In the past few days H1N1 news has come in tidbits. Each on its own seems like no big deal but when considered together I don’t like the trend.
First of all, the virus has been detected in Indonesia. On the surface this may not be major news since there are only a handful of cases (6) and let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before it reaches most every place. Problem is, Indonesia is the focal point of the Avian Flu (H5N1) virus. If the two virus meet up, they may combine and mutate into something more virulent. How can this happen? One way would be for someone or something to catch both. This is not very far fetched considering Indonesia’s dense population and rampant poverty.
Second, a Tamiflu-resistant strain has been detected in Denmark. Again, on the surface this is no big deal since the person did not have a severe case and has recovered. But as the world rushes to produce more Tamiflu there is a possibility that it will be of limited value. No surprise that a mutant strain has developed that is drug resistant. Get used to it.
Third, researchers from Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital have determined the global spread of H1N1 correlates with global flight patterns. It’s no surprise that infected airline passengers are carriers but the research suggests that this may be the predominant way that the disease is spreading.
Fourth, the weekly count of US H1N1 leaped last week. The number of US detections to date may surprise you. Since the death of Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, has taken over the headlines, little has been said about the now 27,717 cases of H1N1 (according to the CDC). More portentous is the 6,268 case increase over the prior week. It is summer and the count is supposed to be tapering off but if you look at the weekly data the opposite is occurring. In fact, the weekly increase in new cases is starting to resemle a geometric pattern. While it’s too early to conclude this, the pattern speaks for itself – look:
to Date Increase
June 26 27717 6268
June 19 21449 3594
June 12 17855 4638
June 05 13217 4242
May 29 8975 2453
May 22 6522 1808
May 15 4714 3075
May 08 1639 1498
May 01 141 141
I hope I’m wrong but all the evidence suggests that things are getting
worse, not better. Employers need to begin to devise their action plan (read my original blog) and may need to act soon to the extent that they
want to gather resources such as vaccination supplies for their workers, consider travel restrictions, and keep up the hand washing vigilance.
Email Robert Cirkiel at firstname.lastname@example.org