Your first answer will probably be “yes”, when being asked whether or not there was too much hype from the media, regarding the H1N1 influenza A virus that caused the World Health Organization to raise the pandemic threat alert to a level 5. The virus resulted in several deaths in Mexico, and two in the United States. Thanks to modern-day travel, the virus spread to several other countries, because people who were unaware they were sick and had been in Mexico later became ill, and the rest is history.
This H1N1 influenza A virus has caused a major inconvenience to parents, and students, whose schools were closed, school sporting events were cancelled, and graduation ceremonies postponed or cancelled. But in the big picture, was it over-hyped by the media, or were they doing their job: warning the public of the honest concerns of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Prevention and Control?
This virus remains a mystery to scientists, as it is still spreading, and they realize there could be potential as a killer virus. Infectious disease specialists worry that persons will ignore the next warnings of a flu pandemic, since this one seemed milder than they feared it would be. Dr. Robert Daum, University of Chicago infectious disease expert, thinks authorities acted properly when the news first broke. He also says that since the United States situation is not dire at this time, authorities should “downshift”.
Some scientists worry that H5N1 (bird flu) and H1N1 (swine flu) could combine into a new bug. H5N1 has not established in pigs; however, it is endemic in parts of Asia and Africa. H1N1 is now being confirmed in South Korea and Hong Kong. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan warns health officials in Bankok, “do not drop the ball on monitoring H5N1”.
Persons should continue to pay attention to what is happening with this new virus in the coming months. Some medical experts fear that it may return in the fall. Regardless of the hassle it caused those who were not sick, think about how bad it could have been if proper warnings had not been given.