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article imageTo counter flu, CA schools to receive 23 million masks and gloves

By Michael Krebs     Dec 5, 2009 in Health
As hopeful reports surface that the H1N1 swine flu virus is showing signs of peaking in North America, California is distributing 23 million masks and gloves to combat the spread of the agile virus.
There are preliminary indications that the second wave of the H1N1 swine flu virus may have peaked in North America - although cases still continue to climb in China, India and other parts of the world. While talk of a peak is very speculative - as influenza viruses are notoriously unstable and unpredictable, and the H1N1 virus is staggeringly agile and adaptable - it is nevertheless a silver lining in the cloud that this pandemic has represented.
The challenge with the noise around potential peaks in H1N1 infections is that our collective guard may be let down. There are already some voices questioning whether or not we should continue with the vaccination program, even though there still remain significant public health threats from this virus - particularly around the growth in Tamiflu resistant strains and in other dangerous mutations.
California is not leaving anything to chance when it comes to the H1N1 swine flu and seasonal flu varieties that also pose a threat. On Friday, California announced its intention to distribute 23 million masks and gloves to its network of public schools - the most ambitious program of its kind in the country.
“We want to keep students, teachers and staff healthy and in school,” California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell told the Los Angeles Times. “Thanks to federal grant funding, we can provide masks and gloves … to schools free of charge.”
Just last week, California witnessed 800 hospitalizations from the H1N1 virus - an all-time high for the state. The hospitalized patients represent a mixed message on the state of this pandemic, and the state's decision to issue the masks and gloves is part of an overarching strategy to stop the spread of the virus at our most vulnerable populations.
Public school settings offer an ideal breeding ground for a dangerous flu bug like the H1N1 virus - and a strategy that centers on the behaviors and susceptibilities of populations are likely to find success in better containing the pandemic.
More about H1n1, Swine flu, California, Influenza, Masks
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