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article imageOutsmarting Flu Pandemics from History and Science Lessons

By Carol Forsloff     Jun 24, 2009 in Health
Knowing now that HNS1 is spreading in different parts of the world, experts are meeting to talk about how to mitigate the spread of the disease. Science and history form the platform for strategies to slow the spread of pandemic flu.
This next week experts from the United States, Canada and Mexico are gathering together at Arizona State University to examine science-based strategies to slow down spread of the H1N1 flu virus. Individuals from the fields of mathematics, biostatistics and public health will examine lessons learned from the past as well as what science knows now to determine what has to be done by governments, agencies and individuals with respect to the Swine flu.
The conference is scheduled to last over four days from June 25-28. Neighbors of North America maintain it is important to have cooperation among border companies in order to address potential problems. These are some of the issues conference participants are anticipated to discuss:
• What is the impact of mass transportation systems (air-traffic and other) on disease dynamics?
• What is our current state of preparedness?
• Does the region have enough vaccines and antiviral drugs?
• Is our current use/management of antiviral drugs sustainable?
• How can we use information technology to facilitate flu monitoring and surveillance in real time?
• How useful has past knowledge been in dealing with current outbreaks?
Because there are certain similarities between the outbreak of H1N1 and the 1918 flu pandemic, the issues and relations raised by both will be discussed, especially considering the susceptibility of certain age groups. A recent study in the May 2009 Issue of the Journal of Virology observes that in 1918 the flu virus infected but did not kill pigs. It also adapted to them and resulted in the “current lineage of the H1N1 swine influenza viruses,” according to researchers. The differences are that the present virus lacks a certain amino acid scientists believe increases the amount of virus particles that can occur in a person’s lungs, therefore making the flu more deadly. At the same time, the present flu resembles other common strains sufficiently that it is thought people may have some immunity. Furthermore some scientists maintain the present vaccinations may also provide some immunity.
In the meantime details of the agenda and topics of the upcoming conference on the H1N1 or Swine flu virus can be found here.
More about Flu pandemic, 1918 influenza, Vaccinations
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