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Home Swine Flu Origins H1N1 Flu Pandemic: What is being done?
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H1N1 Flu Pandemic: What is being done?

Since the H1N1 flu pandemic was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO), some places have resorted to various measures. Many of these are expected, asking citizens to wash their hands, but in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently warned young people, especially those in college to wear surgical masks while kissing.

Can surgical masks help to stop the spread of the H1N1 flu pandemic?

It appears that surgical masks worn by those ill, might help, but then again, they might not. A recent study showed that the evidence was inconclusive, but wearing a mask to ward off flu can do no harm. It appears that if masks are worn by family members within the first 36 hours of onset of symptoms of someone else in the house, and proper hand washing techniques are followed, then the transmission can be reduced.

The problem with the study was that the researchers were not sure if the masks or hand washing was responsible for slowing the contagion rate of the H1N1 flu. The study did not recommend surgical masks for use by the general public. Like the recommendation by the CDC, the masks should only be worn by those with the flu and those who come into close contact with them. It seems that surgical masks can help to slow the spread of the H1N1 flu pandemic only by preventing those in the same household from getting the H1N1 flu from the same virus.

Is there an H1N1 flu vaccine available? Who can get it?

Currently, there is no official vaccine for the H1N1 flu pandemic, but one is in development. Once it is released, it will initially be offered to very high risk groups. These include those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, health care workers, children under 24 and those who care for preschool aged children and infants. Some pregnant women have raised concerns about the vaccine. These opponents fear that the vaccine might not be properly tested and taking it could harm them or their baby.

Unfortunately, these women are at a higher risk for complications and death from the flu than other groups. Their immune system is not as strong as that of other women and men their age, and with their growing womb, their diaphragm and lungs are compressed. This scenario decreases the amount of air the lungs can draw in and it puts these late term mothers to be at an increased risk for pneumonia. This frequent complication of the H1N1 flu pandemic can easily result in death for both the mother and child. For these reasons, doctors are advising women who are carrying a child to get vaccinated as soon as one is available.



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