September 3, 2009

CDC: H1N1 flu back; actually never left

The H1N1 influenza is back, spreading particularly in the Southeastern United States -- in fact, it never went away, health officials say.

H1N1 influenza is here, it is spreading and in fact, it never went away. We had H1N1 influenza throughout the summer in summer camps, and now with colleges and schools coming back into session, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news conference in Atlanta Thursday.

Here in Georgia, we have relatively widespread H1N1, and that, again, is most likely because we had the schools starting earlier. It may also be that some of the parts of the country that had less of H1N1 in the spring may see more of it now. But only time will tell.

A report that outlines the experience with H1N1 influenza in five countries in the Southern Hemisphere was similar to what happened in this country in the spring, Frieden says.

In these countries, some possibility that indigenous populations were more severely affected by H1N1 influenza, that you had a greater likelihood of having severe illness from H1N1 if you were a member of a tribal or indigenous population, Frieden says. That's not proven, but it's a possibility.

Children with underlying conditions need to be treated promptly if they develop fever and be first in line for vaccination when it becomes available, Frieden adds.