Whatever happened to H1N1?

As spring rapidly approaches (do you love this time of year as much as we do?), we’ll bet many of you are left wondering … what’s up with the flu epidemic? With all those public service announcements still offering information about the latest place to get the H1N1 vaccine, and warnings about how we need to continue to be vigilant about flu symptoms, what’s the status?

Here’s the latest from the Centers for Disease Control website as of 3/18/10:

The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza remains low. No flu-related pediatric deaths were reported this week. Since April 2009, CDC has received reports of 277 laboratory-confirmed pediatric deaths due to H1N1 (laboratory-confirmed deaths are thought to represent an undercount of the actual number).

No states reported current widespread influenza activity. Five states reported regional influenza activity. They are: Alabama, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi and South Carolina.

The majority of the influenza viruses identified so far continue to be 2009 H1N1 viruses. These viruses remain similar to the virus chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, and remain susceptible to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir with rare exception.

So that’s what the experts have to say. How does this translate into what to do for your family?

Our best guess is that flu cases are on the wane for this season.  If your household hasn’t been flattened yet, it’s not likely to happen this year.  In spite of MOC encouraging you to sign up for the vaccine, if you and yours haven’t gotten it yet you may want to wait until next year’s formulation becomes available.

By all accounts the 2010 version will combine protection against H1N1 along with other seasonal flu variations.  This means only one vaccine will be required, unlike 2009 when shots were needed for H1N1 and the seasonal flu.

It’s very likely that we’ll see a resurgence of H1N1 next season, though it’s always iffy to try and predict viral patterns.

As always, frequent hand washing and defensive health habits (coughing into your elbow, avoiding frequently touched public surfaces) are the best way to protect yourself and others.

Stay well!

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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