I chose to do my paper on H1N1 Pandemic because the topic intrigues me. When the Pandemic outbreak first occurred, my family and I just got back from a seven day Mexican Cruise. This naturally scared us, and we ended up not being infected with it at that point in time. We took all of the precautions except for wearing a mask. We stopped going out to eat, and we canceled all of our travel plans. Towards the end of last quarter I got infected by H1N1 and needed to take a week off of school and work. Although a week doesn't sound like long, missing a week of school made me behind, and missing a week of work made me lose a paycheck, which obviously this is not as hard on me as someone who depends on paycheck to paycheck for survival. I think that the H1N1 Pandemic was made out to be worse than it actually was. A lot of people did die from the pandemic, but people die every year from the regular flu.

In April 2009, an influenza outbreak of illness occurred in Mexico and then began to spread throughout the USA. The disease then spread very quickly, and the number of confirmed cases rose to two thousand ninety nine by May 7. This statement is not entirely correct because it implies that the H1N1 virus began in Mexico. In April 2009, Edgar Enrique Hernandez was the first Mexican citizen recognized as suffering from the H1N1 virus. However in 2005, a boy from Wisconsis was infected with an influenza virus that was later recognized as H1N1. Ironically, Hernandez's case came from an American owned pig center located in Mexico. Mexico's economy suffered from blame it received for the H1N1 virus. It is important to recognize that the H1N1 virus was an international problem that all members othe the global community should learn from rather than blaming one another (Garret, 2009). On June eleventh two thousand and nine, the World Health Organization declared the influenza as an H1N1 pandemic, moving the alert level to a phase six. According to Wor ld Health Organization (WHO), a phase six is a pandemic, "occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population." WHO also says that, "The severity of pandemics can change over time and differ by location or population. "This marked the first global pandemic since the 1968 Hong Kong flu. On October twenty-fifth, two-thousand and nine, the U.S. President, Barack Obama, officially declared H1N1 to be a national emergency. People who have the flu, often feel some, or all of these symptoms: A fever or feeling feverish/chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, cough, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, throw up and diarrhea. The vaccine should be given to: people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, pregnant woman, health care and emergency medical services personnel, and anyone between the ages of 6 months and 24. People between the ages of 25 through 64 years of age are at a higher risk for 2009 H1N1 influenza because of certain chronic health conditions or due to a bad immune systems (see chart 1).


As previously stated, H1N1 can be transmitted through human contact, by either coming into physical contact with an infected surface, or by inhaling the germs from a cough or sneeze. Those affected should seek medical assistance, especially if previously diagnosed with any lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Also, those who are pregnant or morbidly obese are highly at risk. Like any other flu, it is not usually the virus that kills you, but rather the health complications that leads one to an early grave. If a person is not generally in good health, their chances of health complications in juxtaposition with the swine or H1N1 flu can be deadly.

Once the stages of H1N1 are over, you still may not be completely safe. Since your immune system is still so week, an even worse illness can set in being pneumonia, or it can be considered H1N1 pneumonia. This pneumonia is worse than a regular pneumonia because it sets a lot deeper into the lungs, and is even harder to get out of the lungs. The treatment for his pneumonia can be a lot more invasive and also contributes to the death toll of the H1N1 influenza. It is less common to catch the H1N1 pneumonia but if caught it is a lot more dangerous.

When the H1N1 Influenza began to spread there was a lot of panicking because the number of deaths were increasing drastically and the vaccine was not yet perfected. A lot of procedures were being asked to follow in order to maintain your health in light of the pandemic. According to, cdc.gov, the correct ways to prevent H1N1 from spreading is to: "Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick." This site also says, "Symptoms found in children: Fast breathing or trouble breathing, Bluish skin color ,Not drinking enough fluids , Not waking up or not interacting , Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held , Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough , Fever with a rash . Symptoms found in adults: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, Sudden dizziness, Confusion, Severe or persistent vomiting, Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough." One of the interesting questions that arose during the influenza was whether or not you could get swine flu by eating swine. You can not get this virus by eating pork, the virus spreads on a physical level, such as breath and touch.
What have we learned and how to improve in the case of a future pandemic:
As described throughout this research, the H1N1 pandemic was very similar to that of the normal yearly flu. In this specific case, America was put in a state of panic because the media kept telling everyone about the deaths and fears of the H1N1 virus. Unfortunately, the news did not give all of the facts and made this pandemic seem scarier. If the world was told that this flu was similar to a normal flu the fear and chaos levels would have been much lower. I think that the biggest improvement that can be made is to give the honest facts and not put fear into the world. With that fear is a chaotic mess which creates more problems. It is very hard to prevent a pandemic when there is a disease that is extremely contagious but to generate progress in helping everyone the world needs to know the truth.
Also, Health officials were happy with the manufacturers’ ability to quickly produce and test a vaccine for H1N1 flu. Although initial availability was low, plenty of vaccine is now available for the public. From this experience, experts have learned that they need to consider adding immune-boosting proteins to the vaccine so that lesser amounts can be given and the vaccine supply can be stretched.

According to CBSNEWS.com, the death toll was up to 4,000 as of November 12th, 2009. Between all of the hospitalized people, schools being closed for periods of times, and all of the vaccines that were created and distributive, H1N1 cost the United States alone a lot of money. According to PBS, "Congress appropriated $7.65 billion in June to fight pandemic flu, including H1N1. Of that, $6.15 billion has been spent or is set aside, most of it for vaccine purchases and related supplies, including syringes, needles, antivirals and other support."
Chart 1

external image qa_graphA.gif

In addition to the previously stated information and ways provided to improve pandemics, one final way, that is a far different viewpoint, is to simply not overreact regarding pandemics. The H1N1 Influenza was not the first pandemic and will most certainly not be the last, but we, as a nation and world, reacted so drastically and over-dramatically. The facts show that the H1N1 flu was not significantly worse than the typical seasonal flu. According to CDC, approximately 36,000 people in America die annually from seasonal flu-related causes. H1N1 is a serious illness and should be handled as such, but likewise, should not have the entire world living in fear. Christopher Albon, a PhD candidate at UC Davis says, "Governments must tackle epidemics as they would other natural disasters: assisting citizens while minimizing the disruption to economic, social, and security activity. If we do not change how the public perceives and understands epidemic-disasters, our overreaction could be worse than the diseases themselves."


Sources used:
  1. WHO: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/frequently_asked_questions/levels_pandemic_alert/en/index.html
  2. CDC: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/12/health/main5625415.shtml
  3. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic#Effectiveness_of_antivirals_questioned
  4. CDC: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http:www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/images/graphs/qa_graphA.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/surveillanceqa.htm&usg=QGC3ctaInj7EvSZwLdHA59JTcjY=&h=354&w=579&sz=33&hl=en&start=20&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=lYks4AzS2IhsMM:&tbnh=82&tbnw=134&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dh1n1%2Bchart%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26tbs%3Disch:1
  5. PBS:__ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/health/july-dec09/flu-costs_10-08.html
  6. EDIT: WHO: http://www.wpro.who.int/health_topics/h1n1/info/info_regionsNpop.htm
  7. Edit: CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/Flu/keyfacts.htm
  8. Edit: Conflict Health: http://conflicthealth.com/h1n1-dont-fear-the-disease-fear-the-overreaction/
7. Garret, Laurie (2009). The Path of a Pandemic. Newsweek. Retrieve March 12, 2010, from htto: www.newsweek .com/id/195692