H1N1 UPDATE – FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2009

Although the majority of confirmed cases of H1N1 have been relatively mild, persons need to still be careful if they come down with symptoms of flu, like high fever, coughing, sneezing, etc.  It was announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday evening that three schools in Queens have been closed for a week, following the information that hundreds of students at Susan B. Anthony middle schools and one elementary school had been sent home sick this week.  Four students and an assistant principal have been diagnosed with confirmed cases of H1N1 virus.  Fifty-five year old assistant principal Mitch Wiener is in critical condition and on a breathing tube.  He is experiencing dehydration, kidney failure and a lung infection.  His case is the most serious illness in New York City since the beginning of H1N1 cases began in April.  The only underlying illness he has experienced before is gout, according to his sons.

The Susan B. Anthony schools are approximately two miles from St. Francis Preparatory School, where an estimated 1,000 students, their relatives and staff became ill following a trip to Mexico, taken by several of the students.  Most of the cases were mild and very similar to seasonal flu.

In a related story, the World Health Organization warned today against a false sense of security from the apparent mild and waning outbreaks, as the worst may not be over.  The WHO bases its alert scale on the way the virus is spreading in a sustained way throughout countries, not the severity of its effects.

Thus far, approximately 7,520 cases of H1N1 virus have been confirmed in 34 countries.  It contains a strain of genetic mixtures of bird, swine and human viruses.  Several countries are sharing samples of the cases in their areas with scientists in order for a vaccine to be developed that will be successful in preventing this virus, that spreads through coughs, sneezes, and air droplets, the same as seasonal flu.  Most persons suffer only mild symptoms and the many are able to recover without drug treatment.  Tamiful and Relenza have been effective against the strain.

We continue giving the same advice as major health organizations: wash your hands, cover your face when you cough or sneeze, and stay at home if you become ill.

Remain aware of the symptoms and don’t ignore them, just in case it could be something more serious.