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A closer look at H1N1 reports

December 03, 2009
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As was reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 15, 2009, the H1N1 influenza A (swine flu) virus has been detected in 206 countries, accounting for roughly 6,770 deaths — a conservative estimate. Though some experts claim the pandemic has reached its zenith, with over 526,000 confirmed cases and counting worldwide, it remains vital that building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house professionals stay abreast of this highly contagious — but realistically beatable — foe. According to a recent WHO report, "Influenza transmission continues to intensify in Canada without a clear peak in activity. The influenza-like illness (ILI) consultation rate, which has been highest among children aged 5-19, continues to significantly exceed mean rates observed over the past 12 influenza seasons. In the United States, influenza transmission remains active and geographically widespread, although disease activity appears to have recently peaked in most areas except in the Northeastern states." The same report provided the following information about infection rates in Eurasian nations: "In Europe, widespread and increasing transmission of pandemic influenza virus was observed across much of the continent, but the most intense circulation of virus occurred in Northern, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. In East Asia, influenza transmission remains active." The WHO goes on to note that in tropical zone of the Americas and Asia, the intensity of influenza transmission is variable, and in the temperate region of the southern hemisphere, little pandemic influenza activity has been reported. What Does It All Mean? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in an effort to help the populace better understand the figures, releases a weekly report called FluView that analyzes data to paint a clear and concise picture of the current situation. Some of the CDC''s recommendations for remaining healthy during the H1N1 pandemic include:

§ Washing your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

§ Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs are easily spread this way

§ Avoid close contact with sick people; if you become sick, remain home until at least 24 hours after flu-like symptoms cease

§ Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Studies have shown that the influenza virus can survive for two to eight hours on surfaces and still have the ability to infect humans and animals. Because of this, the CDC recommends using a hospital-grade disinfectant to frequently clean contaminated surfaces. The Future Of The Formidable Flu According to the WHO, mutations of H1N1 have been detected in Norway, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine and the United States. While the prospect of a mutation of an already-mutated flu virus is alarming, cleaning professionals can rest assured that the same techniques employed to eradicate the common flu virus and its H1N1 spinoff — frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, proper hand washing and promoting general hygiene practices — are effective in the fight against the new strain. As news of this continuously developing situation is constantly updated, we strongly encourage you to frequent, and for the latest H1N1-related information.

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