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H1N1 Flu (which we all know is really Swine Flu, no matter what the gov says!)

The Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer of NASA sent out an email containing the most rational and even-handed information on this subject that I’ve seen yet. I thought I would share a few points on it here because I am sick of people freaking out over it and locking themselves in their homes.

As the outbreak progresses, the following facts and features have become evident:

1. The outbreak continues to cause relatively mild illness for the most part in the United States, and appears to be very much like a seasonal flu outbreak with regard to severity and spread.

2.  The U.S. government has mobilized numerous resources not previously available to respond to flu outbreaks. This should limit the overall impact, compared to past experience.

3.  The Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend avoiding non-essential travel to Mexico. There are no other travel related recommendations at this time. There are no recommendations to restrict or avoid public transportation, including airline travel. OK, so maybe don’t plan any vacations for there for the next month or so.

4.  The World Health Organization has characterized the outbreak based on spread, not severity. Currently, the WHO Pandemic Alert level remains at 5; however, this may change if person-to-person spread is confirmed outside of North America. Again, this does not relate to the severity of the illness caused by the epidemic.

5. NASA specific, deleted.

6.  There have been multiple deaths in Mexico related to H1N1 infection, and there have been many more hospitalizations there as well. The number of infected individuals in Mexico is unknown. As the number of hospitalizations increases worldwide, the expected number of deaths can be expected to increase, as would be seen in any outbreak of influenza.

7. Personal protective measures remain the best prevention for this illness. Strict attention to hand washing, avoiding contact with those who are ill (staying 3 to 6 feet away should be adequate), remaining home if ill, keeping your hands away from your nose and mouth, covering coughs and sneezes and disposing of contaminated tissues are all useful measures. 3 to 6 feet away is adequate, folks! Remain home IF ILL, not “remain home and become a shut in”!

If you’d like more information…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu
The World Health Organization:
http://www.who.int/en