WHO – deadly H1N1 pandemic is officially over but consider vaccination

We can never forget the recent outbreak of swine flu or H1N1 virus that caused more than 18, 500 death toll rates worldwide.  The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared the end of H1N1 flu pandemic. The decision was prompted by the outcomes and advice of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee meeting held earlier in the day.  WHO told that the pandemic end does not mean that swine flu is gone forever.  It can still affect people, especially young people, pregnant women and those with respiratory or chronic health conditions.

Post-pandemic period
The WHO ended the pandemic because:

  • H1N1 has spread to all over the countries.
  • Many people in all age groups have developed some immunity to the H1N1, either via infection or vaccination.
  • There were no unusual summer outbreaks of H1N1.
  • H1N1 swine flu is no longer the dominant flu virus, crowding out others. Seasonal flu virus — H3N2 type A and type B viruses — are being reported.

Does the end of the influenza pandemic mean that fewer people will become sick and die of the H1N1 virus?
WHO says that the future impact of the H1N1 virus is not possible to predict. However, they expect that the H1N1 virus will continue to circulate as a seasonal influenza strain and because of this; more people will develop immunity to this current version of the virus. They also expect that there are far more chances of having an antigenic drift in the virus that may be risky for the people in coming future.

What does the end of the...

pandemic mean for individuals?
According to WHO,  influenza viruses continue to pose a risk of disease regardless of whether the world is in a pandemic situation or not and therefore, individuals should take prudent steps to reduce their risk of infection.  Such steps include the use of influenza vaccine when available and especially if they are in a group, as they are at higher risk for severe illness.

WHO has issued further guidance on recommended activities during the post-pandemic period, including advice on epidemiological and virological monitoring, vaccination, and the clinical management of cases. The details can be found on WHO website.

Health professionals still urge that people should get vaccinated against this nasty virus as it can still affect people after post pandemic stage. Swine flu had been a global threat at one point of time this year. Though we do not see more cases of swine flu, but like other seasonal flu cases it is expected that H1N1 virus will be in the environment and keep on infected the people. The best way to avoid the virus beside get vaccinations is to follow certain basic steps like covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and maintain good hand hygiene.

Source: usatoday


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