Today the US CDC announced that it has determined that the H1N1 influenza appears to be similar with that typically caused by seasonal influenza. Although many people may get sick, the available data do not indicate we are facing an unusually severe influenza virus.
We are very lucky that this wasn’t The Big One. However, make no mistake, The Big One is coming – just not now. Was this a case of crying wolf? Not at all. All we knew was that there was a new virus but we had no idea how virulent it was. Now that we know that it is not any more dangerous than that typically caused by seasonal influenza, we can relax a little bit. However, when the next one comes, we still will need to dust off our pandemic plans and follow the instructions given my our medical authorities.
With the modified policy being issued today, CDC no longer recommends that communities with a laboratory-confirmed case of influenza A H1N1 consider adopting school dismissal or childcare closure measures. Rather, in line with policies being undertaken in Seattle, New York and Canada, CDC has modified its policy to recommend implementation of measures that focus on keeping all students, faculty and staff with symptoms of influenza out of schools and childcare facilities during their period of illness and recuperation, when they are potentially infectious to others.
However, the WHO pandemic phase designation can still be raised to level 6 because it is based on geographic spread of the influenza virus, not on the severity of the illness. In the event that sustained transmission is found in another part of the world, it is not unlikely that WHO would raise the level to 6.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled program…