Today’s H1N1 Press Conference From the CDC: NOT Live Blogged
Just to be different.
- 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.