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How Serious Is Swine Flu?

The United Kingdom has become the latest country to confirm cases of the swine flu. At the same time, the World Health Organization has raised its alert level from 3 to 4. With 150 people already killed in Mexico, the WHO revealed that the influenza virus has the sustainability for human-to-human transmission and can cause community level outbreaks.

One can recall a similar outbreak known as bird flu which was more risky than H1N1 virus. According to Professor Neil Ferguson of the World Health Organization, H1N1 is nothing when compared to other similar outbreaks such as SARS or the 1918 Spanish flu.

According to the professor, the evidence is clear that the United Kingdom is headed for a swine influenza pandemic in the coming months. However, it would be difficult to determine the extent of the epidemic since this is usually the time of the year when flu is prominent in the United Kingdom.

It is likewise almost sure that if the H1N1 outbreak disappears in the coming weeks, there might still be an outbreak of the virus in the autumn. If the situation indeed transforms into an epidemic, then 30% - 40% of the general population might become susceptible to infection. Professor Ferguson believes that any outbreak might become longer since the summer season in the United Kingdom is fast approaching.

On the other hand, Sir Liam Donaldson, who is concurrent Chief Medical Officer for England, believes that this new strain of H1N1 virus is something which people has natural immunity and has not received any vaccination yet. For this reason, one becomes susceptible to infection and spread to other people.
However, there is no sufficient information about the virus yet and H1N1 is still a subject of studies by major laboratories in the world. Once there is sufficient information about the virus, only then can it be possible to make improved predictions about individuals who are at higher risk and likely to have serious complications.

At present, the situation in Mexico is creating confusion and it is hard to make a firm a conclusion about what is likely to happen. In any case, there is a need to be ready for any untoward incidents that may happen.

Professor John Oxford, meanwhile, believes that the H1N1 outbreak is not as alarming as the H5N1 bird flu virus. He believes that the country can provide the basic H1N1 immunity for the population. The outbreaks outside of Mexico have not resulted to deaths which is an indication that the virus is not that aggressive.

Aside from that, the summer months is fast approaching so it is less probable for the H1N1 virus to cause an outbreak as well. In any case, the United Kingdom has enough antiviral medicines to treat half of the population.

With this in mind, there is no cause for worry about the H1N1 virus, as it appears that it would cause an outbreak that would be felt all over the world and increase mortality rates.

The outbreak of H1N1 began in Mexico City and as of today has resulted to the death of 42 people and more than 800 confirmed cases of swine flu infection. Although it has now spread in 22 countries, it is believed that this new virus outbreak would not be result to a pandemic and is milder than similar virus infections.


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