Swine Flu: WHO warns of a more aggressive strain
On Friday, doctors at WHO, warned of a severe form of the H1N1 pandemic which directly attacks the lungs and causes severe illness in healthy people and expensive hospital treatments.
The agency stated that “Some countries are reporting that up to 15% of patients hospitalized for infection with the H1N1 strain of influenza require intensive care, further complicating the already collapsed health care systems.
Adding that “During the winter season in the southern hemisphere, several countries saw a need for intensive care in times of great strain on health services. And they stressed that “preparedness measures need to anticipate this increase in demand for intensive care units, which could be collapsed from a sudden increase in the number of severe cases.”
The UN agency reported that “the circulation of the new strain of H1N1 influenza have passed its peak in most of the southern hemisphere, even though the area is going through the winter.”
WHO reported that “the new pandemic strain has reached epidemic levels in Japan, marking the early onset of what would be a long season of influenza in the northern hemisphere, while the situation is worse in tropical regions.
“In the Southern Hemisphere, the majority of countries, represented by Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia appears to have passed its peak of influenza activity.
“Some others, like South Africa and Bolivia continue to experience high levels of influenza activity.
The agency continued to state that “The H1N1 virus rarely arises with warm temperatures, but the disease continued to spread, although at low levels in the northern hemisphere throughout the summer. And even where progress is still flu season, the H1N1 strain is dominant and affects more people than the seasonal virus.
WHO specialists added that “Physicians worldwide are reporting a very severe form of the disease, also in young and healthy people, which is strange in the case of seasonal influenza infections .”
“In these patients, the virus directly infects the lungs, causing severe respiratory distress. Saving these lives depend on intensive care units of highly specialized, usually with long stays and costly.”
The Organization is advising “Northern hemisphere countries to prepare for the expansion of a second wave of the pandemic. Each year, seasonal flu infects between 5 and 20 percent of a given population and causes between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths globally.”
Experts believe that ” this virus will infect more people than usual, up to a third or more of the world population.” And that “unlike seasonal flu which attacks mainly the elderly, the pandemic strain disproportionately affects younger people and therefore cause more severe disease and deaths among young adults and children than seasonal influenza.”
People at most risk are pregnant women, people with chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes and some studies also suggest obesity as a risk factor.