What you need to know
Remember the H1N1 panic in 2010? A new type of H1N1 has been spreading this winter and the CDC is implementing precaution methods before it gets even more serious.
Translated by Yuan-ling Liang
Novel Influenza A Virus Infections, also known as A/H1N1, has been one of the most common causes of human flu in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that there were 320 cases of severe complicated influenza in the past week, breaking the record for the last five years. Fourteen of these patients even died of serious illness.
To fight the flu, the CDC says that they would lower the threshold for free inoculation in October, engaging all citizens over 50 years old in the vaccine program. More than five million people are expected to benefit from the policy.
Chou Chi-hao, deputy director of the CDC, points out that starting from July 1 last year to February 22 this year, there were 771 cases of severe complicated influenza. 69 patients died, aging from 4 to 85. According to an investigation, more than 95% of the people infected did not get vaccinated.
Chou states that the trend is rather outrageous this year. In the past, similar types of virus mainly invade elders and children while H1N1 mainly affects people aging from 40 to 50, leading them to suffer from Severe Complicated Influenza. He points out that the CDC will push for a NT$2 billion (approximately US$6 million) budget and include more people who can get free vaccinations.
Philip Lo, the doctor of disease prevention at the CDC, points out that the immune systems of middle aged people respond abnormally upon invasion of the virus due to their strong immune reactions, causing a Cytokine storm, an over-protective immune response that can be fatal, in their body. The immune cells, therefore, are damaged and likely to bring them to death within a week.
Differences between Novel influenza and seasonal flu
The flu is mainly spread via coughing and sneezing. Indirect contact between mouths and snivel or saliva may also cause infection. People who are infected are likely to transmit the virus three to seven days before their symptoms are noticeable.
Symptoms of Novel influenza include high fever (body temperature over 38.5 degrees Celsius, 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit, for three consecutive days), sore muscles, sore throat and fatigue. Severe symptoms are serious headaches, shortness of breath and coughing up blood.
Unlike the seasonal flu, some H1N1 patients may vomit or experience diarrhea. Rapid breath, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing are also do not appear in seasonal influenza cases.
CDC giving patients free medication
The CDC is allowing people who have run a fever for over 48 hours can receive free medication until March 31. Relatives, colleagues and classmates with similar symptoms are also included in this program. Foreigners with a resident permission certificate in Taiwan can also enjoy the convenience.
Getting vaccinated is said to be the best way to prevent infection. People should also maintain indoor air circulation and avoid going to crowded places; bring a mask if necessary.
For more information, please go to the CDC’s website or follow their fan page. You may also dial 1922 / 0800-001922 for professional consultation.
Edited by Olivia Yang