The Language of H1N1

Just as flu discussions went cold influenza A-H1N1 wants to talk again. The US was less concerned as the American media continued to bring in scanty reports. The average Joe and Joanne finding flu articles buried here and there on Google. Where were the diehards on search? Over at Flu Wiki most likely. Once the pandemic reached a level 6, on June 11th, this is where the earnest lurker was found to review the news reports. They have some good people over there posting night and day, news around the world. Still even Flu Wiki traffic was down.

On May Day, I wrote that the media would follow the story of H1N1 throughout the season around the globe and back to the North American flu season. I said journalists owed the public good solid reporting and investigation due to the big-oops in 1918. Those years of news-printed reassurances didn’t do much for lowering death tolls or to prepare the public.

We were getting reports of the numbers as they rolled through the WHO, and the CDC. Real numbers became speculative and open to manipulation rapidly. Governments exercising or flexing their own interpretations by who got tested. (That’s who not WHO) Almost always the first listed on the rosters of illness were foreigners who brought the disease into the country of reporting.

Reporters called around, reported the numbers and the latest deaths. Their penmanship hands tied by patient privacy, reusing the quotes of well-meaning health officials. The song of songs repeated. ‘This was a milder than expected H1N1, there have been no changes in the novel A-H1N1 virus to our knowledge at this time. Vaccine will be produced. You may need two inoculations spaced 3 weeks apart. Things could change fast. We will get back to you. We can only process so many calls. No we are not overwhelmed.’ Not a global conspiracy folks, just unprepared bureaucracy.

The ages of those hit hardest have been different from past seasonal-flu. Very concerning some said. Ominous said I. When you could get a treating MD to talk, they mentioned medical conditions preceding the Influenza related death. Not surprising unless you considered people with preceding health conditions got seasonal flu but rarely died as young adults. Obesity not being a medical condition that should loom large for a fatal outcome of flu. Pregnant women were among those effected and remain at greater risk than in the past. Their immune system usually runs high in the 2nd & 3rd trimesters providing historic protection.

Children under the age of two, and New York, Australia, and the First Nations of Canada had some staggering number of infections. In South America, Chile and Argentina numbers were rising. In the US the states of WI and IL were dealing with greater numbers. Though in earnest those states did deal with and threw out a better blanket of initial detection.

Readers began counter arguments about cleanliness, diet or light-ray treatments.

Here is the kicker as of June 29th A-H1N1 has developed resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu. It was just one little case in Denmark. If you knew that was going to happen than you are probably up on H5N1, or a consummate reader of influenza history. This is the point where younger readers might jump in and talk about flu-parties while nay-sayers scoff at potent pandemics, and medical people remind us a vaccine is just around the corner.

The next day, two more cases of resistant flu were discovered, one in the US and another case in Japan. The only conclusion is that the virus will continue to spread as A-H1N1 drug-resistant flu. It’s name keeps getting longer.

We are approximately 80 days past the initial outbreak and A-H1N1 has decided to change its game plan. Flu-parties are not a good idea and they never were. Influenza deaths have continued to follow North Americans into the summer months. The real infection numbers are going to reach about a quarter of the global population. A-H1N1 has decided to get tougher, and mutations could very likely follow fast. The testing is taking longer to show a positive to A-H1N1 in some hospitalized cases. There is every indication that H1N1 grows smarter and has begun a hide and seek game in the human body.

We are not done with the A-H1N1 novel. This was just the first chapter in A-Viral book. Are You Worrying Too Much About A-H1N1 is still posted. It talks about the Smart Viruses, or RNA viruses. Written for laypersons. It was posted May 2, 2009. 68 days later… we glean the first evidence that ‘The Worry’ is still with us. On May 15th I expressed every hope that H1N1 would not want to trouble the human population too much.

Hope takes pause. Let’s hope… the analytic content of reporting in the Media steps up. Health ministers under pressure starts now. Another blame game in a new world sharing red tape. Spinners will be out in force if the story of the Denmark case is highly publicized. It was just one little case, then followed by two. A-H1N1 is talking and learning new language.

  • Pandemic Swine Flu Shows Tamiflu Resistance (abcnews.go.com)
  • No Swine Flu Vaccine (sciscoop.com)
  • Why British Health Officials Decry ‘Swine Flu Parties’ (time.com)
  • Think You Have Swine Flu? What to Do (health.usnews.com)
  • WHO Says Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1 “Isolated Case” (nlm.nih.gov)