Quote from noworries
Sorry, I don't get it... why are they making such a big deal out of the influenza virus this time? A new strain arises almost every year if I remember correctly..
Good question. It's because it is not like a seasonal influenza. The current
influenza that has virologists spooked has killed thousands of birds since it became highly pathogenic. It is an avian flu virus that is adapting itself to mammals. The mortality rate in humans is over 60%. The victims are primarily the young, unlike in seasonal flu where it is the elderly. With this virus, H5N1, 80% of those infected are under age 40, and 50% are under age 20. That is very different. Humans have no immunity to this flu, and we have no vaccine to it. There will be no vaccine until 6 to 9 months into an epidemic, and that vaccine will likely not prevent infection, but is hoped to lessen mortality. It can be treated with Tamiflu, an antiviral, but there is only enough to treat a small percentage of the people who may be infected if this virus goes pandemic.
Virologists are telling us that only a few mutations are needed for this virus to become more transmissible to humans. There have been a few cases of human to human infections documented and other cases where it is suspected that this has occurred. The latest fatality in Egypt has given us information that has increased the cause for concern because the viral sequencing has revealed regions of identity with influenza B which is a seasonal flu that is easily transmissible.
Pandemics occur naturally every 30 to 40 years as influenza A viruses mutate. Some are more severe than others. The 1918 virus killed millions and started out (at least two years before becoming pandemic) only killing a few then mutated to become more deadly. That is the concern with H5N1. If not this virus then another will most likely become pandemic is what the experts are saying, and why billions are being spent to deal with this worldwide.
Our concern as healthcare workers is that we are going to be the ones providing the care. We will be at risk with only our personal protective equipment (PPE) as a barrier between us and the virus. If we do not plan now, and get informed, we may find that our healthcare facilities are not adequately prepared to protect us. Question, is there a plan where you work? Have they purchased what will be needed to protect you so that you can do your job? You most likely will not be receiving Tamiflu prophylactically as there is not enough to go around for this. Your PPE
is therefore a real concern.
There is more info in the Pandemic Flu Thread II under Nursing News.
Community education such as this RN is suggesting is an important part of getting ready also. Planning is never wasted as catastrophic events can occur without warning i.e. Katrina, and SARS.