Swine Flu still a threat one year later

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery County Risk Manager Scott Kramer feared the worst when he along with the rest of America heard about the coming of the H-1-N-1 virus, better known as 'Swine flu.'

It turns out it wasn't as bad as Kramer feared. Only 50 out of 900 employees with Montgomery County contracted the virus, all treated at the county and city's Carehere clinic in downtown Montgomery.

"We also had 100 people get vaccination shots," Kramer said.

State health officer Dr. Don Williamson confirms the good news-bad news diagnosis of the swine flu season.

First, the upside.

"We were very fortunate," said Dr. Williamson.

Fortunate in the sense the H-1-N-1 virus isn't quite as potent as the 1918 virus. Genetically speaking, it's weaker.

"This virus didn't jump from birds to humans as it did in 1918, and we have a better medical care than we did in 1918," said Williamson.

Now the sad news about the disease. So far 45 Alabamians have died from swine flu over the last 12 months.

"It did strike young adults, otherwise healthy adults much harder this season. In the seasonal flu 90% of the deaths are over 65. This virus.. 90% of the deaths were under 65," said Williamson.

Another unusual marker of the swine flu. It's still hanging around like an uninvited guest.

"It first came on the scene last April," said Williamson.

Dr. Williamson believes we are not necessarily out of the woods yet but we're getting there, especially when schools let out for the summer. That's when the virus is expected to dissipate.

Meantime, small but important steps like squeezing out a few drops of hand sanitizer can go a long way in preventing the spread of the swine flu.

In 1918 it took 18 months for the virus to go around the world. This time around.. just 6 weeks, according to Dr. Williamson.

It's estimated that 30% of Americans contracted the H-1-N-1 virus. That's about twice the number of people who get the seasonal flu every year.

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