Swine flu: Did the system work?

For seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine sites, check with your doctor or www.masspro.org

The NY Times reports that:

Although it is too early to write the obituary for swine flu, medical experts, already assessing how the first pandemic in 40 years has been handled, have found that while luck played a part, a series of rapid but conservative decisions by federal officials worked out better than many had dared hoped.

Herein Mass, find a couple of interesting factoids in the state’s latest flu report.

As of Dec. 30, the DPH reports that “after an intense peak of activity associated with circulation of 2009 H1N1, ILI (influenza-type illness) has decreased dramatically and for the past two weeks has been in line with what is normally seen at this time of year.”

In mid-Dec, only 17 percent of the cases tests positive from H1N1, compared to 58 percent of cases in early November. In real numbers that’s 42 cases in for the first week of November compared to two in December.

The region with the highest percentages of reported flu symptoms so far this season is the “Outer Boston Metro” region, with 6.7 percent of all cases, compared to 1.8 percent last season. That is worth exploring. Were suburbanites more likely to report the flu or more likely to get it?

The Wall Street Journal ended the year of the flu with this report on the situation outside of the North America and Western Europe,

Global health officials’ response to the swine-flu pandemic reflects major improvements in flu-fighting capabilities in recent years, but limited vaccine supplies, crowded emergency rooms, and other challenges show they still aren’t fully equipped to combat a deadlier scourge, the World Health Organization’s chief said.

While a second wave of infections caused by the H1N1 virus has ebbed in North America and Western Europe, transmission of flu remains intense in Central and Eastern Europe and parts of southern Asia, and health authorities must monitor its spread for another year or more, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in an interview this week.

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