So the H1N1 virus is not a big deal anymore, right? Not according to this article, which has some pretty scary things to say.
“The Southern Hemisphere has been mostly spared in the swine flu epidemic. That could change when winter starts in coming weeks with no vaccine in place, leaving half the planet out in the cold.
Experts fear public health systems could be overwhelmed — especially if swine flu and regular flu collide in major urban populations.
“You have this risk of an additional virus that could essentially cause two outbreaks at once,” Dr. Jon Andrus said at the Pan American Health Organization’s headquarters in Washington.
There’s also a chance that the two flus could collide and mutate into a new strain that is more contagious and dangerous.
“We have a concern there might be some sort of reassortment and that’s something we’ll be paying special attention to,” World Health Organization spokesman Dick Thompson said in Geneva.
Apparently, you can have a pandemic without a large number of deaths. Or at least, that’s what the WHO is saying now. Before, the WHO’s definition of a pandemic, which appeared on their website, said
“that a pandemic flu causes “enormous numbers of deaths and illness. After a CNN reporter pointed this out, WHO spokeswoman Natalie Boudou called back to say the definition was in error and had been pulled from the WHO Web site.”
“It was a mistake, and we apologize for the confusion,” she said. “(That definition) was put up a while ago and paints a rather bleak picture and could be very scary.”
The correct definition is that “pandemic” indicates outbreaks in at least two of the regions into which WHO divides the world, but has nothing to do with the severity of the illnesses or the number of deaths.”
Now, to me, this sounds like the WHO still isn’t really sure what they want the definition of a pandemic to be. It seems very important to the WHO and other health agencies to constantly remind people that this new virus certainly isn’t shaping up to be like the 1918 killer virus. I have to wonder when, and not if, there will be another pandemic like the one in 1918.