Don't forget about H1N1 just yet

swine_fluIn case you missed it, Margaret Chan, MD, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), yesterday cautioned the world that the H1N1 pandemic is not over, even though you’re not hearing as much about it in the media or around the watercooler. “It is too premature and too early for us to say we have come to an end of the pandemic influenza worldwide,” Dr. Chan said at a press conference.

With much less attention being paid to H1N1 these days, Thrive asked Claire McCarthy, MD, a pediatrician and the medical director of Children’s Martha Eliot Health Center, if she thought families could stop worrying about the virus—and whether people should still get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Here’s what she had to say:

“I completely agree with the WHO. It’s true that we are seeing fewer cases and hearing less worry about it among patients and families. But while there are fewer cases, people are still getting very sick from H1N1, especially young people—and this virus is just too new for us to really know what it’s going to do. I am nowhere near ready to tell anyone that the pandemic is over. I’m still telling everyone to wash their hands (I sure am!)—and encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.”

In addition to H1N1 and the regular seasonal flu, which should be starting up in earnest pretty soon, Children’s researcher Florence Bourgeois, MD, MPH, recently published a study that said we should also be on the lookout for RSV this winter, since those infected with it had more than twice as many emergency department visits and six times more hospitalizations than those with seasonal flu.

In other H1N1 news, Children’s Adrienne Randolph, MD, MSc, is quoted in The Boston Globe’s article linking severe H1N1 cases with asthma. The decision about whether to vaccinate kids with asthma for H1N1 is something we wrote about on Thrive not long ago. Also check out Dr. Randolph’s very popular post on why you should get your child the H1N1 vaccine. The Boston Globe also reports that the H1N1 flu may be less contagious than we originally feared.