Every so often, a random health news story I’ve been a part of makes it’s way into another language. Take this example from Ser Padres magazine, which was based off a article on hand washing for influenza season a few years back. It’s brief, but cool to see, nonetheless.
The world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course.
With those words, the Director-General of the World Health Organization finally deescalated the 2009 H1N1 influenza situation out of pandemic mode last week. If it feels like this is a bit late – after all, there has been little reported influenza activity by the CDC for many months now – then it’s good to recall that the world does, in fact, extend beyond the borders of the good old United States. By any assessment, the WHO’s retaining the pandemic designation for this long has been conservative, but not unjustified.
Globally, the levels and patterns of H1N1 transmission now being seen differ significantly from what was observed during the pandemic. Out-of-season outbreaks are no longer being reported in either the northern or southern hemisphere. Influenza outbreaks, including those primarily caused by the H1N1 virus, show an intensity similar to that seen during seasonal epidemics.
During the pandemic, the H1N1 virus crowded out other influenza viruses to become the dominant virus. This is no longer the case. Many countries are reporting a mix of influenza viruses, again as is typically seen during seasonal epidemics.
The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus has had the potential (and still does) to mutate into something far more lethal than it has to date. While the overall mortality rates have been low, especially considering that 20-40% of the population was infected over the last year, this is a virus that has a taste for preferentially killing the young and the healthy. As this virus “fades” more deeply into the typical seasonal influenza ecology over the coming year, continued vaccination, prevention and monitoring are of critical importance.
Based on available evidence and experience from past pandemics, it is likely that the virus will continue to cause serious disease in younger age groups, at least in the immediate post-pandemic period. Groups identified during the pandemic as at higher risk of severe or fatal illness will probably remain at heightened risk, though hopefully the number of such cases will diminish.
ReConStruction was a damn fun time, but notable for having rather desolate overall attendance and some interesting fan dynamics. Autopsy notes will be forthcoming.
I did not attend Otakon, having little direct investment in things otaku at the present time, but passively got a taste of event while out with friends in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor two weekends past. Costume watching proved to be rather brilliant, and I had not been aware that the con is nearly as big as Dragon*Con in terms of overall attendance. Given that the masquerade is likely to be insanely over the top, and is held in the First Mariner Arena, that may be worth checking out next year for the spectacle alone.