As noted in our recent blog, Influenza H1N1 is spreading to the Southern Hemisphere and the number of countries it has surfaced in has cause the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the outbreak a global pandemic.
However, when WHO originally set the alert levels for pandemics, it was preparing for deadly flu outbreaks similar to the Avian Flu. The current H1N1 strain currently appears to be a relatively mild form of the flu, although it can and has caused a number of deaths. However, the mortality rates from H1N1 remain low at this time.
As noted previously, Influenza H1N1 appears to be ebbing in parts of the Northern Hemisphere and rising in the Southern Hemisphere, which is experiencing the winter season. There is a possibility that H1N1 will re-invade the Northern Hemisphere during the onset of the normal flu season next October. One issue that is of concern to the health authorities is that the Influenza virus could mutate before it returns to the Northern Hemisphere. As of yet there is no vaccine for the H1N1 strain, so any changes in its composition could delay development of a vaccine.
There are no travel restrictions now in place as a result of H1N1. Travelers should consider their destination and the level of outbreak at the destination when planning travel.
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