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Swine Flu N1H1, What Makes This Flu Scary (SVA, GLID, GSK, NVS)

By Dee Power on 09/16/2009 – 9:00 am PDTLeave a Comment

Swine Flu, officially known as N1H1 influenza , is having a far reaching effect on every one of us. The virus was first tracked in a small town in Mexico in May of 2009 and has spread to nearly every part of the world. The World Health Organization considers it a phase 6 pandemic. Individual cases have stopped being verified and reported as the numbers have increased exponentially. The death toll has nearly reached 3,000 and the fall flu season hasn’t hit yet.

Symptoms of the N1H1 virus are similar to other strains of flu including muscle aches, upper respiratory infection, fever, nausea and general weakness. What makes this flu scary is that deaths have been reported in younger apparently healthy individuals. Usually the mortality rate for influenza is highest among the very young, old, and those in poor health. It’s thought that the immune systems of younger healthy adults over react to the virus. The current flu vaccine is ineffective against this new N1H1 strain. Flu is caused by a virus.

Each virus strain is unique. For example Avian flu is not very contagious but has a death rate of over 60% when contracted. The N1H1 virus is very contagious but rather mild. The problem is that viruses mutate. The Spanish flu outbreak of 1917 to 1920 started out rather mild when it first appeared and mutated to an especially virulent form within 6 to 9 months killing over 60 million people world wide. The medical community is concerned that a similar outbreak may occur with N1H1. While the vaccine against  Swine flu N1H1 hasn’t been distributed yet, several companies are working on it.

A company in China, Sinovac (NASDAQ: SVA) says their vaccine has been tested and has begun taking orders. Several companies in the US are close including Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), Novartis, (NASDAQ: NVS) and Glaxco Smith Kline, (NYSE: GSK). With any new drug or vaccine there can be problems. The swine flu vaccine isn’t an exception. There have been reports linking the vaccine to Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Many businesses are preparing their workforce for the impact of an increased level of influenza. Steps include allowing employees to work from home if they do get sick so the disease doesn’t spread; increasing the amount of sick time allotted, encouraging employees to get vaccinated on company time, and educating their employees on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

The virus is spread through breathing the same air as an infected person within a 2 or 3 foot radius, or being exposed to water droplets containing the virus when someone sneezes or coughs. One of the most effective ways of containing the virus is washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer.

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