H1N1 swine influenza is hitting the southeast pretty hard, the CDC reports. It seems that the virus is still causing havoc among many who have not received the vaccine and those who were vaccinated but ended up sick right afterwards. Influenza vaccines take up to about two weeks for full protection to take effect. The CDC reports that since last week, H1N1 outbreaks moved from 10 to a total of 25 states. It is determined that a flu outbreak is widespread when it reaches 50 percent geographically, although this data comes from all flu cases that are minor to major.
The CDC mentions that this is the same virus that caused the pandemic in 2009. This influenza back then made headlines because it was the first time to be seen in humans; however, it is now well established within the human population. Due to the virus’s establishment, it is most commonly known as a human seasonal flu.
The CDC does not report adult deaths from the swine flu anymore, although some states still do and reports have been made. Pediatric deaths are still reported to the CDC; so far the H1N1 has accounted for 8 in total. The CDC says that it is very hard to track deaths in adults, but last year’s influenza infections were considered to be severe. 381,000 people were hospitalized and 171 children died. It really depends on how severe a virus is at a certain time and within certain geographical areas.
Influenza vaccinations last year did help prevent 6.6 million infections, about 3.2 million visits to the doctor, and 79,000 from being hospitalized. County health departments have been packed with parents and children waiting to receive flu shots before they return to school from winter break in many southeastern states.
8 deaths have been reported in Dallas, Texas, with nine more suspected due to the flu so far this season. The demand for the influenza shot is still very high, but health officials have been able to keep up with demands. It is so busy that back-up doctors are being called in just to handle the demanding crowds looking to get the shot.
There are still pockets of the U.S. that are being hit hard besides the Southeast. Michigan is dealing with a high influenza breakout, with three more adult deaths and one infant being reported including a dozen others on life support. The Michigan Department of Community Health has been keeping records of patients with H1N1 positive results. The Michigan Department mentions most of the deaths are coming from previously healthy patients. This showing how dangerous the virus still is among healthy people, and not just those who are considered high risk patients.
Some patients are being transferred from various hospitals to the U-M due to the severity of their infections. The U-M uses extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for people who need assistance with breathing. These machines help the heart as well as assist the lungs. Dr. Sandro Cinti says it is like the 2009 pandemic, but at least there is a vaccine available.
In Michigan, the influenza virus was very slow during the fall. But when December came around, the H1N1 virus took off. This flu explosion forced the Michigan state health departments to report to the U.S. CDC the sharp rise from local to regional. So, in reality, the H1N1 swine influenza may be hitting the Southeast hard. However, CDC health officials are also on the lookout for extreme rises of the influenza in various pockets of the U.S. in hopes to prevent further deaths during the flu season.
By Tina Elliott
Detroit Free Press