The contagious viral infection that emerged in 2009 was unexpected and sent shockwaves across the globe as it came many years after the worldwide flu pandemics occurring in 1918, 1957, and 1986. This new pandemic spiraled out of control unexpectedly causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to call it the first pandemic of the 21st century, due to many outbreaks across the globe (Bartolotti, R. 2012). The objective of this paper is to focus on the information and to clearly establish all measures of the outbreak, pathogenesis, epidemiology, response, and preparedness.
The original influenza A (H1N1) is a disease that causes harsh symptoms in the respiratory area. It is a virus that is very rare in humans, however, regularly causes outbreaks in pigs. Influenza is predominantly a respiratory virus that causes both upper and lower-respiratory symptoms (National Institute, 2012). Influenza symptoms include coughing, and breathing problems, sore throat, runny rose and congestion. The first case of H1N1 influenza was publicized in the United States on April 15th, 2009. It was first spotted in California and Texas, but soon managed to spread across the globe. During this time period, an outbreak of the disease was also present in Mexico. The H1N1 Influenza pandemic occurred in two waves; the first wave appeared in the spring season, and the second wave took place in the fall of 2009. A great amount of citizens including children, young adults, and pregnant women were severely affected by the virus, as compared to the typical influenza season (Colon, R. 2012 p9).
The spread of the H1N1 virus mainly occurs similarly to how normal seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses generally spread through physical contact between two people. A common example would be through sneezing, coughing, or being in the presence of someone with influenza. Furthermore, touching an object that has been in the presence of a flu virus is quite dangerous if there is no immediate sanitation of the hands. If there is contact with your mouth, or nose you are more likely to get infected (Centers for disease control, and prevention, 2009). However, the only way you can be almost definite that the virus will never show up in your immune system would be getting infected at least once. This will cause your body to strengthen its immune system so that it is more familiar and alert with the virus, so next time it tires to get in your system, it can fight it off.
However, there are particular cases where some individuals lack a strong immune system therefore, it is more likely that they will get infected by the same virus again. The H1N1 Influenza pandemic of 2009 is a simple reminder of how unpredictable the nature of the influenza virus really is (Kasowski, E. 2011). Influenza, which is commonly referred to as the flu, is a severe respiratory infection that can be contracted due to physical contact. Influenza A and B are the basis of two main genetic types which are further identified. Influenza A strains consist of two important proteins that are responsible for virulence: “Hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N)” (Bartolotti, R. 2012 p4). Humans can become severely ill when infected with the influenza viruses that are most commonly found circulating in animals.
According to Bartolotti (2012), animal sources definitely hold the biggest threat towards humans, and they include; avian influenza virus subtypes H5N1, and H9N2 commonly known as the “bird flu”. The bird flu is mainly caused by viruses that circulate in wild animals, as well as swine influenza virus subtypes H1N1 and H3N2 (Bartolotti, R. 2012 p5). Prior to the 2009 pandemic, The World Health Organization predicted that the next pandemic would be caused by the Influenza A subtype, which was said to be most likely from “avian origin” (World Heath, O. 2012). Furthermore it was also predicted that majority of the population wouldn’t be able to resist the disease, in terms of immunology and how strong people’s immune systems were.
The Influenza virus soared across the globe and according to the WHO (2012), within 1 month, 32 countries had reported human cases of the H1N1 influenza (World Heath, O. 2012). Now, going back in time several years, we acknowledge how the 1957 Asian Influenza (H2N2) originated. It first started off, that the pandemic of 1918 was triggered by an influenza A (H1N1) virus that later on added 5 of its 8 genes, combined with 3 avian influenza virus genes, to produce what the world knows it today to be the1957 Asian Influenza (H2N2 virus). Reasortment events of; Avian, human, and swine Influenza A virus strains, brought into existence the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009 (Kasowski, E. 2011). The Catastrophic H1N1 influenza virus took the world by swarm when it broke out in various parts of the world, and soon enough it made its way to Mexico in April 2009.
The main focus here is on the prominent epidemiology, characteristics on the pandemic, the immediate influences, and motives for the disease during the outbreak, and the defenseless populations. La Gloria, Veracruz Mexico is where it all started back in 2009, where many influenza related illness were breaking out across the region. This caused the World Health Organization to advise the Mexican government that they should authorize the outbreak of “acute respiratory infections” (ARIs) (Juno 2011). The Mexican government decided to go forth with the authorization, and the Samples collected from the ARI cases were sent to the “National Microbiology Lab (NML) of the Public health agency of Canada and the influenza division of the United States centers for Disease control and prevention (CDC) on April 21, 2009” (Juno, J. 2011).
Merely a couple days earlier, CDC came to the conclusion that the illnesses were in fact due to novel swine-origin H1N1 influenza; a virus that has been suspected from two children living in California during March 28 and 30. Soon enough, it was confirmed by many authorized facilities including CDC, and NML that there has been an underlying presence of a genetically similar pH1N1 virus taken from samples in Mexico. This was due to human physical contact, in which the virus was transmitted (Juno, J. 2011). The World Health Organization finally acknowledged the virus to be a matter of concern when they found out that there was said to be “underlying transmissions of an animal virus to humans” (Juno, J. 2011 p2) Also, the fact that there were various outbreaks in countless societies, most illnesses being underage people, was a huge wake up call.
Within no time, the H1N1 influenza virus made its way to 5 states in the U.S., and approximately 19 Mexican states, and on April 25th, 2009 the WHO general publicized a “public health emergency” (Juno, J. 2011 p2). On April 26th, Canada reported 6 confirmed H1N1 cases, one of the outbreaks being in Nova Scotia, in a private school, where many students travelled to Mexico on spring break. On May 9th, Canada reported it’s first death, and from then on cases of the virus progressed and persistently continued to skyrocket, with a ridiculous amount of cases reported by May 27 consisting of 921 influenza-like occurrences, and an overwhelming total of 48 countries that have reported 13,398 cases. Between the time period of April 26 and September 26 2009, among 1,479 recognized hospitalized cases occurred in Canada where patients were disclosed to an intensive care unit (ICU) majority of the patients managed to defeat the disease, whilst 5% of the patients died (Juno, J. 2011).
Many of the people who were admitted to the hospital with severe case disease displayed risk factors that were linked with severe seasonal influenza infection. The amount of information collected to determine all aspects of the virus’, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and virology of the illness is extraordinary. Taking into consideration the alarming history of the many epidemics that the world has witnessed, the government was expecting a new virus to emerge and that everyone would see another pandemic. The U.S government and the Health and Human Services (HHS) had been preparing for another pandemic, along side the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has long supported the Influenza research in order to have a better understanding of viruses and the many aspects of its characteristics.
This may include; how viruses interact with each other, replication, immune responses, interaction with hosts, and so on. NIH contributed extensively in helping containing the disease. They worked with people in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to speed up the process in order to obtain diagnostic tools, influenza vaccines, and anti-influenza drugs. When the virus emerged, the NIH was fully engaged in the process and made an effort to understand the virus and develop countermeasures to stop the disease. They immediately began research and began to thoroughly investigate the disease, as well as taking action and developing clinical facilities in many cities to collect clinical samples from patients as well as provide them with medical attention.
These clinical studies provided vital information on how exactly the virus reacts and behaves in the human body, and how well the immune system reacts to the virus (Bartolotti, R. 2010). Along with all of these services, approximately $9 billion in additional appropriations were requested by the Obama administration to help end the pandemic. Without taking much time at all, the President signed the Appropriations Act, 2009, on June 26th, which immediately provided 1.9 billion, and an additional 5.8 billion for the use of additional funds (Bartolotti, R. 2010).
To achieve an effective preparedness plan, the government as well as other federal agencies should abide by a few important aspects if there was to be another pandemic. Firstly, it is important to develop communication strategies for managing public expectations about pandemic vaccine availability. Second, there should be efforts underway to reduce the length of time required to produce a pandemic vaccine. Thirdly, information pertaining to pandemic should be addressed for non-English speaking populations. Lastly, there should be greater collaboration between departments of health and human services homeland security as well as other federal agencies to share relevant findings of reports on the disease to stay updated and aware.
The World Health Organization, the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee and the WHO director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan declared an end to the H1N1 Influenza pandemic, of 2009 on August 10th, 2010. (HHS, g. 2010). In order for the world to never encounter such a disease, there are many ways of preventing the spread of the H1N1 flu; the most effective methods are seemingly pretty simple and low-tech. Frequent hand washing with soap and water, avoiding spitting, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing, cleaning surfaces regularly using alcohol, and not sharing any objects with an infected person are all important factors to consider when trying to protect yourself (Stephenson, T. 2009). All aspects of the outbreak, pathogenesis, epidemiology, response, and preparedness are very crucial to take into consideration when trying to prevent such a dangerous pandemic.
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