“We know that at this time we are not winding down when it comes to H1N1. We don’t know what is going to happen in the Southern Hemisphere. We don’t know what the new virus will do in the future,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program during Monday’s media press briefing.
The tracking of the swine flu in the southern hemisphere is very important for the northern hemisphere as it will give clues as to what to expect in the fall when seasonal flu season hits. While it is of importance, it can not be stressed enough that the flu is unpredictable. There is no telling if the swine flu will be more widespread than seasonal flu during the fall or if it will continue to spread throughout the summer.
The CDC now has a tracking map for the public to view where the cases are in the United States.
Dr. Schuchat said that confirmed cases are just the tip of the ice berg. It is possible that there have been other deaths from swine flu that were not identified but there has not been an increase over the baseline of expected deaths. Those other possible deaths are not so many that they would be a public health concern at this time.
As to questions of over-reacting to this outbreak is a question Dr. Schuchat explained that the world has changed since the 2003 outbreak of SARS. Public health groups globally are working together so that concerns are quickly given to other countries and that those countries can be on the lookout for suspected outbreaks.
“It is clear that we have a novel virus circulating throughout the United States. It is clear the general population is susceptible to this virus. Ideas of investing in a vaccine are very prudent at this time.”
One concern worth mentioning is that on the misuse of anti-viral medications. Drugs like Tamiflu must be properly used so to avoid the virus from becoming immune to the medication.