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04 November 2009 

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H1N1 Virus Goes Global


04 November 2009

People everywhere are trying to protect themselves against the swine flu
People everywhere are trying to protect themselves against the swine flu
From Europe to Asia to the Middle East, the 2009 H1N1 virus is spreading. The World Health Organization reports the virus has killed close to 6,000 people worldwide.

"I come home from the street, take the mask off, wash and iron it and make my children do so too," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of doses of Tamiflu, a treatment for H1N1 flu, have arrived in the Ukraine, which has reported a sudden outbreak, killing at least 22.  

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko met the plane on the tarmac.

"A large number of the most needed medicines to treat those people who have caught flu have been delivered today," said Yulia Tymoshenko. "It is Tamiflu. I have it in my hands…"

Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
The government has closed schools, limited public gatherings and imposed travel restrictions with enforcement at the borders.

Health experts in Germany are also reporting an alarming rise in H1N1 cases. Most worrisome, many aren't travel-related but are developing inside the country.

German health officials are worried.  

"If you want, you can say the wave has begun," said an official.

Health officials say that here in the U.S. an estimated 1,000 people have died from the H1N1 virus with roughly one million infected. Most of those cases have been tracked since September, the onset of the flu season here.

In China, because of slow global distribution of the vaccine, the government has produced its own. And it has launched a massive vaccination campaign. So have 16 other countries, including Japan and Israel.

In Afghanistan, many residents blame foreigners traveling to their country for at least two confirmed H1N1 deaths.

Health officials declared a state of emergency following those deaths.  

Some Afghans blame foreigners traveling to their country for at least two confirmed H1N1 deaths
Some Afghans blame foreigners traveling to their country for at least two confirmed H1N1 deaths
"Whoever comes from abroad should be checked before entry, if they are well, they should be able to enter if not they should be deported," said an Afghan man.

Deporting sick travelers might not do the trick, says microbiologist Dr. Andrew Pekosz, since people can carry and pass H1N1 for up to a day before developing symptoms.  

His advice to those with access to the vaccine: Get it now.

"The vaccine is safe when administered to a number of different populations and it also induces a very good immune response which should protect you from infection," said Andrew Pekosz.

He repeats that the best protection against catching and spreading H1N1 is good hygiene. Use a tissue or cover your mouth.

Health officials say to date more than 440,000 people around the world have been infected with H1N1. They say before the pandemic ends, 30 percent of the world's population may have been infected.

 


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