Swine Flu Will Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

H1N1 has not gone “gentle into that goodnight and seems to “rage against the dying of the light”, to quote Dylan Thomas.  When I last posted on the topic back on May 25th, there were 6,754 cases reported by the CDC in the U.S.  In just 19 days, that number has nearly tripled to 17,855.  Wisconsin now has the dubious distinction of having the most confirmed H1N1 cases in the nation with 3,008.

On June 11, the World Heath Organization issued its highest alert – Phase 6 – indicating that a worldwide pandemic is now in progress.  Close to 30,000 cases have been reported worldwide in 74 countries.  The U.S. leads all countries by a substantial margin – with nearly half of all cases reported and 30% of the 145 fatalities to date.

The virus has not invaded some of the most densely populated areas of the world – Japan, China and India where only about 2% of the total number of cases have been documented.  Perhaps this number is higher as it is difficult to believe any data coming out of China.  However, China has been agressive in its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.   Visitors to China have been under the microscope.  Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans was quarantined for a week by Chinese authorities in Shanghai when a passenger on his flight was thought to be infected.

On the local front, dozens of schools in Massachusetts have been closed during the last two months as an unusually high number of students and staff have been out sick.   The medical establishment no longer tests for swine flu when a patient presents with flu like symptoms unless there is a serious underlying health issue that would make testing prudent.  Patients are urged (but not required) to stay home for 7 days.  I think both the closing of schools and testing only when necessary is a sensible approach to this public health crisis, that “will not go gentle into that good night”.


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