WHO: Virulent Form of H1N1 Attacks Lungs of Young People

WASHINGTON

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Aug. 28 that doctors are beginning to see a form of the H1N1 virus that is much more severe. According to the New York Times, some types of swine flu are quickly infecting the lungs of otherwise healthy young people, causing them to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

WHO officials also said that some countries are reporting that 15 percent of patients infected with H1N1 are requiring hospitalization.

Despite this, as well as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommendation that the United States speed up the delivery of H1N1 flu vaccines to September, the doses most likely won’t be available until mid-October.

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, who is head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current vaccine technology does not allow for such a quick turn around.

Additionally, according to ABC News, the Health and Human Services department estimates that only 45 million doses of the vaccine will be available by mid-October, with 20 million more available each week through December. The original estimate was 120 million by mid-October.

The recommendation for an early release of the vaccine was made because the council believes the number of infections will peak Oct. 15.

The report says that as many as 1.8 million people (30-50 percent) could be hospitalized as a result of swine flu, and 30,000 to 90,000 could die. Most of the individuals affected would be children and young adults. During a regular flu season, 20 percent of the population is infected and 36,000 die, and those deaths usually occur in persons over the age of 65.

Frieden says, however, that if the H1N1 virus does not mutate, those projections are probably inaccurate. U.S. researchers believe it is not all that likely that H1N1 will evolve into a “superbug”, according to Reuters.

Currently, the swine flu virus is rated at a pandemic level of 6 but virulence level of 2.

In response to the growing concerns about the spread of H1N1, all New York City school children will be eligible for a free swine flu vaccination this fall. Federal health officials say the vaccine will be free for students from elementary school through college (ages 5-24). Additionally, President Barack Obama is urging Americans to get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available.

More information on how campuses can prepare for the H1N1 virus can be found at www.campussafetymagazine.com/PandemicFlu.

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