Friday 01 May 2009

Swine Flu: A Pandemic And Cautionary Tale In The Making

In March 2009, an outbreak of a newly discovered A/H1N1 influenza, or so-called swine flu, was first detected in Mexico. Since then, confirmed cases have been reported in many other countries, including Canada, eventually prompting the World Health Organization to elevate its pandemic alert phase to declare that widespread human infection of this influenza is now present and that a pandemic is imminent. In Canada (where I live), the news has triggered intense public worry that this outbreak may mirror the SARS outbreak which caused a public health crisis across the country in 2002-3. Haste comparison to the 1918 flu pandemic has even been made, though based often on inaccurate or incomplete scientific data (such as on the true case fatality rate) on the epidemiology of this disease. Moreover, news reports of rapid human-to-human transmission and disease susceptibility among otherwise healthy young individuals have contributed to the added panic about the flu by the public. Undoubtedly, a concerted national and international effort must be made swiftly to properly survey and implement measures to control and mitigate the spread of this flu in Canada and in other countries. In the meantime, the public must be vigilant to practice good hygiene and to reduce their risk of exposure but not be led by misinformation and unfounded fear about the disease.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Travel • Under Work • Under World
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