INFLUENZA A (H1N1) PANDEMIC

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The novel disease that scared the globe is the No. 1 Helath News for 2009.

At 10:30 pm of May 21, the DOH officially announced the first confirmed case of Influenza A (H1N1) in the Philippines, a 10-year old girl who just came inn from a trip to the US and Canada. Since then the health workers in the field and in the hospitals worked diligently to stall the increase in the number of cases by testing each person who manifested flu-like symptoms and contact tracing as well as treating accordingly those who were affected. As this happened, several schools and workplaces with confirmed cases shut down for dys to prevent further spread of the disease.

Influenza A (H1N1) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus which mutated out of four different strains of the influenza A virus found in pigs, human and birds. The outbreak began in Mexico in April 2009, spreading across the Americas and Asia in a matter of months.

On June 11, the world Health Organization (WHO) declared that the world was facing the highest Pandemic Alert level (level6) on A (H1N1). The WHO described the virus as “contagious and highly transmissible from person to person”. At this point, the DOH informed the public that is was shifting it’s a(H1N1) measures from containment to mitigation should community-level transmission happen in the country. A community-level transmission is present when the source of the virus can no longer be traced clearly and was already widespread. On June 22, the first locally reported H1N1 – related fatality was a 49-year old woman who also suffered heart problems. She was also the first fatality in Asia and among the 180 fatalities reported worldwide.

On June 30, the DOH issued revised guidelines on the response levels for schools and on clinical care management of H1N1 cases as well as the new guidance on major policy changes from containment to mitigation response. The shift would mean that A(H1n1) would be treated as the common flu, some patients can be treated at home while those with underlying conditions would require hospitalization, i.e. if a person has a progressive symptoms and pre-existing conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, pregnant, malnourished, and has HIV or TB.

On July 9, the WHO commended the DOH for its “leadership and tireless efforts in responding to this emerging threat.” At the last count, more than 99 percent of A(H1N1) cases in the Philippines has recovered, with the 30 who died having suffered from other diseases like heart and liver disease.

On August 5, the WHO reported that 1,154 cases worldwide have died since the virus emerged in April.

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