Though H1N1 may not be grabbing as many news headlines as it did just a month ago, the virus is still spreading — continuing to pose a serious threat worldwide.
In an interview with Reuters news, the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat stated:
“We are continuing to see transmission here in the United States in places like summer camps, some military academies and similar settings where people from different parts of the country come together. This is very unusual to have this much transmission of influenza during the (summer) and I think it’s a testament to how susceptible people are to this virus.”
Passengers flying with the virus are a catalyst for infections in other areas of the world. British Airways has directed its check-in staff to be on the lookout for passengers who show symptoms of the virus. If a passenger is suspected of showing symptoms, British Airways staff have a 24-hour medical number on hand so the individual may be checked out. The airline says the initiative is part of an effort to limit the spread of H1N1.
Global health officials also reported Friday that the virus is now also spreading to older age groups. This is interesting to note since the virus, when it was first introduced, was known for affecting mostly older children and young adults.
A vaccination against H1N1 is in the works — the WHO claims it may be available in just weeks.
“Manufacturers are expected to have vaccines for use around September. A number of companies are working on the pandemic vaccine production and have different timelines,” WHO said.
Human trials for the vaccine will begin in early August, according to the National Institutes of Health. There is a sense of urgency about finding a vaccine since autumn could possibly be a time of resurgence for the deadly disease.
To spur the effort, the National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will be directing research and conducting a series of trials, which will occur at the following research centers:
- Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
- Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati
- Emory University, Atlanta
- Group Health Cooperative, Seattle
- Saint Louis University, St. Louis
- University of Iowa, Iowa City
- University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore
- Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
With 44,000 reported cases and 302 deaths in the U.S. alone, a vaccine is indeed needed — and fast.