It has been our goal to keep you informed of the progress of the H1N1 virus, formerly known as swine flu. The World Health Organization raised the pandemic warning level from phase 5 to 6, which is its highest stage, which confirms that this new flu virus is circling the globe.
The mystery behind the H1N1 virus remains unsolved; it is an illness that is affecting young and healthy persons that are usually not susceptible to flu. Also, it is continuing through warm weather, when flu usually subsides. Although thousands become ill from flu annually, this strain is different, and scientists worldwide are continuing to develop a vaccine to prevent persons from becoming ill from it.
This is the first global flu epidemic in forty-one years. Mexico, the United States, Australia, Europe, Asia and South America all are experiencing confirmed cases. Most cases are mild, but because it is spreading, countries need to continue being prepared in order for health care providers not to be overwhelmed.
The United States has been increasing availability of flu medications, and the government has authorized $1 billion for developing a new vaccine. Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota and adviser to the U.S. government on pandemic preparations, stated that this declaration of a pandemic is a wake-up call for the world. He stated that “we don’t know what the next six to twelve months will bring.”