.)
  • The caution: But influenza is unpredictable, and readiness for the worst is imperative.
  • The verified data:
    a) There have been 36 pediatric deaths in the United States, details of which are in the latest issue of the MMWR; children with special needs appear to be particularly vulnerable to infectious complications, including death.
    b) Recent experience in the Southern Hemisphere (5 countries) is similar to that in the United States (during the Spring); there have been hospitalization challenges but no increase in the H1N1-related death rate.
    c) The Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report today recommending fitted N95 respirators, instead of the typical face mask, for healthcare workers who interact with H1N1-infected patients.*
  • The unverified data: A 1-dose vaccine, which was recently approved in China.
  • The 2-dose vaccine:
    a) Still expected in mid-October.
    b) To induce effective immunity, 2 doses are anticipated to be necessary.
    c) Recommended groups for vaccination remain the same.
    d) The vaccine itself is free, although administration may not be; the government is in the process of releasing $1.5 billion to enable/facilitate vaccine administration.
    e) Vaccination programs will be run on the local level (eg, state). 
  • The upcoming surveillance: For possible adverse events (eg, Guillain-Barre syndrome, miscarriages) associated with vaccination.
  • The challenge to safeguard healthcare resources:
    a) Most cases of novel H1N1 infection are mild and don’t necessitate laboratory testing or antiviral treatment.
    b) Stay home if you’re sick.
    c) Cover your face when coughing or sneezing.
    d) Wash your hands.
    e) Don’t go to the doctor unless you’re severely ill or have an underlying condition (although it’s important to be seen promptly in these cases, so that antiviral therapy can be instituted in a timely fashion [ie, within 48 hours of symptom onset]).
    f) To employers: Don’t require a permission note from an employee’s doctor before the employee can return to work; in general, telecommuting may be a good idea.

* The IOM was not charged with considering cost, when making its recommendation.

Depiction of H1N1 virus from Wikipedia.

09/05/09 addendum: In its August 12th report, WHO indicated knowledge of 12 cases of disease that is resistant to oseltamivir (Tamiflu; Roche). The mutated virus, however, remains sensitive to zanamivir (Relenza; GSK). Oseltamivir-resistant cases occurred sporadically throughout the world and were apparently not connected. 

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.