Are We Taking H1N1 Seriously?
This one stopped me in my tracks, and I think I even said aloud "Are we taking this pandemic seriously enough?"
My concern actually started last spring, when the first wave of H1N1 ended in the U.S., and people started saying "Is that it?" Even some of my friends were trying to convince me that H1N1 was an invention of the healthcare industry to sell more medicine. Too many people, it seemed, treated H1N1 like a seasonal storm - once it blows offshore, that's it, no worries.
I'm worried about people wiping their brows and saying "Whew, we dodged one" before we've even seen a full pandemic.
Too few people realized, it seems, that a virus like H1N1 can actually circle back and return with a vengeance come the fall flu season. Which is nearly here. I'm worried about people wiping their brows and saying "Whew, we dodged one" before we've even seen a full pandemic.
As a reality-check, I called pandemic planning expert Regina Phelps to get her latest H1N1 update. Among her insights:
- 41 U.S. states have reported "widespread cases" of H1N1;
- 90 pediatric deaths have been reported - twice the average mortality in a typical flu season;
- 300 U.S. deaths have been directly tied to H1N1, while 2500 deaths have been because of "flu-like illnesses."
True, in many cases the virus has been mild - headache, high temp, mild discomfort or nausea. But there have been hospitalizations and fatalities, and this virus particularly wreaks havoc with the young.
All this before we've even seen the peak of flu season.
We've created several resources for organizations, including:
- H1N1 Pandemic: What Every Organization Needs to Know
- Symptoms of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) 'Swine' Flu'
- How to Prevent Spread of Illness to Healthy Employees
I recommend you share these pieces with your staffs, refresh their memories on the do's and don'ts of pandemic preparation.
Maybe it won't be a big deal. Perhaps we really have seen the worst of it.
But better to be underwhelmed and say "We were ready" than to be overwhelmed and say "We were shocked."