It has been only several weeks since the H1N1 flu outbreak surfaced but, at times, it probably seems to be much longer. The topic of this flu is in the news every day and some people are beginning to think "enough already!".
While it is true that at this time, the outbreak is not as severe or deadly as initial data suggested, the potential was there and still lingers. The people who make the hard decisions must take a cautious approach and we should appreciate that they do. No one has any immunity to this particular virus as it is a completely new combination of pig, bird, and human viruses and it could continue to mutate. From the outset, no one knew how things would play out and they still don't know how events will unfold over the next few months. Some experts are predicting that this virus will be back stronger in the fall and history suggests they may be correct. But we are fortunate that there have been so many advances in surveillance, communication, and technology that if history is repeated, an outbreak or pandemic can be controlled as much as possible. Perhaps increased knowledge will help make a pandemic of the future less devastating than a pandemic of the past.
Who among us can really predict the future? We must be prepared for any scenario and all levels of government have been doing just that. The actions taken in response to this newest threat are a result of years of planning and coordination. But again, the uncertainty involved makes it difficult to implement the "perfect" response plan if there is such a thing. And, of course, every event serves as a learning experience which could lead to a different response in the future.
The best thing people can do is stay informed and practice good hygiene and daily health habits. There is absolutely no need to be fearful but everyone really should respect that there are germs "out there" and it is not known when they could evolve to the point of causing serious disruption to life as we know it. It is recommended that all families be prepared as best they can for different types of emergencies.
Check out the following websites to stay informed about this constantly changing situation. And by all means, call us at the Health Department (414-371-2980) if you have additional questions.