Rethinking Healthcare

WHO swine flu triage getting more serious

Posting in Government

There is not enough vaccine. Priority must be given to children and pregnant women. Save the antivirals for the pregnant women and give them at the first sign of symptoms. Add antibiotics, because the pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial co-infection.

When things get too serious it's time for a laugh.

"Don't panic. Women, children, red indians, spacemen, and sort of idealized versions of the complete Renaissance man first."

The news is that the WHO is out with their latest version of H1N1 swine flu triage, and the news is not good.

There is not enough vaccine. Priority must be given to children and pregnant women. Save the antivirals for the pregnant women and give them at the first sign of symptoms.

You can keep up with the latest developments yourself at the WHO's pages on vaccines and the pandemic flu. An RSS feed is available on the pandemic, so news can reach your desktop immediately.

Oh, and add antibiotics to those antivirals, because the pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial co-infection.

This represents a change in the protocol. Previously use of antivirals was more limited. They were to be given only after H1N1 was proven. The reason for the change is that this flu is more likely to cause deadly viral pneumonia, even in young, healthy people, than seasonal flu.

That is the most chilling conclusion. H1N1 "is not like seasonal influenza."

With production of vaccines slowed by an insistence on using the same egg-based methods as with seasonal flu, and with an exploding demand causing shortages, people are starting to panic so it's important to remain upbeat.

But the fact is that similarities between this bug and the 1918 pandemic are growing. The attack on young, healthy people, the co-morbidity of pneumonia, often caused by bacteria, all are familiar to historians of that infection.

It's not the same bug, but as my dad said it's close enough for government work.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure