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Combating H1N1 Influenza


Combating H1N1 Influenza

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President Barack Obama says the United States will continue to act aggressively to stop the global spread of the pandemic 2009-H1N1 influenza virus. To this end, the U.S. is prepared to make 10 percent of its H1N1 vaccine supply available to other countries through the World Health Organization or WHO.

The World Health Organization reports that as of September 6th, there were more than 277,607 laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza worldwide. The number of deaths recorded now stands at least 3,205. Because the WHO no longer requires countries test and report individual cases, there are likely to be more cases than the WHO numbers indicate.

The WHO reports a decline in flu activity in Southern Hemisphere countries, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, indicates that the level of influenza activity has increased in the United States, which is earlier than the usual influenza season. The pandemic H1N1 virus has caused most of these cases of influenza.

The good news is that most patients continue to experience only mild illness, and viruses from all outbreaks remain virtually identical. Despite earlier concerns that people would need 2 doses of a flu vaccine, clinical studies in China and the United States show that only one dose might be sufficient for adults. Clinical studies on dosing levels for children and pregnant women are still underway.

Recognizing that diseases know no borders and that the health of the America people is inseparable from the health of people around the world, he United States, in concert with Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, will make the H1N1 vaccine available to the WHO as supplies become available, in order to assist countries that will not otherwise have direct access to the vaccine. The United States has also provided funds, technical assistance, and materials such as personal protective equipment to the WHO and to individual countries. In addition, the U.S. has provided antiviral agents used to treat influenza to the Pan American Health Organization and to Mexico. The United States invites other nations to join in this urgent global health effort.

Working together, we can ensure that vaccination limits the spread of H1N1, reduces the burden on health care systems, reduces the risk of an even more virulent strain emerging, and most, importantly, saves lives.

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