Contagious Disease

Looming Threat: H1N1 Outbreak in the Fall

The Washington Post reports that most Americans are not very concerned about swine flu.  Should they be worried?  Maps from the New England Journal of Medicine and RhizaLabs detail that swine flu is still a problem.

The CDC reports that “from April 15, 2009 to July 24, 2009, states reported a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection. Of these cases reported, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 people died.”  However, the CDC does not seem too concerned either.  The CDC has decided to discontinue confirmed and probable case counts on July 24, 2009 (aggregate national reports of hospitalizations and deaths will continue ).

So it is logical for Americans to not be concerned about H1N1?  I believe that public health officials still need to take H1N1 very seriously.  It is very likely that a second H1N1 outbreak will occur this fall and winter during flu season.  During the traditional flu season, H1N1 monitoring must increase.

For the average American, however, I believe there is little reason to worry.  This is not because they will not get H1N1, but instead because there are only a few steps they can take to prevent it.  The CDC recommends: avoiding sick people, washing your hands frequently and covering your face with a tissue when you sneeze.  The first two steps will help prevent you from getting H1N1, but both are logical and most people should already be doing these.  The third step will not help prevent you from getting H1N1, but will prevent the spread of the disease to others if you have it.

The Healthcare Economist’s advice to you is wash your hands, avoid sick people and–until flu season begins–worry about something else other than H1N1.

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