Centers for Disease Control warn H1N1 ‘much larger problem’

Anthony Ellrodt
September 10, 2009
Filed under News

As students return to campus, their
concerns lie with books, waitlists and
financial aid, but few seem to be concerned
with H1N1, also known as Swine
Flu.

The Centers for Disease Control, however,
warns that H1N1 could be a much
larger problem than previously anticipated.
According to the CDC, numbers
have been low across the United States
for non-seasonal influenza, but the Center
hasn’t been releasing full details of
the H1N1 pandemic. The CDC admitted
this new information in a joint briefing
held Aug. 21, between the CDC,
National Institutes of Health, and the
Food and Drug Administration.

In a transcribed copy of that briefing
located at www.cdc.gov, the Center announced
that 7,963 people have been
hospitalized in the United States and
522 have died from H1N1 or complications
thereof.

Jay Butler, the director of the CDC’s
Vaccine Task Force, was quoted as saying,
“It’s important to keep in mind that
these numbers radically underestimate
the number of cases that actually occur
because many cases go without testing,
and, in many areas, there is no routine
testing of people who are not sick
enough to require hospitalization.” He
also stated that the total number of cases
in the U.S. is “well over 1 million.”

This is the first admission by the CDC
that accurate numbers have been withheld
from the general media. However,
the CDC has also been quick to dispel
rumors about the upcoming influenza
season. Butler made it clear that although
there may well be a sharp rise in
influenza cases this season, that doesn’t
necessarily mean they’ll all be Swine
Flu.

Dr. Claudia Jonah, director of the
Kern County Department of Public
Health, said that the current H1N1 virus
is not the same as what we saw in
the ’70s and also stated that their main
concern at the Health Department isn’t
tracking numbers, but rather tracking
cross-reactivity with people who have
depressed immune systems and may be
fighting other infections while infected
with Swine Flu.

“What students need to realize,
though, is that our main focus is prevention.
If a student sneezes and covers
the sneeze, that isn’t as threatening as if
they sneeze and open a door then have
another student open that same door
right behind them. Students must be
vigilant in keeping themselves and everyone
around them safe,” Jonah said.

Shaunta Dumas, a BC nursing student,
said, “I don’t think it should be
ignored, even though there’s not enough
information to really know the seriousness
of it. I do think it should be taken
as a serious matter, and take all the necessary
precautions.”

Medical centers across the country are
also becoming concerned that the affected
age group for H1N1 is significantly
lower than regular, seasonal influenza.
According to annual numbers fed to the
CDC, the most affected age group for
seasonal influenza is 65 and over, while
the most affected age group for H1N1 is
between ages 10 and 50.

In preparation for the upcoming flu
season, the CDC has issued statements
regarding taking preventative measures
to help ward off the H1N1 virus.
Wash hands frequently, cover coughs
and sneezes, and stay home if showing
symptoms of influenza-related illness.
According to www.flu.gov, the symptoms
of H1N1 in people are similar to
the symptoms of regular human flu and
include fever, cough, sore throat, body
aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Students are also reminded that they
may call the CDC hotline at 1-800-232-
4636 and speak to a live CDC representative
regarding their concerns about the
H1N1 outbreak.

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